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Things to Add to Your
Scout Hiking Staff (Stave)
or Walking Stick

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For starters you need a good staff, sometimes called a stave, or just plain hiking stick. If you want to buy a turned wooden staff get the one sold by Boy Scouts of America (BSA). I thought I could buy a stick, dowel or a handle cheaper at hardware store, but they were more expensive that the one BSA sells and that's a first to me. You can also cut your own if you want one with bark or bends and twists in it for a rustic look. Use hardwood such as chestnut, hickory, birch, ash, maple, oak, etc... do not use pine because it is soft and it will break very easily.

Here is a suggestion list of things you could add to your Hiking Staff to turn it into a multipurpose survival tool:

1) You can add a compass to the top. I found a ball shaped compass in a department store that was about 1-1/2" diameter clear ball with another one inside it floating in oil. Just carve out a cup in the end of the staff and epoxy the ball compass to the top of it. Looks good - works good!

2) Drill a hole near the top and add a wrist strap to it, such as a piece of nylon parachute cord or a leather thong.

3) Use 20-30 feet of nylon parachute cord wrapped around the upper section for a padded hand grip and emergency rope. They sell olive drab green and camo rope like this and it's better to use this type than the white type because it will not show dirt like white will with age.

4) Mount a brass shotgun shell casing or brass ferrule over the bottom tip by drilling two small holes through it on opposite sides, then use small nails and epoxy to hold it on. Over this put a rubber chair/table leg floor protector for better traction. This will protect the end of your staff from wearing down and splitting the wood, and give you two types of tips for hiking on different types of surfaces. Other ferrules to protect the end of the staff from splitting or wear can be made from copper tubing or pipe fittings. Find one that comes close to fitting but is too small. Sand the staff until it almost fits, then pound it on. Epoxy or small nails will hold it securely. (NOTE: Spiked Tips or ski pole type tips are not recommended by Park Officials because they damage trails, trees and tree roots.)

5) Wrap fifty feet of fishing line over and around 2 Band-Aids and 2 fishing hooks.

6) Get a small crookneck flashlight (military style) that uses 2 AA batteries. Try mounting it with rubber bands or Velcro straps so you can move it up or down the staff for the best night vision.

7) A scout/police (loud ball type) whistle, for signaling with.

8) Mount a Swiss army pocketknife and sheath to the staff.

9) Cut small grooves (1/4", 1/2", 1" apart) starting at the bottom of the staff to act as a ruler/yard stick so you can measure things, like the depth of water in a stream.

10) Things to wrap around the staff include:

    a) A "Space Blanket", one side is reflective and it really hold in heat well.

    b) A piece of cloth 3' x 3'

    c) A 10' x 10' sheet of plastic (can be used to make a shelter).

    d) Several sheets of heavy duty tin foil (for cooking with and making a signal mirror)

    e) Surgical adhesive tape

    f) Steel safety wire (electronic bus wire) can be used to make things including a snare.

    g) Twelve eight inch Velcro straps

    h) Several sheets of writing paper

    i) A topographical map of the area you are hiking in inside a waterproof map case or zip-lock bag.

    j) Surgical tubing

    k) Carborundum sandpaper (used to sharpen a knife)

11) The materials you wrap around it (listed above) can hold things under them like:

    a) #2 wooden pencil

    b) First aid kit: 2-bandages 3/8" x 1-1/2", 2-Adhesive bandages 3/4" x 3", 1-Adhesive bandage 2" x 4", 1-knuckle bandage, 2-Gauze pads 3" x 3", 2-Gauze pads 2" x 2", 4 pcs of MoleSkin for heal blisters, 2-Alcohol pads, 2-antiseptic pads, 2-travel wet-ones hand towels, 1-eye pad, and 2-elbo/knee adhesive bandages.

12) Mount several film canisters and cigar type tubes with cloth tape or rubber bands to the staff to hold survival items like, fish hooks and flies, split-shoot fishing weights, #11 Xacto knife blades, strike-any-where stick matches, sewing needles, stick pins and thread, thimble, some finishing nails, screw hooks and eyes, stainless paper clips, small magnifying lens, birthday candles (fire starters for rain), water purification tablets, iodine, ammonia snap-caps, 1-sealed package of aspirin, extra AA batteries for flash light.

