Title:
Comfort grip hiking staff
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus for assisting a user in walking is provided. The apparatus includes a shaft with an axis through the center. The shaft has an elongated portion and a tip on one end for contacting the ground. A handle with a plurality of finger receiving portions are present that extend around a portion of the outer perimeter of the handle. The handle has an axis through the center and the finger receiving grooves are oriented at an angle to the axis of the handle so that the finger receiving grooves extend along a portion of the length of the axis of the handle. The top of the handle is oriented so that the finger receiving grooves are between the top and the shaft.



Inventors:
Sherman, Dendy F. (Piedmont, SC, US)
Application Number:
11/542889
Publication Date:
04/10/2008
Filing Date:
10/04/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45B9/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
JACKSON, DANIELLE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
J. BENNETT MULLINAX, LLC (P. O. BOX 26029, GREENVILLE, SC, 29616-1029, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. An apparatus for assisting a user in walking, comprising: a shaft having a circular outer perimeter with an axis through the center of said shaft, said shaft having an elongated portion and a tip on one end for contacting the ground; and a handle with four finger receiving grooves that each extend half way around the outer perimeter of said handle, said handle having an axis that extends through the center of said handle, said finger receiving grooves oriented at an angle to said axis of said handle such that said finger receiving grooves extend along a portion of the length of said axis of said handle, said handle having a top oriented such that said finger receiving grooves are located between said top and said shaft.

2. The apparatus as set forth in claim 1, wherein said finger receiving grooves are configured for receiving the index finger, middle finger, ring finger and little finger of a user.

3. The apparatus as set forth in claim 1, wherein the half of the outer perimeter of said handle opposite said finger receiving grooves has a smooth surface.

4. The apparatus as set forth in claim 1, wherein said finger receiving grooves are oriented at an angle from 50° to 80° to said axis of said handle.

5. The apparatus as set forth in claim 1, wherein said shaft and said handle are integrally formed with one another.

6. The apparatus as set forth in claim 1, wherein said top of said handle has a circular outer perimeter such that said axis of said handle extends through the center of said top, and wherein said axis of said handle and said axis of said shaft are aligned such that said shaft and said handle are arranged in a linear configuration.

7. The apparatus as set forth in claim 1, wherein said handle has an angled portion contiguous with said elongated portion of said shaft, and wherein said axis of said handle is oriented at an angle to said axis of said shaft.

8. The apparatus as set forth in claim 7, wherein said axis of said handle is oriented at an angle from 25° to 35° to said axis of said shaft.

9. The apparatus as set forth in claim 1, wherein the depth of said finger receiving grooves remain the same as said finger receiving grooves extend around a portion of the outer perimeter of said handle.

10. The apparatus as set forth in claim 1, wherein said finger receiving grooves have a concave shape, and wherein said finger receiving grooves are arranged next to one another so that adjacent ends of said finger receiving grooves form an apex.

11. The apparatus as set forth in claim 1, wherein said shaft and said handle are made of a material selected from the group consisting of wood, aluminum and plastic.

12. The apparatus as set forth in claim 1, wherein said elongated portion of said shaft has a pair of high visibility sections separated from one another in the direction along the length of said axis of said shaft.

13. An apparatus for assisting a user in walking, comprising: a shaft having an outer perimeter with an axis through the center of said shaft, said shaft having an elongated portion; and a handle having a top on one end, said handle having a plurality of finger receiving grooves that each extend around a portion of the outer perimeter of said handle, said handle having an axis through the center of said handle, said finger receiving grooves capable of receiving fingers of the user and said finger receiving grooves oriented such that when grasped by a user fingers received by said finger receiving grooves point away from said top of said handle, wherein said finger receiving grooves are located between said top of said handle and said shaft.

14. The apparatus as set forth in claim 13, further comprising a strap for carrying said handle retained by said top of said handle.

15. The apparatus as set forth in claim 13, wherein said finger receiving grooves are four in number and each extend around half of the outer perimeter of said handle.

16. The apparatus as set forth in claim 13, wherein said finger receiving grooves are oriented at an angle from 50° to 80° to said axis of said handle, and wherein said shaft has a circular outer perimeter.

17. The apparatus as set forth in claim 13, wherein said finger receiving grooves are configured for receiving the fingers on the right hand of the user.

