Hiking Gear

Black Diamond vs Leki Trekking Poles – Let’s Compare


Who hasn’t found themselves lost in the great outdoors, eyes to the horizon, only to realize they’ve underestimated the journey’s toll on their legs? Whether you’re an experienced mountaineer or a hiking newbie, a quality trekking pole can make all the difference. In fact, it can turn a grueling trek into a pleasant walk in the woods. That’s why today, we’re putting two of the industry’s heavyweights, Black Diamond and Leki, head-to-head in a trekking pole showdown.

Black Diamond and Leki are more than just brands; they’re icons in the world of outdoor gear. Each brings a rich history, innovation, and commitment to quality. But how do they stack up when placed side by side? Which one should be your loyal companion on your next adventure?

Before you set foot on the trail, we’re here to help you make an informed decision. In this blog, we’ll compare Black Diamond and Leki trekking poles in terms of design, durability, comfort, adjustability, versatility, and value. Ready to take the first step? Let’s dive right in.

About Black Diamond

When we talk about reliable outdoor gear, it’s impossible not to mention Black Diamond. Born in a backyard in 1957, this American company has been making waves in the industry with its rock-solid commitment to innovation and quality. The company’s story is as inspiring as the mountains their gear is designed to conquer.

Black Diamond’s trekking poles are some of the best around, earning a stellar reputation among hikers, backpackers, and mountaineers alike. But what makes them so special?

For starters, Black Diamond trekking poles boast a striking balance between weight and durability. The company is known for utilizing advanced materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum, providing users with a sturdy companion without weighing them down.

Their innovation doesn’t stop there. One of Black Diamond’s most applauded features is their patented FlickLock adjustment system. It’s designed for ease of use and reliability, allowing you to adjust pole length on the fly with an almost effortless flick.

Popular Black Diamond trekking poles include the Distance Z and Alpine Carbon Cork models. The Distance Z is a lightweight, foldable pole ideal for distance runners or minimalists, while the Alpine Carbon Cork is a premium offering that features a comfortable, moisture-wicking cork grip and dual FlickLock adjustability.

What ties all of Black Diamond’s products together is the brand’s unwavering dedication to creating gear that’s not just functional, but also durable and reliable. This is a company that understands the importance of trust in outdoor adventures. When you’re miles away from civilization, the last thing you want is gear failure.

About Leki

Equally renowned in the realm of outdoor gear, Leki has a rich heritage that stretches back to 1948. This German-based company started with ski poles and has since expanded its repertoire to a wide range of outdoor equipment, including a broad array of trekking poles.

One of Leki’s hallmark features is their dedication to safety and comfort. Their innovative, patented grip systems, such as the SpeedLock and Aergon, stand testimony to this commitment. The SpeedLock system provides effortless pole length adjustment, while the Aergon grip design aims at optimal comfort during long hikes, reducing the chance of blisters and hand fatigue.

Leki doesn’t compromise on materials either. Their poles, like the popular Makalu and Micro Vario models, are crafted with high-quality aluminum and carbon, providing a blend of lightweight feel and durability. The Makalu model is known for its robustness, ideal for rugged trails, while the Micro Vario stands out with its packability and versatility, a favorite among ultralight backpackers.

However, what truly sets Leki apart is their focus on sustainability. The company holds a strong belief in “repair over replace”, offering spare parts for their poles. It’s a win-win situation; customers save money and we all save the environment.

Trekking Poles At a Glance

Black Diamond Distance Z Folding Trekking Poles

Black Diamond Distance Z Folding Trekking Poles

  • Ultra-light, durable, and compact, Black Diamond Distance Z defines efficiency.
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LEKI Makalu FX Carbon

LEKI Makalu FX Carbon

  • Robust, comfortable, adjustable, and eco-conscious excellence.
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Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles

Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles

  • Premium Cork Grip With Updated Soft-Rubber Grip Extension And Solution Strap For Better Handling And Security
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Leki - Micro Vario Carbon Lady Trekkingstock

Leki – Micro Vario Carbon Lady Trekkingstock

  • The anatomically formed AERGON Thermo Long Grip sits perfectly in your hand
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Head-to-Head Comparison: Black Diamond vs Leki

Now that we’ve introduced our contenders, let’s dive deeper into the specifics. We’ll compare Black Diamond and Leki trekking poles based on design, durability, comfort, adjustability, versatility, and value.

