A walking stick or walking cane is a device used primarily to aid walking, provide postural stability or support, or assist in maintaining a good posture, but some designs also serve as a fashion accessory, or are used for self-defense.
Walking sticks come in many shapes and sizes and some have become collector's items. People with disabilities may use some kinds of walking sticks as a crutch but a walking cane is not designed for full weight support and is instead designed to help with balance. The walking stick has also historically been known to be used as a Self defensive weapon and may conceal a knife or sword – as in a swordstick or swordcane.
Hikers use walking sticks, also known as trekking poles, pilgrim's staffs, hiking poles, or hiking sticks, for a wide variety of purposes: to clear spider webs or to part thick bushes or grass obscuring their trail; as a support when going uphill or as 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. One can improvise a walking stick from nearby felled wood. More ornate sticks are made for avid hikers and often adorned with small trinkets or medallions depicting "conquered" territory. Wooden 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 with wood carving or metal engraving plaques.
A collector of walking sticks is termed a rabologist.