What is a useful walking stick? Here are some criteria:

Length , so long as it reaches the ground comfortably, is not so important. Anything in the 30-to-36-inch range is serviceable.

Weight is far more important. If you wear a stick through a long day, you will notice the difference between, say a whispery malacca and a massive shillelagh.

Grip also matters. Least comfortable for long wearing are knob grips, which tend to tire the palm. Most comfortable are the various horizontal grips, which rest nicely in the hand. Crook handles also are comfortable, and they have an advantage. They can be hung on a chair back or over an arm, leaving both hands free.

Tips are a matter of taste. Neophytes tend toward rubber tips, on the theory they will not slip on the traveling surface. They will -- when you least expect. Bone or metal tips do quite as well, provided you are sensible about planting them. Sticks are not meant to be crutches, after all. s

Suppleness does not detract. A slight or even a pronounced bend doesn't mean it is likely to break and tumble you down.

Walking with a stick properly is something you learn by doing, as you learn to ride a bicycle or a horse. The procedure is not baffling.

Appropriateness is a matter of taste. I would never wear my gold-headed ebony in the country, or with blue jeans. (I would never wear blue jeans.) I would wear my knob-grip hickory instead, or my wolf's-head applewood.