Go into any yarn store and the type and range of needles available is overwhelming, plastic, wood, metal and then we get to...how much?!! - especially if there is a male in tow...which is another good reason why they don't need to come on the trip to your LYS.
This is a picture of my own needle roll. As you can see there are only a few metal needles most are wood or bamboo. Do I have a metal allergy or irrational hatred of the click clack...no they are just not the right needle for the type of knitting I do.
Metal needles tend to be cheap, you can pick them up in charity shops, inherit them and they are virtually indestructible. Even though I like the clicking noise ( it makes me feel productive) I don't use them for two reasons.
Firstly they make my hands ache far more than wood or bamboo. I have searched all over for the reason for this and the only thing I finally decided was that you grip harder on the metal needles and they do not have the springy 'give' of wooden and bamboo needles. Let me know if you have found out the definitive reason.
Secondly I put silk into everything I knit and I only use natural fibres. Silk makes things slippy and I nearly had a breakdown trying to keep 300+ stitches on a set of metal needles when making a huge wedding ring shawl for someone. The slippery little buggers kept on dropping of the ends of the needles when I was knitting and don't ask what they did when I put it down. It was a case of no-one enter or go near she is armed with a metal thing that she hates so much it might end up inserted somewhere.
I use bamboo needles a lot. They are probably the cheapest type available to buy. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants on the planet and so they appeal to my eco leanings.
They are also very hard wearing. The photo above shows a pair of needles I use all the time. I was given these as a birthday present when I was 13...that was dumpty, dumpty, dumpty decades ago!
As you can see the tips are not worn and I KNIT A LOT.
Wooden needles come in all shapes, wood types and price ranges. Not all are the same...
...this pair of needles looked beautiful when I purchased them and they were a great price. However, the tips pitted very quickly, they would be difficult to sand and so I don't use them anymore.
The Rolls Royce of wooden needles have to be Knit Pro. They are hardwearing, feel great in your hands and come in a huge range of styles. However they are expensive. I wait for show specials, sales and birthdays. If you do a lot of knitting they are worth the expense. They have one further property which you may or may not feel is a bonus.
They attract interest as they are visually pleasing. I often (to the eternal shame of my children) knit in public - usually at shows and art centres. When I use knit pro needles more people stop and talk. Men especially want to work out how they are made. It's great fun to see how quickly they hand the needle back when you tell them the price.
The main drawbacks I have found with wooden needles have been confined to damage. I have snapped quite a few and they will NOT glue back together...I tried every type of glue on the market...and if you are thinking or working out a tricky part of the pattern don't do this...