Use of the Walking Staff

Discussion in 'Other Skills' started by dogstar, Oct 1, 2016.

  1. dogstar

    dogstar Scout

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    Some thoughts on use of the single walking staff:

    To push or not to push?
    Do you actually push off with the staff? Just resting your hand on the staff as you walk will take the weight of your hand/forearm off your feet. I try to push off to engage my upper body and help my legs.

    Cadence
    • ONE-two-three-four, ONE-two-three-four... (staff lands on the first step). This is my natural cadence for a single staff. It allows me to push off and recover without rushing. The staff lands with the same foot every time. I alternate hands regularly to keep effort/benefit even on both sides. This requires the longest staff because one stride of the staff corresponds to four leg strides.
    • ONE-two-three, ONE-two-three.... I just tried this out for the first time today. It feels awkward and rushed. The staff lands with alternating feet this way. I'm not sure what the benefit if this cadence is, but I believe it quickens my pace. I choke up on the staff for this 1-to-3 cadence.
    • ONE-two, ONE-two... This is similar to the cadence with two trekking poles. The staffs lands with the same foot again; I have used this when my foot is in pain for added support. It also quickens the pace and seems good for hill climbing with smaller strides. Need to choke way up for this.
    Two-handed
    If you haven't tried this, I recommend it. It feels like padding a boat. If I want to power my way up a hill, I use two hands on the staff. My legs feel a nice boost with this technique. It can also act like a crutch if you are injured.

    Please share your thoughts on walking with a staff. It seems simple but there is an art to it.

    [​IMG]
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  2. gila_dog

    gila_dog Guide

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    I use a hiking stick, or staff, a lot. I made mine from yucca. I find that it's particularly useful when coming down a steep hill. I keep it in my uphill hand and zig zag down, using the uphill edges of my boots to bite into the hillside (just like downhill skiing). I keep the stick solidly planted just uphill of myself. If my foot slips off something or a rock rolls out from under my foot I would probably fall on my butt, toward the hill. Having the stick uphill will catch my weight and keep me from falling. Sometimes if I'm going down a really steep place or off some big rocks I will put it below me and put a lot of weight on it as I ease myself down. I really hate jumping off logs and rocks going downhill. It's really easy to turn an ankle doing that. Going uphill in really steep country is another place the stick helps. I jam it into the ground above myself, grab it at the top with one hand and in the middle with the other, and pull myself up, using my arms to take some of the weight off my legs. Don't do this with a collapsible metal hiking staff. It will probably get bent permanently. Another good use of the stick is to poke around in weeds and brush ahead of yourself to make sure you don't step on a sleeping rattlesnake.
  3. Usingmyrights

    Usingmyrights Supporter Supporter

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    I heavily used a walking staff for the first time on a trip to the mountains at the beginning of August and am glad I had it. I think that the trip would have been much harder/less enjoyable without it. I used both single and two handed depending on terrain and how I was feeling. I definitely won't be doing any wilderness mountain trails without a staff or poles in the future.
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  4. Hoof

    Hoof Guide

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    Since a very invasive neck/spine surgery I won't walk in the woods without my staff, I use it for balance. You'd be surprised how much you shift your head and upper body for that.

    Also, my old body has developed a weak right knee/ankle/hip (from injuries) and I use the staff on steep uphills to assist that right side.

    Man, I sound pitiful
  5. DarrylM

    DarrylM Scout

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    My staff is mostly for balance. And I like having something in hand in case I need to make a critter coss-eyed before it realizes it's just scurred and should scamper away from me. On descents, I keep my staff downhill of me and favor my left knee, though lately the right one has been grouchy too. And it helps pull on the ascents.

    I don't typically have enough territory to cover to need a cadence, but the 4 count cadence seems good. Switching hands every so often for equalizing the load. Maintaining your inhale/exhale within the cadence is good, too.
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  6. Seeker

    Seeker Woods Bum Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    How I use it depends on how I feel... IF I'm using it, my cadence is 1-2-3-4. 1-2 requires too much effort, and 1-2-3 isn't "in synch" with your pace. Mostly, I use the staff for balance, going across foot-logs and up or (more so) down hills or I have two-handed it going both ways (mostly uphill), and it really helps. I frequently carry it like a spear though, until it's time to use it.

    One odd use I've put it to was to portage a canoe while using a double paddle... I tied the paddle in on one side, the staff on the other, and created a yoke just like you would with 2 single paddles.
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  7. Mikewood

    Mikewood Guide

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    I have a short one that is about waist heigh I use for Balance and support over broken ground and also as a probe for snakes. It has a lanyard for carrying it, strapping to the pack or hanging from my wrist when I take pictures.

    Thanks for the tips.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
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  8. TheWhiteWoodsman

    TheWhiteWoodsman Tracker

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    I have taken to bringing a stick/staff with me every time I go into the woods if I don't have another long tool (gun,bow,fishingpole). Much like Seeker and DarryIM it is mostly for balance in unexpected/steep/narrow situations, moving prickers and thorns aside, self defense should the need arise, prodding and poking things, as a tracking stick. Hardly ever to aid in walking over regular terrain.

    My sticks are always natural, usually harvested from abandoned beaver lodges (most of the work is done for you with decorative touches!) or small cedar trees that we cut down during habitat rehabilitation work. Sand em a little and throw a stain on there and boom. beautiful walking stick
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