Sometimes when I review an item, it is far more challenging to push my preconceived notions to the background in an effort to have objectivity come to the forefront. Such is the case with the Brazos Walking Stick that upon first inspection screamed “This is not made for hiking!”.
Indeed, at fifty-five inches long and a meandering diameter that is approximately one inch thick, it is a far cry from those cork topped, svelte pieces of telescoping graphite that collapse nicely on to your outer pack lashings when you don’t need them and feel like magic wands as you make yourself into a four-legged fury of churned mileage and well kept balance.
But upon further inspection….churned mileage isn’t the point of the Brazos stick. It’s not about the weight (that is more than a set of average trekking poles would be), it’s not about the size (larger than poles with no flexibility of collapsing), it’s not about bushwhacking a new trail (bulky in tight quarters and always reminds you that you are carrying it). It’s about being outdoors, walking, absorbing the beauty of the natural aesthetic that is provided to us. THAT is what the Brazos Walking Stick embodies.
The stick itself speaks to this as the model that I used is an absolutely stunning piece of spiral-hewed hickory wood with an attached leather lanyard, and a small, flat knob at hand level to assist with your grip and adorned with a very nice Brazos medallion that increases the gift-worthiness of the stick by at least two-fold. It is completely reminiscent of the hand carved walking sticks that my family has had for years carved out of our own apple tree wood. From a whimsical point of view, I was drawn to it immediately. The weight is heavy but not unmanageable at all. In fact, it actually inspired confidence that if, in a very rare (hopefully never) instance, I had to go ‘Little John’ on an misunderstanding Ursus Americanus (black bear) that it may just be up for the task in a way that its featherweight compatriots would not be able to hold up to. It is extremely sturdy with its one inch diameter rubber base pad and is easily shifted from left to right hand depending on need.
But my objectivity is not boundless. I got stuck on the bulk and the fact that it was not flexible to be used as a tent or tarp pole and that it became very slick in the pre-hurricane Irene lashings that we took here on the east coast. Again, I got stuck trying to make a walking stick fit the mold of a trekking pole(s).
So I came away with the realization that while I would not use the stick often for my overnight adventures, it held a place in my repertoire as both a casual day-hike alternative that I could tell stories to my daughter and my friends about and as perhaps a gift (ranging between $38 and $64 before any optional accessories) that I would give to others that embodies what I love about outdoor adventure and captures the beauty of what the outdoors gives to us in a way that my pictures and words could perhaps not represent the way this hand-crafted piece of the outdoors would.