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Reviews > Trekking Poles > Poles > Mons Peak IX Tiger Paw Carbon > Test Report by Richard Lyon

MONS PEAK IX TIGER PAW CARBON TREKKING POLES
Test Series by Richard Lyon

Initial Report May 27, 2018
Field Report August 28,2018
Long Term October 14,  2018


PERSONAL DETAILS and BACKPACKING BACKGROUND

Male, 72 years old
Height: 6' 4" (1.93 m)
Weight: 210 lb (93 kg)
Email address: Montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Outside Bozeman, Montana USA, in the Bridger Mountains

I've been backpacking for nearly half a century, most often in the Rockies. I do at least one weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips.  I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 10000 ft (1500 - 3000 m).  I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp.  Though always looking for ways to reduce my pack weight, I still tend to include my favorite camp conveniences. I always sleep in a floored tent and like hot meals. Summer trekking often focuses on fly-fishing opportunities.

INITIAL REPORT - May 27, 2018

THE PRODUCT


polesThe name describes the product - these are three-sectioned telescoping trekking poles made of "high strength dense Carbon Fiber Composite." Their maker markets them as suitable for four-season use and equips them accordingly. The set I received includes two sets of baskets, one [on the poles in the photo] for trekking and a spare set for use in powder snow, and alternate tips, a carbide one at each pole's end [shown in the photo] for snow use and a rubber cap [shown on the side] to fit over the metal tip for hiking. Each section when extended has markings, in inches and centimeters, as an aid in adjusting length. Set each clasp at the designated length [in my case, 53 inches/135 centimeters], lock the poles, and that's the length of the pole. The markings are silver-colored for contrast against the black shaft - a nice touch.

The poles lock at the user's desired length using metal clasps made of lightweight anodized aluminum that lock onto a polymer base. Each lock has a hard plastic screw that can be used to tighten the grip.

The pole is topped by a polymer cap with a dimpled top [good for gripping in snow] through which an adjustable fabric wrist strap is threaded. The portion of the wrist strap that fits over the wrist has a flat ribbon sewn over the fabric to minimize abrasion when used without gloves - another nice touch. The top of the grip, where the palm will go in ordinary use, is made of cork, the bottom of polymer that has a knob that sits just below the user's little finger, to reduce slippage. The lower portion of the polymer section has four ridges for a secure grip in those instances when a shorter pole is used on the uphill side of the trail - yet another nifty detail. grips

Manufacturer: Mons Peak IX, LLC, Barrington, Illinois USA
Website: monspeakix.com
Model: Tiger Paw Carbon Trekking Poles
Weight, listed: 13.9 oz/394 g per pair
Weight, measured: 14.8 oz/420 g per pair, with rubber tips and trekking baskets.
Length, listed: 24.5-53.1 in/62-135 cm
Length, measured: 24.8-53.5 in/63-136 cm
MSRP: $149.95 US
Includes: poles, two sets of baskets, rubber tips, and two small plastic pieces that hold the poles together when stored.
Warranty: Three years against defects in design or manufacture, to the original owner.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

My first reaction was how lightweight the poles are. While I've used carbon fiber poles for years, both skiing and hiking, none had the amount of hardware the Tiger Paws do, yet these seem just as light. I've mentioned the small details I liked. I'm equally impressed with the big picture. These poles have a professional air in design, appearance, and apparent functionality. On a trial walk around my neighborhood, the poles, set at their maximum length, held firm despite some deliberate attempts to pressure the locks. I look forward to putting these poles through their paces this summer.

FIELD REPORT - August 28, 2018

The Tiger Paw Trekking Poles have served me well on three continents since filing my Initial Report. With one bit of minor surgery I have found them to be reliable and functional in a variety of conditions.

