Montem Ultra Strong Trekking Poles
$50, 1 lb. 3 oz. (with trekking baskets)
One size, adjustable
Despite how useful they are at reducing impact on leg and back muscles and joints, letting you hike farther with noticeably less fatigue, trekking poles are often one of the last pieces of gear that hikers and backpackers acquire. I suspect that has to do with cost almost as much as the time lag between becoming a hiker and discovering the utility of poles. But what if poles were cheaper? Seeing the Montem Ultra Strong Trekking Poles priced one-third to one-quarter the cost of many leading, popular pole models, I used them backpacking the rugged, 25-mile Thunder River-Deer Creek Loop in the Grand Canyon, a four-day trip in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, and dayhiking in Zion National Park to see how they measure up.
My wife also used them on a four-day backpacking trip in Yosemite in July, and I used them on winter days of resort skiing. The three-section Ultra Strong poles use the same materials you’ll find in pricier poles: highly durable 7075 aluminum shafts that suffered no damage in testing, even on the steep and rocky paths of the Thunder River-Deer Creek Loop; flick-lock levers for adjusting the length (similar to those used on Black Diamond poles); carbide tips; comfortably wide and easily adjustable hand straps; and EVA foam grips that extend down the shaft, useful when hiking very steep terrain or backcountry skiing.
The foam grips are among the softest I’ve ever held—the foam actually depresses under pressure from a finger (and rebounds instantly). The flick-lock levers require no tool to easily and quickly adjust pole length; with an adjustment range is 24-53 inches (61-135cm), these poles are adequate for most people and have slightly more range than some more-expensive competitors.
The locking levers occasionally loosened and collapsed when weighted—although not very many times, and not a single time on my most-recent backpacking trip with them. While it’s very easy to tighten them up again, that slippage doesn’t tend to happen with high-end adjustable poles. While the poles seem strong enough for skiing, random slipping may be more annoying for backcountry skiers than hikers.
Another demerit: I lost one of the trekking baskets in the Grand Canyon, and I’m not sure how—which means it wasn’t some noticeable event, so it came off too easily.
At just over a pound per pair, the Ultra Strong poles aren’t ultralight, but they compare in weight with other, more-durable poles, making them ideal for many dayhikers and backpackers.
For ultralight hiking and backpacking, these aren’t the lightest or most compact model available. But for many hikers and backpackers on a budget, who don’t mind having to readjust the poles occasionally when they slip, the Montem Ultra Strong Trekking Poles represent a super value.
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I almost never hike without poles. Read why in my “10 Tricks For Making Hiking and Backpacking Easier.”
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NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all my gear reviews at The Big Outside.
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