Ask the Gear Guy

Finding a good hiking staff


Q. I am looking for a good hiking staff for my height (I’m about 5’9”). I need a long, quality staff but all the ones I have found are either short but good quality, or long but cheap. Help Gear Guy?!
— Joseph Needastaff, Nampa, Idaho

A. Let’s start with what you need to know to find the right size hiking staff. Standing with your arms at your side, the stick should be about 6 or 8 inches taller than your elbow. Pick an even longer stick if you’ll be tackling steep terrain. If you’re really just planning on walking with your stick, a shorter one will do. There are plenty of different staff options, from basic hand-carved wooden models to ultra-light aluminum staffs with built-in shock absorbers. Here are a few to consider:

  • Chestnut Hiking Staff ($32; scoutstuff.org) 45-inch-long handcrafted staff made of Chestnut and equipped with a leather strap and metal tip.
  • Whistle Creek Scout Staff ($25, whistlecreek.com) These 48-inch staffs are carved from Hickory or Sassafras with a leather strap and rubber tip.
  • REI Hiker ShockLight Staff ($60; rei.com) A telescoping staff that can be adjusted from 51 inches long to 28.5 inches depending on your height and the type of terrain you’re traveling. Also features anti-shock springs and the cork knob atop the grip can be unscrewed to reveal a camera mount so you can use the staff like a monopod for photography.

Comments about “Finding a good hiking staff”

  1. eagle7-25-10 says:

    i used two swiss gear adjustable sticks through Philmont they last well and are pretty cheap, but you can get lighter more comfortable ones if you’re willing to pay more

  2. GEAR MAN says:

    Leki makes great poles, but are pretty expensive. I go with Komperdel poles, because they’re much cheaper than Lekis, but are just as good.

  3. sasha says:

    i need a good sharp and steady hiking stick

  4. Sgt. Striker says:

    go with the short sturdy one

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