When you're hiking, a stick can give you extra stability, help you cross streams and rough terrain, and alleviate unnecessary stress on your body. This guide can help you purchase the stick that's right for you.
- Step 1: Investigate buying a hiking pole with built-in shock absorbers. These poles have springs integrated into the section joints to absorb impact that would otherwise be absorbed by your elbow and wrist joints.
- Step 2: Think about straps on your stick. Most hiking sticks come with wrist or hand straps. If you use the strap, you will want nylon webbing construction, pre-twisted for comfort. If used correctly, the strap can provide added support and less stress on your wrist and arm.
- Step 3: Look at other features available for hiking sticks. You can buy hiking sticks with a compass or camera mounted on the handle, hand-carved sticks, sticks with rubber grips, and a variety of other features. After you settle on the stick that's right for you, you'll never want to leave the trails.
- FACT: The Appalachian Trail Conservancy estimates that 2 to 3 million people hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail each year.
- TIP: Telescoping poles are available with locking mechanisms that allow for height adjustment.
- Step 4: Decide whether you want a hiking stick that is collapsible. Although not a feature of wood sticks, many hiking poles are collapsible or telescoping so that they can fit easily into a backpack.
- Step 5: Consider the construction material you would like for your hiking stick. Commercial poles for hiking are available in aluminum, carbon fiber, lightweight steel, wood, and bamboo.
- Step 6: Think about the kind of tip you want on your hiking stick. Most wooden hiking sticks tend to wear from the tip up, so commercially available sticks are typically fitted with tungsten carbide or rubber tips, and some offer an interchangeable tip feature.
- TIP: Rubber tips have been known to slip on wet surfaces, while carbide tips tend to scrape across rocks.
- Step 7: Determine a length for your stick. A hiking stick should be longer than a traditional walking stick in order to give increased stability when hiking up or down steep grades or over rough terrain. Your stick should reach at least to your shoulders, or even up to your chin.