I am a tremendous klutz.
You may think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not. I broke my ankle walking across my yard. I trip over infintesmal changes of height of the sidewalk.
That does not stop me from hiking, but it does cause me to use hiking sticks, which reduce the liklihood of falling when I trip over something.
Even if you are not clumsy, hiking sticks are still great. After borrowing one of mine, my husband now carries his own. And in the winter, we both use double poles, both because it helps with walking on slippery terrain and seems to make it a little hiking in fresh snow.
I actually keep a collapsible hiking stick in the trunk of the car, on the off chance we forget to put my regular stick in the car. It really makes a huge difference to how safe and stable I feel while hiking, and using a hiking stick has saved me on multiple occasions from falling on my face.
This is my favorite hiking stick. It's light, it's very comfortable, and the knob comes off to make it a monopod for photography. The downside is that the tip sometimes falls off if it is extremely cold, so I don't use it in winter.
The pole has an elastic running through it, and so collapses/folds into three pieces. It's very easy to collapse and shove into one of the pockets of my backpack if I need both hands when scrambling over rocks, which is the other reason why its my favorite.
This is a backup stick I have velcroed to my bike rack, for when I want to scramble down to the creek along the rail trail. It's super small and collapsible. It collapses using a twisting mechanism, which is my least favorite collapse mechanism.
This is one of the first collapsible sticks I ever bought. One of the bits got stuck so it couldn't be extended. Michael took it apart and fixed it eventually, but I don't really trust it completely anymore.
The poles I use in the winter are super fancy and awesome: Women's Carbon Composite Power Lock Trekking Poles. They have Power Lock external locking mechanisms that allow you to collapse the sticks quickly, securely, and easily. They're also incredibly light. But they can't sub for a monopod.
My husband generally carries a wooden hiking stick. The disadvantage of it is that it becomes slippery if your hands are sweaty or if you wear smooth gloves. But they're cheap and you can find one almost anywhere.
So how do you choose? Go to a store and see what feels comfortable. If you want a collapsible stick, work the mechanism and see if you're ok with it or you find it irritating. Or if you know someone like me, ask to borrow a stick so you can try and out.