The Walkstool from Sweden made us stop in our tracks when we saw it at a trade show earlier this year. It looks like a regular tripod stool, but we noted some intriguing differences we wanted to examine more closely.
The stool comes in five models, with three made in Sweden with higher prices and more features and two made in China with slightly downsized features and prices that are correspondingly lower.
On first sit we were in love with the comfort of the mesh seating and the practicality of how easily it could fold and transport in a small, lightweight package. We especially liked the feature that allows a user to not telescope the legs, leaving it looking almost chopped off where the three legs would normally join in the tripod before they flare back out again to the ground. This allows a user to sit on the stool in situations that require seating for very low uses such as gardening, working on a bike, or perhaps getting closer to a campfire, while still having the option of reaching, turning and even pivoting on the foot pods without having to get up or dare toppling over.
We and the SNEWS® team used it in a variety of situations – on dirt, gardening, indeed working on a bike, on asphalt, while throwing a ball to the dog, and even on carpet. While we still like the low seating option that avoids forcing someone to crouch, kneel (ouch!), or sit on the ground, and we generally liked the mesh seat, we discovered a couple of negatives:
First, the stool doesn’t work well on carpet. In fact, the feet stick to the carpet and can cause difficulties in spreading the three legs to their largest diameter, which causes the mesh seat to bunch up and become a narrower and deeper seat. The feet can also catch on rugs, so you can’t just slide it or move it without closing it up or even knocking it over. OK, we can go with the fact that it’s not really meant for carpet. But the first reason, above, caused this second negative to some users: Our male testers found that if the seat wasn’t spread out tautly -- i.e. the legs weren’t fully extended -- the top of one of the tripod legs that ended up in front of you could, well, jab uncomfortably in all the wrong places. To avoid that … uh … jabbing, you had to make an extra effort to tighten the mesh seat outward, sit farther back in the seat or sit slightly askew. Now, that didn’t seem to happen as often on smooth surfaces, such as asphalt or flat dirt. Nevertheless, our male testers were put off a bit.
Where the Walkstool really shines is in its packability as well as in that ability to sit in low positions while saving strain on the back. Or to have a quick seat available for other situations such as hiking, birding or photography outings.
The stool comes in several sizes so you can determine how high or low you want to be, which height works better for your leg length, or which seat width best fits your back side. The “comfort” models made in Sweden have bigger rubber feet, higher quality metal, and more comfortable seats. The “basic” models, made in China, have smaller plastic feet, slightly smaller seats, and unventilated seat material. The three made-in-Sweden models also come in a lightweight pouch for no-brainer schlepping.
We still like the stool for certain uses – it WAS a dream when we worked on our bike or gardened in a low position – and would be great for a million other uses -- as long as it's not on carpet.
SNEWS® Rating: 4.0 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: Comfort, $70-$100; Basic, $35-$45
For more information:www.walkstool.com (where you’ll also experience the company founder’s sense of humor and some great cartoon illustrations)