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A question about walking sticks...

geraldkelly

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Francés, Vía de la Plata / Camino Sanabrés, Camino del Baztán, Camino Aragonés, Chemin du Puy
Hi

This is a question for people who've already walked the Camino Francés.

From your observations what percentage of pilgrims use walking sticks on the Camino Francés?

And by walking sticks I mean the metal sticks with are specifically designed for walking and which are used in pairs.

Thinking about this my recollection is about 50%, but my memory of this isn't very clear because I never thought about it before.

Please note, this is not an invitation to engage in a pro- or anti-walking stick debate.

Thanks
Gerald
 
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Probably a little less than half use 2 poles, another group carry them in their pack, a few more use 1 pole or 1 hiking stick. Very few use nothing. Of those that use them about half have rubber tips (thank you) and half click click on the pointy metal tips. Rubber tips are inexpensive and I used one pair the whole Camino and they still look good.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
I just finished walking from Sarria to Santiago and the most surprising thing I saw in almost all the trinket shops was that they sold rubber tips for poles. 1€ and not enough people bought them. They were everywhere even the little market had them. And back to the original question. I think about 60% use them. For me I would never have finished without them.
 
I was definitely a convert. Never used them before my CF, but so, so glad that I took them. At a guess, I would say at that time, only about 40% were using them, mostly older pilgrims.
 
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Hiking in the rough mountains where I live I always use a staff but on the Camino I really don't find walking sticks necessary and an added weight. Seems to me most pilgrims were just toting and not really putting them to use.
 
Hi

This is a question for people who've already walked the Camino Francés.

From your observations what percentage of pilgrims use walking sticks on the Camino Francés?

And by walking sticks I mean the metal sticks with are specifically designed for walking and which are used in pairs.

Thinking about this my recollection is about 50%, but my memory of this isn't very clear because I never thought about it before.

Please note, this is not an invitation to engage in a pro- or anti-walking stick debate.

Thanks
Gerald
For us (herself & me) walking sticks are essential. They've helped on uphills and especially down hills. They've helped with balance and also saved knees.

Again essential equipment.
 
Down bag (90/10 duvet) of 700 fills with 180 g (6.34 ounces) of filling. Mummy-shaped structure, ideal when you are looking for lightness with great heating performance.

€149,-
Hi

This is a question for people who've already walked the Camino Francés.

From your observations what percentage of pilgrims use walking sticks on the Camino Francés?

And by walking sticks I mean the metal sticks with are specifically designed for walking and which are used in pairs.

Thinking about this my recollection is about 50%, but my memory of this isn't very clear because I never thought about it before.

Please note, this is not an invitation to engage in a pro- or anti-walking stick debate.

Thanks
Gerald
Pretty much every I see had one. Especially when it is slipper or up/down hill.
 

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I've never used them. Acquired a pair once and found them useless and frustrating. They are lurking in a closet somewhere. I use a staff, with rubber tips changed as needed. It helps me to avoid falls and to carry my pack weight. But maybe this thread is for pilgrims on the Frances and not for us elderly walkers struggling through on the Levante. My simple principle would be: "Use the gear which works for you and be grateful if you live long enough to find out."
 
From your observations what percentage of pilgrims use walking sticks on the Camino Francés?
And by walking sticks I mean the metal sticks with are specifically designed for walking and which are used in pairs.
Thinking about this my recollection is about 50%
Impossible for me to say as I didn't pay any attention to it. I walked the whole Frances but in sections and when I think of the people I walked with for a while, the majority did not seem to have 2 walking poles, at least not actively using them.

I'd say it is definitely a question of age, territory and length of intended walk. I don't fall into your category as I do no use a pair of metal sticks specifically designed for walking but I do own a pair. I packed only one stick and only for those sections where I thought I needed it (mainly from SPdP). The overwhelming majority of Camino Frances walkers do not walk the whole 800 km - either not at all or not in one go.

