For people with mobility issues, a walking cane is a must. A sturdy cane can literally put you back on your feet again and actively enjoying life. When you finally decide to buy a cane, however, you're faced with a dizzying array of choices and features.

This shopping guide will help you navigate the ins and outs of walking canes, from features to pricing. We've also included a few of our own recommendations to help you find the cane that's right for you.

Considerations when choosing walking canes

In general, a walking cane is a pretty simple item. It essentially functions as a third leg, providing additional support and stability so you can move around more easily. Some of the features to consider when shopping for one include the following:

Body: A cane has to be durable and sturdy enough to hold your weight. It should also be lightweight, so you can easily use it. Most canes are constructed from a lightweight material like aluminum, which is easy to heft, rugged, and rust resistant.

Handle: There are several different types of handles available on walking canes. The traditional crook handle provides users with a variety of angled surfaces to hold. T-handles and Fritz handles are straighter and work best for those with weaker grips caused by arthritis and other conditions. Question mark-shaped offset handles center the weight over the shaft of the cane, rendering them more ergonomic and comfortable to use.

Handles can be padded with foam or gel for comfort and ease of use. The addition of a reflective strap can be a safety plus if you plan on using the cane frequently outside at night.

Tip: Cane tips can be either single point or multiple point. Single-point tips are easier to use in tight spaces, while multiple-point tips help to grip the ground and provide more stability. A four-point (quad) tip can stand on its own. Whichever you choose, the tip should be covered with a nonslip material like rubber to provide additional traction and handle shock.

Weight: Note the weight capacity of both the cane and any add-ons, such as a built-in seat. A cane that isn't designed to support your weight is a safety hazard.

Height: Canes, like people, are available in different sizes, and the best canes are adjustable so you can easily make it taller or shorter to meet your needs. When considering an adjustable cane, check that the mechanism that locks the height in place is secure enough that it won't slip.

Folding: A cane that folds up is easier to store when you're not using it, such as when riding in a car. If a cane folds, note the size it folds down to and whether it comes with a carrying bag. Like adjustable canes, the locking mechanism that keeps the cane from folding should be secure enough that it won't slip when you're using it.