New Gear : Tracks Sherlock Travel Staff

Last week’s hike in slightly sloppy conditions pointed two things out to me. There was beauty to be found in the mud, and I needed a hiking staff of some kind. Late in the hike, I slipped in some mud and almost went down with my camera and backpack of lenses. That wouldn’t have been good.

I did some research this week to find out more about staffs. I knew I didn’t want trekking poles (pairs, used like snow skiers use their poles). I’d seen a ton of wooden ones while we were out west a couple of years ago. Those looked nice and would make a good home for the hiking medallions I’ve been picking up during our travels, but I wasn’t sure that that would be the right answer for something versatile in the field.

The more I looked, the more I realized that there weren’t great differences from one staff to the next. My needs were pretty simple — adjustable height, spike on the bottom for sloppy conditions, and a basket to keep from sinking up too far. With that in mind, Becky and I went to the Alpine Shop in our neighborhood to look for a staff. We were helped by Andy, who made me feel right at home, and frankly, was built like me, so I figured he could give me some real world advice about what I was getting into. He did, and I ended up walking away with a Tracks Sherlock Travel Staff.

This is a pretty slick tool with some nice features above what I was looking for. First off, it breaks down into three component pieces, and comes with a sack to carry them around. For the long haul trips I’m used to, that’s a great feature. A wood hiking staff wouldn’t be collapsible, meaning I’d have to find some way of carrying this long pole in the Jeep. With the Sherlock, no problemo.

The Sherlock sports a walnut knob for gripping the top of the staff. While that’s nice, what’s nicer is that it screws off, revealing a kinda long 1/4″-20 screw for mounting a camera atop the staff for use as a monopod. My only complaint here is that the screw thread is long, perhaps by as much as a quarter inch. That length is probably needed for the knob, but seems a little dangerous for a camera. I’d hate to keep up with it, but it might make sense to carry a little washer as a spacer when using the staff as a monopod.

The Sherlock also has a removable foot, revealing the spike I was looking for. The foot’s kinda neat, leaving a paw print behind as you move along, and seems useful for hard surfaces. The spike is ginormous, and appears to be quite useful as a weapon should your need to stab something or for picking up trash along the trail.

This thing really seems to hit all my design points, and then some, and I believe it’ll be quite a nice addition to my hiking!