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! ; - )