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New, with a practical question about stick length and use


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#1 Hound Dog

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Posted 18 December 2016 - 11:32 PM

Howdy!  I'm sixty-three years old, and have a question about hiking stick length. 

 

For trail hiking, I use a sapling I cut out of my back yard.  I am very happy with it.  It is simply an unadorned straight shaft, no loops or grips or anything else.  Simple as it gets.  I'm 5 feet ten inches (70 inches) and the stick is very close to my height.  I call it a hiking stick, and others can call it something else if they want.

 

The reason I use a hiking stick is for balance while on slopes and tricky terrain while hiking or packing.  It essentially functions as a third leg.  The long stick is especially helpful when descending a steep slope.  A shorter stick would be ineffective for me, because when going downhill, I place the stick well ahead of me, and a shorter stick would result in "running out of stick" and result in fewer options about where to position it on the ground.  With a stick that is as long as I am tall, I can always find good placement ahead of me going downhill.  As the terrain changes, or when I go uphill, I simply slide my hand up or down the stick as needed.

 

Another advantage of having a longer stick, which I read about once, is that if you fall forward, it is less likely your face will collide with the top end of the stick.  Makes sense to me!

 

These fancy carbon fiber poles and so forth for sale in sporting goods shops do not appeal to me at all.  They are mostly four 1/2 feet long, and they do not do what I want a stick to do.  The sapling I cut for free does the job that $200 poles will not do.

 

Someone I know got very upset with me when I explained that a long stick is my preference for the reasons I noted, and told me I am wrong and stubborn.  I was told that a stick of this length is unnecessary and overkill.  I see it as a simple personal preference.

 

My question: does anyone share my preference for a longer hiking stick, of the same height or a tad longer than the user is tall? If so, what is your thinking about it?

 

Thanks for your input!  ; - )


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#2 Rodney

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Posted 19 December 2016 - 12:41 AM

Welcome! 

To me it's strictly a matter of personal preference.  I prefer a staff that's about shoulder height.  It's still a good length but I don't have the end of the stick catching my eye and distracting me as I walk.  But then, my days of covering truly rough terrain are pretty much done.

Rodney


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#3 cobalt

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Posted 19 December 2016 - 01:31 AM

your dead right it is personal preference.

Most stick makers recommend for a hiking pole to reach about armpit height. which is something I adhere to and use

for thumb stick which isn't that clear about height its between shoulder and elbow height

Most Americans don't use thumb sticks  but once you have the habit of using them I doubt if you would change .there comfortable to use give extra grip and easyer to transport.

One of the main reasons people are put of hiking poles is there long and more difficult to fit in the car. But at the end of the day its what suits you

As for falling onto the stick it could happen but very much doubt it .But i would find the length  clumsy and cumbersome

Also it would increase its weight depending on the wood you use and its thickness.

I would use approx. a 1 inch diameter shank tapering down to about 3/4 inch and mainly use hazel as its strong light  hardwearing a traditional stick makers shank. but there are others .Its just that I can harvest my own without much problem   

One a personnel level for me its armpit height which includes the topper

as for age well I think I am fifty give or take 20years .


Edited by cobalt, 19 December 2016 - 01:39 AM.

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#4 Gloops

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Posted 19 December 2016 - 09:28 AM

Long shank for me everytime, I feel more stable with this length as my knee can throw me a wobble at any time, and as you say it gives support descending and  a push up if rising. Got to agree with Cobalt a thumb stick is the most comfortable stick for walking with.

My trusty is a thumb stick made from a Dog Rose (Prickles removed) about 3/4 inch in dia and parallel I find it to be light and strong and the plant grows wild along hedgerows in the UK.


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#5 Batakali

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Posted 19 December 2016 - 09:45 AM

I tend to use a head height stick when hiking myself. I just find that a longer stick has more utility (IMO) when trekking through the woods and especially when crossing a stream!
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#6 LilysDad

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Posted 19 December 2016 - 12:47 PM

Another thought; which length would be more handy to swing at a stray dog?


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#7 Hound Dog

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Posted 20 December 2016 - 04:49 AM

Rodney, cobalt, Gloops, Batakali and LilysDad, thank you kindly for the replies.  Glad to have the input.

 

If I'm hiking on level terrain, I'd have little desire for a stick.  If the trail becomes level, I just carry the stick in my hand parallel to the ground.  The terrain varies on trails I hike.  There are steep ascents and steep descents where the trail becomes rocky and gravely, and the trails level out when following the top of a ridge or when following a creek at creek level.  My whole reason for using a stick is to steady myself on the tricky terrain, especially on the steeper descents and when going over boulders of varying size.

 

The long stick allows me to place the stick in a lot more places than I could with a shorter one when going downhill.  I really appreciate the longer reach of the longer stick when going downhill over loose gravel and rocks.  As I said before, it's an effective third leg on difficult terrain.  Instead of bearing my weight on just one leg/foot, I can bear it on one leg/foot AND on the pole while taking my next step with my other leg/foot.  So, while taking a stride on tricky terrain, I have "two feet" on the ground, one (the stick) lower on the hill than the other, and one in motion.

 

My stick is about an inch in diameter at the top and tapers slightly to about 3/4 inch at the bottom.  It's quite sturdy, and I do not find the weight to be any problem.  I do not even recollect what sort of sapling it was, and I never even thought to take note of it.  I have not carved it all and do not intend to.  Some feel a disadvantage of a long stick is in transporting it in a vehicle, but this poses no problem for me.

 

As to what sort of stick would be more handy to swing at a dog, dogs are not a problem for me, though any human or beast who wants to come after me, while I'm carrying this 70 inch long pole, is welcome to try it  ; - )


Edited by Hound Dog, 20 December 2016 - 04:50 AM.

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#8 CV3

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Posted 20 December 2016 - 05:57 AM

I made my choices based on the terrain I am likely to incounter. For general use I like a just below shoulder hight. This seems to work for most areas. But if I am going to be in area with large terrain changes and or crossing creeks or rivers I used a 6 ft stick I am 5-10. Those days are sadly history. But the long stick was much more versatal in the mountains for me. However as has been said it needs to be what works for the person carrying it. The wrong choice is the stick that ends up as fuel for the camp fire.
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#9 MJC4

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Posted 21 December 2016 - 02:44 AM

Hello Hound Dog,

 Pick a stick that suits you, no right or wrong in making a selection only personal preference. I personally like a walking stick about shoulder height for walking the woods in the midwest. For strolling through town I use a 3' cherry shaft with a maple ball for the grip.

The joy of using the stick, for me is in the walk!

Mark 



#10 FredB

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 09:14 AM

Does not matter what the length is. What matters is what you want it to be, and that is all that matters.

 

FredB


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