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Whats the best wood for a hiking stick?


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I'm looking into finding a decent hiking pole for some of the longer/steeper hikes. Preferably something that's not too overly heavy but will last me a long time. I enjoy the feel of wood, anyone have any ideas what wood is "best" for a hiking stick? Ive heard hickory, ash, white cedar, bamboo... any ideas would be great.

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I called these guys and asked if they had any oversized unfinished staffs. They were most accommodating, selling me a premier diamond willow at roughly 6' and a saguaro cactus at about 5"11. I neglected to apply any kind of sealant, so they suffered the ravages of time. I'm sure with their degree of expertise, they could offer you advice on what wood would best suit your needs.

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I like vine maple. When properly cured it is light strong and has good flexibility. it also has great character with all the twists and kinks it has. of course if you are making your own it usually depends on what is available in your area. often I will just pick up whatever is lying around, use it for the day and discard it when I am done.

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You are in luck.

Living where you do, you should be able to find some eastern hophornbeam, AKA ironwood. Wiki link.

Cut it green (never pick a standing dead ironwood, as it eats chainsaws), de-bark it and do whatever carving you wish to do before it dries. Sand smooth and allow it to dry for a few weeks or longer. Finish with whatever finish you desire. I prefer hand-rubbing oil into it, deeply. Finish off with a golf shoe spike in the business end.


If you ever break it, you're a better wrecker than am I.


EDIT: speeling. ;)

Edited by Gitchee-Gummee
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When the local lake level comes up a lot of salt cedar trees are drowned. Find a nice stright one, strip the bark and sand or shave it down to the red heart wood. You will have to pick a large diameter tree to get the proper size of heart wood. I let them dry about 3 months, in the heater closet, seal with varnish and there you are. Making your own staff is well over half the fun.

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I have one I made from Rhodedendron. Very strong.


My first thought was "Where are you going to find a rhododendron branch straight enough to make a hiking staff?" Then I realized where you're from. I now remember that there are different species in WA state than the stout, weedy, twisty stuff we have back east. :blink:


I'll second ironwood. I also have one that I made from an American chestnut sapling that had to be cut down. ;) There are too few chestnuts around and I hated that this one had to be destroyed, but since it did I figured I'd put it to good use. It's good strong, smooth wood with a nice taper to it. I didn't remove the bark and it wears like iron.

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That is exactly what I hike with!


Now for the best wood:


White Waxwood...


Available at Amazon


and other martial arts dealers such as: Karate Depot


Interesting. What I've always refered to as Chinese Privet* would be the worst thing to make a staff from because it's prone to split. Looks like I might have been calling it the wrong plant all these years.


Japanese Deciduous Privet (Ligustrum obtusifolium) Looks more like what we have growing all over Alabama. This stuff is horrible for staffs.


I've always had a preference for white oak when it comes to drumsticks. Wonder how that would hold up...?



*White Wax Wood (Ligustrum lucidum)

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The correct answer is one you find on a trail.


All the suggestions previously are great. You can also do a search on YouTube using "walking sticks" to not only get types of wood but haw to "enhance" them.


Having said that, lighter is always better. You have to lug this around with you.


In a pinch, a broom handle works great. Most are made of pine or pine composite.


Personality wise, Diamond Willow can not be beat. A good source is listed in the first few replies above.


I carve walking sticks. My wood of choice is Aspen however some of the best I have are from sticks I have found along a trail or in woods nearby. If you are in an area where you see someone clearing land or a subdivision going in, saplings can be plentiful, however need to be dried out.

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There have been many good recommendations in this thread. I took a different approach when I made my staff. After searching the web for awhile I came across THIS.


The staff described in the article looks like this.




The author started out with a mop handle that has a threaded metal tip that gives the tip added durability. The cord that is tied around the staff not only provides a good grip and good looks it also serves as survival cord if you get into trouble on the trail.


