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#284183 - 04/09/17 08:43 PM Hiking Sticks: Are You well-staffed?
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 5924
Loc: southern Cal
For quite a few years, I have used some kind of hiking staff or another. These have ranged in complexity from a staff fashioned quickly from a trailside brush pile, to a repurposed replacement shovel handle, a mop handle found on a beach, and finally to a set of fancy-dancy aluminum trekking poles. These last are adjustable in length and I have used them a lot over the last twenty-five years or so, and I really like them.

Costs of these different rigs have ranged from $0 to about fifty-five bucks or so. Checking out REI's current offerings, you can spend as much as $220 on a set of poles, which does seem a mite excessive.

I prefer to use a single pole, rather than a pair. My pole is useful on slippery terrain, and especially when crossing streams, acting as a third point of stability. In snake country, usually dense brush, my hiking staff takes the point, while my feet loiter behind. The adjustability feature is often useful when using the staff as a tent pole. At one time, I had a pole than contained matches and tinder in waterproof cases in the handle (tactical hiking staff??)....

What has been your experience with hiking staffs and their uses? Any good war stories?


Edited by hikermor (04/09/17 10:16 PM)
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#284184 - 04/09/17 09:03 PM Re: Hiking Sticks: Are You well-staffed? [Re: hikermor]
Russ Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4554
Loc: SOCAL
I don't carry a staff much here, the terrain I hike is too benign. The hiking poles at REI are way to pricey. However, when I hike in the PNW, I have a staff I fashioned years ago from a Vine Maple I had to remove. That is one strong piece of wood.

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#284185 - 04/10/17 03:12 AM Re: Hiking Sticks: Are You well-staffed? [Re: hikermor]
GoatRider Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/28/04
Posts: 817
Loc: Maple Grove, MN
I have a bad knee, but not so bad that I'm dependent on a cane. I walk fine without it, but I walk further and have less pain that night if I use one.
My favorite is a Leki Wanderfreund. Because I'm not dependent on it, I forget to bring it on trips, so I've bought a couple at the camp store at my destination. I have 3 now. I left one on the trail once, and someone found it and mailed it to me, since I put a name and address sticker on most of my gear.
My first one had a shock absorber, but I find that doesn't make much difference, even though I put a lot of weight on it.


Edited by GoatRider (04/10/17 03:13 AM)
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#284186 - 04/10/17 03:50 PM Re: Hiking Sticks: Are You well-staffed? [Re: hikermor]
wildman800 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/09/06
Posts: 2800
Loc: La-USA
I use a oaken tap root. It is very strong and is quite useful setting up my campsite.
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#284187 - 04/10/17 04:43 PM Re: Hiking Sticks: Are You well-staffed? [Re: hikermor]
unimogbert Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/10/06
Posts: 843
Loc: Colorado
I use an adjustable length aluminum one (Trax perhaps?) I bought decades ago.

Not sure I could walk on dirt without it now.
Highly important for off-trail hiking and it's saved me from many potential falls.

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#284191 - 04/11/17 06:34 PM Re: Hiking Sticks: Are You well-staffed? [Re: hikermor]
AKSAR Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 1025
Loc: Alaska
I've long been a big fan of trekking poles. Besides helping to maintain balance and prevent slips and falls, I find they reduce fatigue. I think in rough terrain one uses a surprising amount of energy maintaining balance. When using a pole I find I can hike longer and further, and have more energy left at the end of the day.

I generally only use one pole. I think it is the old 80/20 rule. You get most of the benefit from the first pole. I generally carry two, but unless the terrain is really gnarly, one stays fastened to my pack.

My current favorite trekking poles are from Black Diamond and are made of carbon. They are extremely light. They also fold down to a very compact size, which makes them easy to pack in my luggage when I travel. The only minor disadvantages are that they are not adjustable for length, and the wrist strap could be better designed. And they are expensive, but I used one of the REI 20% coupons to get them down to a more reasonable price. Overall I really like them.
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#284195 - 04/11/17 08:15 PM Re: Hiking Sticks: Are You well-staffed? [Re: AKSAR]
Russ Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4554
Loc: SOCAL
I've never really seen the utility in trekking poles, but when you mentioned carbon fiber as the primary material my antenna went up. CF means the poles would be light enough (10 ounces per pair) that they can be taken along on a walk even if not needed. REI currently has four different models of Black Diamond Trekking poles of which the Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z-Pole Trekking Poles seem to match the description of yours. That said, what is the difference in durability and performance(?) of the types of grips? Is there an advantage of cork vs EVA foam grips? TIA.

I'm not a buyer yet, just thinking...

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#284198 - 04/11/17 08:39 PM Re: Hiking Sticks: Are You well-staffed? [Re: Russ]
AKSAR Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 1025
Loc: Alaska
Originally Posted By: Russ
I've never really seen the utility in trekking poles, but when you mentioned carbon fiber as the primary material my antenna went up. CF means the poles would be light enough (10 ounces per pair) that they can be taken along on a walk even if not needed. REI currently has four different models of Black Diamond Trekking poles of which the Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z-Pole Trekking Poles seem to match the description of yours. That said, what is the difference in durability and performance(?) of the types of grips? Is there an advantage of cork vs EVA foam grips? TIA.

I'm not a buyer yet, just thinking...

I have the Carbon Z model. So far durability seems good. My older length adjustable aluminum poles started to give trouble after a few years, and would slip where the segments joined. My only real gripe with the Black Diamond poles is that the hand straps are too small and don't adjust far enough. I have trouble fitting my hands in when wearing gloves. My older pair of aluminum trekking poles had a much more generous and adjustable hand straps. The things I really like are the light weight and how they fold up very compactly (more so than my old aluminum ones).

Regarding the utility, I would try to borrow some and try them out on a few hikes. My wife was also skeptical of trekking poles. But after I got her to try them on a few hikes she has become a convert! Her knees feel better when hiking with trekking poles, vs without them.
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#284199 - 04/11/17 08:46 PM Re: Hiking Sticks: Are You well-staffed? [Re: AKSAR]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 5924
Loc: southern Cal
My vintage aluminum poles are starting to slip (20+ years old) and I have been contemplating replacements. Just noticed that REI carries replaced parts for all of five bucks which fit my model (Super Makalu). Also consider Costco - some of their stores carry a model that is $30 and that gets good reviews.

As for carbon fiber, I think I will just wait for the solid diamond model - it can't be that much more expensive.
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#284206 - 04/12/17 04:02 AM Re: Hiking Sticks: Are You well-staffed? [Re: hikermor]
Tjin Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 04/08/02
Posts: 1680
I have the aluminium z-pole from black diamond. Not carbon, but also verly light. Only complain would be the rubber tip not being durable, but they do give you the a pair of carbide tips.

Would recommend it. is really expensive, but bought mine on sale...
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