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Jamie McAnsh on Ben Nevis

By Jamie McAnsh

So here is my Honest Smartcrutch Review.

I first came across SmartCrutch Uk at Naidex the mobility show in Birmingham in 2017. Instantly, I was  impressed by the look, design and all round durability of the product. This was also the first time I had met Jason and asked if I could try them out. Really fancied putting them through their paces. 

When I asked Jason if they had ever been tested off road, and when I say that I mean mountains,  the answer was no. He advised me that he had not found anyone stupid enough to take them off road. His exact words. I simply smiled and said I was that Man. 

Most people think crutches are simply sticks to help you walk, to be honest you would be right, however! Crutches have come along way in design and practical use over the years. People now don’t want to simply sit around and feel sorry for themselves. Also, People want their crutches to be apart of the outfit. They now consider the look, the style and can they do everything they want from them. 

I have a set from early days that are adjustable, standard NHS issue and they do the job. Except the fact that you clink every time you take a step, They start to put massive pressures on your wrists and after long term use you start to suffer tendinitis. I was later issued with a solid every day set. Made to measure! These where great, no more clicking as the two sections moved on impact, however, they still came with the normal issues that you get for prolonged use. Pressure pains in your wrists mainly and sore hands. Unfortunately I don’t ever see SmartCrutch NHS becoming a thing. 

Over looked on everyday crutches.

Let’s look at a few of the things that are over looked on everyday crutches. The elbow cuff is normally made of moulded plastic that can be a little rough. Jumpers tend to get snagged and soon ruined.

Hand grips are normally also made of hard plastic and anyone who uses them for a period of time will get that red painful palm where you are basically pushing down on the grip.

The rubber feet that you only ever get full floor coverage when the crutches are completely straight. Use these on tiled floors like super markets and they can be lethal.

The main point to note.

Crutches are really designed for a short period of time. Standard Crutches are not designed to take your full weight. The main idea is to assist with balance not to replace it.

I tend to take most things and turn it on its head. For example a wheelchair, cut off the front end add a 3rd wheel and climb a mountain with it. Not its purpose.

When SmartCrutch asked me to review their product I assured them that I would push it to the limits.

SmartCrutch Eldow
SmartCrutch Features

So whats my verdict?

Everyday use they are great. Covering the initial issues every box has been ticked. An elbow support that is strong smooth and padded so you don’t get the issue with snagging and most of the support is through the elbow rather than the wrist. With the benefit of the elbow being a much bigger and stronger muscle group it can take the extra work load a lot easier. 

The hand grip is a soft comfortable rubber that has plenty of give, with the purpose mainly to guide the crutch the wrist pressure is reduced to almost zero. Add with an elbow section that adjusts to fit perfectly this creates a comfortable platform.

Even though they are fully adjustable you don’t get the clinking noise. They are a good fit and well-built. The adjustment needs to be there to make these crutches most effective. As you move the elbow joint from position 4 up you need to move the crutch up one level to take up the gap. This then stops the awkward shoulder movement. Improves posture and supports the user fully. I also used this when going up a mountain I lower the leg and coming down I raise the leg. Really helps me for terrain differences.

To me the extra safety magic is in the feet. Being flexible they offer a constant platform and grip to the ground so slippery surfaces are not so much of an issue and as a result shopping is a lot easier. Straight away I felt much more secure.

The adjustable elbow support means that once they are at a 90 degree you are completely supported through your elbow, not your wrist while your forearm is held firm and secure. This does however take some getting used to. You need to understand at this point that if you are going from standard crutches you are using a set of muscles. When you come over onto SmartCrutches you are now using a slightly different set of muscles. These need to develop and will take a few days over each setting on the elbow joint. You will not go directly to 90 degrees and find it works. Take your time and get used to them. In a few days you can adjust and this will improve your usability and enjoyment of the product. That is my honest advise. 

Now for the best bit!

So as always once I had used these for everyday use I wanted to take them out of their comfort zone. Squash is an active sport and one I enjoy. It keeps me fit and healthy but I used to fall over a lot as the floor is a slippery surface. My normal NHS crutches didn’t offer me a good solid platform to lean into. The SmartCrutch has really improved this area and is a massive assistance on court. The look is stylish so I not only look cool I look like I am prepared to take on the game , comfort is amazing and overall usability is awesome. This was a winner!

Next was to try them off-road. Here is where these awesome crutches find their slight but not complete weaknesses. On damp grass they don’t really hold well. On loose dusty surface they tend to lose a little grip. On relatively uneven rocky surfaces the flexibility in the feet seemed to work fairly well. The adjustable elbow joint means you can place a lot of your weight through the crutches but only if they grip the ground. At this point I had not yet used them on ice but I fear the result would not be ideal but only because of the feet not being completely up to the job.

Jamie McAnsh with his SmartCrutches

few words of IMPROVEMENTS.

I really am not going to take anything away from this product the conditions I put them through are not what they are designed for. In my opinion however it would not be difficult to adapt them to be a fantastic all-rounder. It would be all in the feet! If I could have one improvement on this product it would have to be the addition of off-road feet. As an adventure lover I am never more alive than when I am off the beaten track and up a mountain. There is so much potential for the SmartCrutch to be used as off-road all terrain crutches with the design of feet that could be used on grass or in mud maybe even snow or better still sand. I think SmartCrutch are missing this vital sector.

Jamie McAnsh on Ben Nevis
Jamie McAnsh on Ysgryd Fawr Mountain.

Stepping into the future.

So this review was first written by me back in 2017, After my review was first published SmartCrutch came back to me with a response to the off road foot. Meet the addition of the FlexyFoot! These feet are literally the best feet on the market, attach them to the SmartCrutch and you are left with the very best product attached to the very best product. Trust me that is no exaggeration.

So how did they do under pressure? In reply to that question! They done fantastic. I decided to take them to another extreme environment and climbed Snowdon. With 6 foot of snow drifts and an inch of ice (See image above) I can honestly say the Smartcrutch and FlexyFeet relationship worked perfectly. I had to put ice over boots on over my walking boots to stop slipping but my crutches stayed almost solid.

Great addition and the results are simply awesome! over the past three years I have not given these Crutches much rest, I have taken them in the sea, up Ben Nevis, Pen Y Fan, Sugar Loaf and back up Snowdon. My relationship with my crutches have become stronger and stronger. I now walk again, confidently and comfortably on my crutches. I have had a new lease of life and am always looking at new thing to do. In May 2020 myself and my SmartCrutches Fitted with FlexyFoot will be embarking on the challenge of a lifetime! We will be heading 17,500 feet up to Everest Base Camp. 

Do I have any final word? Of course I do! These crutches are a fantastic all round product that like everything will suit some more than others. I have definitely pushed them and tested them to the current limits and I am very impressed. I think that they still have so much more to give and really look forward to taking this product on my adventures and keep pushing their limits. I am also very excited about the future of this product and the developments that they keep on making.

Becoming an ambassador.

In the beginning of 2019 I was proud to be asked by SmartCrutch to become an ambassador of the product. I get asked my advice about improvement ideas and even had the oppertunity to support SmartCrutch UK at the Naidax show in Birmingham where the story first started. 

I spoke to Jason about the future of the product and how we can look at new ideas, such as attachments like possibly a torch and reflectors. Who knows the opportunities are endless. Since then I have now become a stockiest of the product and love the fact that I get to share my passion for the SmartCrutch with others and pass on the journey I have had. 

If you would like to purchase these amazing crutches but would like to know more, please get in touch or you can simply go to the shop and purchase a pair today.