If you think about it, mops get used by professional custodians for heavy work on a daily bases, so the strength of the mop handle should not be a concern. My staff looks similar to this one except that I chose more colorful cordage.


All that is left is to add one of these Groundpeak Geocaching Staff Medallions.



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I'm a huge fan of the looks of diamond willow, though I don't have a staff made of it myself, simply too cheap to buy a piece and there isn't any in the area. My staff is made of apple.


As far as length goes that is a matter of preference. I am using a longer staff, mine is 6' tall. I have the first foot marked every inch and then each foot marked after that. several staff medalions from diff trails I have hiked.


The length really is preference, although I did see a guide once, I tend to go with something around my height for a staff. A short walking stick is sometimes preferred for which I use a commercial walking stick (like a skipole type)

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I'm looking into finding a decent hiking pole for some of the longer/steeper hikes. Preferably something that's not too overly heavy but will last me a long time. I enjoy the feel of wood, anyone have any ideas what wood is "best" for a hiking stick? Ive heard hickory, ash, white cedar, bamboo... any ideas would be great.


The hiking stick I'm currently using is redwood, I think....but I'm not entirely sure. I bought it in Santa Cruz; a homeless fellow there was making them and selling them, and I gave him twice his asking price. It comes to just under my chin.

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Does anyone know the rule of thumb about the height/length of the walking stick? Is there some standard? Thanks in advance.


Don't know of the "rule of thumb" regarding the height of a walking stick... but it is nearly impossible to beat somebody practiced at using a 7' staff! They get ya coming and going in the blink of an eye. :mellow:

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Mine is made of white ash...about 6' tall..two sections that screw together like a pool cue...that probably sacrifices a great deal of strength but it makes transport much easier...and the ash i made it from came from a mill and was just under 4' long so i needed to join it anyway...ive never had any issues and it ha saved me a few times...and I am going to be releasing a TB made from a left over scrap of the same ash....(TB34073)

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Personally I have 2 hiking staffs made from Colorado Aspen. I absolutely love the coloring on these sticks. I'd try to describe it, but being colorblind I'd probably be off by a mile. Not only do these sticks look very nice they are incredibly lightweight and strong.


My staffs are very thick, about shoulder height and look like they'd weigh a lot, but every person who picks one up comments on how light they are. I weigh 240 pounds and on several ocassions I've had to put the majority of my weight on them to stop falls while geocaching and they've so far always done a great job of handling sudden stress and lots of weight on them.


If you'd like to see a picture of one of them feel free to contact via my profile page and make sure you tell me your E-Mail address and I'll be happy to send a couple pictures of them. Happy caching! :mellow:

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While I am not adding an answer to the orginal poster's question - I have a question that may help others that may read this thread:


Does anyone know the rule of thumb about the height/length of the walking stick? Is there some standard? Thanks in advance.


After searching the net for an answer to your question, I came up with this:


The staff should come up to your chin or shoulder, be 6-9 inches higher than your elbow, should be 6 feet long, should be 5 feet long, varies between 46 and 48 inches long, 1.75 meters long, "right for you".


As you can see, there is no standard. Mine is 6 feet long because I like to hold the staff slightly below my shoulder level and still have me hand at least 12 inches below the top of the staff.

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I don't know if he still makes them but I would bet that ElDiablo has some seasoned cured staffs that he'd fix you up with. If not he can tell you everything you want to know about good hiking staffs



I have one of these and it has served me very well over the year's.


One of my caches is featured on this page of his: http://www.geo-hikingstick.com/id4.html

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Oak. It is very hard, which means it would probably stand up to vigorous use. :)


Isn't Oak a relatively heavy wood?


I wonder how purple heart would hold up? I've always liked purple heart.


It'll turn grey with exposure to water, is quite durable, but can be extremely splintery.

Long, sharp, nasty splinters.

Also has calcium deposits, tough on tools when working. Little embedded rocks.

Heat it up with friction to bring out the deep purple color.

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