A wading staff is an important piece of safety equipment all anglers should carry with them. Of course if your only fishing in sandy waters that are ankle deep with no boulders to negotiate or if you only fish out of a boat, then a staff might not be necessary for you. But if you're like me and end up wading where you shouldn't, a staff is a handy tool to get you out of a difficult spot or into prime water where many are unwilling to go.
Wading staffs are a great tool to feel the bottom for depth before taking a step and judging current strength. They also double as a handy hiking buddy when on the move.
If a staff is in your future, you have a two choices, foldable and collapsible.
Foldables are made out of aluminum and have a thick bungee cord running through the center like tent poles. This staff folds down to 10" and is completely out of the way when holstered. Foldable staffs assemble themselves as soon as you take them out, if you need one in an emergency you can have it quickly.
Collapsibles are also aluminum and are in the style of a ski pole that telescope out and brace to keep the length you want. This style you have to prepare before you get into the water and make sure it's the correct length. Collapsibles shorten down to 25".
I tend to prefer foldables as they can take all my weight when I'm in nearly over my waders and need to use the staff to pole vault across deep slots because I've forgotten how I arrived at my fishy spot.
My favorite foldable staff is from the company Folstaf Wading. Weighing under 16oz, the 3/4" Aircraft grade aluminum is strong enough to put up with everything I've thrown at it including all my weight. They come with a heavy duty holster and carbide tip to dig into rocks well. The cork grip is easy on the hand and assembly can be done with one hand. Using feral wax can help keep the section from getting stuck.
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