FIELD CONDITIONS

During summer hiking here in Montana and nearby Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, I have tried to alter my usual habit of hiking with one pole, taking both on hikes from one to six hours, mostly on Forest Service or Park Service trails [hardpacked dirt] but with occasional bushwhacks and stream crossings. Almost all hiking took place in dry weather, though there were a few scattered rain showers. Temperatures varied from 40-90 F [4-32 C].

In June I attended a business conference in Dublin, Ireland, and added a few personal days to hike sections of the Burren Way in Counties Clare and Galway. My visit coincided with four clear, rainless days [a rarity, I was told] at a pleasant 80 F [27 C]. My hiking included stretches on hardpacked dirt, paved roads, and rocky beaches. On this last environment the poles came in very handy when scrambling down to the beach on rocky embankments.

RussiaAnother frequent service, with a single pole, was as a wading staff when flyfishing. A knee injury two years ago has made me much more cautious when walking on wet rocks, a necessary hazard for anglers. After reaching my casting spot I simply thread my wading belt through the pole's fabric loop and I have both hands free. In addition to local fishing on the Madison, Gallatin, and Yellowstone Rivers and a couple of spring creeks, I took one of the poles on my fishing vacation to the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East. One day I first used that pole as a trekking pole across the tundra to an unnamed spring creek; upon arrival it became a wading staff when fishing. The other five days' fishing was mostly from rafts, but with frequent stops for wade fishing. Use was similar to that in Montana, except that the hike to the spring creek was more difficult and the river rocks exceptionally slippery. The hike, about one hour each way, began on an established tank track that soon disappeared, requiring careful steps to avoid potholes that were often well hidden by the scrub brush. The Zhupanova River has several stretches with boulder-sized rocks; instead of a gravel-like wading surface I walked across solid rock, made especially slick by moss and other greenery. [An aside - the Zhupanova is the coldest river I've ever fished. Avoiding a swim was eminently desirable.] On this trip I was once again lucky with the weather - very little rain and daytime temperatures that only once exceeded 75 F [24 C].

All use has been with the smaller rubber hiking baskets. Fishing use has been at the poles' maximum length, 53 in/135 cm, hiking 2 in/5 cm less.

PERFORMANCE

IrelandThe reason I have shied away from adjustable poles is based upon simple trust. I have never used a set of adjustables that reliably held firm in length in the toughest conditions. Sooner or later a clasp has failed, and following Murphy's Law the failure has almost always come at the most inopportune moment. Fortunately that moment for the Tiger Paws came after a dicey climb down a mini-cliff to the beach, and one of the clasp's giving out resulted only in a stumble on the rocks. I immediately examined the culprit and hand-tightened its plastic screw as much as I could. No luck; the clasp gave out immediately on a test poke.

Back at the bed and breakfast where I was staying I borrowed a pair of pliers and tightened the screw a bit more. That did the trick. Since then I've had no further trouble with an unauthorized collapsing pole. This operation has made the clasp somewhat more difficult to open or close, but that's a minor inconvenience compared to an unexpected fall.

I had one additional problem in Ireland. After reaching the beach I noticed that I had lost one of the baskets on the descent. I'm not sure how this happened but my best guess is that it pulled off when I lifted the pole after the basket had been below the first rock layer. Fortunately I was able to locate the basket, which I then screwed back on to the pole tip. This hasn't recurred since despite much rock hopping and wading. I do now check the baskets periodically to be sure of a secure connection.

Otherwise I have been pleased with the poles' performance. Though scratched here and there from the rocks the poles look good and have performed quite well. With trekking poles no news is good news; I'm most pleased when I have nothing to comment about after a hike or fishing day. That's been the case on all but the one day described in the first three paragraphs of this section. And the poles weren't extended just once. After each hike I collapse the poles to their minimum length for storage in my car or pack, resetting them for use the next time out. I clean off visible dirt and debris with a cloth or towel after every use, and I've wiped them twice with linseed oil.

A single failure gives some cause for concern, but I'm warming to these sturdy lightweight trekking poles.

