Walking Sticks and Canes – How to Choose Bariatric Options

The key benefit of walking sticks and canes is to provide balance, comfort, support for user body, and prevent slips and falls. This is why medical experts recommend them to the aged, disabled, injured, people at risk of falling, and those having severe joint pains.

Furthermore, they are the most common mobility aids on the market.

Although there are several mobility aids on the market, walking sticks and canes are the most common ones. It is easy to think they serve the same function or meet the same needs, but they are different?

What are Walking Sticks and Canes?

Walking Stick

A walking stick provides some minor support and balance but is made only for temporary use. It is viewed as an accessory and not a true mobility aid because it is not designed to transfer body weight from injured parts to the upper body.

Therefore, it should not be bought for the purpose of being the main source of mobility support. It is typically used for uneven or rough terrain such as during mountain hiking and other outdoor activities.

Walking Cane

The walking cane is a mobility aid that supports a user’s body weight. It distributes the weight on an affected leg to the upper body providing enhanced movement.

Canes are made for long-term use as a popular mobility aid for the elderly and come in different shapes, heights and for various weights to accommodate the mobility needs of the user.

Functional Differences Between Walking Sticks and Canes

The main difference between a walking stick and a cane is their function.

Duration of Use

Senior hand over the handle of a Crook handle walking cane
Wood Cane Handle

Walking canes are mobility aids can be used daily to remove pressure off a painful joint over a long period.

Walking sticks are a temporary device used mainly for stability and balance when climbing or walking on rough terrains.

Use of Walking Sticks and Canes

Walking canes provide improved freedom to people wanting to manage their pain daily over a long period.

Walking sticks give people who still want to engage in outdoor activities over rough terrain the freedom they desire and can also enhance fashion sense.

Weight Bearing Capacity

Walking canes are designed to handle heavier weights, making them ideal for supporting full body weight without deteriorating.

Walking sticks are designed to accommodate lighter weights, which makes them unsuitable for full body weight support.

Type of Handles on Walking Sticks and Canes

Both come with handles

Walking canes often have a comfortable ergonomic handle which is safe and does not cause pain

Walking sticks typically have fancy handles sometimes with elaborate designs that can cause severe pain in the hands.

Mobility Aid or Accessory?

Walking sticks are fashion accessories, while walking canes are designated as true mobility aids.

Factors to Consider When Making a Choice

Degree of Balance and Support Required

A walking stick and a cane provide different forms of support. Determine what you need the device for. Additional support during outdoor sport activities? To boost fashion sense?

A walking stick will meet these needs. However, if you need a lot of support and balance while recovering from a joint or injury pain for a long period, a walking cane is designed to provide such support.

Walking Sticks and Canes and the Weight of the User

The weight of the user is an important consideration when buying a mobility device. A walking stick, which is only for temporary use is designed for use by lighter weighted users.

Because a walking cane is designed for heavier weighted users, it can offer full-body support

Types of Bariatric Canes

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When an individual weighs more than the average and struggles with mobility, they need a cane that is going to provide enough support. Bariatric canes are the strongest and most durable canes on the market.

They are built to provide reliable support the pressure applied to them by an overweight user. A bariatric cane will support weight up to 500lbs.

Nova Medical Heavy Duty Bariatric Offset Cane

The Heavy Duty Offset Cane comes in four colors – Blue Waves, Butterfly Symphony, Maui Flowers, Purple, Black, Pink Garden and Silver. It is super sturdy and reliable with a weight capacity of 500 lbs.

Features and Specifications

  • Durable and chip resistant cane is made of high-quality lightweight aluminum, beautiful chip and fade resistant finish
  • Long-lasting slip resistant rubber tip
  • Adjusts from 30” – 39” for approximate user height: 4’11” – 6”4”.
  • Weighs only 2 pounds with a 500 lb. weight capacity
  • Foam hand grip comes with a convenient carrying strap
  • Push button feature for easy adjustment
  • Anti-rattle lock sets the adjustment and prevents the cane from rattling

Nova Medical HD Extra Tall Heavy Duty Offset Cane

Comes in two colors – Black and Blue Waves

The Nova Medical Extra Tall Heavy Duty Offset Cane is like the Heavy Duty Offset Cane except that it has an extra tall height adjustment.

Features and Specifications

  • Extra tall height adjustment
  • Lightweight aluminum
  • Fade and chip resistant
  • Comfortable foam hand grip with carrying strap
  • Approximate user height: 6’0” – 6’11”
  • Weight capacity: 500 lbs

Carex Bariatric Quad Cane – Adjustable Height with Small Base

A Woman with a Quad CAREX Bariatric Walking Cane
Carex Bariatric Quad Cane

The Carex bariatric small base quad cane is adjustable and is a good everyday cane that will last for years. Cane is a sturdy black color with four prongs and a soft grip handle.

