The difference between a walking or hiking stick now and in the 17th century is that walking sticks now don’t conceal swords.

Are there different kinds of Walking Sticks or Hiking Sticks?
Is it a Walking Stick or a Hiking Stick?

In it’s most utilitarian definition, a walking stick is a stick or rod used for keeping balance or to lean on when one walks.  Known by a variety of names such as hiking sticks, trekking poles, pilgrim’s staff or hiking poles, a hiking stick now in modern times has a variety of other uses, particularly for those avid outdoorsy types.

Hiking Sticks can be used to clear spider webs, or part thick brush 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 or puddles for depth; and as a defense against wild animals.

A hiking stick or walking stick can be as simple as a fallen branch from a nearby tree to ornate keepsakes passed down from generation to generation. The more elaborate type of sticks are made for avid hikers, and are often adorned with hiking stick medallions or badges that depict terrain covered.

Of course, as we all know, there was a time when walking sticks were quite fashionable in the most formal of senses, much removed from the great outdoors.  Walking sticks were fashion essentials for royals, Edwardians and Victorians and symbols of authority in the 17th century.  These were incredibly ornate and some were used to hide other more defenses items such as knives, for protection.