Montem Trekking Pole Review, Ultra Z Folding Model
Trekking Poles That Work
In a previous article I wrote about Why You Should Use Walking Poles to Hike, because they are great tools for all ages, and they help with burning calories, provide stability, and aid in endurance . I still strongly believe that walking or trekking poles are a wonderful tool to use and that's why I agreed to do a review of the Montem Ultra Z Folding Trekking Pole. You may remember that I mentioned this small start-up outdoor company in my previous post. You can read all about Montem on their home page here. I also want to take you on a journey of how to consider the different features and materials that you should consider when examining a trekking pole, using these as an example.
The kind folks at Montem sent me their Ultra Z Folding Trekking Pole. It arrived from Amazon, and it appears that it can be shipped Prime, which is always a perk for me. The cost is around $70, which is average for a good quality set of poles. When I opened the box I found the poles folded up and in plastic with a big sticker that indicated that they were "Made in China." Now this isn't a deal breaker for me, because there is little that isn't made in China anymore, but it may be a concern for some customers.
The poles are three section poles (there are also two section poles on the market) and they come folded in a nice drawstring bag, with the nylon wrist loops already pre-installed, trekking protectors, Velcro straps to hold them folded up, and rubber stoppers. Here's a quick run-down on the body of the trekking poles (from the Montem Site):
- Shaft Construction: Aluminum 7075
- Grip Material: EVA Foam
- Adjustable: Yes
- Maximum Length (in.): 53 inches
- Minimum Length (in.): 45 inches
- Maximum Length (cm): 135 centimeters
- Minimum Length (cm): 115 centimeters
- Folded Length (in.): 16″
- Folded Length (cm): 41 centimeters (16")
- Weight: 10.5 oz per pole (21 oz total)
- Gender: Unisex
- Included: One set of tip protectors, and one set of mud baskets
Trekking poles come in a variety of materials, and the aluminum 7075 (zinc alloy) of these poles is fine for me and for most average hikers. It's just about as strong as steel, light and corrodes less easily than many alloys. As they say on their website, it's what's used in airplane bodies. Carbon fiber poles are lighter than aluminum but take a beating (dents/cracks) less well and tend to be more expensive.
This particular hiking pole has an EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) foam handle. Montem gear uses EVA foam exclusively, but you can also get cork and rubber handles (other brands), and each has its own pros and cons, namely if it shapes to your hand over time, if it absorbs water, and how hot it gets. For every day hiking foam is fine, and it doesn't absorb water. Foam is useful because it's also ultra light-weight, which makes it ideal for distance hiking.
The poles are held together by a shock-cord running through them, much like folding tent poles. I didn't see a description of what they are made from, but they seem strong and well made.
UNPACKING AND CONSTRUCTION
When I unpacked the poles and got ready to assemble them I noticed the directions were a one page set of instructions in black and white. I liked the idea of the instructions but these I found them only somewhat helpful. The text is solely in English and it's written like someone is talking to you, complete with contractions (except the contractions have question marks instead of an apostrophe) and dangling letters at the end of sentences. The text is also pretty jargony, for example, "If your pole section is slipping, please use the following to tighten." What exactly does slipping mean? I think the instructions would have been more useful with more clearer definitions and a diagram included, especially for first time pole buyers. However, the video on their website (and on Amazon) helps.
The poles have two features that I really liked. When you unfold them and then lock the pieces together (for this model 3 pieces) you can then twist or turn the poles to lock them into place so that they won't fold apart again. The other thing that I liked was their flip lock system that allows you to set the height using a screw and lock system. Telescoping poles that twist lock for size adjustment are OK, but they can get dirt in them and eventually wear out. With the flip lock it's easier to adjust pole size on-the-go too. I found this especially handy when going up and down steep inclines. I could easily adjust these to make one longer or shorter to assist in the ascent or descent when I was hiking.
I also did a size test of these poles for my height, 5'6, as well as that of some of my shorter friends/family. When you're fitting hiking poles you want your arms and hands to rest at a 90 degree angle from your body. These poles were fine for me, and they also flip lock adjusted just fine for friends that were 5'2 and 4'11. I didn't have time to test them for anyone over 6' but they can go up to 45" or about four feet (enough for most giants). I wouldn't use these for anyone shorter than 4'11 though, they would seem bulky.
Last thing about the body of the poles and something I really liked were the soft nylon straps. My first pair of trekking poles has only a nylon webbing straps, which tends to chafe after a while (it has a few rough spots). These new poles have nice padding along the back, which I really appreciate. The straps are adjusted by pulling out the small box that sits inside the top handle (which is pretty standard issue on most trekking poles). I haven't had them long enough to know if this mechanism will last, but based on my other sticks it should be fine. The rubber tips of the poles are standard issue as are the carbide tips, which work just fine too.
So how did they perform? I took these out in a variety of muddy and dry conditions. They did just fine. I found the locking mechanisms worked well, the straps were comfortable, and the grips were lightweight and fit well in my hand. I don't have any complaints about the poles, other than the instructions, and found them easy to use and fun to take hiking. I like the aluminum body, it feels strong and sturdy, and it's nice to know that they fold down for backpacking or packing for trips. On Amazon they have a 98% approval rating, 4.8 stars out of 5, with 40 reviews. I agree with most reviewers about the quality of these poles and their features, especially for the price point.
The guys at Montem have a good product in the Ultra Z Folding Trekking Pole. The price is comparable to other brands on the market, and the quality is great. You can also invest in their more expensive carbon fiber pole for $79 or their less expensive poles for $49. It all depends on your needs and budget, but I definitely recommend the Montem Ultra Z. You can buy from them directly online https://montemlife.com/ or Amazon.com.
Want to know more about hiking poles and outdoor gear? Check out the website "Outdoor Gear Lab" to find out more about picking the right size and type of pole for you.