Several months ago, we got in touch with the New York-based company Montem. Montem produces various outdoor gear, but they are especially known for their high-quality trekking poles. They offered us a sample of 3K carbon trekking poles in return for an unbiased review. I checked the technical specifications and figured out that we could indeed use such poles. The Montem 3K poles are super light (442 grams per pair) which is important for the type of trails we do. Furthermore, when collapsed they measure only 61 centimeters in length and can thus be easily attached to a backpack. That’s very useful for via ferrata trails and scrambling.
The timing for testing the trekking poles was also perfect as we had planned a hiking-intensive holiday in the Alps. During our holidays, I tested the 3K carbon trekking poles thoroughly on various hikes and alpine ascents, and here is what I learned about them.
The Montem 3K Carbon Trekking Poles are suitable for:
The Montem 3K carbon trekking poles are made of carbon fiber and have cork grips. This combination is very common for ultralight trekking poles because carbon fiber is lighter than aluminum and cork is lighter than EVA foam. This is my first pair of carbon poles (before I was using aluminum poles) and when I unwrapped them, I couldn’t believe how light they are. I have wanted such trekking poles for a long time because they are very useful for mountaineering where lightweight gear is of the utmost importance. Read more about this in our article Why hike lightweight. After checking the competitive products, I figured out that the Montem 3K is one of the lightest, if not the lightest product on the market.
However, carbon fiber is not as strong as aluminum and on my first hike I did notice that the trekking poles are slightly less robust than my old ones. Whenever a lot of pressure was applied to them, they did give in slightly. Nevertheless, this was barely noticeable and thus I didn’t find it problematic. Even though cork grips are sometimes labeled as uncomfortable, I found these pretty good. The advantage of cork is that it doesn’t absorb liquid (sweat and rain) and consequently, it also doesn’t get cold at low temperatures. However, it’s true that cork doesn’t feel soft to the touch as EVA foam.
The straps are made of nylon and padded on the inside. I found them comfortable, functional, quick- drying and easy to adjust. The external locking mechanism is made of plastic which seems durable enough to also withstand low temperatures in winter. I was less impressed with the baskets, but more about this below.
Adjusting the length and locking mechanism
The Montem 3K is a collapsible trekking pole which means that it is adjustable in length. This is useful because you can shorten the pole when going uphill and lengthen it when going downhill. It features an external locking mechanism which works in a similar way as Black Diamond’s FlickLock. To adjust the pole, you just flick the mechanism open and then you slide the pole in or out. Now, the locking mechanism also has a screw which provides tension and in my experience this screw has to be re-adjusted quite often. Nevertheless, the Montem trekking pole is still much easier to adjust then my old trekking poles. Those used an internal locking mechanism; you had to twist the shafts to secure them, which was really hard to do both in winter with gloves on and in summer with sweaty hands.
Baskets, Tips and Accessories
The Montem 3K trekking poles come with two pairs of detachable baskets (little plastic discs at the bottom); mud baskets and snow baskets. Baskets are used to prevent the poles from sinking too deeply into the terrain.
I haven’t tested the snow baskets yet because there was not enough snow where we hiked but I did put on the so-called mud baskets. Since we mostly hiked on rocky terrain, you are probably wondering why I put on the mud baskets. Well, I always used similar baskets on my old poles because they prevented the poles from getting stuck into small spaces between rocks. When a pole gets stuck into a small space between rocks it’s very easy to bend it or break it. However, the mud baskets could not withstand this challenge; one broke on my very first hike and the other one on the second hike. I’m thus not impressed with the quality of the small baskets but I guess the plastic is just too rigid. Nevertheless, I notified Montem about this problem and I do believe they’ll come with a solution. The baskets are otherwise easy to put on and off – you just twist them, no tool required.
The tips, however, don’t show any signs of wear even though they were used on rough rocky terrain. I’m satisfied with the quality of the tips. With the poles you also get a pair of rubber tips for use on pavement. You simply put these over the steel tips. The Montem poles come with a carrying case. I really liked that because I can throw the poles in the trunk without worrying that I’ll make everything in my car dirty.
All in all, I’m very satisfied with the Montem 3K trekking poles. They are lightweight, short when collapsed and relatively easy to adjust. I climbed five 2000+ meters high mountains with them, and I haven’t noticed any serious flaws. Yes, the baskets broke and while this indeed is a shortcoming, the baskets are not the most expensive or crucial part of the poles. Switching to Montem 3K was a delight. I assume I’ll stick with them for the years to come.
If you have any questions about this product, drop me a line in the comments below.