MONS PEAK TIGER PAW Z TREKKING POLES
TEST SERIES BY NANCY GRIFFITH
September 23, 2018
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT
Northern California, USA
5' 6" (1.68 m)
126 lb (57.20 kg)
My outdoor experience began in high school with a canoeing/camping group which made a 10-day voyage through the Quebec wilds. I've been backpacking since my college days in Pennsylvania. I have hiked all of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. My typical trip now is in the Sierra Nevada in California and is from a few days to a few weeks long. Over the past few years I have lowered my pack weight to a lightweight base weight of 15 lb (6.8 kg) while still using a tent, stove and quilt.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Mons Peak IX, LLC.
Year of Manufacture: 2018
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.monspeakix.com
MSRP: $129.95 US
Listed Weight: 16.9 oz (480 g) for pair of poles
Measured Weight: 18 oz (507 g) for pair of poles
Measured Weight (rubber tip): 0.3 oz (9 g)
Measured Weight (basket): 0.2 oz (6 g)
Length Tested: 105 - 120 mm (41.3 - 47.2 in)
Other Length Available: 115 - 135 mm (45.3 - 53.1 in)
Made in China
The Tiger Paw Z Trekking Poles (Z-120) are made from aircraft grade 7075 aluminum tubing that is hard anodized in jet black. There are five tubing sections that slip one inside the next and allow for a compact carrying package. The handle is a combination of cork and polymer and is ergonomically shaped. The largest diameter tube section is below the handle and has a red aluminum lever attached to provide the cinch with the telescoping second tubing section which has height adjustment markings. This is where the overall length of the pole can be adjusted and locked in. The cinch lever has a hand-adjustable nut to change how tightly the lever locks to the next section. The pole markings are in large font bright silver which is easy to see.
|Cork and composite handle|
|Push button on right holds it all together|
The third pole section telescopes inside the second section and simply provides more length. The fourth and fifth pole sections are the same diameter as the third section and slip together. Once this is all together, a hard pull between the second and third sections allows a button to pop up that holds the entire system together. This button is also how to begin the process of putting the poles away. Pressing the button and opening the red lever allows the top three sections to telescope within each other. That then slackens the pull on the lower two sections which are now free to fold up. There is a hook-and-loop strap on the upper section that provides a way to keep all of the sections together when stowed. There is an adjustable wrist strap at the top of the handle.
The poles have carbide tips and come with rubber walking tips that I call 'mall walkers' but they are also great on granite surfaces. Trekking baskets are included to keep the pole from slipping too far into the ground on looser softer surfaces like sand. The poles, tips and baskets all fit nicely into a drawstring pouch for storage.
|Basket or not; Rubber tip or not|
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS & TRYING THEM OUT
My initial impression was that the box they arrived in was short in length and lightweight. Upon opening the box, the poles seemed very much as-advertised on the website.
I then removed the poles from the storage sack and experimented with how to set and lock the length. The red lever has a nifty locking nut on the back that allows hand-adjustment to tighten or loosen the cinch that the red lever puts on the pole. Cool. Then I pulled the lower sections apart to engage the push button that locks it all together. I'm familiar with this system from other poles that I own but found it to take quite a bit of muscle to get it to engage. It's not a problem so far and hopefully they'll loosen up a bit through use. Pressing the button to disengage was easier but still took a hard push to unlock.
I then installed the baskets which screw on easily and are very secure. The rubber tips simply press on and pull off so the only concern is whether they'll stay put on the trail. I've lost tips before from them getting stuck in cracks in the rock and pulling off without my noticing or in a spot where they were irretrievable.
The straps at the top of the handle were easy to adjust by pulling on the end of the strap to tighten it against my hand.
All of the components, connections and hardware seem very well-constructed and of nice quality.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
It was intuitive how the poles operate but there were no instructions included.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During the Field Testing Period I used the poles on one three-day backpacking trip, one three-day boat camping trip and six day hikes.
