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2008 LuxuryLite Big Survival Stik Walking Staff REVIEW

This is a modern version of the traditional hardwood walking staff. Made of carbon fiber, it is much stronger and more robust than even the stiffest of trekking poles. It has an adjustable hand strap, breaks down into sections, and can even be converted into a “trail defense system".


Overall Rating: Recommended

For those who prefer a hiking staff, there are few choices on the market that use modern materials. Constructed of carbon fiber and aluminum, the Big Survival Stik improves on the traditional hardwood staff with very stiff shafts, low weight, and extra durability. Further, it includes a hand strap, an aluminum tip, and an integrated trail defense system for protection (and fireside conversation). It’s a good alternative to a classic piece of gear.

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by Doug Johnson |

2008 LuxuryLite Big Survival Stik Walking Staff REVIEW


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.

What’s Good

  • 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


Three-section collapsible

  Shaft Material

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

  Grip Size


Per Pole (without baskets)

9.7 oz (275 g) measured weight; manufacturer’s specification 9.0 oz (255 g)

  Pole Length

53.5 in (136 cm); “grip height” is adjustable

  Collapsed Pole Length

23 in (58 cm);

  Baskets Included?

No - none available

  Basket Type





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.

2008 LuxuryLite Big Survival Stik Walking Staff REVIEW - 1
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.

2008 LuxuryLite Big Survival Stik Walking Staff REVIEW - 3
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.

2008 LuxuryLite Big Survival Stik Walking Staff REVIEW - 4
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).

2008 LuxuryLite Big Survival Stik Walking Staff REVIEW - 5
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)

2008 LuxuryLite Big Survival Stik Walking Staff REVIEW - 6
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.

2008 LuxuryLite Big Survival Stik Walking Staff REVIEW - 7
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.

What’s Unique

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.


"2008 LuxuryLite Big Survival Stik Walking Staff REVIEW," by Doug Johnson. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2008-02-20 03:00:00-07.


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2008 LuxuryLite Big Survival Stik Walking Staff REVIEW
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Cat Jasins
(CatJasins) - MLife
2008 LuxuryLite Big Survival Stik Walking Staff REVIEW on 02/20/2008 02:32:01 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

2008 LuxuryLite Big Survival Stik Walking Staff REVIEW

Ryan Faulkner
(ryanf) - F

Locale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
Re: 2008 LuxuryLite Big Survival Stik Walking Staff REVIEW on 02/20/2008 03:45:34 MST Print View

thanks doug for the lovely demo on the trail defense system

Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
Ninja Doug on 02/20/2008 07:22:20 MST Print View

With the Stik and wearing an OR Ninjaclava, you'd be set for night stealth missions on the trail.

Jonathan Ryan
(Jkrew81) - F - M

Locale: White Mtns
Re: Ninja Doug on 02/20/2008 07:32:57 MST Print View

oh man, that video is classic. Thanks for the laugh...

Ryan Hutchins
(ryan_hutchins) - F

Locale: Somewhere out there
knife as trowel? on 02/20/2008 10:29:03 MST Print View

Will the knife section of the staff function as a trowel? It looks like it would work well, any trials? I have the need to poo more often than defend myself from animals! ;)

Dan Whalley
(thedanwhalley) - F

Locale: peakdistrict natonial park, UK
trail ninja on 02/20/2008 11:25:11 MST Print View

Brill video! funny!

Yer looks like it would be better used as a troul than a knife, and there ant much of killer animals here in the uk!
But those ninjas are scary!

Like to try one out myself as i dont allways use trekking poles.

Anyone else used stafs on the trail??
Or Prefer them to poles??

Edited by thedanwhalley on 02/20/2008 11:27:50 MST.

Jim Cowdery
(james.cowdery) - MLife

Locale: Central Florida
Fishing on 02/20/2008 12:19:24 MST Print View

How about a barbed fork so it can be used to spear fish?

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
trowel use on 02/20/2008 14:30:11 MST Print View

I have one of these. The tolerances are pretty tight. I think if the knife was used as a trowel it would quickly develop burrs and/or get gunked up to the point that it couldn't be inserted in the handle, or would bind if it did. Mine is getting this way just due to its age.

Don Wilson
(don) - MLife

Locale: Koyukuk River, Alaska
Trail Defense System on 02/20/2008 14:56:15 MST Print View

Oh my, Doug.

I'm speechless.


