The LuxuryLite Big Survival Stik is a walking staff in the tradition of hardwood walking staffs used by hikers for decades. However, it is much lighter, stiffer, and stronger than wooden walking staffs. It also has an adjustable hand strap, breaks down into 23 inch sections, and can be used as both a knife and a spear, should the need arise. If wimpy trekking poles aren’t for you, but you still enjoy the feel of a traditional walking staff, the LuxuryLite Big Survival Stik is a great choice.
- At 9.7 ounces, it is much lighter than wooden walking staffs
- Compacts to 23 inch sections for easy storage
- Extremely stiff – the stiffest pole we’ve ever tested
- Hand strap is comfortable for all-day treks
- A complete trail defense system including knife and spear
What’s Not So Good
- Much heavier than lightweight trekking poles (although this is not a trekking pole)
- Sections can be difficult to separate
- Tip packs with dirt and doesn’t bite well, causing slippage
- The integrated knife makes for great conversation but may not be useful on the trail
|2008 LuxuryLite Big Survival Stik Walking Staff|
|21 mm (13/16 in) diameter carbon tube with aluminum inserts at section junctions|
|Anodized T-9 aluminum “fat tip”|
|Sliding prussic hand strap with rubber cover, no grip|
|9.7 oz (275 g) measured weight; manufacturer’s specification 9.0 oz (255 g)|
|53.5 in (136 cm); “grip height” is adjustable|
Collapsed Pole Length
|23 in (58 cm);|
|No – none available|
|48 in, 1-section non-collapsible pole also available: 6.6 oz (mfr claim), $87|
Trekking poles are not for everyone. Some hikers prefer the solid feel of a traditional hiking staff over a pair of lightweight poles with grips and straps. For these hikers, though, there are few choices in hiking staffs that use modern materials and fit well into an ultralight kit.
The LuxuryLite Big Survival Stik is an example of a modern walking staff. Constructed of huge 21 millimeter carbon fiber shafts, this is no wimpy trekking pole. Unlike hardwood staffs, this pole also breaks down into four sections (with the longest two measuring 23 inches) for easy stashing when hiking in more technical terrain.
The Big Survival Stik breaks down into four sections for easy storage.
A unique part of the Big Survival Stik is the “survival” aspect. In the tradition of secret knives hidden in canes and walking staffs, the top of the staff pulls out to reveal a 6 inch aluminum “needle knife.” According to LuxuryLite, “This scary ultrahard T-9 aluminum weapon is sharp enough to leave a big hole in any creature unwise enough to attack you.” If that’s not enough, you can even remove the tip and attach the dagger to the end of the shaft to create a 52 inch spear that I was able to throw quite a distance with accuracy. Beyond trail defense, the knife is not particularly usable (don’t expect to slice cheese with this) but it sure is a conversation starter! More about this “Trail Defense System” is shown in the video below.
For a better viewing experience, please download the Flash Player. The LuxuryLite “Trail Defense System” in action.
When not involved in trail combat, the four sections fit together with thick aluminum inserts that are angle cut to line things up more easily. They stay together with friction, eliminating the need for complex locking systems. Some twisting and force is needed when putting the sections together or taking them apart but I never had any issue with them coming apart on the trail – the tight fit ensures this.
The wrist strap is easily adjustable via the prussik cord.
The LuxuryLite staff includes a removable hand strap that is attached to the pole with a prussik knot. The cord is covered by a rubber tube to protect the hands while in use. This hand strap is used differently than a trekking pole grip; simply slide your hand through the loop and wrap your hand around the staff. The strap supports the side of the hand rather than the wrist. This oversized loop keeps your hand from sliding down the staff when hiking and allows you to grip the staff less firmly. I quickly adapted to the loose grip of the hand strap and found it comfortable for long days on the trail. Occasionally I would change hands when one arm got tired and this was easily done without stopping.
The oversized T-9 aluminum tip is slightly concave and quickly packs with dirt but leaves the hard edges exposed (left). It definitely leaves less of a mark in soft soil than a trekking pole tip (right).
The Stik tip is round aluminum rather than the sharp tip found in most trekking poles. In dirt conditions, it gripped reasonably well and had less penetration in soft soil and sand. This left less of a mark on the trail than trekking pole tips, which can leave an ugly divot. That said, the slightly concave tip packed quickly with soil and in sticky mud, the tip occasionally needed to be whacked against rocks to clear all of the soil. When climbing steep terrain and pushing hard on the staff, it also tended to slip more than a sharp-pointed trekking pole, leaving scars of a different kind. Overall, though, the tip worked fine.
