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Reviews > Trekking Poles > Poles > Mons Peak IX Tiger Paw Carbon > Test Report by David Wilkes

Test series by David Wilkes

MONS PEAK IX 

Tiger Paw Carbon Trekking Poles

Initial Report - May 23 2018
Field Report - September 18 2018
Long Term Report - Oct 30 2018

Tester Information

Name: David Wilkes
E-Mail: amatbrewer@yahoo.com
Age: 52
Location: Yakima Washington USA
Gender: M
Height: 5'11" (1.80 m)
Weight: 210 lb (90.7 kg)

Biography:

I started backpacking in 1995 when I moved to Washington State. Since then, I have backpacked in all seasons and conditions the Northwest has to offer.  I prefer trips on rugged trails with plenty of elevation gain. While I continuously strive to lighten my load, comfort and safety are most important to me. I have finally managed to get my basic cold weather pack weight, not including consumables, to under 30 lb (14 kg).

Product Information

Manufacturer:

MONS PEAK IX

Year of Manufacture:

2018

Manufacturer’s Website:

www.monspeakix.com

MSRP:

$149.99 USD

Size:

One size -Length 24.5 - 53.1 in / 62 - 135 cm (measured to confirm)

Weight (Pair):

Listed: 13.9 oz / 394 g
Measured:  14.7 oz / 418 g (without basket)

Product pix

Product Description:

The Mons Peak IX (pronounce as the number ‘nine’) Tiger Paw Carbon Trekking poles are designed as lightweight 4 season poles (they include mud and snow baskets). They include a composite cork and polymer grip, carbon pole sections, carbide tips and snap-click locks (for length adjustment). They also include extended length grips and adjustable wrist straps as well as length indicators marked in centimeters and inches. They are one of three styles of trekking poles offered by Mons Peak. They adjust from 62 to 135 cm (24.5 – 53.1 in).

Initial Report

May 23 2018

Grip and strapI would like to begin with a little background on my knowledge and experience with trekking poles, as well as the two most common construction materials used. I have used poles for hiking, backpacking and snowshoeing for a number of years. I use poles for just about every hike/backpack/snowshoe trip I undertake. I normally use two poles but will sometimes switch to one when necessary (e.g. when hiking with my dog). So far most of my experience is with aluminum poles (fixed ski poles, adjustable and fixed trekking poles), but I have observed the use of carbon poles, and as a geek & engineer know a bit about carbon fiber in general. My experience (direct and observed) is that quality (aircraft grade) aluminum poles are very durable and can take a lot of abuse. Aluminum tends to flex and vibrate when striking firm surfaces which can result in discomfort and/or fatigue. Carbon fiber, if well-made, can have a much higher strength to weight ratio than aluminum, normally resulting in lighter weight products. Carbon fiber tends to be stiffer than aluminum (of similar diameter/thickness) resulting in less vibration and so possibly less fatigue and more comfort. When carbon fiber poles fail they tend to fail abruptly and catastrophically. While carbon fiber tends to have excellent compressive strength, it tends to be brittle (relative to aluminum) in regards to sheer and torsional strength. The one carbon fiber trekking pole failure I personally witnessed, a climbing partner got his pole wedged between two boulders and the pole snapped without warning. About half the broken section was reduced to shreds making any sort of field repair impossible. On the other hand I have seen many aluminum poles bend and have been able to (mostly) straighten them. I have seen other aluminum poles crease and/or snap, and using available materials in the field (tape, sticks, etc.) made them at least somewhat usable. So there are pros/cons to both materials, with the main advantage of carbon fiber over aluminum being lower weight for similar strength, which can result in less energy use. Being a larger than average hiker who tends to carry more weight than is maybe necessary (in my pack as well as around my middle), lighter poles are attractive. However I also put my poles to serious use (bordering on abuse) including using them to support much if not all my weight when vaulting over mud/water and to catch my not so occasional stumble. I also occasionally use my trekking poles as part of my shelter system (e.g. tarp shelter). So durability and ability to withstand at least a little abuse are also important factors. And as I do much of my hiking alone, reliability of my gear (including field repairs if necessary) is very important.

TipI would also mention that unlike aluminum, carbon fiber (or more accurately the resin used in the construction of the carbon fiber material) can get more brittle at colder temperatures. As such, carbon fiber poles tend to be less popular for cold weather activities. I only mention this because the manufacturer specifically mentions these as being for “4 season use.” As this test is occurring in the summer (in North America anyway) I doubt I will get the chance to evaluate cold weather performance for these poles.