Johnathan White
(johnatha1) - F

Locale: PNW
Trail Defense System on 02/20/2008 15:14:54 MST Print View

Now we will have to see more videos from you Doug! LOL! Great review with a funny twist! he he

A Hewlett
(llew) - F

Locale: oswestry, uk
Re: trail ninja on 02/20/2008 16:57:45 MST Print View

there are now ferral wild boar now in uk
these have attacked people!
traditionally (norman times) a spear was used
to kill boar, by putting ones foot on blunt end
of spear and pointing the sharp end towards
the chest of the charging boar. good luck
llew-oswestry, uk

Ryan Hutchins
(ryan_hutchins) - F

Locale: Somewhere out there
Re: trowel use on 02/20/2008 17:20:09 MST Print View

>I have one of these. The tolerances are pretty tight. I think if the knife was used as a trowel it would quickly develop burrs and/or get gunked up to the point that it couldn't be inserted in the handle, or would bind if it did. Mine is getting this way just due to its age.<

Thanks! That's what I was wondering.

Steve O
(HechoEnDetroit) - F

Locale: South Kak
Defense Staff on 02/20/2008 18:48:09 MST Print View

Perfect for keeping the droogies in their place, Clockwork Orange style.

Watch the scene on YouTube

Edited by HechoEnDetroit on 02/20/2008 18:50:12 MST.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: trowel use on 02/20/2008 19:49:50 MST Print View

Hi Ryan,

I agree with Dean. I did use it for a trowel and it worked great but it got pretty gunked up. I don't think this is the ideal tool for that job.

However, I found that in our loose Northwest soil that the pole itself was stiff enough to dig a pit. I'm not sure about all soils but the poles was really good for that.


Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: 2008 LuxuryLite Big Survival Stik Walking Staff REVIEW on 02/20/2008 19:51:56 MST Print View

Thanks everyone! This was defnitely the most fun review I've done- making that video was a blast! You should see the outtakes!

I'm excited for the possibility of more video on BackpackingLight. I'm sure you'll see more in the future (whether they will include trail ninjas or not is another story!)

Have a good one!

Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Walking Staff on 02/20/2008 22:45:30 MST Print View

I was pleased to see that the walking staff, or what used to be called an alpenstock, is still around. My old hickory one has seen considerable service over the years and even deterred an aggressive raccoon once.

What I was most pleased about, however, was the lack of a big pointy spike on the end that is commonly found on hiking poles. Somehow, seeing a trail perforated by a gazillion little holes, then tilled up, then eroded away by rain just grates my sesibilities about the Leave No Trace (LNT) ethic that we're all suppossed to be aware of. I put a rubber cap (for canes) that can be had at any drug store on mine, and not only does it not encourage trail erosion, but it has a grip on rock superior to that of a steel spike.

Andrew Browne
(andrew_browne) - MLife

Locale: Mornington Peninsula AUSTRALIA
OLs Style Luxury Lite Walking Staff on 02/21/2008 01:52:35 MST Print View

I have one of the earlier models of the LL walking staff and I love it, think it's now 3-4 years old and still going strong...can't remember when I purchased it but I still haven't broken it!!!

Dimensions are
1/ pole diameter 1/2inch (1.2cm),
2/ pole length 64inches (160cm)
3/ pole weight 5.5oz
4/ same prussik cord
5/ breaks down into x3 sections longest being 26inches (65cm)

Things I like
1/ Breaks down into a manageable size for travelling.....can put into or onto my pack when transiting esp on air flights....
2/ Extra length works well when going down steep inclines.........move the prussik handle higher up the pole for better ergonomic action
4/ Extra length works well with some shelter set ups.........i.e BD Megalite Shelter for the central pole. The pole breaks down to use it with shelters that need a lesser pole height
5/ Seems to have the strength to support full bodyweight........I've lost my balance a many times and had to put my full bodyweight on the pole and while it bent and bent it didn't break. However I'm always conscious of the top end of the pole spearing into me if I fell or it collapsed and have put a rubber cap on the top end of the pole........weight gain of .5oz. I use a cap that usually goes over the end of trekking poles.

The hollow aluminium end does collect some dirt, but I've now combined that with expoy and closed the end so it doesn't collect new dirt to cross contaminate the areas I'm travelling. The aluminium end piece has good grip on all surfaces and after 3-4 years does not show excessive wear i.e. decrease in usable length

I agree with previous posts that when using the LL pole I do not walk as fast as when I'm using my Gossamer Gear Lightreks (5.5oz for the pair). I still walk faster and more comfortably with either than using nothing, plus I have my shelter pole/poles thus multi essential for lightweight trekking

I think LL weakened when discontinuing my model pole and went with the big brother they should be called.......Moderately Lite

Joshua Mitchell
(jdmitch) - F

Locale: Kansas
Re: OLs Style Luxury Lite Walking Staff on 02/21/2008 07:01:35 MST Print View

"I think LL weakened when discontinuing my model pole and went with the big brother they should be called.......Moderately Lite"

TiGoat, unfortunately, discontinued their CF Staffs as well. They had a shorter, smaller diameter one as well... IIRC, the main difference between TiGoat and LL is that the TiGoats were lighter and non-collapsible...

mike wigant
(mwigant) - F
Is it legal? on 02/21/2008 07:25:19 MST Print View

I would think that some jurisdictions would consider this a concealed weapon of the cane sword type.

