by Diane Spicer
This Montem trekking pole review was written for one big reason: to try a new-to-Hiking For Her approach to stability and less fatigue on the trail, and then share the results with you.
This pair of hiking poles was received free of charge from Montem, and trail tested by Hiking For Her.
All opinions and photos belong to HFH.
There is no affiliate relationship between Montem and Hiking For Her.
The pair of telescoping trekking poles reviewed here are the Montem Ultra-Light 3K Carbon Fiber Poles.
Performance on the trail is important, but I like to start a hiking gear review with a look at gear design to understand why certain materials were used.
Gives you a better feel for whether or not the gear will work for your hiking style, right?
So let's start with the most conspicuous part of a trekking pole, the shaft.
The shaft of these poles is constructed of 100% 3K carbon fiber.
That's important for two reasons:
Length and weight specifications of the poles:
The tungsten carbide tips will stand up to rocky and abrasive terrain.
The hand grips are cork, a lightweight choice especially good for warm weather hiking as it absorbs sweat to ensure a solid handhold.
Below the cork are short segments of ridged foam, giving you the ability to grasp the poles lower down as trail elevation changes.
The nylon adjustable wrist straps have soft padding at contact points, a durable and comfortable design feature.
Yeah, I wondered that, too.
With a bit of research and some head scratching, here's the short version of the answer that matters to your trail experience.
Carbon fiber is created from precursor chemicals by using extremely high temperatures to burn off everything except carbon atoms.
The remaining carbon fibers are bundled together by increments of thousands (abbreviation for thousand = K), so "3K" tells you there are three thousand fibers per bundle (i.e. size of bundle).
3K carbon fibers in sheets make trekking poles strong but not entirely rigid, with an incredibly low weight in your hands.
Now let's get to user experience in this Montem trekking pole review.
I brought these poles along on a three day mixed terrain trip to Mount Rainier National Park in May, which is an interesting time to test a pair of trekking poles.
At lower elevations (around 3,000 feet) the trail was bare and dry with temperatures in the 50F range.
As I gained elevation, I encountered icy and snow covered spots.
That's when the poles really strutted their stuff!
I tend to be a "leaner" when I'm going uphill on dicey footing.
On this particular day, I was concerned about postholing through the icy crust into the softer snow (and lurking rocks) below.
So I put a lot of weight on these poles.
And I'm happy to report that there was no bending, no feeling of "give", as I shifted my weight in response to my footing.
And absolutely no slippage of the upper or lower segments of the poles (no collapsing), meaning I learned to trust their stability quickly even when I didn't trust my footing.
The poles felt a bit more responsive in my hands than aluminum poles when I used them to probe ahead of me, looking to avoid weak snow bridges or hunting for the best spot to make a creek crossing.
I also noticed some shock absorption on downhill sections of trail, a nice reprieve for my hands, elbows and most importantly, my knees.
At the upper elevations of my destination each day, approaching 6,000+ feet with deep snow, it was time to switch over to snowshoes.
This allowed me to test how the poles responded to continuous uphill usage with a wider stride and less weight bearing.
No worries! The poles felt great.
Every good hike must come to an end, and when it was time to turn around to dump the elevation I had worked so hard to attain, the snow had softened.
When going downhill into potentially icy patches of snow beneath trees, interspersed with slushy stuff and sun cups, I prefer to have traction devices on my boots rather than snowshoes.
So the descent from Mazama Ridge tested the poles in yet another way as I created my own pattern of tight switchbacks, using controlled hand and foot movements.
Due to their light weight, it was easy to pick them up and plant them in an easy rhythm, even when the snow felt a bit "grabby".
Could I have done a butt glissade?
Now you know where I took these poles for a spin.
Time to get even more specific about the features these poles offer to you.
The first thing I did when I unboxed these poles: I held my aluminum hiking poles in one hand, and the carbon fiber poles in the other.
Noticeably less weight in the Montem trekking poles!
These poles were so lightweight in my hands that I never got what I call "grip fatigue" (claw fingers) through the 8+ hours of daily hiking.
The snow baskets went on with an easy twisting motion.
Although I didn't use the mud baskets (which are great for three season hikes) on this trip, I did put them on and off just for fun, and liked how they screwed on easily.
Because you put your weight on these poles, and depend upon them for stability and balance, it's important to take a close look at the way you lock and unlock the segments of the poles.
