When you buy a hiking pole in a store, you are getting a carbine stick made specifically to handle the pressures of a long hike. The length is designed to be perfect for your height, the shock protectors are placed in such a way that there is reduced vibrations on your arm, the tips are meant to stick into the dirt, and the handles are designed for comfortable maneuverability.
But when you do not have a hiking pole on hand, you may want to make one out of the materials you do have on hand. Though you could try to use a stick that you find at the mountain, chances are you want to use something that will be more likely to withstand the entire journey, and it is tough to depend on a stick that you find on the ground to handle that type of pressure.
So while purchasing a professional hiking pole is a better decision for those looking to make several hiking trips, those that are about to leave for an outdoor excursion and do not have a hiking pole on hand may be able to make use of the following makeshift options.
1. Ski Poles
Ski poles have many of the same features as hiking poles. They are not designed for quite the same purpose, they tend to be heavier, and their baskets and points are designed to handle snow, rather than rough terrain, but if you have ski poles on hand and are in need of support for your hiking trip, ski poles do make good temporary hiking poles (and are easier to borrow from a neighbor). Just make sure not to break them.
2. Shower Curtain Rods
A little longer than you need but more durable, shower curtain rods are lightweight for their material and can handle quite a bit of pressure, so they will be able to withstand a long trip. They are certainly not ideal, as they have no basket and a poor grip, but if you can plug the bottom end (so that the rod is less likely to sink into the sand or dirt), a shower curtain rod will be able to handle a single journey.
3. Broomstick/Mop Stick
Many brooms and mops come with removable shafts in case you want to replace the bristles. The stick itself is usually quite strong, made of wood or another powerful material, and does not have the open hole that the curtain rod does that can cause the stick to sink deep into the dirt. Broomsticks are not going to be able to handle more than one or two hiking trips, but they are still a decent alternative to having nothing on hand.
Makeshift Hiking Poles
Hiking poles were made for several long hiking trips and journeys, making them the ideal choice for when you go out. But should you need one and not have a hiking pole on hand, using one of the above alternatives as a temporary replacement is certainly an option.