Before any advertising is accepted on this site, the products must be tested and evaluated. This review of the Brazos Walking Stick is my opinion, and I was not paid to do the test.
by Leon Pantenburg
As a 20-something-year-old backpacker, my lack of common sense was exceeded only by my enthusiasm for long distance backpacking. My pack was cheap, frequently too heavy, was carried too far, and up and down mountains that were too steep. I never thought a walking stick would make much difference. (Click to read my 1976 John Muir Trail journal.)
But I should have known better – I was a long-time reader of hiking guru Colin Fletcher (“The Man Who Walked Through Time,” “The Thousand Mile Summer,”) but never absorbed what he wrote about walking sticks:
“Although the vast majority of walkers never even think of using a walking staff, I unhesitatingly include it among the foundations of the house that travels on my back. I still take my staff along almost as automatically as I take my pack. It is a third leg to me – and much more besides.
“It may well be, too, that the staff also gives me a false but subconsciously comforting feeling that I am not after all completely defenseless against attack by such enemies as snakes, bears and men.” – Colin Fletcher, The Complete Walker III, 1984 (page 78)
Over the years, I started using a walking stick on some hikes, and eventually a stick became part of my hiking gear. I have several – my son gave me a nice stick as a birthday present, but most of my walking sticks are hardwood mop handles from Home Depot or Lowe’s. With the addition of a rubber tip (the kind used to cap table or chair legs) you end up with a highly functional walking stick for about five bucks.
I drilled holes at different heights, so I could thread paracord through them and use the stick as one end of a tarp shelter. Two walking sticks, obviously, could allow you to set up an A-Frame tarp shelter virtually anywhere.
I already had a collection of walking sticks that worked quite well. So, when contacted by Brazos Walking Sticks to review one of their products, I was somewhat underwhelmed. After all, a stick is a stick, right? (Click on Do you need a walking stick? to read the story.)
My first inking that this idea wasn’t necessarily so came when I talked to the company’s owner over the phone. The company is located in Waco, Texas, and the “Made in the USA” sticker is always a positive thing in my book.
Every Brazos stick or cane comes with a lifetime guarantee, and prices start at about $29.
One thing the company takes pride in is making the stick fit the individual. After getting my height and hiking preferences, my custom stick arrived in the mail about a week later.
First impressions out of the box were that the stick is a fine piece of woodworking. My stick is made of white oak – I prefer a study, solid-feeling stick in the event I have to use it for self-defense. The finish was superb, and the contours of the woodworking make the piece an attractive and stylish-looking item.
But eye candy has never done much for me, and I set out to see if the design and materials make it worth the pricetag.
I walk my dog every night, rain or shine, in a wooded area behind my house. I always carry a walking stick or long-handled shovel (to clean up after irresponsible dog walkers).
On walking stick nights, I found the Brazos stick to be very comfortable to handle. The grip fit me
to a tee, and the well-balanced stick was easy to carry and use.
But the really nice thing about the Brazos sticks is that they are unique and stylish. You can carry one anywhere, and because of the fine finish, they don’t look out of place.
I live about three miles from my job at Central Oregon Community College, and on days when my daughter doesn’t need to be picked up from high school, I walk.
My attire is generally that of the down-at-the-heels academic who only comes inside because he is forced to, and my Brazos stick fits right in. I don’t even get a second look when I carry the Brazos through the crowded cafeteria, and the only comments are positive.
That is my main attraction to the Brazos. To some people, a cane implies some sort of disability, whereas a classy-looking walking stick can be viewed as the tool of a vigorous outdoorsman. You might feel sorry for a guy with a cane; but a walking stick user can be seen as a vigorous hiker, ready and willing to walk long distances or scale faraway mountains.
And that may be the best attribute of the Brazos walking stick – it looks fine under most circumstances, and it allows you to carry a useful tool anywhere with a touch of panache.