Desolation Wilderness, Sierra Nevada, California: 3 days; 18.6 mi (30 km); 6,560 to 8,020 ft (2,000 to 2,444 m); 55 to 80 F (13 to 27 C); pack weight of 21 lb (9.5 kg); varied trail conditions from dirt, scree, rock with some off-trail scrambling
Loon Lake, Sierra Nevada, California: 3 days; 6,327 ft (1,928 m) elevation; 52 to 82 F (11 to 28 C); mostly sunny with afternoon breezes; included short day hikes from camp
Rubicon Trail, Sierra Nevada, California: 4 mi (6 km); 6,327 to 6,500 (1,928 to 1,981 m); 57 F (15 C) dirt and rocky trail
Cronan Ranch West Rim in Auburn Recreation Area, California: 4 mi (6 km); 500 to 1,500 ft (150 to 450 m) elevation; 84 F (29 C); dirt to rocky trail
Monroe Ridge, Sierra Nevada Foothills, California: 4.2 mi (6.8 km); 743 to 1,262 ft (226 to 385 m); 70 F (21 C); pine forest to rocky soil
Three hikes on Gerle Loop in the Auburn Recreation Area, California: 2.5 mi to 3.5 mi (4 to 5.6 km); 500 to 1,500 ft (150 to 450 m) elevation; 65 to 85 F (18 to 29 C) ; mostly dirt trail with some rocks
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
On the first short day hike I noticed that one of the poles vibrates slightly upon impact with the ground. I tried to tighten it or otherwise eliminate the vibration but wasn't able to do it. It isn't a big annoyance but it does come to mind when I notice the vibration in a different hand than last time. This brings me to the point that the pole tops and grips are symmetrical so there is no right hand and left hand with these poles.
I had to tighten the straps quite a bit for a good fit with my hands. This left a long length of strap hanging out. It works fine but shows that the straps are quite long and will easily fit my hand while wearing ski gloves next winter.
On that first hike I was wearing shorts and noticed that the lock nut on the right side was scraping my bare leg at times. This doesn't happen on the left leg since the lock nut is facing outward on that side. Again it isn't a big annoyance but just something that I noticed.
On the backpacking trip I folded the poles when we were at Forni Lake so that I could fish. They fit easily in my outside backpack pocket and stayed put. This is a major convenience and something that I just love. With fixed length poles, I would have to keep moving them and hope that I didn't forget them somewhere.
The hike down from Forni Lake is quite steep with a lot of loose scree, so I really relied on the poles here. I had my palms on the very tops of the grips on the steepest areas and found the rounded smooth edges to be welcome. There was no discomfort, sharp edges or pinching.
At times I found that if I put my entire weight on the poles that the upper section would collapse. This was no fault of the pole design but rather the red lever wasn't cinching enough. I easily tightened the lock nut and the red lever was securely fastened. I'll keep an eye on this during the test to make sure that it isn't loosening. I suspect that all of my folding and stashing may be loosening the lock nut between uses, and that I haven't been diligent about checking the cinch each time.
The only slight problem that I have is with engaging the locking button upon re-assembly. I still find it a little tough to pull the middle sections apart enough to engage the push button. But it seems to be getting easier or else I'm just getting used to doing it.
The durability of the poles has been great. There are a few scratches along the lower section of the pole likely from hitting rocks or from the other pole's sharp tip. There have been no issues with the straps, length adjustment or assembly.
I had limited occasion to try the rubber tips, so I'll be sure to keep those handy for the next test period to see how they work out.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During the Long-Term Test Period, I used the Mons Peak Tiger Paw Z Trekking Poles on one forty-day backpacking trip and two dayhikes.
Pacific Crest Trail from Etna Summit, California to Cascade Locks, Oregon: 40 nights; 550 mi (886 km); 170 to 7,676 ft (52 to 2,340 m) elevation with most between 5,000 and 6,000 ft (1,524 to 1,829 m); 39 to 95 F (4 to 35 C). Terrain varied from dirt to lava fields to small talus.