If you've never used poles with a flick lock mechanism, you're in for a pleasant surprise: easy to use, and rock solid.
There are helpful numbers on both the top and bottom segments of the shaft to make sure your right pole length matches your left pole.
Be patient! It will take a bit of experimentation to figure out "your" numbers, and they will change with the seasons.
You should also adjust the length of your poles for uphill versus downhill hiking.
There were a few things that I learned the hard way, which is typical with a new brand of hiking gear.
I want you to avoid my learning curve when you hit the trail with these Montem collapsible trekking poles, so here goes.
First, the bottom segment of the shaft is tapered at the bottom, toward the tip.
Next, check to be sure the baskets are screwed on tightly.
Finally, the distance between the snow basket and the tip of each pole is shorter than on some other pole brands.
Why does this matter?
If you're hiking through deep snow or gooey mud, you may not be able to get as solid of a purchase with the pole tip as you would like because the basket-tip distance is short.
The padded nylon wrist straps are easy to adjust.
I like mine a bit loose, to accommodate clothing layers & gloves as I gain and lose elevation.
But you can snug yours down tightly by removing the tension block and tugging on the strap.
Over my decades of hiking as a female, I have learned to approach the word "unisex" with caution.
The length of the poles has a wide range for adjustment for short to tall hikers, so no worries there regarding gender differences.
The ergonomic cork grips gave me a bit of pause.
As a small woman (my adult kids still call me Mouse Mommy), my hands don't have much of a span.
So for trekking poles to work for me, hand grips need to offer enough contour to make solid contact with my palm and curled fingers - but not too much, or my fingers get out of alignment and cramp up after a few hours on the trail.
The grips on these poles were right at the limit of comfort for me.
If you have small hands, you are probably already aware of the "one size fits all" dilemma.
Just a heads up, not a deal breaker ;)
Carbon poles and high cost are indelibly linked in my mind.
Montem has made some smart moves as a company (selling directly to hikers) to keep these poles affordable: $119.99 plus free shipping in the U.S. (they also ship internationally).
That's a crazy good price for these well designed, strong, lightweight and versatile carbon trekking poles!
Note: This is the current price at the time of this review (May 2019).
In addition to these high performance poles you receive:
This company stands behind its products with a lifetime guarantee and a strong commitment to high performance gear at great prices.
And if these poles seem like an investment, well, they are!
If you've got a limited hiking gear budget, Montem also offers lower priced carbon fiber trekking poles:
They also carry a full line of affordable and durable aluminum hiking poles, perfect if you're starting out as a hiker or just like the way an aluminum pole performs for you on the trail.
Treat these poles right, and they'll be your faithful trail buddies for a long time.
This Hiking For Her Montem trekking pole review reports to you the data I collected during a simulation of four season hiking on dirt, mud, rocks, ice AND snow.
In three days.
At a fabulous spot on the map!
So thanks for the incentive ;)
These carbon fiber poles have earned a permanent place in my gear locker for three reasons:
These Montem 3K carbon fiber poles are definitely versatile, needing only a few moments to telescope them higher or lower as needed and then lock them tightly in place.
A four season hiker needs only this one pair of poles, thanks to the interchangeable baskets.
Because of the wide range of length adjustments at your fingertips, you can loan these poles to anyone in your hiking circle, knowing they'll perform well on the trail.
Good news after using these poles for three consecutive days:
I recommend these strong, reliable Montem carbon fiber trekking poles for any hiker who:
Pick up a pair of these poles and you'll notice how they feel feather light but also well balanced, meaning they don't pull you forward when you lean into the trail holding them in your hands.
The cork grips are designed to fit the contours of the hand (see note above) and will adjust to your preferred wrist snugness.
Changing the length of the poles, no problem! A few twists and you're done.
The locking mechanism is straightforward and stable.
These poles are going to travel easily to/from the trail with tips safely ensconced in rubber end caps, making them a great choice for commercial airline travel in checked luggage.
And if carbon fiber is strong enough for Boeing airplanes, it's strong enough for you and me!
But what really makes me smile?
The rock solid feel of these carbon fiber poles when I transfer my body weight to them.
They don't budge.
If I didn't answer your particular question in this Montem trekking pole review, or you'd like more details on my trail experience using them, you can reach me here.
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