Like others, I use the hi-hat clutch as a handle to unscrew the top portion of the rod. Once the top half is out, I remove the clutch and slip that part of the rod in the bottom half. Then I slip the top half back in the bottom half, over both pieces of the rod, for transport.
A strip of velcro secures the pedal up against the stand. Clutch is tucked in a small toolbox that lives in my hardware case.
For one set of hardware for one band, I use an SKB golf bag hard case. In that case, I can fit all of the stands with only their legs collapsed (and the one boom arm straightened out).
For everything else, I have my suitcase of hardware, in which I take apart the hi hat and unscrew the rod. It doesn’t take much time at all to put it together or take it apart. The convenience of a small suitcase to haul hardware FAR exceeds the minor inconvenience of disassembling the hi hat stand.
I made sure to buy a bag long enough so i would avoid taking the rod out, I have a gator case speaker stand bag. the portion of the rod that extends from the hi hat isnt long enough to bend where it makes any difference.. the top part of the rod will on occasion bend slightly if i jam the bag in my car or something and i bend it back by hand in a split second, still less time then taking the rod out. I need speed and convenience when setting up. I would think the rod would be more prone to bend when not inside the stand too.
The coolest part of the Tama stands (at least the Iron Cobra) is that the default rod is designed to be stored in the upper tube. Insert the rod upside down into the tube, the non slip nut stops it going through. Clamp your clutch on what is coming out of the bottom. Simple.