How to Size Hiking Sticks

How to Size Hiking SticksThe size of hiking stick you use--along with other particulars, such what the stick is made of--is largely a matter of personal preference. Just as some hikers might like their shoes a little snug as opposed to loose, some will prefer sticks that are a bit longer and heavier, while others prefer ones that are light and collapsible. Experiment with different types and lengths of sticks until you determine what feels and works best for you.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Stand up straight with one arm by your side and use the other arm to hold the stick up against your arm-down side. Most hikers will like a hiking stick that is at least 6 to 9 inches higher than their elbow.
Step 2
Grasp the handle of the hiking stick (or the stick itself, if it doesn't have a dedicated handle) and hold it in front of you, perpendicular to the floor, arm bent at the elbow. Your elbow should be bent approximately 90 degrees when the tip of the stick rests on the floor.
Step 3
Take the stick out hiking to see how the length fits you. Once you've settled on a comfortable length, take into account that you may want to adjust it a bit longer for going downhill on steep hikes and shorter for going uphill. Some store-bought hiking sticks are adjustable.

Tips & Warnings

If you do a lot of up and down hiking--which can require adjustable hiking sticks--you might want to consider using a hiking staff instead. These tend to be quite a bit longer, sometimes reaching as high as your head, but they are more versatile because you can adjust your grip to effectively shorten or lengthen the amount of stick you're actually using to support yourself against the ground.

Article Written By Marie Mulrooney

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics and contributes regularly to various online publications. Mulrooney's print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.

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