Gone are the days that walking canes were only used by the elderly. Today, people of all walks of life (pun intended), rely on these useful devices to make walking more tolerable under less than ideal conditions. What are walking canes, exactly? Walking canes are traditional aids for people who have difficulty finding balance, walking with painful joints, rehabilitating from an injury, or suffering from a health condition. If standing or walking has become uncomfortable for whatever reason, may it be; old age, injury, weight gain, or illness, walking canes could provide the extra support and balance you need.
Walking canes come in a variety of sizes, shapes, materials, and weights. We will also add that walking canes have become fashion statements in recent years. We have outlined 7 types of walking canes below and their uses along with a recommendation of the best canes in each category.
Types of Walking Canes
They may all look alike, but walking canes come in different forms to accommodate certain needs of people. If a doctor recommends that you wear one, it’s more than likely that you’re unable to walk, move or stand without it.
The most common types of walking canes you can find in the market differ mostly because of the type of handle shape, cane tips, or materials used.
1) Crook handle cane
This type of cane is probably what most people associate with. The body is straight with a slightly-curved handle. It is usually made of wood, but can also use a wide range of materials such as leather, diamonds, ivory, and so on. Crook-handle canes are designed with the curved handle to provide a comfortable and relaxed grip to the user.
Crook handle canes are most commonly prescribed because users have less chance of experiencing cramped hands due to the way its handles are designed.
Recommended crook cane:
If budget and style is what you’re after, go for Brazos’ handcrafted walking cane (for men and women). It features ergonomically-designed, crook-shaped handles for secured and comfortable grip, luxurious hand-crafted wood and rubber tip for perfect traction.
2) Aluminum cane
Made of aluminum body, this type of cane is definitely more lightweight and lasts longer than standard wood canes. These sleek-looking walking canes may not look strong, but they can actually support users weighing 250 pounds or more.
Aluminum walking canes feature heavily-curved handles, which are much more curved than the standard ones we’ve mentioned above.
Recommended aluminum cane:
There are aluminum canes that go below $25, such as the ones from Drive Medical with ordinary grip design, and the other with foam grips. Another popular brand with simple, yet durable aluminum walking canes comes from Carex.
3) Folding walking canes
Foldable walking canes are great for most people because it removes the need to bend, and slouch awkwardly while walking. These canes can be adjusted from about 30 inches with 1-inch increments to accommodate most people.
In most cases, folding walking canes have aluminum bodies, but with different handle materials from wood to aluminum, and even hard plastic. While these canes look flimsy, they are actually quite strong and can support up to 250 pounds.
Recommended folding cane:
There are two brands to check out if you’re interested in stylish, collapsible walking canes – Switch and its patterned walking sticks, and Vive’s solidly-colored folding cane that comes in teal, violet and black.
4) Offset canes
This type of walking cane is specifically designed for people that needs the cane to bear their weight. The handle allows you to put as much pressure onto the shaft of the cane, supporting your body as you move.
Unlike the other types of walking cane handles, the offset variation is also suitable for individuals without strength in their wrists, since these canes will support the user even if he/she is unable to grip tightly.
Recommended offset cane:
The NOVA walking cane looks impressive with its all-black design, slip-resistant rubber grip and tip, adjustable handle, and locking silencer, but you wouldn’t know how strong it is with just one look. This lightweight walking cane only weighs 2 pounds, but it can support a user weighing up to 500 pounds.
5) Orthopedic canes
Orthopedic canes and offset canes are designed with the same handle shape and purpose – to remove the pressure from a user’s wrist and distribute it across the palm instead. This feature ultimately reduces the chances of cramps and other medical conditions.
The main difference is that orthopedic canes have grips that fit the user’s hand perfectly.
Recommended orthopedic cane:
The Alex Orthopedic MP-15281 Straight Adjustable Cane looks unassuming with its all-black design and offset grip, but it’s actually built for people who served the U.S. Army. It can support up to 300 pounds and feature safety locking silencer and push-button height adjustments in 1-inch increments.
6) T-handle and Fritz canes
Like the crook and offset canes, these two types of canes are categorized based on their handle shape.
The T-handle, also known as straight-handle canes, are similar to offset and orthopedic canes in that they are designed to prevent hand fatigue from prolonged use.
A Fritz cane starts with a straight handle, then curves a bit to the other end. Ideal for people with hand weakness and conditions like arthritis, the Fritz cane offers better comfort and grip all over the hand and fingers.
Recommended straight-handle canes:
For some of the most traditionally-stylish looking, durable and effective canes in the market, you’d find that Alex Orthopedic has an awesome variety of walking canes from the simple black cane with high shine, to fancier, colorful patterned canes.
7) Tripod or Quad canes
The base of a tripod or quad cane doesn’t end with the standard, rubber tip. Instead, it is designed with either three prongs or a four-post base. The extra support provides the user with increased traction and stability, which is why many users with balance problems choose these types of walking canes.
These canes can also stand on their own, which is a plus for those on-the-go.
Recommended quad cane:
The unisex Vive Quad Cane is a favorite of users who require walking canes permanently. It is available in several colors (bronze, black, blue, red and purple). You’d be surprised how well-built, sturdy and attractive this walking cane is in person.
Walking Cane Considerations
The most important thing to consider when shopping for walking canes is the user’s condition. The material (aluminum, wood, etc.), handle shape (crook, t-handle, fritz, offset), handle grip (foam, gel, orthopedic, large grips), and even the cane tips will all depend on your specific needs.
For example, a person with arthritis will most likely be advised to get a Fritz-shaped handle with large grips (best for reducing joint pain) and designed with a lightweight material.
Another consideration would be your budget. Generally, walking canes can be as cheap as $20 or over $200 for handles made of silver, ebony, and other expensive materials. The good news though is that even cheaper walking canes are good enough to provide the stability and comfort required by independent walkers with balance issues.
Make sure to find a walking cane with the correct sizing based on your height. Using a cane shorter (or longer) for your height could cause pain in the arm, shoulders and back.
If you want to turn your walking cane into a fashion statement, you can customize the shaft and collar of your cane, have yours engraved, and so on.