18. The apparatus as set forth in claim 13, wherein said handle has an angled portion contiguous with said elongated portion of said shaft, and wherein said axis of said handle is oriented at an angle to said axis of said shaft.

19. The apparatus as set forth in claim 18, wherein said axis of said handle is oriented at an angle from 25° to 35° to said axis of said shaft.

20. An apparatus for assisting a user in walking, comprising: a shaft having a circular outer perimeter with an axis through the center of said shaft, said shaft having an elongated portion and a rubber tip on one end for contacting the ground, wherein said elongated portion of said shaft has a pair of high visibility sections separated from one another in the direction along the length of said axis of said shaft; a handle having a top, said handle having four finger receiving grooves that each extend at least half way around the outer perimeter of said handle, said handle having an axis that extends through the center of said handle, said finger receiving grooves oriented at an angle from 50° to 80° to said axis of said handle such that said finger receiving grooves extend along a portion of the length of said axis of said handle and such that when grasped by a user fingers received by said finger receiving grooves point away from said top of said handle, said top oriented such that said finger receiving grooves are located between said top and said shaft, wherein said shaft and said handle are integrally formed with one another, wherein said finger receiving grooves are concave in shape and are arranged next to one another so that adjacent ends of said finger receiving grooves form an apex; and a strap for carrying said handle retained by said top of said handle.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to devices that assist a user when walking. More particularly, the present application involves a hiking staff that has a handle with a plurality of finger receiving grooves that provide an improved grip.

BACKGROUND

Devices such as a hiking staff are known to assist an individual when performing activities such as walking or hiking. The hiking staff is used to help support and steady the user during these activities. Such support may be most needed when a user is traversing rough terrain while hiking along a trail. Generally, a hiking staff includes an elongated shaft that can be curved or straight. The user grasps a top end of the shaft with one hand and positions a bottom end of the shaft against the ground to provide support when walking or hiking.

Typical hiking staffs do not have a handle specifically designed to be grasped by a user while walking or hiking. In these instances, the user tightly grasps the top of the elongated shaft to prevent his or her hand from slipping off during use. Slippage of the hand may occur if the area grasped by the user becomes wet through rain fall or perspiration of the hand of the user. Slipping of the hand off of the hiking staff may cause the user to fall as the support of the hiking staff will be suddenly removed.

It is therefore the case that the user of a hiking staff must tightly grasp the staff during use to prevent the staff from slipping. Although tolerable over short lengths of time, tightly grasping the hiking staff becomes uncomfortable during long walks or hikes. The user's hand and forearm will become sore after tightly grasping the hiking staff for an extended amount of time. At such point, the hiking staff is prone to slipping from the grasp of the user as his or her gripping strength is diminished.

Current hiking staffs require the user to exert a large amount of force in grasping the hiking staff to help pull his or her body upward and to manipulate the hiking staff over long walks and hikes. Also while hiking, it is sometimes the unfortunate case that the user of a hiking staff becomes lost. In such instances, current hiking staffs do not afford the user a means of alerting other individuals of his or her presence and to the fact that he or she is lost. As such, there remains room for variation and improvement within the art.

SUMMARY

Various features and advantages of the invention will be set forth in part in the following description, or may be obvious from the description, or may be learned from practice of the invention.

One aspect of the present invention provides for an apparatus for assisting a user in walking that includes a shaft that has a circular outer perimeter with an axis through its center. The shaft has an elongated portion and a tip that is configured for contacting the ground. Also included is a handle with four finger receiving grooves that each extends half way around the outer perimeter of the handle. The handle has an axis that extends through the center of the handle. The finger receiving grooves are oriented at an angle to the axis of the handle so that the finger receiving grooves extend along a portion of the length of the axis of the handle. The handle has a top that is oriented so that the finger receiving grooves are located between the top and the shaft.

Another aspect of the present invention is provided in an apparatus as immediately discussed in which the finger receiving grooves are configured to receive the index finger, middle finger, ring finger and little finger of a user.

An additional aspect of the present invention is found in an apparatus as mentioned above in which the half of the outer perimeter opposite the finger receiving grooves has a smooth surface.