As noted I am an avid user of my trekking poles. One feature I look for is extended length handles so that I can adjust my grip up and down the poles to get the exact length I need for given conditions. For example when traversing a slope, I shift my hand lower on the uphill pole, while sometimes putting my hand over the very top of the downhill pole to get more reach. When going up and down, I tend to extend my poles longer to accommodate the downhill sections and simply shift my hands lower for the flat and uphill sections. The grips on the Mons Peak IX Tiger Paw Carbon Trekking Poles are a hybrid of cork (in the main grip area) and polymer. The main grip area is contoured for a comfortable grip, while the lower, extended, section of the grip is ribbed to allow me to adjust my hand placement up or down as necessary while still maintaining a firm grip. The top of the grip includes an adjustable wrist strap similar to what I have seen on many poles, the straps are narrow where they connect to the pole but become wider in the middle to better distribute pressure around my wrist. I would note that unless I am expecting to need to move my hands down the grip of the pole, I almost always use the wrist straps. Properly adjusted wrist straps allow me to use a loose grip on the poles. This reduces fatigue and makes pole movement and placement much more nimble. So comfortable and functional wrist straps are important to me, and I will be reporting more on this as I use these. One feature of note is that the very end (top) of the grip is textured. This is a nice detail should I need grip in that area. Unlike some other poles I have used these poles are ambidextrous, that is there is no Left or Right. Either pole can be used in either hand.

Length markings and lockI have used both twist-lock and lever style (called “snap-click compression locks” by the Mons Peak ix) adjustable poles. My experience is that the twist lock can be more secure (less likely to slip) but can jam and/or be difficult to loosen, especially if it gets dirty. The lever style can be much easier/faster to adjust which allows me to adjust my poles as needed and lower maintenance, but I have had experienced slipping and even had a pole collapse on me during use. Since I do tend to adjust my poles frequently I prefer the lever locks, and the engineer in me appreciates that I can see and access all the working parts, as opposed to the hidden working of the twist lock style. These poles use the lever style (anodized aluminum levers) with a knurled screw adjustment (these appear to be stainless steel with plastic knurling over the adjustment nut). To operate flipping the lever away from the pole looseness the fastener allowing the pole sections to be moved. Flipping the lever back tightens the fastener preventing the sections from moving. To adjust the lock, while the lever is in the open position the screw adjustment can be turned by hand to tighten or loosen the fastener as necessary. These seem easy to operate and appear to hold securely. The pole sections are marked in centimeters as well as inches, from 100/39 at the bottom to 135/53 at the top (cm/in respectfully). There is also text indicating the maximum length on each section. Please note, like all other adjustable poles I have used, at least part of the bottom section is tapered and the lever style lock may need to be adjusted should I choose to shorten the pole down that far. However with these, unlike some other poles I have used, the taper only extends about 1 cm (~half inch) up from the tip, so it has very little impact on the range of length adjustment.

The pole tips are replaceable and a fairly standard design to what I have seen on many other trekking poles. They are plastic with a carbide tip, and come with rubber covers to protect the carbide tips (or more likely protect things from the carbide tips) during storage and transport. There are optional "Fitness Walking Tips" available on the manufacturer's web site. The poles came with one set (2) of mud baskets (diameter of 37 mm / 1.5 in), and a set of snow baskets (diameter of 87mm / 3.4 in). Either of these can be screwed on to the tip section of the poles or the poles can be used without them. I would note that there are two primary methods of attaching baskets to trekking poles; threaded screw on, or snap on (bayonet mount). It is my experience that while the threaded style may take longer to get on/off, they are less likely to come off accidentally or jam and be unremovable than the bayonet style. I much prefer the screw on style. Replacement baskets, including a 3rd size that did not come with these poles, are available on the manufacturer's web site.

Out of the box I was able to quickly adjust the sections to my preferred length (120 cm / 47 in) using the length markings on the poles. The locks opened/closed easily, the sections slid smoothly, and the locks seem to hold securely with only minor adjustments. I would note here that when the lock is open the adjustment knobs turn quite easily. I worry that they will loosen and require frequent adjustment. I tugged the end of the wrist straps to get them to what felt comfortable with ease. The contour of the grips fit my hands quite well and the cork felt comfortable and the texture seems like they will provide good grip. One thing I noticed immediately is how much lighter these are than any of the aluminum poles I own!


Likes:
  • Very light, easy to adjust, comfortable cork handle 
Room for Improvement:
  • Loose lock adjustment knob

