Leki Sierra Antishock Walking Stick

I’ve been using this stick for about 18 months now. Leki are a very well-regarded manufacturer of ski poles, trekking poles and other outdoor accessories.

I’d been using another, similar pole from another manufacturer but found it inadequate. The section locks weren’t strong enough and it would compress if anything more than minimal weight were applied for support on either a downhill or uphill. No worries of that with the Leki. In the store, I expanded it to the right height, placed the ball under my hands, braced it into my midsection and put as much weight on it as I could (the guy in the store joked that they might have to institute a ‘you break it, you buy it’ policy). It held. It did bow very slightly but that was all. The sections were securely locked.

I chose this particular style for a couple reasons. One, I liked the fact that it could be made compact for travel. I also liked that the wooden ball at the top can be screwed off and the stick used as a monopod (more on that later).

Overall, it’s a very well made, very durable and sturdy walking stick. The ability to adjust the length for better support both up and down hill is a plus. As mentioned, the section locks work very well. A simple quarter to half turn and the sections can be slid out and in as needed. The slight shock absorption system in the pole is a nice touch as well, making it a little easier on the arm/hand in the field. Continue reading

Feisol Tripod Review

Last fall I began looking for a new tripod. I’d been using a Manfrotto legs and head for several years and it was time for something new – for a few reasons. While pretty sturdy, the Manfrotto isn’t light. Carrying it on the trail for several hours, the extra couple of pounds do make a difference. I was also getting a bit tired of the flip action leg locks that get caught on things. It wasn’t overly compact in the closed position so carrying it was more difficult and lashed onto the bottom of a bag it stuck out on the sides a fair bit and would get knocked around easily.

Wanting to lighten the load a little I decided that carbon fibre would be route I’d go with a new ‘pod. I started looking at the major contenders: Gitzo; Manfrotto; Induro; and others. For various reasons, none seemed to be what I was looking for. The name Feisol is one I’d seen mentioned a few times in the past and always with positive reports. Based in Asia, they now have a U.S. distributor. Their Traveler Tripod (model CT-3441S) with ball head (model CB-30C) looked like it might fit the bill. Compact when closed (the legs fold up around the head, making the closed length shorter than normal), lightweight (just over 3lbs for legs and head), good load rating (just under 15.5lbs – an EOS 1Ds MkIII + 600mm f4 L IS weighs in at just under 14.5lbs) and priced well ($399 includes legs, head, one QR plate and a carry bag). A hook that screws onto the bottom of the centre column for hanging ballast is also included. The legs come with neoprene wraps for carrying comfort. Given the positive reviews I’d seen from others, I decided to give it a go.

I had a couple questions before buying. The response from their U.S. rep was quick, cordial and directly addressed my questions. The online purchase was simple, confirmed quickly and the item was shipped quickly. A follow up email to request a tracking # was answered an a timely manner and the shipment arrived at my door on time. Continue reading

Carnival, Trinidad

Elaborate, brightly coloured costumes. Beautiful women – and men to be fair – at every turn of the head. The driving bass beat of Soca. The crisp, ringing notes of steel pan. The lilting lyricism of Calypso. Bright, hot sunlight – in February. The smoky, sweet aroma of barbecue. Dancing in the streets night and day. This is the sensory overload, the hedonistic celebration, that is Carnival in Trinidad


Months of planning and weeks of fêtes culminate in a two-day bacchanal celebrating life before the beginning of Lent.

J’ouvert (pronounced joovay) marks the beginning of the two-day, almost non-stop apex of Carnival. Revelers take to the streets in the wee hours of the morning, caking themselves in mud or smearing themselves with paint and dance to music with a beat so strong it cuts to your very core. The dance is the ‘chip’. J’ouvert evokes a time in Trinidadian history when slaves rose up against their owners, using mud to disguise their appearances. Want to just step outside to get a glimpse of the goings on? Nope. J’ouvert is a participation sport. J’ouvert celebrants consider it their duty to ensure anyone they encounter who isn’t muddied becomes so immediately. Resistance is futile. Surrender yourself. Wear old clothes or better yet a swimsuit. Get dirty. Celebrate. It washes off. Continue reading