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How To Buy A Walking Stick

Posted by Emily . on December 10, 2018

lady with walking stick

This article was updated on 22/04/2024.

Walking sticks come in various shapes, sizes and styles which can make it confusing to know exactly what type you need, especially if you don’t already know what you’re looking for. Our handy user guide will help you find the right walking stick for you or your loved one.

We stock many different types of walking stick – in fact, we like to think we have something for everyone here at Ability Superstore

Use our handy guide to help you work out what type of walking stick you or your loved one need, as there are several things to consider when you’re looking for the perfect walking stick.

Choosing The Right Material for Your Walking Stick

Oak, chestnut, aluminium? Walking sticks come in a variety of different materials. Let’s find out which one is right for you.

Wooden Walking Sticks

Wooden walking sticks are made from a variety of different woods including chestnut, ash, hazel, and oak, and are available in a range of different colours.

Wooden walking sticks are still very popular as they’re strong, long-lasting and can be sawn to exactly the right length for the user.

Top Tip: Remember to be very careful when cutting the walking stick to the right length as you can’t simply stick the end back on if you have cut off too much. Measure twice – cut once!

Aluminium Walking Sticks

Aluminium is a material used in a lot of walking sticks because it’s lightweight, yet very strong.

Most aluminium walking sticks have a telescopic design with an E clip or spring-loaded ball button push to adjust the height of the stick, usually in one-inch increments. This provides an extra degree of flexibility and convenience for the user.

Choosing The Right Type of Walking Stick

There are a few different types of walking stick to choose from, so it’s important to pick one that suits your needs.

Folding Walking Sticks

Folding walking sticks are useful for those that don’t necessarily need to use their stick all of the time but need something they can store away and carry around with them, should the need for it arise. They are usually made of aluminium, allowing for a lightweight structure that is also extremely durable.

Folding walking sticks come in four or five sections that are held together inside with a long and strong elastic strap. When the user wants to fold the stick away, each section is simply pulled apart with each section folding up alongside the others. When the stick is to be used again, simply free the sections and the stick literally snaps back together!

A range of accessories are available to hold folding walking sticks together when they are not in use. Alternatively, a plastic clip can also be used for this purpose.

Many folding sticks also have a height adjustment capability in the top section of the stick nearest the handle.

Non-Folding Walking Sticks

Traditional, non-folding walking sticks are best suited for those that need to use a walking stick most, if not all, of the time.

Non-folding walking sticks are available in a range of materials and handle styles, with height-adjustable or fixed height options.

Top Tip: If you’re looking for a traditional wooden walking stick, then you’ll need to search for a non-folding walking stick.

Choosing The Right Style of Walking Stick

The majority of walking sticks are straight in style with a tip (ferrule) on the bottom. However, there are a few different shaped stick styles which we have reviewed below.

Swan Neck Walking Sticks

A swan neck shaped stick has an angled shaft at the top, close to the handle which moves the position of the handle in relation to the straight section of the stick’s shaft.

A swan neck style stick is particularly useful if the user is unstable on their feet and therefore needs to place a lot of their weight on to the stick.

Tetrapod’s: Quad And Tripod Walking Sticks

Tripod walking sticks have three legs, and Quadrupeds or Quad Based walking sticks have four legs touching the floor.

These additional legs provide extra security to the user, meaning the stick is less likely to slip away when being used. They are particularly useful for those who are more unsteady on their feet.

Tetrapod's come in wide-based styles, offering the greatest level of support, and small based styles. Wide based styles have feet that protrude roughly 10 inches up from the base of the shaft, while the feet of the small-based styles are fixed onto a plate near the base of the shaft of the stick.

Top Tip: A bonus advantage of this style of stick is that it stands up on its own, which is particularly useful if the user is prone to dropping their stick.

Walking Sticks with Built in Seats

Stick seats are cleverly designed walking sticks with built-in seats, useful for those who want to take a rest when out and about.

Stick seats are available in a variety of different styles:

Folding Stick Seat 

- The seat is around 5 inches in depth, made from material slung between two upside-down U shapes. The two U-shaped stick sides open up to provide the seat.