A further aspect of the present invention is present in an apparatus as discussed above in which the finger receiving grooves are oriented at an angle from 50° to 80° to the axis of the handle.

Another aspect of the present invention is found in an apparatus as previously discussed in which the top of the handle has a circular outer perimeter so that the axis of the handle extends through the center of the top. Additionally, the axis of the handle and the axis of the shaft are aligned so that the shaft and the handle are arranged in a linear configuration.

A further aspect of the present invention exists in an apparatus as mentioned in which the handle has an angled portion contiguous with the elongated portion of the shaft. Further, the axis of the handle is oriented at an angle to the axis of the shaft.

An additional aspect is found in an apparatus as previously mentioned in which the axis of the handle is oriented at an angle from 25° to 35° to the axis of the shaft.

An additional aspect of the present invention is found in an apparatus as mentioned above in which the finger receiving grooves have a concave shape. Also, the finger receiving grooves are arranged next to one another so that adjacent ends of the finger receiving grooves form an apex.

The present invention also provides for a further aspect of the apparatus as previously discussed in which the elongated portion of the shaft has a pair of high visibility sections separated from one another in the direction along the length of the axis of the shaft.

Also included in one aspect of the present invention is an apparatus for assisting a user in walking that has a shaft. The shaft has an outer perimeter with an axis through the center. The shaft also has an elongated portion. A handle is present and has a top on one end. The handle has a plurality of finger receiving grooves that each extend around a portion of the outer perimeter of the handle. An axis extends through the center of the handle. The finger receiving grooves are capable of receiving fingers of the user. Also, the finger receiving grooves are oriented so that when grasped by a user fingers received by the finger receiving grooves point away from the top of the handle. The finger receiving grooves are located between the top of the handle and the shaft.

Another aspect of the present invention is found in an apparatus as immediately mentioned in which a strap for carrying the handle is present and is retained by the top of the handle.

A further aspect exists in an apparatus as previously mentioned in which the finger receiving grooves are four in number and each extend around half of the outer perimeter of the handle.

The present invention also provides for an apparatus as discussed above in which the finger receiving grooves are oriented at an angle from 50° to 80° to the axis of the handle. Additionally, the shaft has a circular outer perimeter.

Yet another aspect of the present invention is found in an apparatus as mentioned above in which the finger receiving grooves are configured for receiving the fingers on the right hand of the user.

An additional aspect of the present invention includes an apparatus for assisting a user in walking. The apparatus has a shaft with a circular outer perimeter. An axis is present through the center of the shaft. The shaft has an elongated portion and a rubber tip on one end for contacting the ground. The elongated portion of the shaft has a pair of high visibility sections separated from one another in the direction along the length of the axis of the shaft. A handle is also included and has a top. The handle has four finger receiving grooves that each extend at least half way around the outer perimeter of the handle. The handle has an axis that extends through the center of the handle. The finger receiving grooves are oriented at an angle from 50° to 80° to the axis of the handle so that the finger receiving grooves extend along a portion of the length of the axis of the handle. The finger receiving grooves are arranged so that when grasped by a user fingers received by the finger receiving grooves point away from the top of the handle. The top is oriented so that the finger receiving grooves are located between the top and the shaft. The shaft and the handle are integrally formed with one another. The finger receiving grooves are concave in shape and are arranged next to one another so that adjacent ends of the finger receiving grooves form an apex. A strap is also present for carrying the handle. The strap is retained by the top of the handle.

These and other features, aspects and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with reference to the following description and appended claims. The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute part of this specification, illustrate embodiments of the invention and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A full and enabling disclosure of the present invention, including the best mode thereof, directed to one of ordinary skill in the art, is set forth more particularly in the remainder of the specification, which makes reference to the appended Figs. in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a hiking staff for assisting a user in walking in accordance with one exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the hiking staff of FIG. 1 that generally shows the opposite side of the hiking staff from that shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the hiking staff of FIG. 1 shown grasped by the right hand of the user of the hiking staff.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a hiking staff for assisting a user in walking in accordance with an alternative exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the hiking staff of FIG. 4 shown grasped by the right hand of the user of the hiking staff.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a hiking staff for assisting a user in walking in accordance with an alternative exemplary embodiment of the present invention configured for being grasped by the left hand of the user.

Repeat use of reference characters in the present specification and drawings is intended to represent the same or analogous features or elements of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF REPRESENTATIVE EMBODIMENTS

Reference will now be made in detail to embodiments of the invention, one or more examples of which are illustrated in the drawings. Each example is provided by way of explanation of the invention, and not meant as a limitation of the invention. For example, features illustrated or described as part of one embodiment can be used with another embodiment to yield still a third embodiment. It is intended that the present invention include these and other modifications and variations.

It is to be understood that the ranges mentioned herein include all ranges located within the prescribed range. As such, all ranges mentioned herein include all sub-ranges included in the mentioned ranges. For instance, a range from 100-200 also includes ranges from 110-150, 170-190, and 153-162. Further, all limits mentioned herein include all other limits included in the mentioned limits. For instance, a limit of up to 7 also includes a limit of up to 5, up to 3, and up to 4.5.

The present invention provides for an apparatus 10 such as a hiking staff that aids a user 12 in walking or hiking. The hiking staff has a handle 24 with a plurality of finger receiving grooves 26 into which the fingers of the user 12 can be retained when grasping the handle 24. The finger receiving grooves 26 are oriented so that the fingers of the user point away from the top 42 of the handle 24 when grasped. The finger receiving grooves 26 afford the user 12 a more comfortable grip of the hiking staff 10 and allow the hiking staff 10 to be gripped with a reduced amount of force. The finger receiving grooves 26 lessen the odds of slippage of the handle 24 from the hand of the user 12. The hiking staff 10 can also be configured to enable the user 12 to alert others of his or her presence when in distress.

One exemplary embodiment of the apparatus 10 is shown in FIG. 1. Here, the apparatus 10 is configured as a hiking staff 10 that can be used by a user 12 when walking or hiking. The hiking staff 10 has a shaft 14 with an elongated portion 20. The elongated portion 20 can be of any length. For example, the elongated portion 20 can be from 4 feet to 5 feet in accordance with various exemplary embodiments of the present invention. The hiking staff 10 also has a handle 24 located generally at its upper end. The handle 24 can be connected to the upper end of the shaft 14. The handle 24 and the shaft 14 can be separate components that are attached to one another through adhesion, mechanical fasteners or through a threaded engagement. In other exemplary embodiments, the handle 24 and the shaft 14 can be integrally formed with one another so that they comprise essentially a single piece.

During use, the user 12 grasps the handle 25 and positions the shaft 14 SO that a tip 22 on the bottom end of the shaft 14 contacts the ground. The user 12 then applies some amount of weight to the hiking staff 10 to support himself or herself when walking. The elongated portion 20 of the shaft 14 is made of a sufficient size and material to withstand the force applied thereto. The tip 22 is made of a material capable of withstanding contact with the ground and repeated scraping during use of the hiking staff 10. In accordance with one exemplary embodiment, the tip 22 is made of rubber. The tip 22 can be attached to the shaft 14 through adhesion, mechanical fasteners, or can be attached through a threaded connection. Once the tip 22 has become worn through repeated use, the used tip 22 can be removed and replaced with a new tip 22. It is to be understood, however, that in other exemplary embodiments a tip 22 need not be present on the bottom end of the shaft 14.

The shaft 14 shown in FIG. 1 has an outer perimeter 16 that has a circular shape. In this regard, the entire outer perimeter 16 around the shaft 14 is the same distance from an axis 18 through the center of the shaft 14. The outer perimeter 16 may be of a consistent size and shape along the entire length of the axis 18. On the other hand, the outer perimeter 16 can have various sizes and shapes at different portions along the length of the axis 18 of shaft 14. The outer perimeter 16 can be square shaped, triangular shaped or oval shaped in other embodiments. Further, the outer perimeter 16 can be of one shape and size along a certain length of the axis 18 and another shape and size along a different length of axis 18. In still other embodiments, the outer perimeter 16 can be variously sized and shaped along the length of axis 18. For example, if the shaft 14 were made of a branch of a tree the outer perimeter 16 would be generally inconsistent in size and shape along axis 18. It is to be understood that the axis 18 can be either straight or curved along its length. Likewise, the shaft 14 can be either straight or curved at one or more portions in accordance with various exemplary embodiments of the present invention. The shaft 14 has a diameter of one and one eighths of an inch in the exemplary embodiment shown. However, the shaft 14 can be of any diameter in accordance with other exemplary embodiments of the present invention.

