A walking stick is a device used to facilitate walking, for fashion, or for defensive reasons.
Walking sticks come in many shapes and sizes, and can be sought by collectors. Some kinds of walking stick may be used by people with disabilities as a crutch. The walking stick has also historically been known to be used as a defensive or offensive weapon, and may conceal a knife or sword as in a swordstick.
Walking sticks, also known as trekking poles, pilgrim's staffs, hiking poles or hiking sticks, are used by hikers for a wide variety of purposes: to clear spider webs, or part thick bushes or grass obscuring the trail; as a support when going uphill or a brake when going downhill; as a balance point when crossing streams, swamps or other rough terrain; to feel for obstacles in the path; to test mud and puddles for depth; to enhance the cadence of striding, and as a defence against wild animals. Also known as an alpenstock, from its origins in mountaineering in the Alps, such a walking stick is equipped with a steel point and a hook or pick on top. A walking stick can be improvised from nearby felled wood. More ornate sticks are made for avid hikers, and are often adorned with small trinkets or medallions depicting "conquered" territory. Wood walking sticks are used for outdoor sports, healthy upper body exercise and even club, department and family memorials. They can be individually handcrafted from a number of woods, and may be personalised in many ways for the owner.
A collector of walking sticks is termed a rabologist.