Incorporating the Simple Living Review, the Preparedness & Self-Reliance Review, as well as the Outdoor & Survival Review

Metal and Carbon Fiber Hiking Staffs – Another NO Good Idea

The sport of Nordic Walking, in which originally ski poles, once from natural materials, were used, has brought us this, often telescopic, hiking staff, also referred to as a hiking pole now and we seem to come across those things now everywhere, in parks, in woods, on the hills. What a silly and to the environment costly invention. What is wrong with the good old wooden staff or stick?

Yes, I do know that you cannot collapse a wooden staff into a short length to stick it into your backpack or such, but when using a wooden staff you also don't use something that took lots of energy and CO2 to produce. In fact, while the sapling for the wooden staff was growing it used only the energy of the sun and used up carbon, in fact.

OK! I will have to admit it, I am biased. I am, after all, a stick maker, amongst other things, but still.

You cannot beat the beauty, character and especially strength of a natural wooden (or bamboo, if need be) hiking staff. In no way can you put the weight on one of those modern metal and plastic thingies that you can on a standard walking stick or a hiking staff made from a sapling. That is, however, something that you may have to do when traversing difficult terrain and not only difficult terrain. The stick or staff is the third leg to the walker and hiker, it is there to steady you on slopes and on rough ground and to make your passage easier and, should the need arise, it can also be used as a weapon to defend against two- and four-legged attackers.

You cannot, however, do that efficiently with the aluminium or carbon fiber hiking pole. I am sure that, should you have to put lots of strength on it or have to use it as a weapon, say, against a ferocious dog, the staff would break. In fact 99 out of a 100, of that I am nigh on sure, definitely will break if too much pressure is brought to bear upon them. May of those one can, nowadays, find broken in parks and on the hills because people had to put weight on them and one or both – when used as a pair – have failed. This could also be rather dangerous to health and safety of the walker using such staffs.

This is not something that I have ever, as yet, encountered with a natural grown and carefully crafted stick or staff. The grown wood, often purposely grown and trained into this or that kind of outdoors stick, can never be bettered by man-made “stick”, a “stick” made from a metal, light metal at that, which is not all that strong to start with, e.g. aluminium, or made from a plastic, even if it is carbon fiber. While carbon fiber may make great fishing rods with a great breaking strain, because it flexes well, this material, in my – biased, I hasten to add – opinion, does not a great walking stick make. I have tried them and found them all wanting. I guess this simple may be because I am used to wood for a staff but then again...

...Food for thought!

© Michael Smith (Veshengro), March 2008

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