The shaft 14, handle 24 and other components of the hiking staff 10 can be made of any suitable material. For example, the shaft 14 and handle 24 can be made of wood, plastic or aluminum in accordance with various exemplary embodiments.

The handle 24 has a plurality of finger receiving grooves 26 defined about at least a portion of the outer perimeter 36 of handle 24. The finger receiving grooves 26 are disposed halfway around the outer perimeter 36 in accordance with one exemplary embodiment of the present invention. In accordance with other exemplary embodiments, the finger receiving grooves 26 extend from one fourth to three fourths the distance around the outer perimeter 36. Although shown as having four finger receiving grooves 26, it is to be understood that any number of finger receiving grooves 26 can be present in accordance with other exemplary embodiments. A top 42 of the handle 24 is located above the finger receiving grooves 26. The top 42 can extend a distance from three to four inches along the length of an axis 38 of the handle 24. The top 42 can extend up to eight inches along the length of axis 38 in accordance with still other embodiments. The finger receiving grooves 26 are located between the top 42 and the shaft 14. However, other embodiments of the hiking staff 10 are possible in which the top 42 is not present. In these embodiments, the finger receiving grooves 26 are located at the upper end of the handle 24. The finger receiving grooves 26 can be grooves formed, for example by carving, in the surface of the handle 24 or may be made into a separate component that is subsequently attached to the handle 24.

As stated, four finger receiving grooves 26 are present on the handle 24 in the exemplary embodiment shown. An index finger receiving groove 28 is located next to the top 42 of handle 24. A middle finger receiving groove 30 is located next to the index finger receiving groove 28. A ring finger receiving groove 32 and a little finger receiving groove 34 are likewise located in sequence along the length of axis 38. The finger receiving grooves 26 are not configured for receiving the thumb of the user 12. It is therefore the case that the thumb of the user 12 is not received in the finger receiving grooves 26 in accordance with various exemplary embodiments. It is to be understood, however, that other embodiments exist in which a groove can be provided for accepting the thumb of the user 12. It is to be understood that when used in the present application that the term finger does not include the thumb of the user.

The axis 38 extends through the center of the handle 24. The handle 24 has an outer perimeter 36 that can be configured in a similar manner to the outer perimeter 16 discussed above in relation to the shaft 14. As such, the outer perimeter 36 can have a constant shape and size along the length of axis 38 or may have various shapes and sizes along axis 38. Further, handle 24 can be a substantially linear member or may be curved. In a similar manner, axis 38 can be straight or curved depending upon the shape of handle 24.

The finger receiving grooves 26 are oriented at an angle 40 to the axis 38 of the handle 24. Angle 40 may be from 50° to 80° in accordance with various exemplary embodiments. In other embodiments, angle 40 can be from 75° to 85°, 90°, 85°, 70°, 65°, 60° or 50°. All of the finger receiving grooves 26 can be oriented at the same angle 40, or various finger receiving grooves 26 may be oriented at various angles 40. For example, the index finger receiving groove 28 can be oriented at an angle 40 of 68° while the middle finger receiving groove 30 is oriented at an angle 40 of 73° and the ring finger receiving groove 32 and little finger receiving groove 34 are at an angle 40 that measures 63°. The orientation of finger receiving grooves 26 results in them extending along a portion of the length of axis 38 as they extend about the outer perimeter 36 of handle 24.

The finger receiving grooves 26 can have a width from five eights of an inch to one half of an inch. Further, the depth of the finger receiving grooves 26 can be up to three fourths of an inch in accordance with certain exemplary embodiments. The widths and depths of the finger receiving grooves 26 can all be the same or may be varied from one to the other. The finger receiving grooves 26 can have a consistent depth along their length, or it may vary from one end to the other. The finger receiving grooves 26 can have a concave shape so that their surfaces are essentially circular along their entire length. Alternatively, the finger receiving grooves 26 can be tapered on either end so that they demonstrate different shapes along their length. The finger receiving grooves 26 can be square, rectangular, or triangular shaped in accordance with other exemplary embodiments. Further, a frictional gripping element such as grit can be disposed in the finger receiving grooves 26 to help retain the fingers of the user 12 therein during use in accordance with certain exemplary embodiments.

