Amazingly compact, ultra-light poles that you won’t notice you’re carrying for miles and miles.
Easy to assemble and re-fold
Compact fold into four sections
Large-sized mud baskets included
Longer folded length may be harder to stow on your pack
Handle material not comfy
Not as strong as heavier poles
No medium-sized mud basket option
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Mountain King Carbon Skyrunner: first impressions
The Mountain King Carbon Skyrunner is incredibly low weight – it’s by far the lightest fixed-length collapsible running pole on the market right now at 224g / 7.9oz per 120cm pair.
They are very easy to put together and dismantle, even though you are in charge of the connecting cord, with Mountain King’s “pull the cord out and hook the knot in the handle slot” design. It’s very easy, and then you poke the end of the cord into the top of the handle to stop the excess cord dangling around. This slim, lightweight cord is unprotected within the pole so be careful with it.
The handle strap is not adjustable, so you can’t fine-tune the fit, but the material is soft and the loop size will cater for most hand-sizes without a problem. However, the mesh handle material is quite harsh and isn’t very comfortable after a long, wet day, or during multi-day use with bare hands (it would be nice if it were made of a softer, brushed material, but wearing some running gloves solves this).
They are the most compact pair of poles we tested for our best running poles buying guide, folding down into four sections (making it an M-pole) rather than the usual three (Z-pole). If you’re looking to count every gram, these are definitely for you.
• RRP: $134 (US) / £130 (UK)
• Weight (120cm pair): 224g / 7.9oz
• Colors: Black
• Material: Carbon
• Variable length: No
• Sizes: 110cm–130cm / 43–51in
• Folded length: 30cm / 11.8in
• Compatibility: Fantastic for fast and light ultra runners watching every gram
Mountain King Carbon Skyrunner: on the trails
I used these for six days (150 miles) of long distance running on the Cape Wrath Ultra in Scotland, and they were so light I hardly noticed them. They were a fantastic help in plodding determinedly around mountain after mountain, and light and quick enough to stow away when scrambling down rocky sections after navigational mishaps (of which there were a few…).
However, their very strength in that regard can let them down in terms of actual strength and durability. If you put all your weight on this pole you can see it bend, compared to some of the heavier poles which will take the full burden of a medium-sized runner.
But they are still remarkably strong for their low weight, and will last a great many years if you’re careful with them. If only the handle material was less harsh they’d be our first choice for our next multi-day adventure. We are very tempted to sew some smooth T-shirt material around the handle mesh so we don’t have to wear gloves or need blister plasters next time.
They were definitely the best on test in terms of being ultralight, so if that’s the most important thing for you, go for it.
The co-founder and former editor of Trail Running magazine, Claire now runs the YouTube channel Wild Ginger Running, creating films packed with trail- and ultra-running content. An award-winning journalist, writing for outdoor and adventure sports magazines and websites, her first book The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running 5k to 50k is out in January 2021. Claire also speaks and presents at events and races.