If you use walking sticks, then you’re a wienie. And if you believe that, then you may be a complete horse’s arse. I can say that because once upon a time, when I was young and dumb, I was a complete horse’s arse. I think it was just a few years ago to be exact. On a side note, if you know my parents and you tell them I admitted to the above, consider yourself “unfriended”.
As a flatlander, I never had a need or gave a thought about walking sticks, but as I got deeper into mountain hunting I started giving them some consideration. My first exposure was a staff with a retractable shooting fork that I started carrying during muzzleloader elk hunts more for shooting stability than walking. With the limited opportunities that come during elk hunting, the shooting stick had much more significance as a walking stick.
A couple years ago, I started backpack bow hunting and have since upgraded to a pair of sticks. Any serious backpack hunter knows that weight is not a minor factor and the sticks have proven that they are well worth their weight in gold. The immediate and obvious benefit is stability on rough or uneven terrain. Additional benefits are relief of pressure on the knees and legs, especially on steep descents, relief of weight off the back and waist on long hikes when resting and used as posts, and some increased mobility since they seem to add some spring to your step.
Versatility is a key feature for backpack hunters. Walking sticks can serve as tent or shelter poles, camera or spotter pods, boot drying stakes, and many other things. One of my favorite features is to use it as a camp stool. This might sound strange, but it makes much more sense when I explain that my poles were designed to break down into a stool with a couple accessory pieces. I really wish I could say that I had thought of such a great concept, but I am going to have to give credit to Stikstool http://www.stikstool.com/index.html for this one. Below you will find my full review.
I must first start by saying that the Stikstool model CF002 http://www.stikstool.com/CF002.html are the only walking sticks that I have reviewed, but that is due to their multi-task performance that fits my needs. I will start with the pros. First and foremost they are great walking sticks and provide all the benefits that were listed above. The Stikstool is not adjustable but has a large grip area to allow people of most heights the ability to grasp the handles comfortably and at a proper position. The grips proved to be easy on the hands and pliable in wet conditions – even with gloves. The sticks aren’t the lightest on the market, but they are lighter and more convenient than any of the other combination sticks and stool that I have found. I was concerned that the slip coupler would allow the poles to loosen and become dislodged, but the construction is stout and exceeded my expectations. They never loosened or became dislodged during my use in varying temperatures and terrain. The final benefit was the obvious comfort of a backcountry camp stool instead of sitting on my bum on the cold wet ground, which I have done many more often times than not.
Now, the cons. Not only was I a fan of the handles, so were the marmots that decided to carve them up one night while I was sleeping. A second con was more of a personal one – I didn’t like the loose fit of the wrist keeper cords. Luckily, I discovered this in my equipment testing months before my trip and I was able to make necessary adjustments. I took off the cap and pulled some of the cord through. Then I tied an additional knot to shorten the wrist strap to fit my 6-foot frame better. I also added a set of Ellipse Toggle Cord Locks onto the cords which allowed me to quickly tighten them to my wrist to avoid a loose fit while hiking. The last negative I found was that the rubber “boots” on the bottom of the sticks were only slip on. During my training, there were a couple of instances when they came off in the mud. Again, I was able to remedy this by removing the boots and applying some epoxy before sliding them back onto the poles. Then, for added security, I wrapped them with Gorilla tape. This also helped me to easily identify the ones that were glued since there’s an additional set that comes in the kit. The additional set are applied for the bottom of the other 2 stool legs to keep them from sinking in the ground (top half of the walking sticks become the additional legs).
As a side note, I used the couplers as a place to wrap some extra Gorilla tape and electrical tape in case I need some in the backcountry. Again, I cannot take credit for the genius, but it worked great on the couplers since they were not needed in the stool assembly. I will further add that assembly only takes a couple minutes at most. All said and done, these sticks will be supporting me in the backcountry again and I give them 2 thumbs up…..or 2 cheeks down…….comfortably sitting!