- Disabilities & the Disabled
The Folding Walking Stick | Practical and Convenient Support
A folding walking stick is a practical walking cane which can be easily and conveniently carried and stored when not in use.
Generally folding down into 3 or 4 pieces, they offer strength and convenience, can be easily fitted into a bag, are great for packing in a suitcase, and can be folded down to make travelling easy.
Inside a folding walking stick, one or two strong cords keep the parts connected when folded down.
Choosing a suitable folding walking stick is more than just a matter of taste, and there are some important considerations you should take into account before selecting a model and style.
There are 7 points to consider when selecting a folding walking stick, so be sure to check the model is going to be suitable to get the maximum benefit from your cane and to ensure that it is suitable for your needs.
If it doesn’t say it’s a medical grade walking stick it isn’t. If you require a medical grade walking cane, check with your doctor first to get the correct specifications.
Folding walking stick handles
1. Folding walking stick handles
The handle is a major consideration. Folding walking sticks generally have one of three handle styles: Orthopaedic, Fritz or Derby. The typical knob or crook handles are generally not available in folding walking canes.
The Fritz handle
The Fritz handle is the best option if you suffer from arthritis. The handle is easy to grip and comfortable to use.
The Derby handle
One of the most popular styles, the Derby handle is comfortable to use and can be hooked over the arm when not in use.
The Ergonomic or Orthopaedic handle
This walking stick handle is usually the most comfortable style. It is ergonomically shaped to fit the palm of the hand which allows the bones of the wrist to be aligned properly, and the weight to be taken by the whole hand. They are a great option if you need to use a walking stick all of the time. These walking cane handles are sold in left or right models, so make sure you select the right one, or you won’t be able to use it at all!
2. Strength and weight capacity
An important consideration is the strength of the walking cane. Most canes will support up to 250lb with some heavy duty canes offering weight support up to 600lb. Not all sticks are built the same, so do not assume that the cane can take the fully body weight and always check the maximum weight capacity. If it is not stated, don’t buy it!
It is best to avoid telescopic walking sticks as they are generally very lightweight and cannot support much weight; after all, the last thing you want is to snap your cane.
3. A folding walking stick or a screw fit?
It is a matter of personal preference, however the screw fit cane is more time consuming to take apart, and if you do not have much strength in your wrists they can be difficult to disassemble. However they do offer a more robust design and will generally take more weight than the folding variety. Folding walking sticks fold into two, three or four pieces. If you are planning on fitting the stick into a handbag, it may be best to hunt down a 5 piece stick.
4. Walking stick length
You will need to get an accurate measurement to determine the right length of walking stick to purchase. The way to measure is to stand up straight with your shoulders back and your arms by your side. The cane should be the same length as the distance from your wrist to the floor. Most folding walking sticks have an adjustable length, with the push button adjustment the most common. Generally speaking, folding sticks offer one inch increments for adjustment. Check the full range and make sure that your length falls within the limits.
Carbon fibre and aluminium are two of the most common materials for the shaft, both being strong and lightweight. Wooden models do not fold, so if you prefer the look and feel of wood, but want the convenience of a folding cane, it is worth looking at the screw fit models from Royal Canes which offer the best of both worlds.
Whilst the temptation may be to buy the cheapest stick on the market, it is often worth spending a little more for a quality walking stick. It will offer greater strength and will be designed to last for longer.
Prices start at around $20 up go up to $200 depending on the make, style, handle type and design. Just because a stick costs $200 does not necessarily mean it is the best, so choose your cane on the range of features, styles and all of the above points.
Folding walking sticks make a great present, with great colours and designs to suit all budgets. I would personally recommend a starting price of around $30 for a good quality walking stick and to get a good choice of styles, patterns and colours.
This is where it gets tricky, as there is a huge choice on offer. We have come a long way since the standard wooden walking cane with a crooked handle, and folding walking sticks are sold in a myriad of colours, patterns, materials and styles.
The range on offer means that you can express some of your personality in your walking cane and stand out from the crowd. Paisley, leopard skin, floral, stripes - if you can imagine it, it is probably available.
Whilst a design may be great for now, have a think about whether you will want to still use it in 5 years time! Leopard skin may not be the best choice!