A hiking stick can be a useful tool for any hiker looking for greater stability while out on the trail. Hikers and backpackers can choose from pre-made, hand-crafted walking sticks, to high-tech trekking poles, to simply finding a suitable stick along the side of the trail.
What is a Hiking Stick?
A hiking stick is a piece of wood that someone can use while hiking along a trail. It should be about as high as your shoulders, and the diameter of the stick should be no thicker than your wrist. The stick should be able to support your weight, and not bend when weight is applied to it.
Some different types of hiking sticks include one that are found along a trail and thrown back into the woods after the hike is over, or pre-made sticks that are bought at a store. These hiking sticks are often hand-crafted, have been sanded smooth, and may even have a varnish coating. Trekking poles are simply the modern version of sticks and poles used by travelers long before.
There are several uses for a hiking stick, including:
- Providing additional stability while traveling over uneven terrain, such as off-trail.
- Can be used as a probe to flip over rocks or logs to check for unseen animals or rattlesnakes to avoid stepping on them.
- Give the hands something to do on long hikes.
- Can be combined with a tarp or poncho to make an improvised shelter during inclement weather.
- Can prop up a backpack during a rest break on a hike.
- Can be used as splinting material for a broken leg.
How to Make a Hiking Stick
To make a hiking stick, find a piece of wood that is of suitable length and width. Using a pocketknife, whittle away the bark to expose the soft, white wood underneath. This can be done in just one area of the stick to serve as a grip, or the whole stick can be cleaned away. Carve one end into a rounded point. This will be the end that will be touching the ground.
From this point, hikers can take creative license to design the hiking stick any way they would like. These could include intricate carvings, attaching medallions, etc. For instance the Boy Scouts of America sells different accessories that can be attached to a hiking stick.
When searching for a suitable hiking stick, look for wood that is dead, down, and detached from trees. Do not cut branches from live trees, as this causes impact and is an eyesore.
A hiking stick is something that can not only be useful tool, but it can also be a personalized item that can describe your adventures or personal style.