Our family walks often, usually in the woods near our house or north of our town. I had been thinking for some time that it would be nice to have a hiking staff but am not a fan of newfangled hiking gear. In fact, I was not interested in any metal poles but wanted something made of wood. Hardwood preferably, so it could take a bit of abuse. Here’s how I put together my own.
The Wood and Handle
I shopped for wooden hiking poles but found either very expensive ones or ones that I wasn’t sure were hardwood. In the end, I selected an ash wood handle used for floor brooms and mops. At 5 feet long and C$10, it fit my requirements for materials and price. I liked the metal ferrule at the end – that normally screws in to a mop or broom – so that I wouldn’t have to cap the end of the pole that strikes the ground.
Now that I had the handle, I wanted to have a handle to grip at the top. The handle was nicely varnished so I could have gone without. However, I thought it would be useful to have the handle double as a utility rope, so I bought 50 feet of paracord for about $10. Now, if I need it, I have some rope available whenever I go for a hike.
Make the Hiking Staff
The first step was to lop off the end of the ferrule. You could leave it but I didn’t think it was very sightly so I sawed it off. However, I kept the metal that rounded the end of the pole so as to protect it from being bashed.
You can see scuffing around the end as the pole has been used now (on a 6 kilometer hike in the fall). I used a standard hacksaw to saw through the metal end.
The handle required a bit more planning and I’m not sure I have it entirely sorted out. I drilled a hole in the handle about 8 inches from the top, the width of the hole being just wide enough for the paracord to go through. I then made a loop for a handle, tied with a bowline, and passed the rest of the cord through the handle.
I then wrapped the 50 feet of paracord up to the top, then back down below the hole, about 6 inches, and back up to the top again. I tied it off in a knot at the top. I’d considered trying to thread the end under the top but found it more fiddly than I cared to mess with.
This held together well. There was some twisting in the cord handle as we walked (I made 3, one for me and each of the boys) so I am thinking of unwinding them and putting something underneath to stop the cord turning. Or I may leave it alone since it was probably more to do with the cord not being pulled tightly enough as it was wrapped. Also, the first one we did was wrapped too closely to the top, so the cord loop came off; I would leave a quarter inch or so of wood at the top showing if I were to rewrap the cord.