Being constructed of four sections with only two of the same length, it is possible to configure the Stik to many different lengths for use with a variety of shelters. However, using the staff with shelters with grommets that are designed to be used with a sharp trekking pole tip may require some modifications or creative thinking.
|Compatibility with trekking pole shelters||Usable with this shelter?|
|Gossamer Gear/Tarptent Squall Classic (42 in/107 cm)||Yes (108 cm length)|
|Tarptent Virga 2 / Squall 2 and Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo / Europa (45 in/114 cm)||Yes (119 cm length)|
|Golite Trig 2 (48 in/123 cm)||Yes (125 cm length)|
|MSR Missing Link (54 in/137 cm)||Yes (137 cm length)|
The LuxuryLite Big Survival Stik is the stiffest pole we have ever tested at BackpackingLight. Our new Pole Deflection Test involves supporting a pole on a rig with bolts at a 100 centimeter length and supporting a 25 pound weight at the center point. The deflection of 1.1 centimeters is substantially less than other poles we tested (among them the pre-2007 Bozeman Mountain Works Stix Pro, our previous stiffness champ).
The LuxuryLite Big Survival Stik being tested in the all-new BackpackingLight Pole Stiffness Test. It’s the stiffest pole we’ve ever tested.
|Pole make and model||Amount of deflection (cm)||Pole weight (no baskets) oz (g)|
|LuxuryLite Big Survival Stik||1.1||9.7 (275)|
|Bozeman Mountain Works Stix Pro (no longer available)||2.1||3.2 (90)|
|Pacerpole 2-section aluminum/carbon hybrid||2.5||10.9 (308)|
|Komperdell Featherlight / Bozeman Mountain Works Stix prototype||2.6||4.8 (136)|
|Komperdell Nature Stick Carbon||2.7||5.3 (151)|
|Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3||5.1||2.8 (79)|
The stiffness of the LuxuryLite pole makes it ideal for vaulting creeks or other aerial maneuvers.
In the field, this stiffness was very confidence inspiring. I used the staff to pole vault creeks and rocky sections and to fully support my body weight on steep descents – I never felt even a hint of flex. When intentionally trying to generate flex by putting all of my weight on the pole (see picture below), the amount of flex was extremely minimal. If you like the stiffness of a thick hardwood staff, this pole will replicate that better than any pole on the market.
Even with my full body weight on the pole and trying hard to make it flex, only a very minimal amount of flex was noticed. This is one stiff pole.
At 9.7 ounces, the Big Survival Stik is not among the lightest of trekking poles. Then, again, this is not a trekking pole and it serves a slightly different purpose. When compared to hardwood walking staffs, it is much lighter. Even when compared to oversized aluminum walking staffs such as the Tracks Lite Staff (52 inch length, 10.5 ounces), the Luxury Lite is almost an ounce lighter. And the Tracks pole doesn’t break down, won’t be as stiff, and doesn’t include the knife and spear that make the LuxuryLite so unique.
So what is the difference between hiking with poles and hiking with a staff such as this? I am a dedicated trekking pole user and I have to admit that at first I was skeptical of large, oversized staff. But after several long hikes with the staff, I’ve become a real fan. While my trekking poles are definitely faster when trying to cover long distances and more efficient when making direct ascents, the slow placements of the LuxuryLite staff brought me back to a more relaxed, lumbering pace. I enjoyed having a hand free and appreciated the fact that the stiff shaft was so secure under the combined weight of gear and my son Henry on my back. When using the Stik I seemed to wander more and I like the change in gait and the more easy-going pace that came with it. For mellow walks, the LuxuryLite staff has become my favorite pole. Now, that’s not to say you can’t hike quickly with the Stik – it’s definitely able to move you along quickly. There’s just something about hiking with a staff that, for me, tends to bring a more easy-going pace.
At $125, the LuxuryLite Big Survival Stik is an expensive hiking staff. When compared to the price of hardwood poles, though, the price is reasonable. And when you consider the functionality, stiffness, and unique aspects of this pole, it’s a reasonable price.
This is a unique product, no question. There is no other hiking staff on the market that is made of carbon fiber, is this stiff and light, or that serves as both a knife and a spear. If you are looking for a unique hiking staff, the LuxuryLite Big Survival Stik is it.
Recommendations for Improvement
As much as I love the knife, it does add weight, and it isn’t very functional. I would like to see a version of the staff that eliminates the knife and focuses on the lightest weight. Still, I think I would choose the knife for my staff!
The tip is a mixed bag. It leaves less of a scar in soft soils than trekking pole tips, but it also slips more, especially on steep slopes, and it packs with dirt in certain soil conditions. It would be great to have a tip that incorporated some sort of raised point in the middle to prevent soil build up and to provide extra traction.
Overall, this is a well thought out and executed product.