I can remember as a kid walking with my father through the woods by our home, and the importance he placed on always having a walking stick in his hand. Having been an orphan in the depression and riding freight trains alone across the country at the age of 14, he knew far more about survival and the importance of being prepared than most people could ever imagine. My Father was never caught off-guard in any situation no matter how dire, and a walking stick to him was as useful as a saw is to a carpenter. Although being as young as I was I only caught a glimpse of the lesson he was trying to impress upon me, but years later, Dad, I get it.
A walking stick is only as good as the wood it is made of - it should be made of hardwood, as straight as you can find and about at least as long as to reach from the ground to your shoulder. Your choice of a walking stick should have a round base, approximately 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. The should be several areas that are 6 inches or more of smooth wood situated on the walking stick where you can put your hand without causing calluses. Test a walking stick by putting you whole body weight on it briefly, like a pole vaulter, to make sure it is strong enough.
A walking stick is not only useful as an aid to incorporate your entire body in walking, but can help reduce backache when you have a backpack or satchel. It reduces the pounding on your feet, ankles and leg joints that will allow you to walk further with less energy expended. A walking stick is very useful in helping you to step over rocks or water, and can generally help keep feet drier by avoiding moisture than can lead to blistering. Off road, a walking stick has a number of great uses, one being hitting weeds in your path and preventing stepping on snakes or other varmints. If camping or just taking a break from walking, a walking stick is wonderful for clearing a spot on which to sit safely.
A walking stick is also a valuable defensive tool, whether walking in the deep woods or in an urban park setting. While one end of the walking stick serves to help travel, the other end can be sharpened into a point with either a pocket knife or by rubbing against a rock. This can be used in self-defense when necessary against anything from a pack of dogs to a bear, and is a very good deterrent to Humans who may view a single walker as easy prey. Even for a small person, the pointed end of a walking stick can at the least provide the time necessary to get away from a dangerous situation. A walking stick is a very good thing, don't leave home without it.