Perching/Walker Stick Seat 

- A more traditional style of seat stick which folds out to provide a bicycle-style seat to perch on for short periods of time.

Choosing The Right Handle Style for Your Walking Stick

Crook, Derby, Fischer, Thumb? There is a wealth of different walking stick handle styles to choose from, each with their own advantages - it’s all about finding the style that’s the right fit for you!

Crook Handle Walking Sticks

Crook handle walking sticks have a traditional curved shape that can simply hook over the arm when not in use.

Derby Handle Walking Sticks

Derby handle walking sticks provide a more elegant yet supportive handle that can also hook over the arm when not in use.

Fischer Handle Walking Sticks

Fischer handle walking sticks offer a comfortable design that helps to distribute weight and pressure across the palm. Fischer handles are popular with those who suffer from arthritis in the hands.

Ergonomic Handle Walking Sticks

Ergonomic handle walking sticks offer an orthopaedic design for either hand that provides comfort and support. This style of handle is well-suited to those who suffer from arthritis in the hands.

Petite Handle Walking Sticks

Petite handle walking sticks, as the name suggests, are for people with smaller hands. Similar in style to the Derby handle, just on a smaller scale.

Walking Stick Accessories and Replacement Parts

There is a range of walking stick accessories available to suit your every need. From wrist straps to stick bags, walking stick accessories are designed to provide a convenient way to add comfort or store your stick in between uses.

Walking Stick Ferrules

Ferrules are the tips which fit at the end of the walking stick and touch the ground. Some sticks have metal tips but the majority have either PVC or rubber ferrules, which tend to provide the best security when in use.

Ferrules do wear through quickly and therefore should be checked frequently for signs of wear and replaced when necessary.

Top Tip: In Winter, when pavements tend to be icy and slippery, the ice spike crown is an ideal ferrule accessory that clips onto the shaft of the walking stick. The small spikes on the crown provide added security against slipping in snowy or icy conditions!

Walking Stick Straps

Walking stick straps either slip over the handle of the stick or attach via poppers onto the shaft of the stick and the user places the strap over their wrist. This helps the user to ensure that they do not drop the stick if they let go of the handle. It also helps to keep the stick close by if the user needs to reach into a handbag or a pocket.

Walking Stick Holders

There’s a good selection of walking stick holders which provide a prop for when the stick is not in use.

The walking stick grip is made from plastic and attaches to the stick shaft. It allows the stick to be balanced on the edge of a table or worktop when not in use.

The Bridgit stick holder allows for a walking stick to be hung over the back of a chair or handrail, or from a table or countertop.

The stick holder is useful for those who use a wheelchair or wheeled walker. The walking stick rests in the lower cup section of the holder and clips into the top part of the holder, securing it in place and keeping the stick close at hand when not in use.

Walking Stick Bags

Folding walking sticks are great, but they can be difficult to keep closed in their folded position when not in use.

walking stick bag is ideal, keeping the stick compact, easy to slip into a pocket or bag and ready for use. Alternatively, a plastic clip achieves the same effect.

At Ability Superstore, we stock a huge range of walking sticks and we’re constantly adding new suppliers.

Kate Makin, OT

Kate Makin, Ability Superstore's Occupational Therapist

Kate Makin qualified as an occupational therapist (OT) in 2001 with a BSc (Hons) in Occupational Therapy. She is a member of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT).

As a registered occupational therapist (OT), Kate is a science degree-based, health and social care professional, taking a “whole person” approach to both physical and mental health and wellbeing. This enables individuals, of all ages, to achieve their full potential and lead as independent life as possible.

Click here for Kate’s registration with the Health and Care Professions Council.

Throughout her career, Kate has worked in many different clinical settings, in both the public and private sector. Kate has been running her own independent occupational therapist business since 2009. She is passionate about disability aids and adaptations, with a specialist interest in postural management and seating.

As Ability Superstore’s resident OT, Kate is on hand to offer professional advice and answer any queries.