|Hiking Trail Sign|
I like a wooden hiking stick mainly because it feels harmonious with the natural environment of the outdoors. A wooden stick was made from a tree and you're usually surrounded by trees - the stick's kinfolk - when walking on a trail. A wooden staff also has an old school vibe, and it can be used as protection against dogs or other animals or persons you might encounter. On the downside, a wooden hiking stick can be heavy and clunky.
I don't think that a wooden hiking stick needs to be gnarled or crooked like the stereotypical ones, and I don't even think it needs that leather string/strap that you often see on artisan hiking poles. A straight staff like a jo staff allows the user to put their left or right hand wherever they need to - usually lower down for uphill walking and higher up the stick for downhill descents.
Trekking poles made of carbon fiber or aluminum are cool because they are much lighter weight, with a tip that arguably gives better bite and a grip that is more ergonomic, and are usually collapsible or length adjustable so more travel friendly. A drawback is trekking poles may not be as durable as a hiking stick made from a strong wood like hickory. I've had them collapse on me. For this reason I don't even consider the adjustable length or collapsibility to be an advantage. They can also snap in half. For self-defense a lightweight trekking pole might not offer the peace of mind that a longer, heavier staff would. And lastly, the non-sustainable high tech materials are at odds with the natural environment.
Another option is Scrapwood Martial Arts from North Carolina (?). They make jo staffs ranging from 48" to 54" which would be perfect for use as minimalist hiking sticks. Diameters larger than one-inch are an option and you have more wood choices than just hickory. Details here: https://www.scrapwoodmartialarts.com/collections/frontpage?page=4
A third maker of wooden hiking/walking sticks is Brazos Walking Sticks out of Texas. Brazos is probably the type of wooden hiking stick that most people think of. Their Fitness Walker models looks especially cool, although the length options are more limited. Check out their sticks here: https://www.brazos-walking-sticks.com/categories/Walking-Sticks/Traditional-Walking-Sticks/
For trekking poles I'm only going to go over fixed-length poles since if I opened it up to collapsible or adjustable length poles it would be too much. I prefer fixed-length anyway. First off we have the FK Trekking Poles by Ultimate Direction. These are described as being super lightweight (and strong) so if that's your primary concern check these out. https://ultimatedirection.com/fk-trekking-poles/
Black Diamond makes a similar product called the Distance Carbon Running Poles. These are designed for long distance running so they may or may not be tough enough for hiking. I don't think I've seen any negative reviews though so that's a good sign. https://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en_US/trekking-poles/distance-carbon-running-poles-BD112221_cfg.html#start=4
A Colorado company called Grass Sticks makes bamboo ski poles that can also be used for hiking. In a chat with the owner Andrew he assured me that Grass Sticks make excellent hiking/walking/trekking poles, for much the same reasons that they make great ski poles too: light and strong. Grass Sticks can also provide rubber tip covers for covering up the metal tip when walking on rocks or pavement. For most hikers the Original Custom Grass Sticks will be fine. For those who hike on steep hills and ascents Grass Sticks' Touring Sticks might be better as they have an extra grip on the shaft that allows you to choke down when ascending steep terrain. Purchase here: https://www.grasssticks.com/shop#!/Grass-Sticks-Ski-Poles/c/23444012/offset=0&sort=normal
In my research I also came across a Utah based maker of bamboo ski poles called Soul Poles. Their SoulLite Walking Stick might be the one to get. Take a look at that here: https://www.soulpoles.com/collections/trekking-poles/products/walking-stick
The length you want is different for a hiking sticks versus a trekking pole. For its wooden hiking sticks Kingfisher Woodworks says on its website When choosing the length of the hiking stick, it's usually good to have an amount of counter-balance above the hand grip. Some extra length is also good for downhill pitches. As a general guideline, we recommend using the measurement from the neck (jugular notch area) to the ground as shown below.
For a trekking pole the length is shorter simply because you hold the pole closer to the end. There isn't that 6 to 9 inches of counter-balance above the hand grip. Ultimate Direction has this pole size chart which I think is spot on: