The Montem Ultra Strong Trekking Poles are making quite a stir in the world of hiking stability. Hailed by many as a premium-quality pole at a bargain price, sites like the Wirecutter tout them as “the best for nearly everyone.”
What we dig: The EVA foam grips are supremely comfortable in hand. Featuring sturdy build quality and easy-to-use functionality, the Montems are a workhorse trekking pole that won’t break the bank.
What we’d change: The tension-knobs on the flick-locks don’t come pre-tightened from the factory and can’t be hand tightened, requiring pliers. The hype’s surrounding these poles has gone a little too far too — they’re solid, but not necessarily premium.
The bottom line: The Montems are for sure above average for their price-point, especially the comfy and breathable grips. If you just need a reliable pair of poles, these babies will get the job done. If you’re looking for weight-savings or packability, you’ll have to look elsewhere. That said, they’re still one of our go-to hiking sticks.
Montem’s Ultra Strong Trekking Poles are of the adjustable telescoping variety, replete with “flick-locks” for easy adjustments. Their adjustment range accommodates people ranging in height from 4′ all the way up to about 6’4″.
The poles come standard with EVA Foam grips but alternately come with cork grips as well. The main shafts are made of aluminum 7075, one of the highest-strength aluminum alloys available.
Baskets are included for stability when used in snowy conditions. The poles come in six colors: black, matte black, matte blue, matte pink, white, and yellow.
Weighing in it at 19.2 ounces per pair, these are definitely not the lightest poles out there. But, you wouldn’t expect so given the price point, or their telescoping design, or the fact that they’re made of high-strength aluminum. For ultra-light backpackers, this might be a deal breaker, but for most users, it’s probably not an issue.
Montem does offer telescoping poles in ultra-light carbon fiber: Ultra Light 3K Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles. Weighing in at 7.8 ounces per pair, they’re less than half the weight than the aluminum version, but nearly double the price.
EVA Foam Grips: These are the top feature on these poles, in our opinion. Described by Montem as “non-slip”, on long hikes they don’t chafe like rubber and stay super comfortable in the hand.
Montem also offers them with cork grips, but claims higher durability from the EVA foam. Based on our experiences with cork, we agree and found satisfaction with the foam grips we used.
“Flick-locks”: This is Montem’s own name for the lever-style adjustment locks. Montem describes them as “cutting edge” even though the same base design is used by many trekking pole brands and often on tripod legs too.
Regardless, we’re fans of the design as it’s far easier to use than the twist-lock designs found on some poles. We do have one small qualm here, but it’s discussed in a later section.
Durability: The pair of Montem’s we tested held up great. We feel pretty confident these poles will last years if properly cared for (see Montem’s website for proper maintenance).
The 7075 grade aluminum is definitely built to last, but we do recommend removing the baskets when not in the snow: rough trails chew them up quickly (yep, know from experience).
Factory Setting on Flick-Locks: When we used the Montem poles for the first time, we repeatedly stopped to extend the poles as locks weren’t holding firm when bearing weight. Having no tools in tow, we attempted to hand-tighten the plastic nuts on the locks, but to no avail. Back at car, we used a pair of pliers to tighten up the locks. Since then, there hasn’t a problem with slippery locks.
This problem is addressed in the FAQs on the Montem’s website, which basically recommends tightening the nut as we had already done. The explanation from Montem: leaving the locks loose gives the user maximum personal adjustability.
Rant alert! But seriously, how many of us care to pre-adjust the tension in the locks? Most users likely prefer pre-tensioned locks. And in the end, it’s frustrating when the poles don’t function properly straight out of the box. Apparently, enough people experienced this problem and don’t figure it on their own because it appears in the manufacturer’s FAQs.
Although we’ve dedicated two whole paragraphs on this, its an easy “duh” fix that doesn’t affect the user experience once resolved, and isn’t dramatically affecting our final verdict on these poles. However, it’s a problem that could potentially cause an impatient customer to throw away a perfectly good product.
Versus The Competition
Here’s where things get interesting! Montem’s claim to fame is creating an excellent quality trekking pole for an affordable price. We happened to have a pair of Black Diamond Trail Back trekking poles in our gear stash, and they happen to be the most direct competition to the Montem Ultra Strong poles.
A little backstory first. Here at Territory Supply, we’re pretty experienced hikers, but under normal circumstances, we’re not big trekking pole users. However, a few of us swear by them on backpacking trips for extra stability and impact absorption provided when weighed down with a top-heavy load.
The Trail Backs were originally purchased right before a backpacking trip with an toward durable and affordable. Sounds quite a bit like MO of the Montems, doesn’t it?
Comparing the two sets of poles side by side, the most obvious difference is the grips. The Montem’s have tan-colored EVA foam, the Black Diamond’s have black rubber.
When switching back and forth between the two, the EVA foam on the Montems feel more comfortable in the hand. While chaffing problems with rubber grips varies person to person, we’ve never experienced any chaffing at all with the foam grips.
In basically all other aspects, the two products are remarkably similar. Both are built of strong, durable aluminum. Both extend through an almost identical height range. The flick-locks on each have similar functionality. When used in hand on the trail, the only real discernible difference is the grip material.
Of course, the Black Diamond’s flick-locks did come pre-tensioned from the factory, eliminating the Montems problem with the poles shortening while under load.
Also, the tension adjustment on the Trail Backs is a little better of a design, using a metal Phillips head screw. The Montems basically have a plastic knob that fits a Phillips head screwdriver, and appear to be designed for hand-tightening (although they don’t work well that way). The plastic appears pretty strong, but we wouldn’t be surprised it you could strip it out screwdriver.
The two poles are pretty much on par with each other, but the Montem gets a slight advantage because of the upgraded grips.
When comparing prices online, it looks like the typical retail price for these poles is also identical: $79.99.
Overall, the Montem Ultra Strong Trekking Poles are a durable, quality pole offering a hiker years of dependable service. With their super-comfortable EVA foam grips, they’ve taken over as our favorite working-class trekking pole.Check Current Price
That said, the hype surrounding these poles is a little over the top. These poles aren’t necessarily in a class of their own — the Black Diamond Trail Back is a near equal! Regardless, the Montems are definitely a great pair of poles and certainly set themselves above the likes of the junky bargain bin poles we’ve all used at some point.
Anyone looking for a workhorse pair of poles without costing an arm and a leg will likely find solace in the Montems. Also worth considering are Montem’s Ultra Light 3K Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles and Ultra Z Folding Poles.