Cronan West Ravine, Sierra Nevada, California: 4.0 mi (6.4 km); 743 to 1,262 ft (226 to 385 m) elevation; 82 to 91 F (28 to 33 C); sunny conditions
Monroe Ridge, Sierra Nevada, California: 5.2 mi (8.4 km); 743 to 1,262 ft (226 to 385 m); 91 to 96 F (33 to 36 C); sunny conditions
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I normally used the trekking poles all day for hiking since I really like to be able to exercise my upper body on long treks. My triceps were rock hard after a few weeks. I also love the traction that poles provide while carrying a backpack. I typically wore sun gloves when using the trekking poles.
Even with the gloves my hands were small enough that I had the pole straps as tight as I could. This didn't allow for the padding to be centered correctly on my hand but it worked ok. My hands are not particularly small for a woman and even with large winter gloves there is still much more room for adjustment than I will need. It would be nice if there was some way to adjust the straps to fit my hands correctly.
One night we were stalked by deer while sleeping and they chewed anything that they could find with salt on it. This included my friend's hat and my husband's trekking pole straps. Fortunately for me my trekking pole straps weren't all that salty probably since I was usually wearing gloves when my hands would be sweating.
During the afternoon of the hottest days, I would stash one trekking pole in my pack and use an umbrella to protect me from the sun. The poles were easy to fold and stuff into my pack side pocket. I found them to be too short in the folded configuration to fit correctly in the pole stash arrangement on my pack. The button to disengage and engage the full length of the poles became easier to operate as the test period went on. It still engages the pole securely but has become easier for me to use.
I usually didn't bother to use the Velcro strap to hold the pole sections together since it would all stay put in the pocket. I found the Velcro strap to be kind of a pain to use because it wouldn't always hold the sections together securely. It would be nice to have a better method for securely clipping the sections when collapsed.
In camp I used the trekking poles to stake out the rain fly on our tent which we used about half of the nights. The poles worked great for staking because I could then slip the fly up to create more a porch effect on warmer nights. Since the baskets would be too big to slip through the loop on the tent for staking, I didn't use the baskets even for hiking. There were nearly no trail conditions where the baskets would help to keep the pole from going into the ground much so it wasn't worth putting them back on every morning. If we were in deep sand or other loose soil then I would prefer to use them. They are easy to remove and replace though when necessary.
Since I was using the poles to stake out my rain fly, I found that I was putting a lot of weight on them and found that over time they were collapsing from my preferred length. I would have to reset the length and try to cinch the red lever as much as possible to have it hold. This generally worked as long as I cinched the lock nut as much as I could and still be able to close the lever.
I had a golden opportunity to test out how solidly the pole length was cinched one day when we came to a sketchy glacial run-off water crossing. The 'best' way across was on a wet log spanning the rushing water. With the pole length fully-extended to the maximum and by bending over during the crossing, I was able to get secure 'footing' with my poles. I would not have wanted to even attempt such a crossing without poles!
I used the rubber tips on several occasions when the trail required walking along a road or solid section of trail. In rocky sections, the rubber tips would catch and be pulled off so I didn't use them unless the path was smooth and hard so that I wouldn't lose them. When I did need them, the rubber tips worked great to provide traction. I didn't lose either of the tips during my trips but I was careful to keep track of them.
The durability of the poles has been great. While there are a few scratches on the lower areas, there is virtually no noticeable wear at all. The engagement mechanism works great. The straps are in very good condition. The carbide tips are even reasonably good despite miles and miles of hiking through rocky areas.
I didn't have the opportunity to use the storage sack since the poles were on the trail so often that I left them assembled in the garage.
The Mons Peak IX Tiger Paw Z poles are a compact pair of aluminum trekking poles that are high-quality construction.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.
Hand-tighten locking nut for lever cinch
Easy to fold and stow in pack
Difficult to engage lock button (but getting easier)
Wrist straps are large
Velcro for holding poles when folded
This concludes my Long-Term Test Report and this test series. Thanks to BackpackGearTest.org and Mons Peak IX for the opportunity to test out these trekking poles.
Read more reviews of Mons Peak IX gear
Read more gear reviews by Nancy Griffith