13) A film canister filled with cotton balls soaked in Vaseline petroleum jelly makes great fire starters in wet weather.

14) If you are into photography you can make a momopod Camera mount. These are made by putting a 1/4-20 hanger bolt on the end of your staff. (Hanger bolts are wood screws on one end (the part into the staff) and machine screws on the other.) Protect the threads by taking a wooden ball, drilling a hole about 1/3 through big enough for the staff to fit in, then a hole centered in the first deep enough to allow the bolt to fit in it. The protective ball can either just pressure fit on, or you can fit a 1/4-20 nut inside top screw the bolt to. Either epoxy a normal nut in place, or use any of a variety of special fittings to do the job.

15) Use slender pouches, like sunglass cases, to hold supplies on the staff. Velcro or strap them in place comfortably below the handgrip.

16) For night hikes without flashlights, by 'party-style' chemical lightstick. They are cheaper and dimmer- will not hurt night vision. Use a medium-sized light taped to the bottom of your stick pointing down to use to see the trail and point out objects, and a tiny 'earring' version on the top of the lights so the people behind you can see you. Make sure the hiker on each end of the line has one of these.

17) A crafty person with a bit of skill can drill an end out and sink a battery and LED (with resistor) in their staff. The on/off switch can be a microswitch activated with a pin through a tiny hole. This gives many options; a night-time safety light, a wizard's staff (especially if a skull or 'crystal ball' is attached over it, etc. If you want, you could rig it to a mercury or other switch so that the LED lights with each impact of the staff.

19) A small hole drilled in the center of gravity of the staff can serve as the fulcrum point of a simple scale. There is even a way to combine a measuring stick with a scale to compare weights.

20) Holes on each end of the staff allows you to attach loads to carry across your shoulders. Be sure to pad the center!

21) Put a measuring scale on the staff, and find 2 rubber O-rings that fit snugly on the staff as well. use this as a tracking tool. One O-ring marks the length of a track, the other marks the distance between tracks. When you loose the track, use the stride gauge to figure out where the next one should be, and the track length one to verify that you found the right track.

22) Make yourself a 'Pyramiddle" or other tarp tent, and use the staff as the main pole (see link below). Carry the tarp and other supplies on a pouch on the staff or in your pack.

23) Attach some jingle bells for trail safety if you're hiking in bear or cougar (mountain lion) country, or to liven up a tough stretch of trail. Up in Alaska grizzly bears can be a problem. Surprising a bear with cubs or a recent kill can be quite an adventure. Attach large bears bells, like the old bells used on horse drawn sleighs, to the leather hand strap so that they can constantly make noise and avoid surprising a bear. You shouldn't see a bear or mountian lion while hiking with these bells on.

24) Attach a small windsock or bright dangling streamers to blow in the wind.

25) Attach Eagle feathers and fluffies along with pony beads and leather lacing to give it an Native American look.

26) Do a little wood carving to the staff and paint it or wood stain it in different shades of brown.

27) Make a hiking staff with a forked limb top and turn it into a sling-shot for some target practice fun. Use it to shot at tin cans, plastic bottles and paper targets. For survival it could be used to hunt small game.

28) BSA sells a lace-on "Leather Grip Kit" for a hiking staff. You can do leather tooling (stamping) on it and it laces onto your hiking staff handle.

29) BSA and a company named "Hike America" sell many different hiking staff metal medallions that mount on a hiking staff with small nails. Metal hiking medallions have been very popular for years in Europe, they're fun to collect and decorate your hiking staff with. Hiking medalions can also be used as Scouting awards. See their links below.

Here's some links with pictures and other items of interest:

Some of these links will load slowly, so please be patient.

Here's some E-mail Feedback we received about this list:
  • "After you put all that stuff on the staff, how about a wheel on the bottom to help move it along?" My E-mail reply back to him was, "Better yet, add two wheels and a handle like a golf cart!"

  • "Don't forget to check out your local state parks for hiking sticks. Almost all of the Arkansas state parks have hardwood (hickory, sassafras, etc.) staves for under $10. Some have whistles made out of (or in some cases, in the end of) the same piece of wood."

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Last Revised 03-15-07

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