Gear Guy

Is a survival pole worth the money?

I read the article about the Crawford Survival Staff in the 2000 Buyer's Guide, but I wanted to ask if it's really worth the $225. You're the only source of reliable information I have! Did you actually field-test the staff? Alex

A: You mean, have I taken the Crawford Survival Staff into the woods and used its blowgun to take a squirrel down, its spear point to fend off a bear, and its arrow shaft to nab a salmon? WellBno. But in this regard, I don't doubt that the Survival Staff "works." I mean, these are all pretty simple technologies. And it's a tough, well-made unit, so I'm sure its different functions perform as advertised.

The larger question would be: What the hell do you need this thing for? I've been hiking, climbing, backpacking, and camping for two-thirds of my age, which shall go unmentioned here, and I have never found the need to dart, spear, or knife anything. My Swiss Army Knife suffices to whittle kindling or help repair a pack problem; otherwise, my hardware needs have been fairly minimal, my murderous impulses non-existent.

But, as I read a few weeks ago, we pack according to our fears. If you think you're in danger of starving to death or facing a violent attacker, then by all means carry one. From this perspective, the Survival Staff appears to be well worth its price—for a mere $225 you have a walk, dinner, and back-alley fight all covered...