Field Report

September 18 2018
  • 3 day camping trip, Western Washington -intermittent rain (altitude unknown)
  • 3 day camping trip, Bend Oregon, ~3600’ (1100m) -hot and dry 
  • 3 day camping trip, Prosser Washington (Beer and Whisky Festival), 720' (220m) warm and dry
  • 2 night backpack, Bumping Lake trail, 3500 (1000m)- warm and dry (~4mi / 6.5km)
  • 2 night Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) scouting, central Washington ~5500’ (1700m) – warm, intermittent wind/fog, deep snow on trail (~6mi / 9.5km)

crud snow
I had no intention of using these poles on any of the camping trips but being light and easy to pack I brought them along anyway and carried one during my morning dog walks. On the Western Washington camping trip, in addition to  short morning walks around the camp ground and surrounding trails we did an easy trek to a nearby water fall (~1.5 mi / 2.4 km)  where I brought one pole as I had my dog with me. One of our group has very bad knees so I offered her the pole and to my surprise she accepted (her knees must have been really hurting). It greatly improved her speed and lessened her pain making for a much more enjoyable trip for the entire group. I was quite glad I had brought it. At BackpackGearTest.org we normally limit commentary to first hand use, but I think it is important to note that the main reason I decided to bring the pole on this hike was its light weight. The trail was quite easy and so for myself a trekking pole would not really be all that beneficial and I would not have bothered carrying any of my heavier poles. But in the end I was glad I had it and only regret not having both with me.

During my PCT scouting trip despite the summer heat we had experienced I encountered far more snow than I had expected. Some of the snow was quite deep, in places it was steep and icy, while in others it was soft and 'rotten'. A number of hikers I encountered were carrying ice axes, and I was glad I had not yet removed the snow baskets. During this trip I relied on my trekking poles often, mostly for stability but often to aid in traction, and even to help me vault over some of the nastier patches of snow/mud.

Everything about the poles has been excellent. The carbon tips gripped stone and ice well, the tips penetrated dirt/snow giving me great traction, and the snow baskets provided excellent flotation in the snow (preventing the poles from sinking too far). The cork grips have been very comfortable, even with sweaty hands, and the extended grip allows me to set the poles a little longer than necessary and simply move my hand up/down to accommodate varying terrain.

I have been experimenting with a different grip when using my poles primarily for locomotion (e.g. going fast on easy terrain). I won't go into the details here but the relevant point is that it involves planting my poles with more force than I normally would. While these poles do transfer some amount of vibration into my hands when planted into the ground, I am finding it to be far less than with any of my aluminum poles. This results in much less fatigue.

Tent poleThe shelter I was using for backpacking does not include its own poles so these performed double duty as my shelter supports. For this strong stiff poles that are easy to adjust is important and these poles fit the bill on all accounts.

I have found two very minor items that are less than ideal, and I will state up front that this is really nit picking. First is a bit of a sharp edge on the end of one of the wrist straps. Probably the result of the way they are cut during manufacture. It tends to rub on my palm and become uncomfortable over time. I need to figure out exactly where on the strap it is and try to melt the end to eliminate the sharp edge. (I told you I am nit picking). The second, as was pointed out in the initial review, is that the nut to adjust the tension of the locking mechanism is rather loose when the poles sections are not locked. This results in them loosening and therefore require occasional adjustment. At least once, when I was not paying attention they became loose so when I locked the pole section to length, it slipped during use. This is quite minor as long as I pay attention to how tight the lock feels when I am adjusting the poles. I will note here that I happened to talk to the designer at this year's Outdoor Retailer Show and mentioned this. He said this was intentional, in fact he specifically designed these screws to be loose. He mentioned that it is the nature of plastic to develop 'memory' over time and so during storage it is preferable that the locks be left loose to prevent compressing the plastic which would develop memory and shorten the life of the product. So I have to admit that I would rather not have to adjust the nut more than once (yes I am that lazy), I appreciate that such as simple act could make the product last longer. (I may be lazy, but more than that I am cheap.) So in the end while I may find it a bit of an annoyance, it really is a feature, and I appreciate the level of engineering and attention to detail that lead to this sort of design.

Likes: Light weight, low vibration, easy to adjust, comfortable
Dislikes: None

Long Term Report

November 14 2018
Use:
Short dog walks in the neighborhood X2 (~2 mi / 3 km each)

Since the field report I have only used the poles for 2 dog walking outings (I only carried 1 pole). I did not use them but I did have them along for 2 additional family camping trips. On the camping trips the poles were tossed into the back of my truck with assorted stuff including some bricks and blocks of firewood. While the poles were not used on these trips I would note that they did receive somewhat routh treatment against the bricks and wood.

Now that the test period has come to an end I have looked over the poles for signs of wear or damage and aside for slight signs of use on the cork handles a few minor scratches in the plastic (primarily on the very end of the poles from using them as tent poles) and very minor signs of use on the carbide tips the poles look almost brand new. In addition to being light, comfortable and very functional, I can add durable to the list of features. In addition to the approximately 14mi (22.5km) of use backpacking, I would estimate I have used these poles for about anther 10 miles for day use (day hikes & dog walks).

I can say without reservation that these quickly became my favorite poles. I have no intention of using any other poles for hiking/backpacking and am looking forward to the coming winter when I plan to get a lot of use out of these for snowshoeing.

This concludes my report. I would like to thank the folks at MONS PEAK IX and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product, and invite you back in 2 months for the next installment of this report.

 



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