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How to Choose the Best Walking Stick

Last updated: June 9, 2022

Walking sticks are an asset for anyone who needs a little support as they walk on their favorite paths, and many people become so attached to their preferred stick that they won’t think of going far without it.

Choosing the best walking stick isn’t that hard once you know what you’re looking for, and you can use this guide to get started on picking out the perfect one for your next big trek.

Think About Your Intended Uses

A quality walking stick can do far more than give you support as you enjoy a hike or walk. If you’re an avid hiker, then you may want to look for walking sticks that are designed to accomplish other tasks, such as being water-resistant, so that you can check the depth of a stream.

Or, you might prefer to find a walking stick that is strong enough to help you knock objects off of your path if you’re older and tend to shuffle your feet as you walk. Knowing what you want to do with the stick helps you select the right material and size.

If you’re not sure what all you’ll want to do, then don’t worry.

Many people get multiple walking sticks to suit specific purposes. For instance, you might want a taller walking stick for hiking and a lightweight one for buzzing around town.

Find the Right Size Walking Stick

Your walking stick needs to be the right size for your stature to prevent it from causing strain on your back, arms and shoulders. Although it may seem like a taller stick would be better, you might not want to go too high if you tend to be on the smaller side.

One of the first things you’ll want to do is think about how you plan to use your walking stick. If you mostly need it for day-to-day mobility assistance for everything from taking a walk around your neighborhood to grocery shopping, then you’ll want to measure the bony part of your wrist to the floor to get an idea of the right length.

If you’re using a walking stick for hiking, then you’ll want to pick one that is long enough to allow you to hold your arm at a 90-degree angle. This gives you more leverage for using the walking stick on rocky terrain, and you’ll be able to move it upwards easily on hills.

Look for a Stick With the Right Thickness

A stick that’s too thin won’t give you much support, yet one that is too thick could be heavy and unwieldy. Most walking sticks should be about one to two inches wide, and you may find some with slightly thicker bases to provide you with more stability.

Know How to Pick the Best Wood for a Walking Stick

When your walking stick is primarily made from wood, you’ll want to make sure to pick the right type. You’ve got an array of options to choose from, and knowing the qualities of the most common types of wood helps you make the best decision.

Acacia

Acacia trees grow throughout the Pacific Islands and in Africa, Australia and Asia. The wood of these trees has a beautiful grain that results in a lovely finish for walking sticks. People also tend to like that this type of wood is sturdy and resists wear and tear.

Bamboo

Technically, bamboo is a grass, but it is so strong that it is often used in place of wood due to its sustainability. Not only is it durable, but it is also biodegradable once the stick reaches the end of its lifespan.

Some types of bamboo grow as fast as 5 cm an hour, which makes it easier to replace than other types of wood. You might like a bamboo walking stick if you prefer something lightweight that fits your desire to use highly sustainable materials.

Oak

Oak is one of the most commonly used hardwoods, and people tend to claim that its appearance just gets better with age. Walking sticks made from this type of wood will be strong, sturdy and capable of standing up to frequent use.

Oak can get a bit heavy, however, so make sure to check out the stick’s weight if you plan to use it for long excursions.

Chestnut

The darker tones of chestnut create beautiful walking sticks that add a touch of elegance to your regular walks and hikes. This hardy wood was a favorite among the pioneers because it could be used for just about everything.

While this wood is strong and attractive, you’ll have to decide if the slightly heavier weight compared to other woods is worth the beauty.

Birch

Birch has a lighter color that some people prefer, and it is free of knots so that you can enjoy a smooth finish. Its also rot-resistant, which makes it great if you know you’ll be walking in various types of weather.

Try Out Your Stick In Different Situations

Once you’ve found the right stick, you’ll want to try it out to see how well it fits your needs. It’s advisable to stick to a shorter hike or walk the first time that you use your stick. If that goes well, then you can try more challenging terrain or lengthier walking sessions until you feel confident that your walking stick is ideal.

FAQs

What is the best walking stick wood?

The best wood for your stick ultimately comes down to your unique needs. Take a moment to explore whether you prefer the hardiness of a hardwood or require something more lightweight to help you make your decision.

Which types of wood should you avoid for walking sticks?

While you’ve got several excellent options for picking out a walking stick that suits your needs, you’ll want to avoid several common types of wood.

Pine, cedar and most types of wood that come from conifer trees are too weak to rely on for stability. Softer wood will also develop scratches and cracks that mar the appearance of a walking stick and further reduce its reliability.

What is the strongest walking stick wood?

Oak is one of the strongest types of wood used to make walking sticks. Hickory, birch and ironwood are additional types that are incredibly strong.

How do you care for a walking stick?

You’ll want to care for your walking stick like you would other wooden products. Most walking sticks have a finish on them, which allows you to use a damp cloth or wood polish to wipe them down and remove surface dirt.

Keeping your sticks clean and dry helps to prevent rot, and you’ll find that they last longer when you avoid exposing them to too much direct sunlight or high temperatures.


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