Ends of the index finger receiving groove 28 and middle finger receiving groove 30 meet one another and form an apex 48. In a similar manner, ends of the middle finger receiving groove 30 and the ring finger receiving groove 32 meet one another and form an apex 50. Additionally, ends of the ring finger receiving groove 32 and the little finger receiving groove 34 meet to form an apex 52. As shown, the finger receiving grooves 26 are located adjacent to one another so that the apexes 48, 50 and 52 are present. As stated, the distance between the apexes 48, 50 and 52 may be from five eights of an inch to one half of an inch. The apexes 48, 50 and 52 can have a width of up to one eights of an inch in accordance with certain exemplary embodiments. The widths of the apexes 48, 50 and 52 can be the same or may be varied.

As mentioned, the finger receiving grooves 26 extend half way around the outer perimeter 36 of handle 24 in the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 1. FIG. 2 shows another angle of the hiking staff 10 of FIG. 1 in which the finger receiving grooves 26 are hidden from view. As can be seen, the handle 24 of hiking staff 10 is devoid of grooves at the portion opposite the previously discussed finger receiving grooves 26. Here, the handle 24 has a generally smooth and consistent surface. It is to be understood, however, that other exemplary embodiments exist in which a groove may be present at approximately this location for receipt of the thumb of the user 12. Although the finger receiving grooves 26 are not present on the other side of hiking staff 10, other features previously mentioned and momentarily discussed are present on both sides of the hiking staff 10 as shown upon comparison of FIGS. 1 and 2.

FIG. 3 shows the hiking staff 10 of FIGS. 1 and 2 when grasped by a user 12. Here, the index finger 58 is positioned in the index finger receiving groove 28, the middle finger 60 is positioned in the middle finger receiving groove 30, the ring finger 62 is positioned in the ring finger receiving groove 32, and the little finger 64 is located in the little finger receiving groove 34. The apexes 48, 50 and 52 are positioned between the fingers 58, 60, 62 and 64 of the user 12. The hand of the user 12 grasps the handle 24 so that the fingers 58, 60, 62 and 64 that are retained by the finger receiving grooves 26 point more away from the top 42 of handle 24 than towards the top 42 of handle 24. In this manner, the fingers 58, 60, 62 and 64 of the user 12 are retained on the handle 24 with a minimum of force application thereto by the user 12. The hiking staff 10 can be used to support some of the weight of the user 12 when walking with a lesser likelihood of the hand of the user 12 slipping from the handle 24. Further, the user 12 need not employ a “white knuckle” grip onto the handle 24 which will become uncomfortable over a period of time and could lead to slippage from his or her hand.

The axis 38 of handle 24 and axis 18 of shaft 14 are arranged in a linear manner so that the handle 24 and shaft 14 cause the walking staff 10 to be generally linear in shape. The outer perimeters 16 and 36 of shaft 14 and handle 24 are circular in shape and have a diameter of one and one eights of an inch. It is to be understood, however, that other embodiments are possible in which the size or shape of the outer perimeters 16 and 36 are different. An aperture 66 is located in the top 42 of the handle 24. The aperture 66 has a diameter of five sixteenths of an inch in accordance with one embodiment and extends completely through the top 42. A strap 68 is disposed through the aperture 66 for use in providing a means of holding the walking staff 10 or hooking the walking staff 10 to a hook when not in use. Strap 68 can be a one quarter inch rawhide strap in accordance with one exemplary embodiment. Although shown as being disposed through an aperture 66, strap 68 can be retained on the top 42 in a variety of manners. For example, strap 68 can be stapled, adhered, or attached to the top 42 using hook and loop type fasteners in other embodiments. It is to be understood, however, that other embodiments exist in which the hiking staff 10 does not have a strap 68.