Design & Durability

Black Diamond and Leki both offer robust, well-crafted designs. However, there are notable differences. Black Diamond focuses on minimalist aesthetics and efficient engineering, with a strong emphasis on durability. Their use of advanced materials like carbon fiber ensures that their poles can weather harsh conditions without breaking stride.

Leki, on the other hand, integrates a more user-friendly design approach. Their poles, often crafted from high-quality aluminum, strike an excellent balance between weight and durability. Plus, their colorful designs add a dash of fun to their functionality.

Weight & Packability

When it comes to weight, Black Diamond’s Distance Z is a game-changer. At just under 10 ounces per pair, it’s among the lightest on the market, making it a favorite for those looking to minimize pack weight.

Leki’s Micro Vario poles, though slightly heavier, shine in the area of packability. With a compact, foldable design, these poles can conveniently disappear into your backpack when not in use.

Grip & Comfort

Both brands take user comfort seriously. Black Diamond’s poles often feature moisture-wicking cork grips, offering a comfortable and natural feel. The foam extensions beneath the grip provide extra versatility on uneven terrains.

Leki’s Aergon grip system, with its ergonomic design and edgeless outer shape, delivers optimum comfort during long hikes. The air-textured strap wicks away sweat, ensuring a firm and comfortable grip.

Adjustability & Locking Mechanisms

Black Diamond’s FlickLock system is intuitive, fast, and reliable, offering secure length adjustment. Leki’s SpeedLock, in contrast, offers similar functionality with minimal fuss. It allows for quick, on-the-go length changes, even with gloves on.


Whether you’re into backpacking, mountaineering, or casual hikes, both brands offer a model for your needs. Black Diamond’s Alpine Carbon Cork is known for its all-round capabilities, while Leki’s Makalu model shines in rugged terrains.

Price & Value

Both brands provide a range of options across various price points. Black Diamond tends to be a bit pricier, reflecting their premium materials and features. Leki offers excellent value for money, with robust features and the added benefit of a sustainable repair service.

My Personal Recommendation

After closely examining a wide range of models, two poles stand out for their exceptional performance and quality: the Black Diamond Distance Z Folding Trekking Poles and the LEKI Makalu FX Carbon. Let’s delve into why these poles have earned my top recommendation.

Black Diamond Distance Z Folding Trekking Poles

Black Diamond Distance Z Folding Trekking Poles

Z-pole fixed length construction with speed-cone deployment

  • Lightweight EVA Foam Grip
  • 4 Trekking Pole Sizes
  • 7075 Aluminium Shafts
  • Compact Size, Perfect For Overseas Hiking Trips

If lightweight performance is your top priority, look no further than the Black Diamond Distance Z. Weighing in at just under 10 ounces per pair, these poles provide remarkable support without weighing you down.

The Distance Z poles utilize Black Diamond’s Z-Pole Rapid Deployment System. It’s a unique design that allows the poles to fold into a compact unit when not in use, ideal for minimalists and those conscious about pack space.

What truly makes the Distance Z stand out, though, is its seamless blend of simplicity, efficiency, and durability. It’s a no-nonsense, reliable pole that can withstand the rigors of the trail, making it a top choice for trail runners, ultra-light hikers, and anyone who values a fast-and-light approach to the outdoors.

LEKI Makalu FX Carbon

LEKI Makalu FX Carbon

Aergon Air: The ultimate, ergonomic trekking grip with a maximum of control, support and comfort.

  • Extended Foam Grip
  • User-friendly External-Locking-Device (ELD)
  • Interchangeable Basket System
  • Super Light and Stiff For Optimal Swing Action

For those who require robust support, exceptional comfort, and a trekking pole that’s built to last, the LEKI Makalu FX Carbon is a stellar choice.

