I’ve fought hard to keep my living spaces free of ski gear (and bikes, and fishing equipment). It’s a battle that I’ve waged for some 20 years, ever since I moved to a ski town where shoebox-sized apartments command $1800 in rent and living rooms double as gear sheds. Then I stumbled upon a toilet plunger that uses a ski pole for a handle. I couldn’t wait to make room for this particular piece of gear in my bathroom.
Admittedly, it isn’t hard to improve upon the basic plunger, which ranks as the most boringly uniform of all the household tools. Everyone owns one, and they all look the same: just a straight wooden handle jammed into a black rubber dome. I’ve never gripped one with anything resembling enthusiasm.
Enter the Bamboo Poo Plunger ($38), which immediately felt good in my hand, like a familiar friend that was ready to help me tackle the gnar. It even has a recycled-polyester webbing strap for extra security for advanced maneuvers.
Functionality aside, the lacquered bamboo shaft is also infinitely more aesthetic than the generically lathed handle on your typical plunger. Yes, I like the way it looks beside my toilet. It sparks joy. My visitors love it too. One friend actually walked it out of my bathroom and waved it around like a wand, laughing.
It’s the latest product from Grass Sticks, a Steamboat Springs company that makes bamboo ski poles and SUP and canoe paddles. Founder Andrew Beckler hatched the idea after an employee fitted a ski-pole grip onto the shop plunger. It seemed like a good way to use up the shorter scrap segments that are left over from production. “I thought we’d be lucky to sell 20 of them, total,” Beckler says. But as soon as Grass Sticks announced the new product with an e-mail blast to existing customers, orders flooded in. “We sold 75 plungers on opening day,” he says. “And they’re still going strong.”
Strong is right: Bamboo is so shatter-resistant that Grass Sticks offers a lifetime warranty on its ski poles (Poo Plungers come with five-year coverage). Buyers also get to choose from seven colors of grips. I went with construction-zone orange, but Beckler says red is the most popular. “It’s different from our ski poles, which people usually want in black, blue or green,” he explains. In any color, the plungers apparently resonate with skiers. “I think it’s a great way to remind yourself of skiing year-round,” he says.