I've just watched the webcam at Bando, San Marcos near Santiago for 10 minutes: about 40 pilgrims passed by. About 30 of them did not use any kind of walking sticks. 3 pilgrims actively used one walking staff and 6 pilgrims had a pair of walking poles where 2 of these walkers only carried them in one hand without using them. Not a representative observation, of course. 3 dogs, btw.

Only one walker used them in the way they are intended, ie rhythmically advancing sticks and feet in a certain way.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
I've just watched the webcam at Bando, San Marcos near Santiago
Another 20 minutes of observation of Camino walkers shortly before Santiago:

No walking sticks: 17
1 walking stick in use: 5
2 walking sticks in use: 6
2 walking sticks, not in use: 8
Total: 36 pilgrims

Confirms my gut feeling that, overall, 50-60% is too high as an estimate. But could apply to the forum demographic.
 
Acquired a pair once and found them useless and frustrating.
I, too, hated mine when I first got them. For about half a day. It took a bit of patience to figure out how to use them effectively, but they've now saved me from enough faceplants that I don't walk any distance with a pack without them.
 
When we our share of CF, as soon we entered into Santiago, began to carry our poles on our side. We could not find our rubber tips and though not fair to contribute to extra noise. 😁😄😀🤪😃
 
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I'd say it's probably 60% who bring them, but from recent experience about half had them strapped to the pack, and of the people who used them, only 10% used them effectively. My impression is a lot of people think they have to have them and then end up not using them.

I use them all the time on the camino. But I am sure others might find I am using them incorrectly? I use them, more for balance and safety, especially on uneven Surfaces…although there are times on flat surfaces, I may increase speed using them.

I have the impression that more people use them than not. My gestimate would be more than 60 percent of the pilgrims on the caminos I have done used poles or a walking stick. I would also say less than 5 percent of the pilgrims were carrying poles.

However, we have never done a Camino between May-August. Most of the Caminos, were in times with more rain, or winter, so my impression is based mostly on less-than ideal times to walk .
 
others might find I am using them incorrectly?
Well, it's not for me to say what works for each person, what I meant was that I see people who seem to place their poles in front of them at random, as if they just think they should but don't really see the point. Or carry them because they get tired of the meaningless clicking. I use Pacerpoles, which have a different angled handle, and mine are never out of my hands because they really make a difference. I place them behind me on flat and uphill to help take some weight off the dodgy hips and knees, in front of me as handbrakes when I go downhill, and at the end of the day I can feel that my arms have been working. They also keep my hands from swelling.
 
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
Hi, I have never hiked a Camino but I have done plenty of hiking
and backpacking in the United States. And I use hiking poles on
most all of the trips. But, I will say, what I am doing is much different
that I am expecting the Camino to be. For instance, most of the trails
I am backpacking are real trails through the woods. These are only a
few feet wide and can bend and twist and go over roots and rocks.
As I am hiking over the roots and rocks, the poles tend to save me
from falling down a few times each day.

I am expecting the camino to be mostly gravel or dirt roads and in
cities and towns to be paved streets, etc. This is a completely different
scenario. But, I will say, I do use the poles for more than just hiking.
When I am backpacking, I use them as the poles for my backpacking
tent. I also take a lot of photos, and I use the poles as a monopod
for selfies. I take the rubber tip off and jam the pole into the ground.
Then, the top of the pole comes off and I attach my camera.

There are other uses including pushing stuff out of your way.
This happens when tree branches and tall flowers are leaning
into the trail. Also, I have used poles in a defensive posture
when meeting up with aggressive dogs. Fortunately, I never had
to do more than take a defensive posture. Also, another thing that
I don't think I will have to worry about on the Camino is fording creeks
and rivers.

And there have been studies suggesting that hiking poles help reduce
the stress on your knees
 
If you didn't have the pole possibly you would have broken your leg.🤔
That's what she meant. ;)
I can attest to the generality of that experience, having fallen twice times with poles, to little ill effect - because of the poles.
And many more close calls.