The Makalu FX Carbon is built from a combination of high-strength aluminum and ultra-lightweight carbon, striking a perfect balance between weight and stability. It’s a pole that can handle rugged terrain and the challenges of high-altitude trekking.

The Aergon grip system and the SpeedLock adjustment feature make it an absolute pleasure to use. The Aergon grip is ergonomically designed for optimum comfort on long hikes, while the SpeedLock system ensures quick and reliable length adjustment.

Perhaps one of the most distinguishing features of the Makalu FX Carbon, however, is its commitment to sustainability. Thanks to LEKI’s repair service and availability of spare parts, it’s a trekking pole that not only serves your hiking needs but also aligns with principles of environmental responsibility.

User Reviews

No comparison is complete without the voice of the users. Here’s what customers have to say about their experiences with Black Diamond and Leki trekking poles.

Black Diamond

Users consistently praise Black Diamond for the quality and durability of their trekking poles. The lightweight design, particularly in the Distance Z model, is a favorite among ultra-light hikers and trail runners. Reviewers also commend the FlickLock system for its ease of use and reliability.

However, a few users have pointed out that while the minimalistic design is appealing, it may lack the bells and whistles that some hikers appreciate. The higher price point of some models, particularly the Alpine Carbon Cork, is also a consideration for budget-conscious adventurers.


Leki trekking poles receive high marks for comfort and adjustability. The Aergon grip and SpeedLock system are frequently highlighted in user reviews for their ergonomic design and ease of use. Many users also love the brand’s commitment to sustainability, with the availability of spare parts being a unique selling point.

Some users note that while Leki poles are durable and comfortable, they may be slightly heavier than some competitors. Also, a few users mentioned they found the colorful designs of Leki poles less appealing, favoring a more minimal aesthetic.


Choosing between Black Diamond and Leki trekking poles is not a decision to be taken lightly. Your trekking pole is more than just a piece of equipment; it’s your companion on the trail, an extension of your arm, your support when the terrain gets tough. Both brands have their strengths, and the right choice largely depends on your personal preferences and needs.

If you prioritize ultra-lightweight design and uncompromising durability, Black Diamond could be the brand for you. Their trekking poles, like the Distance Z, have won the hearts of many minimalist hikers and trail runners.

On the other hand, if comfort, adjustability, and sustainability resonate with you, consider Leki. The brand’s Aergon grip system and SpeedLock are designed to make your hikes comfortable, and their “repair over replace” philosophy is a plus for environmentally-conscious adventurers.

At the end of the day, the best trekking pole is the one that feels right in your hand, matches your budget, and meets your trekking needs. Don’t rush the decision – take your time, consider your options, and choose wisely. After all, your next adventure deserves the best.

Trekking Poles FAQs

1. Are Black Diamond trekking poles worth the price?

Absolutely! While they may be priced higher than some other brands, you’re investing in top-notch materials, innovative features, and impressive durability. For many outdoor enthusiasts, Black Diamond’s trekking poles are worth every penny.

2. Is Leki a good brand for trekking poles?

Definitely. Leki is a reputable brand known for their commitment to quality, comfort, and sustainability. Their trekking poles offer an excellent balance of durability, user-friendly features, and value for money.

3. Can I use trekking poles for both hiking and mountaineering?

Yes, you can. However, it’s crucial to choose the right model. Some poles are better suited for specific activities. For example, ultra-light poles like the Black Diamond Distance Z are great for trail running or light hiking, while robust models like Leki’s Makalu are designed for tougher terrains and mountaineering.

4. What’s the advantage of cork grips on trekking poles?

Cork grips, such as those on Black Diamond’s Alpine Carbon Cork poles, offer a few benefits. They’re comfortable, reduce sweat buildup, and conform to the shape of your hands over time, making them a great option for long hikes.

5. Are Leki’s trekking poles repairable?

Yes, one of Leki’s standout features is their commitment to sustainability. They offer spare parts for their poles, enabling repairs rather than full replacements – a benefit to both your wallet and the environment.

Mitch Taylor
With over 20 years experience with camping and hiking, I've taken it upon myself to share my insights. From common camping and hiking questions to gear recommendations, your adventure starts here.

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