Hiking staff 10 also has a pair of high visibility portions 54 and 56 as shown in the exemplary embodiment of FIGS. 1-3. High visibility portions 54 and 56 can be made of any material that affords a higher than average visibility. For example, the high visibility portions 54 and 56 can be neon orange or yellow paint that can be seen by others at a distance. Further, the high visibility portions 54 and 56 can be high reflective tape located on the shaft 14 that has high optical properties in reflecting light. The high visibility portions 54 and 56 aid the user 12 when hiking or otherwise walking to provide visibility to the user 12. Such visibility increases awareness of the user 12 to others in the vicinity and can likewise result in a lower chance of an accidental injury being inflicted on the user 12.

The high visibility portions 54 and 56 also find utility when a user 12 becomes lost. In this regard, the high visibility portions 54 and 56 are separated by a section of the shaft 14 that has lower visibility. This arrangement is known to communicate to others that the user 12 is lost and is in need of assistance. Here, once the user 12 becomes lost, the user 12 can place the hiking staff 10 lengthwise onto the ground in a clearing. The high visibility portions 54 and 56 that are separated from one another can be seen from rescue personnel flying above in a plane or helicopter. Once spotted, the hiking staff 10 alerts the rescue personnel of the presence of user 12 and his or her need for help.

FIG. 4 shows another exemplary embodiment of the present invention in which the hiking staff 10 does not include the high visibility portions 54 and 56. In this embodiment, the handle 24 has an angled portion 44. The finger receiving grooves 26 are located between the top 42 of the handle 24 and the angled portion 44. The angled portion 44 is contiguous with the shaft 14, and the axis 38 of the handle 24 or oriented at an angle to the axis 18 of shaft 14. Axes 18 and 38 may be oriented at an angle from 25° to 35° to one another in accordance with various exemplary embodiments of the present invention. In accordance with other embodiments, axes 18 and 38 are angled at 30° to one another.

The finger receiving grooves 26 are also present on the handle 24 and extend so as to be oriented at an angle 40 to the axis 38. The finger receiving grooves 26 can be oriented, sized and configured as discussed above with respect to the exemplary embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-3. The finger receiving grooves 26 extend half way around the outer perimeter 36 of the handle 24 in the hiking staff 10 of FIG. 4. The hand of the user 12 is shown grasping the hiking staff 10 in FIG. 5. Here, the fingers 58, 60, 62 and 64 are positioned within their respective finger receiving groove 28, 30, 32 and 34. The hand of the user 12 grasps the handle 24 so that the fingers 58, 60, 62 and 64 of the user 12 point generally away from the top 42 of the handle 24 and generally towards the angled portion 44. The hiking staff 10 is grasped and positioned by the user 12 so that the shaft 14 is generally positioned between the body of the user 12 and the handle 24 when walking. The configuration of the handle 24 provides a comfortable grip when using the hiking staff 10 and acts to minimize the occurrence of slippage of the handle 24 from the hand of the user 12 during use. The finger receiving grooves 26 provide a greater gripping surface for the user 12 and eliminate the use of unnecessary muscle strength thus making it easier to climb steep grades without tiring of the hands of the user 12.

The hiking staffs 10 in FIGS. 1-5 are arranged so as to be grasped by the right hand of the user 12. the orientation of the finger receiving grooves 26 can be changed to allow the hiking staff 10 to be grasped by the left hand of the user 12. Such an embodiment is shown in FIG. 6. Here, the finger receiving grooves 26 extend half way around the outer perimeter 36 of the handle 24. The finger receiving grooves 26 are oriented so as to extend from right to left as the finger receiving grooves 26 extend downward along the axis 38 of handle 24 towards the shaft 14. The finger receiving grooves 26 are oriented in essentially an opposite manner to those in FIGS. 1-5. The user 12 can grasp the handle 24 with his or her left hand in much the same way as previously described with respect to other exemplary embodiments.

Although described as a hiking staff 10, it is to be understood that the apparatus 10 of the present invention can be configured into other devices known under different names. For example, the apparatus 10 may be sized or shaped so as to be used as a walking stick or a cane. The apparatus 10 was described as a hiking staff 10 in the present application for sake of example, and it is to be understood that the apparatus 10 can be a walking stick, cane or rod in other exemplary embodiments.

While the present invention has been described in connection with certain preferred embodiments, it is to be understood that the subject matter encompassed by way of the present invention is not to be limited to those specific embodiments. On the contrary, it is intended for the subject matter of the invention to include all alternatives, modifications and equivalents as can be included within the spirit and scope of the following claims.