Leki MCT 12 Vario Carbon Poles | Review - Outdoors Magic

Outdoors Gear, Equipment, News, Reviews, Forums, Walking Routes and More at OutdoorsMagic.com


Walking Equipment and Accessories

Leki MCT 12 Vario Carbon Poles | Review

A superlight set of poles with no compromise on performance or skimping on features

These aren’t running poles or walking poles, they’re cross trail poles and what that means is that they’ll work for either activity. 

At just 400g for a pair you’d be forgiven for thinking these are going to be a little on the flimsy side, but the reality is that they’re made to handle very difficult terrain, a fast pace and, perhaps most importantly, a heavy loading force of up to 100kg.

Photo: Chris Johnson

These would certainly be right at home on an ultra race like the Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc considering their light weight, packability and reliability. But those aspects also make them suited to just plain old hiking too. Nordic walkers will also really dig what these bring to the table.


The Leki MCT 12 Vario Carbon are z-style folding trekking poles that are incredibly easy to deploy. All you need to do is pull down on the shaft below the handle and everything will click together in a quick and amazingly satisfying way. To break each one down, you just flick the Speedlock 2 mini lever open, pull down on the shaft until it clicks and the whole thing will relax and break apart for you. 

This kind of design is fairly common these days, but you don’t often get height adjustment as well. Using that Speed Lock 2 lever you can slide from as short as 110cm up to as high as 130cm, a useful capability that’ll help on those trails with varied altitude. It will also be handy for anyone who needs a pole or two with height adjustment to prop up their tarp or tent. 

Another thing worth nothing is that the lever is cleverly designed so that it can easily be tightened up without the need for a tool. It’s nifty stuff. 

“They are made to handle very difficult terrain, a fast pace and, perhaps most importantly, a heavy loading force.”

Breaking down to just 42cm in length, these things will easily fit onto the side of your backpack, whether that’s tucked into the side mesh pockets or strapped on. They come with a little lightweight storage sack too, by the way.

Now, onto the main event: the straps. Rather than simple webbing straps, the kind that you find on most walking poles, Leki have taken inspiration from Nordic skiing and added detachable mesh gloves. These can be attached to the top of each pole handle with a simple click and can then be removed with the press of a button. This helps to encourage effective power transfer and allows the poles to move more closely and effortlessly with the swing of your arms and wrists.

The handle itself has a slight grip extender for that on-the-fly variation and, as you’d expect, it’s ergonomically shaped to provide a comfortable feel.

Photo: Chris Johnson
Photo: Chris Johnson
Photo: Chris Johnson


Lots to like on the materials front. As the name suggests, the shaft is made from light but strong carbon and the tip/spike is made from even tougher carbide. The handle is actually made from a faux cork that does a remarkable impression of the real thing, both in look and feel.

Tester’s Verdict

Will Renwick, editor of Outdoors Magic

“I used these over the course of a two-week trip to Snowdonia in the middle of spring, hiking up mountains like Moel Siabod and Moel Hebog with them and running with them around the slopes of Moelwyn Bach and Mawr. I was really impressed. 

“These aren’t the lightest poles I’ve used – that award goes to Mountain King – they are, however, the best performing lightweight poles I’ve used, bringing everything I want from a pole and all at an incredibly impressive weight. 

“I love how easy they are to deploy and fold away and I thought the Speedlock 2 and Core Locking Device were both excellent. I’ve used Leki poles with the previous Speedlock before and can certainly see how things have been improved – and made much smaller.

Photo: Chris Johnson

“It didn’t take me long to get used to running with the poles attached to the gloves and I enjoyed what they brought to my stride, performance and efficiency. I like how they allow you to swing the poles backwards with your arms before whipping them forward, with very little grip required on the pole that isn’t planted. 

“I would say that I didn’t feel too comfortable running downhill with the poles attached to the gloves, sensing that a trip could lead me into a bit of a tangle. But then the speed and ease at which you can unclip prior to a descent solves that issue. 

“I liked what I saw. In fact, I really liked what I saw.”

“One other thing I’d say is that I found the very tops of the grips a little on the narrow side. When descending I like to place my palms on the top of my poles in order to manage the pressure on my knees and these poles weren’t as good as some of Leki’s other options for that. You could still do it, but it’s just not as comfortable as I’d like. 

“That’s just one small gripe though and I can look past it because overall I really like these poles. I’ve actually been on the lookout for a set of poles for a three-week fastpacking journey I’ve got in the pipeline this summer and I’m glad to have come across these. They’re light enough, reliable enough, packable enough and then that height adjustment means I can use them to prop up my lightweight Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo tent too.”

Photo: Chris Johnson

Leki MCT 12 Vario Carbon Poles

Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.