Leki Super Makalu/Super Makalu Photopole
The Super Makalu/Super Makalu Photopole has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best rigid trekking poles for 2023.
I've owned both the Makalu Antishock Photopole and the Super Makalu Soft Antishock pole.
The former now seems to be available only as the Sierra and unlike the original version this has a wooden pommel on the top that is unscrewed to reveal a thread suitable for most cameras. This can be a bonus if you like photography and need a little extra steadiness but it's not a replacement for a proper monopod. You would need to add a separate ball and socket head if you want to mount the camera portrait style and the pole itself is shorter than any decent monopod. After all this is first and foremeost a walking pole. The result is that to use it you need to take the time to unscrew the pommel then screw the pole onto the camera or attach a separate head, after which you will probably need to kneel down as bending down just makes you even more unsteady. You can't have the best of both worlds even with Leki so don't expect it.
As walking poles both are very very good. They are lightweight and though more expensive than many of the cheaper lookalike poles on the market they will take a lot of pressure. That's not to say they won't bend but I've had to put a lot of weight on a pole to stay upright in a gale and had confidence in it (Leki claims a holding strength of up to 140kg). The antishock feature can easily be deactivated on the Super Makalu though the leaflet that comes with the pole is a bit unclear on how. It's a case of pressing down on the middle section and twisting, and by carefully opening the mid section past the warning stop the locking mechanism is exposed so you can see its position. This feature can be useful if you need a little extra traction going up steep slopes. The straps are well made and adjustable and will tighten up properly so that the pressure is well distributed and doesn't rely on how well you can grip the pole, so my hands have never got tired.
Of the two poles I've used one has the traditional rubberised handle and the other a cortec one. I've found the cortec one a little less sweaty on very hot days, the rubberised one feels like I have a bit more grip. Personally I slightly favour the rubberised type but that's just me. Some poles also feature grips with a lighter material, black and looking like the older rubberised style but definitely not the same. These I haven't used.
Both my Photopole and the Super Makalu open up to 140cm, whereas some only extend to 135cm or even 130cm for the ultralite models. Much of the time this doesn't make too much difference, but walking along a contour line and using a pole on the downslope side when it needs extending a bit more, the extra has come in useful.
A couple of more general thoughts are that if you want to buy two poles shop around for a better price, don't just order two poles priced individually. Also, if you intend taking them on a plane it might be worth considering whether they will fit inside your case or holdall. Not everywhere will let you take them on as hand luggage.
Price Paid: £36/£38