Hiking Stick

hiking sticks

For hiking, current stick is REI Co-op Hiker Power Lock Staff. Length adjusts using external lever locks. Weight about 290 grams after modifications. Add another 10g for snow/mud basket, which I don't normally carry.

For bicycle touring, current stick is Mountainsmith Trekker FX staff, bought from REI and also available at Campmor. Length adjusts using internal cams, which are less durable than external lever locks, but external lever locks not compatible with holder I use to carry stick on bicycle (see here). Durability of stick not as important when bicycle touring as with hiking. Fragile foam knob replaced by sturdy wooden knob (Stoney Point brand, fits 1/4" monopod screws, no longer made). Garish yellow strap replaced by with inconspicuous piece of 3mm cord. Weight about 290 grams.

Both sticks are monopods, meaning knob at top can be unscrewed and replaced by camera, telescope or other device which accepts 1/4" screw mount. I never use this feature when hiking, but it is useful for bicycle touring, since removing knob reveals flat surface underneath, which can be used to support bicycle in desert, where nothing else available to lean bicycle against, when needing to clean and lube chain or perform other maintenance which requires turning crank.

For both sticks, obnoxious logos scraped away with flat side of knife, possibly revealing bare metal in places. But since sticks aluminum, corrosion not an issue.

Back when using sticks with internal cam locks for hiking, I always kept stick at appropriate height for tarp at all times, to avoid having to adjust length every evening and morning, since excessive adjustment wears out internal cam locks prematurely. Also, cam locks sometimes jam and are especially hard to get unjammed in rain. By having stick already at proper height for tarp, jamming isn't problem when camping. Jamming was only problem at end of trip, when needing to collapse stick for storage in backpack for airline flight home. But at that point I had option of just throwing stick away, since it was probably nearing end of life anyway.

Many uses for stick:

In my experience, dual hiking poles help on steep ascents somewhat more than a single stick, but this single minor advantage is offset by the extra weight and the loss of dexterity due to having both hands occupied with poles rather than just one hand.

Hiking sticks are an item of gear I have had much trouble with over the years. Problems I've experienced include:

As noted, I use stick as front support pole for tarp. Because hiking sticks can break, I designed tarp to be useable with any stick for front support pole, including simple wooden branch from forest. By comparison, some commercial manufacturers of tarp-tents require adjustable hiking pole with carbide-tip to set up properly.