I know this might be a touchy subject but for myself walking support is a secondary although appreciated function. I use my sticks primarily for defense. I do train in a few styles that use sticks, some of them primarily the walking stick or shillelagh and I've recently been incorporating the thunbstick into my exercises. The State and in particular the County that I live in doesn't allow for anything else carry wise. I'm interested in hearing if anyone else does the same and what kind of stick,any views on the subject or if anyone has been considering the stick as an option.
We moved to our current neighborhood over five years ago. The first year, I noticed two old guys (like me) who walked together daily, each carrying a long walking stick, but not using it. Our street is a mix of old homes and now a few new ones. The street lies between a high-priced neighborhood in one direction and a very poor neighborhood in the other. I prefer walking in the poorer neighborhood.
So late that first year, I had my first encounter with a very aggressive dog with no collar and no owner within sight. I used the tactic that I used once in Hoi An, Vietnam, just let your crazy come out, the animal senses that you're a bit off and turns and leaves you alone.
But then I realized why the two old gents always carried sticks. I began walking with a stout stick, and I do encounter a very aggressive dog somewhere in that neighborhood once or twice each year. They never get close enough that I have to use the stick. The threat is enough to scare them off, so far.
My favorites are a heavy beech stick, and a very heavy Bois d'Arc (aka Osage Orange, hedge apple) stick. These won't break, and they give the arms a wee bit of exercise if you lift them a thousand times or so on a three mile walk through the neighborhood.
I've told this before:
My grandfather was a WWI veteran who served in France. I visited him while on leave after Marine Corps boot camp. I was bragging about my boot camp promotion and my accomplishments there. He chuckled and said "I'll put my money on an old man with a good shillelagh over some young toughs any day." We both laughed. I don't think I told him that I was undefeated with pugil sticks in boot camp.
So, my worn out knees are my primary motive for using a walking stick. But I do feel more secure when walking in certain neighborhoods, or in certain forests where the risk of attack by a beast may be very small, but it does happen.