LONG TERM REPORT
October 14, 2018

The Tiger Paw Poles have performed flawlessly during usage on about twenty more days' use over the past two months.

FIELD CONDITIONS

Most of my hiking has been on day hikes within a few hours' drive from my home. Almost all of this has been on established hardpacked trails though I've now and then bushwhacked across grassy meadows or scrub brush for a vista or a shady rest spot. The Northern Rockies had its usual dry summer, with generally mild temperatures. I recall only one day of hiking above 90 F [32 C].  I returned to my customary use of a single pole, retrieving the second pole from my pack for steep or tricky descents. As noted in my Field Report I customarily collapse the poles after each use. I've been traveling a great deal this summer, and for convenience I have usually stored the poles in the back of my sport-utility vehicle between uses.

I took advantage of time in Montana to do some fishing on the Boulder, Gallatin, Madison, and Yellowstone Rivers and assorted smaller tributaries. When fishing I used a single pole as a wading staff for additional traction on the often-rocky [read slippery] riverbed. When casting I'd thread the wrist strap through my wading belt; when moving about I kept the wrist strap on tightly to avoid losing the pole in the current.

In the snow This weekend didn't officially start winter, but it did bring the first serious snow since spring - officially ten inches [25 cm] and likely a bit more than that at my home in the foothills. I took the occasion to replace the poles' hiking baskets with the wider and vented powder baskets. I consider this an operation requiring considerable care, as more than once in my career [most recently in Ireland as reported in my Field Report] I've lost a basket because I didn't make sure that it was properly secured. With the Tiger Paws the baskets and pole shafts are threaded, so I screwed off the smaller baskets and screwed the powder baskets on. This is yet another design detail worthy of commendation. I have owned poles on which the re-attaching is done by firmly forcing the new basket into a groove adjacent to a backstop. With that method it's all too easy to seat the basket slightly askew, leaving it susceptible of being pulled off by rocks or heavy snow when a pole is lifted. With the Tiger Paws that can't happen unless the grooves wear away. I did test the seating thoroughly after screwing the powder baskets in.

PERFORMANCE

I'm pleased to say that I met with not a single clasp slip on either pole, even on several occasions when, thanks to a stumble,  I put almost all of my overlarge body weight on a single pole. Because of my earlier problem, reported above, I have perhaps been overcautious in checking the top clasps after every couple of uses. But I haven't needed to resort to a wrench or pliers; hand-tightening when I set the poles for the day's adventure has always sufficed. Bravo!

For some reason I can't explain the clasps seem to shed dust and grit. I do give the poles a rubdown after each use but the towel or cloth almost always comes away with very little residue.

Everything else remains in very good shape. The straps are easy to adjust and after adjustment hold their size, and I've adjusted them frequently; I like them relatively tight when fishing, relatively loose when hiking. The woven fabric has no fraying. The cork on the rubber grips has darkened slightly from a summer's use without gloves, but the surface remains sticky enough to give a firm, non-slip grip. I haven't cleaned these other than a quick towel rub. While the shaft sections do show some scratches from wear and tear the silver length markings remain as visible as ever, and the surface isn't even slightly dented. After switching the poles over for snow use I applied a light oil to prevent possible rust or corrosion.   

My first impression [see Initial Report] was accurate - these poles' standout feature is their remarkably light weight, thanks to the carbon fiber. Yet they have proven very stout, never having bent under 200+ pounds' [91+ kg] direct pressure.

The Tiger Paws are not inexpensive poles. They illustrate the old adage that you get what you pay for. Stout and reliable when in use, easy to adjust, durable, low-maintenance, high quality materials, wonderfully detailed design - overall, a great set of trekking poles. The only bad news is that I've managed to lose the two small plastic pieces that may be used to connect the poles for storage. This is no design flaw; operator negligence is entirely to blame.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

My Test Report ends here.  My thanks to Mons Peak IX and BackpackGearTest.org for this testing opportunity.




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