It’s fair to say I’m a big fan of Leki poles and have mostly been using Leki Thermolite XL poles for the last couple of years.

For the TGO Challenge I wanted lighter poles but still wanted them to be adjustable to pitch my tent and have a shorter pack size to stow them inside my pack for the train journey to and from Scotland. The Leki Black Series MVC poles ticked all of these boxes and Leki very kindly supplied a pair to use for the TGO Challenge.

When you first see the Black Series MVC poles the stealth black carbon looks extremely cool. There’s a mixture of matt and gloss black carbon that has a very expensive feel to it. I was sold before I’d even unpackaged them.

Extremely packable: With a 40cm pack size you can easily pack these poles into a rucksack or luggage if travelling. Given the price you wouldn’t want to leave them on the outside of your pack if your bags are unattended on a train for example. The poles collapse and then fold into 3 compact sections and can be placed inside the included bag if they’re going inside a pack.

Light but strong: Leki claim a weight of 207g per pole, we measured them at 210g so not a big difference. In use the poles feel lighter than their claimed weight as they are well balanced making it easy to place the tips where you want them. For a light pole, it doesn’t feel like Leki have sacrificed strength. There was no noticeable flex in them even when loading them to vault across streams etc.

The tips seem to grip well on everything from rocks to mud. The baskets are fairly small but still help to stop the pole sinking in to deep mud.

CLD (Core Locking Device): This new addition is superb and makes the Black Series MVC worth the extra over other poles with this feature alone! No more having to push buttons that are hard to operate or catch skin when the pole suddenly collapses on activation. Setting up the poles couldn’t be easier. Simply connect the segments, undo the Speed Lock and then pull the handle section whilst holding the middle section until a green band saying lock appears. There will be a click and when you release them they will be locked out. You can then adjust to the length that you want and flick the Speed lock closed again. To collapse the poles you just reverse the process. No more trapped skin or dirt getting into the mechanism because it’s inside the pole. Once you work it outs it’s an intuitive system to use.

Comfort: I really like the Aergon Thermo Long grips, they are extremely comfortable when used all day and the extended grip is handy for going up steep ground. The rounded tops fit nicely into the palms when using the poles to reach down on rocky descents or river crossings. They maintain good levels of grip even when soaking wet. The straps are very thin but I prefer that so they sit unnoticed in my hands.

I find the carbon deadens more of the impact of poles on the ground compared to aluminium, especially when walking on hard ground. This combined with the light weight made them perfect for long days without getting tired hands, wrists etc.

There’s no doubt that the Leki Black Series MVC Poles are expensive but if you can afford them they really are worth the extra. This is the pinnacle of trekking pole design. The innovative new CLD locking system is head and shoulders above any other system on the market. I’ve put around 300 miles on these poles and they have performed superbly. If you want a strong lightweight pole with great comfort, easy adjustment, small pack size and that are simple to set up then look no further.