Hands-on Gear Review

Montem Ultra Strong Review

Montem Ultra
Best Buy Award
Price:  $50 List
Pros:  Excellent value, very versatile, do-it-all pole at a great price
Cons:  Durability is questionable, pole is bulky and not the lightest
Bottom line:  The Ultra Strong is a perfect entry-level pole, offering a versatile aluminum pole at an unbeatable price point.
Editors' Rating:   
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Measured Weight Per Pair (Ounces):  19.2 oz
Shaft Material:  Aluminum
Min Length (inches):  24 in
Manufacturer:   Montem

Our Verdict

The Montem Ultra Strong trekking poles are perfect for adventurers looking for a good deal. For the lowest price in our review, it offers comfort, versatility, and weight that make it an excellent choice for any adventure. Interestingly, this pole features a near-identical design to the Hiker Hunger Carbon Fiber and Foxelli HOG1 poles. This generic design does raise concerns about durability; however, our reviewers did not experience any problems. As a new addition to our review this year, the Ultra Strong beat the Black Diamond Trail Back as our Best Buy winner. If you're looking for a capable pole at a low price, this pole is an excellent choice.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Ben Skach

Last Updated:
Monday
May 14, 2018

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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. After testing these poles in a variety of ways, we are giving them our Best Buy award for 2018.

Performance Comparison


Our Best Buy winner  the Ultra Strong.
Our Best Buy winner, the Ultra Strong.

Comfort


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.

The foam handles are fairly comfortable  and the lower handles are useful for choking down.
The foam handles are fairly comfortable, and the lower handles are useful for choking down.

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. The Black Diamond Trail Back has more secure locking mechanisms on a similar style pole.

The plastic locking mechanisms are adjustable but don't strike us as being overly durable.
The plastic locking mechanisms are adjustable but don't strike us as being overly durable.

Weight


These poles are surprisingly light for the price, helping boost them as our Best Buy winner. Weighing in at 19.2 ounces, it beats the Trail Back by two ounces, and pretty much ties with the REI Co-Op Passage. The aluminum construction adds a significant amount of weight compared to the Hiker Hunger Carbon Fiber and Foxelli HOG1 but makes us more confident in the durability. Since one of our main concerns with budget carbon fiber poles was strength, the Montem poles are a good option for those who aren't concerned with saving every last ounce.


Packed Size


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. This was almost the same length as the Trail Back, which also beat out the Rei Co-Op Passage by around three inches.


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, such as the Black Diamond Alpine FLZ.

Durability


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.

The poles are constructed from aluminum in a three section telescoping design.
The poles are constructed from aluminum in a three section telescoping design.

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. This is the same issue that we noticed in the Hiker Hunger Carbon Fiber and Foxelli HOG1 poles since they share nearly identical locking mechanisms. The benefit of the Ultra Strong is that we trust the aluminum poles more than the carbon fiber of a discount brand.


Versatility


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.

Carbide tips  both with and without the mud baskets.
Carbide tips, both with and without the mud baskets.

Best Applications


We recommend these poles for just about any activity, as long as you don't expect them to excel in any one category. Their practical design and moderate weight make it useful in nearly any situation. Whether you plan on backpacking, day-hiking, or mountaineering, it's hard to go wrong with the Ultra Strong.

Value


As the winner of our Best Buy award, we found great value in these poles. We wouldn't recommend them if you plan on using them on a daily basis for a long time, but for an entry-level pole or occasional use, these are a perfect choice. For a more durable pole at a slightly higher price point, consider the Black Diamond Trail Back. This was our winner best value pole last year, but at only $50, the Montem Ultra Strong was our pick this year for unbeatable value.

Conclusion


The Montem Ultra Strong do it all - for the lowest price in our review. 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. For $50, we recommend these if you're looking for decent poles without breaking the bank.
Ben Skach

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Most recent review: May 14, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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Rating Distribution
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5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
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