Features and Specifications

  • Made of powder coated steel
  • The Xtra Quad Cane (Small Base) is adaptable for right or left-handed users.
  • The small base feature allows for better maneuverability and is ideal for use on stairs.
  • The dimensions are (h x w x d) 28″ – 37″ x 6″ x 7.5″.
  • 28″ – 37″ is the adjustable height of the quad cane.
  • Weighs 4.3 lbs.
  • Weight capacity of up to 500 pounds,

Medline Bariatric Offset Handle Cane

MEDLINE Bariatric Offset  Walking Cane
Medline Bariatric Offset Handle Cane
Walking Sticks and Canes

The adjustable steel cane comes only in Black color. It has a contoured handle with foam handgrips that provide a comfortable, secure grip, complete with a convenient wrist strap.

Features and Specifications

  • Steel construction with dual-tubing insert for added strength, and gives additional balance support and weight-bearing capabilities
  • Finish resists marring and scratching
  • 29″-38″ (74-96.5 cm) is the adjustable height of the quad cane in one-inch increments.
  • Cane weight: 3 lbs. (1 kg)
  • Handle type: offset and secures with a locking ring for additional safety
  • Handle material: foam
  • Weight capacity: 500 lbs. (227 kg)

Vive Health Trekking Poles – Hiking and Walking Aids

VIVE HEALTH Trekking Poles
Vive Health Trekking Poles – Hiking and Walking Aids

The Vive Health Trekking Poles weigh only 7 oz (9 oz including tips) which reduces arm fatigue. Great for short or tall men women or kids. Provides benefits to seniors and those carrying extra weight. Carrying case included.

Comes in three colors –  Black, White and Blue Ice- image in folder

Features and Specifications

  • Lightweight aluminum
  • Weighs 7 ounces,
  • Extends and retracts from 27.75″ to 57.5″, and fit most adults or children
  • All-terrain use
  • Anti-slip contour foam
  • Weight capacity: 500 lbs. (227 kg)
  • Adjustable wrist straps provide all day comfort and security
  • Trekking poles snap together and stow away in the handy carrying case for easy transport

StrongArm Walking Cane – Self Standing Base and Forearm Support

STRONGARM Walking Cane
StrongArm Walking Cane – Self Standing Base and Forearm Support

This is an ergonomic cane that assists with safely standing up from a seated position, confidently and safely without wobble. StrongArm® is an FDA approved ergonomic cane that can be used on both right and left arms.

Features and Specifications

  • The engineered design helps to shift the weight from the wrist to the forearm and provide additional stability and control.
  • Larger area self-standing base improves traction and overall stability
  • Feather-light Aluminum construction, yet still supports up to 500 lbs
  • 12 total adjustment settings provide the ideal height for maximum comfort.
  • From the floor tip to the handgrip the shortest adjustment height is 28″.
  • The StrongArm® Comfort Cane is designed for anyone from 4’8″ – 6’10” but can vary depending on the length of your arms.
  • The StrongArm® Comfort Cane was designed to work in either hand and also in single use or dual.
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Walking sticks and canes are the most common mobility devices used by seniors and the elderly. Hiking sticks are not only for individuals who practice outdoor sport activities.

People with mobility issues may choose to use them to test and get some grip on the ground as they walk on different types of terrain.

While wood walking sticks and canes offer greater body support, bariatric models are sturdy, have a weight capacity up to 500 lbs. and are constructed with maximum weight bearing capacity in mind.


NIH 2017 Prevent Falls and Fractures   https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/prevent-falls-and-fractures

A Walking Stick Can Be a Good Alternative to a Cane Am Fam Physician. 2012;85(11):1018-1022 https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2012/0601/p1018a.html

4 thoughts on “Walking Sticks and Canes – How to Choose Bariatric Options”

  1. I didn’t know there were so many differences and I also didn’t know the difference between a walking stick and a walking cane. It’s not just about getting a walking stick for support, one needs to know which is better suited for each individual’s needs. This was an eye-opening post for me.
    I think I have seen people use the strong arm walking cane but it never registered with me that it was designed for a specific purpose. It’s great that the Bariatric cane was created for overweight people, to support their weight better. Aluminum is strong, so I guess that it will last for many years. Are Bariatric canes expensive?

    • Hi Christine, as would be expected, Bariatric canes cost more than the regular canes because of the extra safety consideration to ensure that they cn accommodate heavier weights.


  2. Thank you very much, Ceci, for this blog post. I didn’t know that there is a difference between a stick and a cane. (I guess I am not the only one who didn’t know the difference). My question is, what is the biggest difference between the quad and normal cane end part? My grandpa has difficulty walking and he is using a stick/cane (need to find out that) with a standard end part. So, wondering if the quad could bring additional help and support to his walking ability. Thank you for this super valuable blog post.

    • The main difference between the regular cane and the quad cane is the number of legs they have. The quad cane provides greater and enhanced stability.



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