Manfrotto’s Off Road walking sticks pack a lot of features into a lightweight package.
Manfrotto, with help from trekking pole leader Fizan, has stepped up to the plate to offer the serious hiker-photographer a lightweight hiking-stick/monopod. The lightweight aluminum three-piece telescoping poles feature an easy to use twist-to-lock mechanism. The pole sections have been designed to pull apart for cleaning without any damage. They come with metal-pronged tips for secure traction and include both a set of rubber tips for sensitive terrain and baskets for snow travel. The poles’ technopolymer handles are equipped with rubber caps for comfort and adjustable padded wrist-straps. The technical part of the pole is the integrated camera mounting post with quick attachment wheel; this transforms the hiking stick into a camera monopod. The poles weigh 14 ounces for the pair and are rated for a 4.5-pound load. Maximum extended length is 52 inches and the minimum length is 24 inches making them very packable for travel.
The Off Road walking sticks were tested vigorously during the 2015 hiking season on backpacking trips to Peru and the Sierra Nevada. The author is constantly on the lookout for new lightweight backpacking equipment. Once a sample was received it was immediately noticed that these Manfrotto Off Road walking sticks were about one-half the weight of the author’s existing monopod poles. Hiking with the poles was quite comfortable, helped by the low swing weight and rubber topped handles. Stability was excellent, and the poles proved to be very sturdy. The adjustable straps worked well, coming in very handy during the ups and downs of mountain trails. The twist-to-lock functions worked flawlessly and were easily adjusted on the fly. The ability to break down the poles for cleaning was much appreciated both during a muddy four-day trek in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca and on numerous dusty hikes in the Sierras. The rubber tip protectors are a nice addition when using the sticks in cities, and were required by law during a day spent touring Machu Picchu. While the pole baskets haven’t been used yet, they will come in handy during the spring hiking season. The heart of the monopod is the camera attachment. Flipping up the handle’s protective rubber cap, the camera was placed on the attachment stud and the red thumb wheel was spun to tighten in place. Not only was this a one-handed operation but the monopod can handle a lot of camera weight. The protective cap also played a vital role in keeping the attachment parts clean. The author has mounted several styles of cameras including a Canon DSLR, weighing in at a bit over one and one-half pounds; it didn’t come close to taxing the monopod. Either finding some soft ground or wedging the pole between some rocks was all that was necessary for self-portraits. The author also uses the monopod as a steading device for both super close-ups and distance shots. After a long season of hiking, the poles show little wear and operate as they did when new.
Manfrotto has done an excellent job of bringing a great dual-function camera accessory to the public. The lightweight and easy to use camera mount makes the Off Road walking sticks an effective tool for both hiking and photography.
- Price – $99.99
- Weight – 14.11 ounces
- Colors – Red, Green, Blue
- Retail stores
Disclosure: I received a sample of this product for purposes of this review, but the opinions expressed are my own.