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Hiking Sticks 101

Jessica Stark contacting me about writing a guest post on hiking sticks. While modern, collapsible trekking poles are popular, there’s still a lot to be said for a good, solid walking stick that you’ve tailored to your own tastes. 

Hiking Sticks 101

by Jessica Stark

If you’ve been hiking, you’ve probably noticed people using hiking sticks. These hiking sticks, also known as walking sticks or trekking poles, may look funny, but they actually offer much assistance to even the most seasoned hiker. If you are considering becoming more of an avid hiker, check out how a hiking stick might be the exact tool you’ll need!

Hiking Uses

Hiking sticks  are a great when exploring any outdoor setting. On uneven terrainand rocky surfaces, they can help maintain balance. Leaning on a walking stick will help to prevent you from tripping or twisting an ankle. While you many think only older hikers would need a hiking stick, they enable people of all ages and fitness levels to walk long distances by giving support when you begin to tire or through long uphill stretches.

Hiking sticks definitley come in handy for crossing streams or testing out potentially unstable grounds. Your hiking stick can be used to uncover surfaces or test whether an unusual looking spot is slippery or unable to hold weight. Additionally, they allow you to measure how deep a stream is and where drop offs might occur. Examining surfaces and water with your hiking stick can prevent serious injuries.

Types of Hiking Sticks

Several types of hiking sticks exist, but the two main categories are metal and wood. Many people even make their own walking stick customized to their height and style. Walking sticks are available in most pharmacies, discount department stores, medical supply companies and even online; however, I recommend making your own wooden stick rather than purchasing one. By making your own, you will truly be able to ensure the proper height, weight and feel.

Customized Hiking Sticks

By far, the best hiking sticks are handmade. Wood is pliable and easy to work with, making it a great choice for hiking sticks. Because wood is easier to work with than metal, you can ensure that your custom hiking stick will be the exact height and weight that you need it to be.

Make your own trekking pole:

1.     Select a thick limb or piece of lumber that is just over shoulder height but is still easily carried. Avoid knotted wood as the knots may result in weaker wood.

2.     If your wood is already stick-shaped, shave layers away until it’s the right height (just below shoulder height) using a hunting knife or hand saw. Power toolscan be used to achieve the ideal shape if you are using a lumber board.  

3.     Remove the bark so that the stick may be dried out. The bark can be easily removed with a box cutter. Make sure you allow the wood to thoroughly dry before proceeding.

4.     Next, sanding can begin. Be sure to wear a sanding mask. Using a large piece of sanding paper that wraps around the stick, a sanding block or a palm sander, smooth the surface of the wood. Clear the sawdust away when you finish sanding.

5.     Once this step is completed, it should be wiped down with tung oil followed by minor sanding, reapplying the oil and then sanding one more time. Drying the stick between each process is mandatory. A final coating of floor wax and additional drying time is necessary.

With a bit of patience, you will have a custom hiking stick that can give you years of hiking aid. A well-made wooden hiking stick can provide you with support on the most rigorous of trails, so the next time you think a hiker looks funny with his stick, remember how these tools can be life-savers when you are deep on the trail.

Jessica is interested in camping and DIY projects. She enjoys spending time outdoors, exploring her surroundings and blogging on behalf of Sears and other brands she trusts.

About Paul

A guy trying to get away from his desk so that he can fish, hike, play and just plain be in the outdoors.

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  1. I use a maple one I carved over 20 yrs ago. It’s amazing how well they help out. I’ve even used it to support my tarp tent in a pinch!

  2. Jessica,
    I am the creator of the Original Stikstool. It is a hiking stick or trekking poles that you can transform into a camp stool. Please check out our website, http://www.stikstool.com, and let me know what you think.

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