Throughout history, walking canes for men have been used as accessories. While originally they were used for simple mobility, to traverse uneven land and to keep older men mobile, they slowly became fashionable.
For a time, particularly in the Edwardian and Victorian eras in Europe, a man of means would never have been seen without a cane, similar to the way he wouldn’t have been seen without a hat. While certain accessories like umbrellas were “carried”, canes were considered a part of a gentleman’s outfit; thus, they were “worn”. This simple verb distinction tells us everything we need to know about both the importance and the popularity of the walking canes for men.
Mens Canes and Fashion Statements
During their heyday as the common accessory for upper class men, walking canes were separated by occasion and time of day. For example, brown canes were considered passé to use in town, and so were relegated to country estates and drives into the countryside.
Day canes were ornately carved affairs that showed the personality and wealth of the man who wore it, while night canes were all very uniform, similar to the way a tuxedo can be very uniform. These were made of ebony, and were much thinner and shorter than day canes.
Gadget walking canes for men became popular during the 18th and 19th centuries. “Sword canes” were made with a sharpened blade attached to the handle of a cane, which could be pulled free of the shaft and used as a weapon. It was not considered polite to carry these canes in public, but that didn’t stop many gentlemen from finding ways to do so discretely.
As time passed the integration of unique gadgets into canes became almost a game for creative cane makers. While some transformed into pool sticks, or held secret compartments for alcohol, others had bizarre contraptions that transformed the handle into a seat, or allowed the wearer to play the cane like a flute.
Fashion to Trekking Canes
As time went on, mens canes became less associated with men’s fashion. As the automobile became more popular, the need for walking support declined.
Eventually, symbols of power and wealth shifted to briefcases, leaving canes to be associated more with those who were elderly or injured.
These days, a fashionable (non-medical) cane are mainly seen at a fancy dress event, or in use as a sports aide for those who like to trek wild territory.
Styles of Walking Canes for Men
For the most part, canes are made up of a shaft and a handle, which are connected by a ferrule or band. There may also be a ferrule at the tip to protect the cane where it touches the ground.
Various Styles of Canes
- A simple cane is a vertical shaft that has a handle attached at the top. The handle can be a small knob, or it can be one of many other types.
- A Derby handle, for example, is a curved handle that provides the wearer with an ergonomic grip. It cradles the fleshy area between the thumb and forefinger, and allows the wearer to guide the shaft with the forefinger, which rests down the side of the handle.
- Similar walking canes for men include the Fritz handle and the palm grip handle.
- The tourist handle is the style of walking cane that you are likely most familiar with. This type of cane was designed after the shepherd’s crook. It doesn’t have a separate handle and shaft; rather the shaft extends up and then curves into a hook that is gripped. While these aren’t the most comfortable for long-term use, they are very popular because of their classic style, and because the hook is large enough that a person can hang the cane over their arm when not in use.
- The offset handle is a type of cane that is used for medical purposes. This cane has a curved shaft that helps distribute weight evenly for more stability. The grip is usually made of soft rubber, as is the tip that grips the floor. These are the most common type of walking cane for men who have suffered injuries or age-related mobility issues.
- Another type of therapeutic walking cane is the quad cane. These look just like the offset handle canes, but they have four feet at the bottom rather than one, for added stability.
- Folding canes are used for many reasons. Those who like to explore the outdoors likely use a folding trekking cane, because they are easier to pack and lighter to carry. Those who suffer from mobility issues may wish to have a folding cane for packing as a backup when they travel. These canes are usually made with aluminum, and can be adjusted for shorter or taller people.
Common Cane Materials
Most canes on the market today are made with either aluminum or wood.
Wood is the classic material for canes that offers the most choice in terms of color and style. Ash, cherry, and oak wood are very strong woods that are commonly used in walking sticks for men who need a little bit of support. However, exotic woods like cocobolo and padauk can also be found, which are both strong and offer beautiful color options.
Aluminum is not as strong as wood, but it is very lightweight. For those who are elderly, or who have recently been ill, this is an important factor. The walking cane does nothing if the person cannot move it. Non-slip rubber bottoms are common on aluminum walking canes.
Aluminum is very weather resistant as well, making it perfect for trekking canes. Both aluminum and wood can be decorated in a variety of ways, from carving to custom paint jobs.
Walking Canes for Men
While the prevailing view of a cane as a tool for the injured isn’t going anywhere fast, the history of the walking cane still lives on today.
The wide variety of mens cane options available for handle styles and decorative elements, mean that walking canes for men can still be considered a beautiful part of a fashionable wardrobe.