Choosing a Tip for Your Mobility Cane
Choosing a tip for your white cane involves many considerations. It depends on your preferences, your experience, the terrain, your chosen cane technique, and more. I’m going to cover as many cane tips as I can find and share with you all the information I can find on them. Remember, I’m listing all the information I can find. Just because a cane tip is generally used for a certain cane technique does not mean that usage is set in stone. The mobility cane and techniques are absolutely meant to be customized to you and your needs.
I am absolutely not an orientation and mobility expert, far from it actually. I’m just bringing all this information into one place to make it easier for you guys to consume. I know and appreciate that everyone is not as into research and hunting for information as I am.
Rolling versus Stationary
The choice between a rolling versus a stationary tip generally depends on the cane technique you use. For those who utilize constant contact, a rolling tip may be ideal for you, but if you use two point touch or anything similar, you may prefer a stationary tip. The stationary tips also seem to be lighter in general, so keep that in mind.
Threaded, Hook-On, or Slip-On
Choosing between threaded, hook-on, or slip-on tips is dependent on the style and brand of cane you use. If you want to change out the tip on your current cane, it is recommended that you choose that same tip style.
Generally a folding cane is paired with a hook-on tip. The elastic cord that holds the cane together is pulled out of the bottom of the cane, and the hook-on tip is hooked onto that elastic. The hook is hidden inside the bottom cane shaft.
The threaded tips generally pair with Slim Line and telescoping canes. I’ve seen these in the 8mm size, so they are meant to fit that specific size cane. There may be other sizes and options out there as well.
Slip-on tips can be used with folding canes and straight canes.
Generally when choosing a new tip for your cane, it is best to stick with the type that originally came with your cane. Doing this allows you to know that the tip style will be compatible with your cane. If your cane came with a hook-on tip, your replacements should also be a hook-on tip.
Not all cane tips are available in all three of these tip styles.
The Basic Mobility Cane Tips
These are the basic tips, the ones people seem to go to and recommend most often from my experience. Though I mention what type of technique these tips are generally used for, many of them can be used with both two-point touch and constant contact techniques.
The pencil tip is a straight tip with a round bottom. It is often made of nylon. It is .5 inch (1.3 cm) in diameter. This tip is used with the two-point touch technique.
Metal Glide/Dime Tip
The metal glide or dime tip is a metal disc-shaped tip. It is 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. This tip is made of stainless steel and provides a lot of audio feedback. It is used with two-point touch and constant contact technique.
The mushroom tip resembles the head of a small mushroom. It is rounded rather than straight and provides more surface area than the pencil tip. This tip comes in both the rolling and stationary styles. It is intended for use with the constant contact technique.
The flex tip is a bell shaped tip with a flexible neck. It’s designed to bounce over uneven ground surfaces. It’s made from durable polyethylene that should last two to three times longer than some other tips. It is used with the two point touch technique.
The ceramic tip is shaped like half a sphere. The ceramic is said to have some of the best auditory and tactile feedback of all the cane tips. It is quite expensive for a cane tip and is meant to be used with the two point touch technique, but it can be used with constant contact technique as well.
The marshmallow tip is shaped like a big marshmallow, meaning it is a rounded cylinder. It’s made from durable polyethylene. This tip is available as a rolling or stationary tip. The roller marshmallow tip is meant to be used with the constant contact technique and rolls easily over most surfaces when used in this way. The stationary tip is intended for use with the two point touch technique and provides more surface area than the pencil tip.
Jumbo Roller Tip
The jumbo roller tip is a rolling disk shaped tip. It has a diameter of 2.5 inches (6.4 centimeters) and is made of durable polyethylene. This tip is intended for use with the constant contact technique.
Roller Ball Tip
The roller ball tip is shaped like a ball with a stem and shield on top that houses a ball bearing that allows it to easily roll side to side. This tip is 2 inches (5 centimeters) in diameter. It comes in a standard and high mileage variant, and each is made of a different material. This tip is intended for use with the constant contact technique.
There is also a stationary version of the ball tip, but it does not seem to be commonly used.
All-Terrain Mobility Cane Tips
These tips are designed with special circumstances and environments in mind. They are generally not meant for everyday use.
The Dakota disk cane tip is a wide disk shaped cane tip that is meant to glide smoothly over uneven surfaces like snow, sand, gravel, etc. It is meant for periodical use and is made from plastic. It is generally intended for constant contact technique.
Rover Free-Wheeling Tip
The rover free-wheeling tip is a rubber wheel meant to be pushed forward and backward on rough terrain. It is three inches (7.6 centimeters) in diameter. It is not designed for the typical constant contact sweeping motion and is instead meant to be pushed in front of the user. This tip is not very practical, and it will not work for someone with very little to no vision as it provides limited feedback.
All-Terrain/Hockey Stick Cane Tip
This is a hockey stick shaped tip. It resembles the bottom half of a hexagon with rounded corners and is very narrow. It is meant for use on uneven terrain like grassy areas, beaches, etc. This tip is generally made from nylon.
Choosing a cane tip is a very personal choice, but there are some important guidelines to follow when doing so.
- Be sure to order the proper style tip: hook-on, slide-on, or threaded. If your cane came with one style, order that same style as your replacement.
- Pair your tip style with your most used cane technique. Rolling tips are generally paired with constant contact, while stationary are generally paired with two point touch or similar techniques. This isn’t a hard rule, though.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment. You won’t know if a cane tip is for you if you don’t take the time to try it out.
- Use the cane tip that matches the environment. If you’ll be at a beach wedding, you may want to try out the Dakota Disk for the day. If you’re going for a hike, you may want the All-terrain/Hockey stick tip.
- Don’t forget to consult an expert! I am not an orientation and mobility expert. If you have further questions about these topics, please contact your nearest O&M instructor.
For more information on white canes, check out these articles:
For Cane tip purchase in the US, check out these shops: