Montem Ultra Strong Review
Cons: Durability is questionable, pole is bulky and not the lightest
Our Analysis and Test Results
We added these Montem poles to our 2018 review after hearing about them last year. We did not know what to expect, especially for such an inexpensive pole, but we were pleasantly surprised. The Montem Ultra Strong performed well for most activities, without impressing us in any one category.
First of all, it's important to note that the Ultra Strong features EVA foam handles, despite the appearance of cork. The handles are still a comfortable option, but you should not purchase these expecting cork handles.
In addition to the typical foam, these poles feature a useful foam grip under the standard handles, which are very comfortable for "choking down." The extra texture on this section was particularly helpful when climbing steep terrain with giant steps. The wrist straps are padded and reasonably comfortable, but they can come loose occasionally.
Locking Mechanism and Adjustability
These poles sport a standard three-section telescoping design. This is nice for hikers who prefer to adjust their poles to different lengths depending on the terrain. The poles can range from 24 to 53 inches, or 61 to 135 cm.
The problem that we found in this area was the locking mechanisms. They need to be tightened quite a bit to keep the telescoping sections secure. While we didn't have any issues with the plastic clips, they seem like they could be one of the first parts of the pole to break.
These poles are surprisingly light for the price. Since one of our main concerns with budget carbon fiber poles is strength, the aluminum Montem poles are a good option for those who aren't concerned with saving every last ounce.
The Ultra Strong collapses to 24 inches, which pretty standard among telescoping poles. We could easily strap these poles onto the outside of our packs in several different ways.
While it fits on the outside of a pack well, these poles don't fit inside packs very easily. If that's what you're looking for, you should consider a "tentpole" style pole.
Durability is one of our main concerns with this pole. During our testing, we had no problems with the strength of the pole or the locking mechanisms; however, the generic design of the pole makes us question how long it will last. Some reviews online mentioned the pole bending easily; however, we put significant weight on the pole and noticed nothing of the sort. This isn't to say that the pole can't bend or snap, but we would be surprised if it happened without excessive force.
What we are more concerned about is the durability of the plastic locking mechanisms. We needed to tighten them for the telescoping sections to stay secure, and it's possible that tightening these too much could cause them to snap. The benefit of the Ultra Strong is that we trust the aluminum poles more than the carbon fiber of a discount brand.
The one category where these poles stood out was the versatility rating, where we awarded them an 8/10. They shine as a pole that does it all (although you probably wouldn't want to use them for trail running). They come with mud baskets and are compatible with Montem snow baskets as well (sold separately). They come with a pair of basic rubber tips, and Montem sells several different styles if you want more. The adjustability and secondary foam grip make them excellent for climbing on steep terrain. Our testers found this particularly useful on mountaineering ventures.
If you want a pole that you can use in just about any situation, the Ultra Strong is a great choice. It was only beat out by the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork, although that price tag adds over $100.
We found great value in these poles. We wouldn't recommend them if you plan on using them daily for a long time, but for an entry-level pole or occasional use, these are a decent choice.
The Montem Ultra Strong do it all — for a very low price. These poles don't offer anything fancy, but they are very practical for beginners or budget-buyers. We have a slight concern over durability, but we did not have any problems during our testing. We recommend these if you're looking for decent poles without breaking the bank.
— Ben Skach
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