What Is A Hiking Stick?

What is a hiking stick? A hiking stick or hiking pole helps with balance and can be made from metal, hardwood, or may be a custom carved hiking stick. Dan Distasio is a marketing employee for Alyson Adventures,...

Dan Distasio is a marketing employee for Alyson Adventures, a group that specializes in travel for the gay and lesbian community. One of their biggest emphases on travel is getting back to nature, and therefore, Dan has become an expert on hiking. Distasio tells us that there is certain equipment that a hiker needs and explains the various qualities that one should look for in this equipment.

Hiking sticks aren't what they used to be. Nowadays, people are leaning towards an aluminum or reinforced steel version of the wooden walking stick. There are a lot of resources online that can help you pick the best stick that is good for you. If all else fails, go into your local recreational sports shop and ask for help.

"A hiking stick is good for anybody who needs additional security or balance. It's particularly helpful when you're coming down a hill," Distasio says.

Walking sticks are great for reinforcing balance, and breaking or preventing a tumble. While hiking, you will probably be encountering streams, rivers, hillsides, shale, unsteady rocks, fallen trees, loose ground and steep hills. A walking or hiking stick is great for keeping balance and reinforcing steadiness on these different types of terrain.

Not only that, it is great to lean against during resting stops and it can come in handy when camping. You can prop a tarp or tent on it or even use it to hang your backpack on at a camp site.

You can also use it to cut through heavy brush or move spider webs out of the way. Some people even use them for self defense against wild animals that they encounter on their hiking trips.

If you are looking to make your own wooden hiking sticks or "staff," you can search the internet for instructions or find something at your local library. The best kind of wood to use for your hiking stick is hardwood. For example, aspen, oak, pecan and cherry woods are great for hiking sticks. You can also find "wooden sticks that are reinforced with metal ends, rubber tips, and rubber hand grips," Distasio says.

Other sites like www.backpacking.net recommend finding a "long straight root section" because it's "as tough as you can get." They restate "overly soft woods will disintegrate from the bottom up. Hardwood is best." This site also recommends bamboo, "especially if you can get a natural handle between the joints."

You can also follow the latest trend and find aluminum or even titanium versions. These are a lot like "snow poles" that are used for cross country skiing or downhill skiing. Carbon-fiber poles are great too because they are so incredibly lightweight.

When choosing snow poles or ski poles for hiking, there are different qualities to look at before you make your pick. Look at the different types of hand grips including rubber, cork, plastic and foam. Also look and see if the poles come with wrist straps. Make sure that the hiking poles are comfortable in your hand.

When choosing a hiking stick for your next outdoor adventure, the key element to keep in mind is comfort. Make sure that you are comfortable with your decision, whether wooden or carbon-fiber and enjoy your hike!

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