Walking stick

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Walking sticks (staffs) come in many different materials and styles. They can be made of wood, aluminum, steel, and even titanium alloy. Choosing a staff is determined by how you are going to use it and, also, your own person preference of style.

A wood walking stick is usually made of a durable hardwood such as oak and can be customized with wood-burning techniques, leather handle wraps, and other creative customization. These can be found at craft shows or flea markets, or custom-made by your local artisian or wood-worker; some people choose to just pick up a suitable stick near the trailhead and discard it at the end of their hike. When hiking in beaver-populated areas, beaver sticks often provide a good, sturdy staff (but be careful of their pointed ends).

Aluminum walking sticks are usually telescopic (collapsable), thinner, and more light-weight than wood walking sticks. They can be found at stores such as Wal-mart, Target and REI camping supply stores. They can run between $20 and $75 and higher.

Titanium alloy walking sticks are typically one solid piece of metal, thicker in the middle and tapered towards the ends. Relatively indestructable and extremely light-weight, they are, also, more costly. These typically start around $100.00 and go up.

When trying a staff, you want to consider...

a.) The size of the grip. Can you fit your hand around it comfortably?

b.) The length of the stick. When you rest your arm by your side and raise your fore-arm perpindicular to the ground to grasp the stick, can you effectively and easily walk with it?

c.) Weight. Can you carry this with you for a mile or more comfortably?

d.) Purpose. Will you be using it just to poke around in a rotted tree trunk once in a while or do you rely on it every step of the way while you are hiking.

e.) Tranportability. Do you really want to fight with that seven foot oak limb every time you climb back into your VW bug?

Staffs can be useful for...

a.) Testing the soil where you are about to step, chceking the steepness of a grass-covered slope.

b.) Checking for gopher, snake, frog, whatever holes and making sure you don't disturb any dangerous critters with your foot or hand.

c.) Checking tall grass for ammo cans and peant butter containers. Waving you hands through tall grass is not as efficient and risks the hazard of having something hiss or rattle at you unnecesarily.

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