Travel Walking Sticks, Trekking Poles and Canes: Pros and Cons

» Posted by on Jul 22, 2014 in Travel Treasures | 2 comments

In the final countdown for our fall trip to Europe, I began to look at the pros and cons of purchasing a travel walking staff or cane.

Hiking w/ Leki Pole at Catherine Creek

I wasn’t really sure which would best meet my needs and have the assistance and stabilization benefits I desired when walking on uneven ground and cobblestone streets. I started my research by looking at three options, all of which needed to have the prime features of being light weight and collapsible in order to fit in my suitcase:Leki in travel suitcase

1. Walking Stick: Walking sticks have been around for ages. First used by shepherds to assist with their job of protecting the flock from thieves and predators and also to help them traverse the steep craggy rocks of the grazing fields. Later walking sticks became a status symbol when brandished by rulers and overseers. Most often walking sticks were made from ivory, ebony and wood. Now more commonly used by people of all ages and income status to aide in stability when walking through town or on an easy trail.

2. Trekking Staff or Pole: The trekking staff or pole is used by people for basically the same reasons as the walking stick for stability and rhythm. The main difference is that they are designed for more difficult terrain. It is commonly advised to use two, one in each hand, like ski poles. They have the same benefits as the walking stick magnified by two.

3. Cane: Originally, canes were used primarily by men and were a standard prestige accessory. From the 17th Century up to the 1930’s, canes were common place among wealthy gentlemen. It was then that they “fell” out of graces with society and it wasn’t until after WWII that they again resurfaced. This time to assist with mobility and rehabilitation of soldiers returning from the war front. Now the cane most often signifies someone in need of assistance. The white cane representing someone with limited or no ability to see and the common cane being used for the elderly or people recovering from injuries and surgeries.

Based on discussions with friends and additional research, I narrowed my list down to just the trekking pole. Now, I needed to fine-tune what features I needed most and how each different tool would fit my needs. I ordered three Leki products from Amazon to try. Leki poles, sticks and canes are manufactured in the Czech Republic and have a great reputation for quality. Here are the pros and cons for each item:

1. Leki Super Micro Trekking Pole, Black:Micro Trekking Pole w/ 18" measure
Pros:
Collapses to a very small length of only 18”
Fits exceptionally well inside suitcases as well as travel bags
Very light weight. (19.4 oz)
Good feel to the handle.
Stylish
Can adjust length as needed per individual needs and use
Cons:
Doesn’t have a “stop” to keep you from overextending it. Watch carefully for the “stop max” line.
Non anti-shock to absorb ground placement movement

2. Leki Wanderfreund Trekking Pole, Black
Leki Speedlock Trekking Pole w/ 18" measure
Pros:
Very light weight (9.2 oz)
Collapses to 24.4”
Nice cane style handle grip
Stylish
Can adjust length as needed for individual needs and uses
Cons:
Doesn’t have a “stop” to keep you from overextending it. Watch carefully for the “stop max” line.
Non anti-shock to absorb ground placement movement

3. Leki Sierra SAS (Soft Anti-Shock) Trekking Pole
Pros:
Wood knob on handle unscrews to allow access to camera mountLeki Trekking Pole w/ camera mount
Foam handle is easy to use and helps prevent fatigue with my hand
Super lock system that feels very strong once extended
Can adjust length as needed to accommodate individual needs and uses
Soft anti shock system cushions the impact of ground placement
Rubber tip attachment can be removed exposing carbide tip
27” length fits in suitcase
Light weight (10.5 oz)
Cons:
Doesn’t have a “stop” to keep you from overextending it. Watch carefully for the “stop max” line.

My final choice was the Leki Sierra SAS (Soft Anti-Shock) Trekking Pole.

You tell by the pictures that I am no hard-core mountain climbing gal. My desire was to purchase something that would give me a bit of stability and assurance while walking through the cobblestone streets or hiking the winding paths up to an Austrian castle. I also wanted something that would fold down and fit even in the smallest of my travel suitcases. Due to a recent shoulder surgery and some subsequent poor strength in my hands, I ruled out the cane style handles and went with the more upright walking stick style handle. Having the staff include a screw post to mount my camera on for greater stability when shooting pictures was a real plus that I originally hadn’t thought of but now that I have it I am sure it will get used.

Leki Trekking Pole Camera Mount

Before you purchase something specific for your travels, or everyday use, like a walking aid (staff, stick or cane) here are some tips:

1. Be sure and make a list of what you must have and what you don’t really care about.

2. Set a realistic budget and then do your research of what fits in that budget.

3. Order it in time to have a chance to try it out and be sure it is exactly what you need and envision using.

4. Try fitting it in your suitcase.

5. Make sure you know how it functions and what its limitations and strengths are.

Using the camera on the Leki Trekking Pole

Happy trekking….see you in Europe.

 

2 Comments

  1. Based on the info – that would be my choice too. The camera mount sounds like it was customized for you, too! When I was walking with a cane, I found cobblestones surprisingly difficult – including the floors in Chili’s restaurants. They are a bit convex, so the cane point would slide to the nearest “crack” and make it not very stable. It had a rubberize tip, but it was only about 1 1/2 inches across and made of very hard rubber. I think the floor wax was probably the biggest problem since I had trouble earlier with my walker, too. I am so excited for your trip, and can hardly wait to live vicariously through you. 🙂 (Lucky retires in 15 months)

    • 15 months! We will have to plan a get away together… That would be fun. Yes, I think I made the best choice. When I went out to take the pictures at the Catherine Creek trail I was so pleased with the stability and assistance I got from the staff. Can’t wait to use it in Germany and Austria.

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