Richard Allen
Re: Re: Re: 2008 LuxuryLite Big Survival Stik Walking Staff REVIEW on 02/21/2008 18:10:06 MST Print View

Greetings Doug. Kudos for another example of what we've come to expect from BPL reviews: Factually correct, Informative and Entertaining. Good Job!

A personal note: I do *not* have *any* vested interest in re LuxuryLite. Over the years I have purchased, used and abused, almost every product LL have ever made available to General Public. And a few not available to the GP. ;-) I am what most would call a "loyal customer." But I am not biased and I have disagreed strongly w/Bruce on more than one occasion. But I do like and respect the man and the staff @LL.

WTS, I am indeed an expert when it comes to backpacking in general and LL gear in particular. So I do hope this post helps clarify, inform and entertain. The latter is doubtful; i'm not as good a writer as you are Doug.

First some subjective ops:

1) Doug Johnson wrote; "Hand strap is comfortable for all-day treks." "... although this is not a trekking pole." "Then, again, this is not a trekking pole and it serves a slightly different purpose." "... trekking poles ... [are] more efficient when making direct ascents ..."

I disagree that the Stik is not a trekking pole. In fact you kinda/sorta disagreed w/yourself. As quoted in the first sentence above.

1a) What is a trekking pole? A pole one uses while trekking. Duh! So, Doug this *is* a trekking pole.

1b) I also disagree that the Stik is less efficient during ascents. The stability and ruggedness afforded by Stiks is unmatched (as you wrote)! And during descents, when (IMEO) the worst slips occur .... well, there's none better, if fitted w/a standard basket/tip!

1c) The *one handed,* on the fly, adjustability afforded by the prussik strap on the Stik is True Bleeding Genius! Specially on ascents/descents and hilly terrain in general. IMEO it is *the one* attribute which sets the Stiks apart from the rest.

Think how often one foregoes the *security* and convenience of properly adjusting a standard trekking pole because it's a PITA to stop in the middle of a descent and lengthen one's trekking pole. Even Flicklocks are usually used as "set and forget" due to the hassle. The prussik strap also allows quick and easy secure hanging of a multitude of items; including one's pack. And there's more .... for another post. ;-)

2) You noted that the cylindrical tips are not as positive as standard tips. I agree. Which is why on my Stiks I have two complete sets of tips and baskets. One I made myself out of LL sourced parts. And one, slightly larger, set which Bruce made later for me. They Work Great! I highly recommend them.

3) You're not impressed w/the "Needle" and think it just adds weight. Fair enough. I use it often and think that the "Needle" is good enough to replace the 1.2 ounce trowel I used to carry. Ergo: No need for an additional item .... adding more weight than reasonable alternatives. The Needle saved me app one ounce of weight. So, works for me. :-)

4) You rightly mention that the Stik is not suitable for all shelters. Which, as noted, applies to all trekking poles. ;-)

But what you may not be aware of is that different Stik section lengths may be ordered. Or one could simply cut a section(s) to whatever length one prefers. The latter is of course not an option w/standard design trekking poles.

Which brings me to your comparisons ....

5) While it is very useful to compare products one must always keep in mind (*I* think you did, but others?) that apples and oranges have different attributes.

The Stiks, like most other LL products over the years, are a Modular Concept! And they come from an MFG who is willing to build to suit. While they are heavier than UL poles, the additional weight is mitigated by the far greater degree of utility (more in that re during an upcoming followup post) and the utter reliability.

The Stiks won't let you down !

You might also not be aware of the fact that the first carbon fiber "Stiks" that LL built and sold, were much, much lighter. I still have two of them which I use for "Fast & Light" hikes. With LL baskets/tips. And custom sections to fit practically every UL shelter made.

If you want lighter .... LuxuyLite will build them!

If you want baskets/tips .... LuxuryLite will build them!

Like any great inventor, innovator and entrepreneur; Bruce wants to make what people want to buy!

Contact Bruce and annoy the heck out of him. Because I have a number of Lekis (rental/loaners) that i'd like to replace w/original, small diameter, CF Stiks. And the two I have left, although rugged and although they will still provide years of service .... they are pretty old.

BTW, Since I don't speak for LL take my ops as being strictly personal. TIA for your understanding!

Finally , of course LL products are not for everybody. But like other unique products they absolutely require a paradigm shift to fully appreciate their positive qualities. IOW; it may take a bit of time to learn how make the best use of them. Fortunately LL have one of the best satisfaction guarantees in the biz!

Thx for reading this long winded post. :-)