The 8 Best Stilts
This wiki has been updated 16 times since it was first published in December of 2016. Children love to pretend they're bigger than they actually are, and these stilts allow them to play at being a giant anytime they like. Some of them can also be used by professional painters and drywall installers for a handy height boost while on the job. And, although we may not have to say it, we will anyway: be sure to start slow, follow all safety precautions, and wear protective gear. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best stilt on Amazon.
April 09, 2019:
Before considering any pair of stilts, whether for fun or for construction work, it's important to think about safety. Anyone, young or old, attempting to walk on stilts should wear proper protective equipment and follow all manufacturer directions. It's also a good idea to inspect them each time they're worn for any potential defects or material failings. With that said, we still think that the GypTool Pro and the Pentagon Tall Guyz are appropriate choices for those working in construction or painting. They both offer fine traction and ample height, and although they aren't exactly cheap, you shouldn't need to replace them any time soon. For options for kids, we like the Hijax Actives by Extex and the Alex Toys Ready, Set, Stilts. Neither is so high that children will be afraid to try them out, and as a bonus, the Alex Toys model is adjustable. We also kept the Skyrunner Adult Kangaroo jumping stilts, even though they are pricey and have a steep learning curve. They're great for the adventurous who are tired of the same old activities, though, and would make a fun gift for the athlete who's tried it all.
A Brief History Of Stilts
The rivers would flood often, and when tempers flared, stilt fighting would break out — and it's probably very hard to get back on your feet in the middle of a river.
Since the dawn of time, man has been jealous of birds. What we wouldn't give to have wings, to be able to fly, to soar to unimaginable heights, to look down upon the world like a god!
Of course, we never grew the wings — but we did figure out a way to give ourselves long, gangly, unwieldy legs.
We did so by inventing stilts — and we invented them far earlier than you might expect. Their use was depicted in artwork found in ancient Greek ruins dating back to the 6th century B.C.E. The Greeks, from what we know, used them primarily in the theater to depict monsters and other large creatures (and they would eventually be used in films to make Tom Cruise look as tall as his costars).
Their use was fairly widespread, however. The Chinese used them as transportation when rivers overflowed, and the Belgians even devised a way to fight while wearing them. This tradition, called stilt jousting, involved trying to knock the other person over by shoving them or kicking their stilts out from underneath them.
While this fighting style is practiced ceremonially today, in the 1400s C.E. it was done for real. The rivers would flood often, and when tempers flared, stilt fighting would break out — and it's probably very hard to get back on your feet in the middle of a river.
Mostly, they were utilized for practical purposes, such as picking fruit high up on trees. In the Landes region of France, shepherds would strap on a pair to watch their flocks, as it gave them a superior field of vision. The stiltwalkers of Landes were so proficient with their long legs that they could run, hop, or bend down low to the ground (presumably they could also kick a wolf really hard).
In Sri Lanka, fishermen used them to wade out into deeper waters off-shore in the Indian Ocean. They learned how to do this after WWII, when there was wreckage from the war strewn across the water for them to hang from.
Today, stilts are used by painters, drywall contractors, and, like everything else in this world, extreme sport athletes. There's a game called "powerbocking," in which competitors use spring-loaded fiberglass stilts in races where they bound up to 20 miles per hour. Supposedly, these stilts have even been examined by the American military for combat uses.
Because there's no more difficult target to hit than a ten-foot tall soldier bouncing across the battlefield like a drunken kangaroo.
Choosing The Right Pair
Shopping for stilts is something they never teach you how to do in school (well, maybe in clown college), so if you need a pair, it's likely that you don't even know how to compare your various options.
Luckily, stilt shopping isn't very hard.
Feel free to experiment with a variety of styles before committing to the one you like best.
The first thing to consider is how tall you'll need to be. Some are adjustable, whereas others only come at a certain length, so make sure whichever pair you buy can help you reach the heights you need to reach. It may be helpful to measure your work area to determine the size you need, but if that's not something that's always uniform, you should focus on adjustable models.
The material is something else to look at. Wooden models tend to be the cheapest, but they're not likely to be terribly durable, so if you'll be using them every day you should splurge on something more high-quality. Aluminum can fit the bill, but just know that you'll be paying for that quality, so make sure you'll use them enough to get your money's worth.
There's a wide variety of styles to choose from, as well. You'll encounter different foot grips, different bases, and different shapes, all of which will vary the experience. Feel free to experiment with a variety of styles before committing to the one you like best.
Ultimately, as long as you feel safe and comfortable atop them, and they get you where you need to go, it's hard to go wrong.
With buying them, that is. It's easy to go wrong walking in them.
How To Walk In Stilts
You probably don't remember this, but learning to walk is hard. There's a lot of falling involved, and that can hurt — even more so when you're falling from a decent height. So, if you're planning on walking on stilts and you don't want to end up in the ER, it behooves you to learn proper technique.
You'll be surprised at just how much easier certain jobs are, and how quickly you can knock them out.
It's important to understand that the stilt should feel like an extension of your leg. If you stick your leg out and the stilt wobbles or doesn't feel sturdy, you need to re-tighten it and try again.
It's best to start from a perch where you can sit down while still having the stilt on the ground. Ideally, this perch will be close to a wall. Using the wall (or whatever means you have available) as a support, stand up slowly. Don't try to walk just yet — simply get your balance until you're comfortable standing there.
Having a pole or long stick is a good idea at first. Think of it as an extra-long cane. Use it to support yourself during your first steps, or to catch yourself if you start to fall.
Speaking of which, have a spotter your first time out. You need a friend who's willing to catch you, or at least break your fall, until you get the hang of it. As thanks, you can buy them a gift basket using the money you saved by not going to the hospital.
With practice, you should be scooting right along with hardly any effort. You'll be surprised at just how much easier certain jobs are, and how quickly you can knock them out.
Speaking of knocking things out — it may be time to introduce your coworkers to stilt jousting.
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