But word to the wise, because they are not much help if you trip or scuff a foot going straight ahead at speed. I once fell hard like this, and it happened so fast that I landed face first with my poles/arms pinned underneath me. So it was really not easy to get up; until some fellow pilgrims helped, I was completely immobilized. It's funny in retrospect, but at the time not at all
 
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Thank you everybody who tried to answer my question. It seems about 40% of pilgrims carry walking sticks (in one way or another). And it's mostly older people. That generally confirms my own observations.

Gerald
 
If you didn't have the pole possibly you would have broken your leg.🤔
Exactly. I was (and still am) a novice hiker and it had just rained. I hit some mud coming off a little bridge and slid. It was ugly and I planted that pole to brace myself. That pole bent in half but my leg stayed straight. Best 20 bucks I spent in a long time!
 
Hi

This is a question for people who've already walked the Camino Francés.

From your observations what percentage of pilgrims use walking sticks on the Camino Francés?

And by walking sticks I mean the metal sticks with are specifically designed for walking and which are used in pairs.

Thinking about this my recollection is about 50%, but my memory of this isn't very clear because I never thought about it before.

Please note, this is not an invitation to engage in a pro- or anti-walking stick debate.

Thanks
Gerald
I used walking poles (2) on both the Camino Frances and the Del Norte/Primitivo. I used them every day for balance, for uphill and especially downhill to keep me on my feet, especially the slippery gravelly bits. My knees continue to thank me to this day! I think the 60/40 ratio already mentioned here is about right. I still use them for hiking around our mountain here in Australia and should I be so lucky as to be able to do another Camino, I will use them again.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
I once fell hard like this, and it happened so fast that I landed face first
I did this once by tripping over an embedded rock after dropping off my backpack and poles. I was thrown forward to the ground and did a chest plant, later fiinding out I had broken two ribs and scraped my knees.
I normally use just one of my poles as more convenient for taking photos, except in thick mud and on steep downhills.
 
I was thrown forward to the ground and did a chest plant, later fiinding out I had broken two ribs and scraped my knees.
Ouch.

From your observations what percentage of pilgrims use walking sticks on the Camino Francés?
In all honesty, I don't remember.
But you could get an idea by monitiring the O Cebreiro webcam for a day - or even an hour or so at 'pilgrim rush hour,' and then extrapolate. Coming into a city is a time when lots of people will stop using their poles; OC would give a different 'out there on the camino' estimate.
 
But word to the wise, because they are not much help if you trip or scuff a foot going straight ahead at speed. I once fell hard like this, and it happened so fast that I landed face first with my poles/arms pinned underneath me. So it was really not easy to get up; until some fellow pilgrims helped, I was completely immobilized. It's funny in retrospect, but at the time not at all
I have done a front plant a couple of times, due to some slight misstep. I am not willing to give up my two poles, but have been reluctant to strap a big umbrella to myself to add to the equipment I might get tangled up in. That's why I'm not getting a hands-free umbrella. Has anyone else considered this?
 
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Thank you everybody who tried to answer my question. It seems about 40% of pilgrims carry walking sticks (in one way or another). And it's mostly older people. That generally confirms my own observations.

Gerald
Curious, how did you come to that conclusion based upon the above postings?
I think most were writing about 60 percent used them.I would agree that younger people used poles less than older pilgrims , but no percentages for that.
 
I have done a front plant a couple of times, due to some slight misstep. I am not willing to give up my two poles, but have been reluctant to strap a big umbrella to myself to add to the equipment I might get tangled up in. That's why I'm not getting a hands-free umbrella. Has anyone else considered this?
Yes! I would find it too cumbersome and awkward for me to use while carrying a backpack, using poles, and then addng an umbrella, walking for miles. Then add an uneven surface and a windy day….not for me. I opt for a wide brimmed hat and wet it periodically if the weather to too beastly.
 
Hi Everyone!
Well here's my ten cents worth.
Just finished my first Camino; Porto Santiago via Coastal, Senda Litoral and Variant Espiritual.
I wouldn't have made it without my pole cheap as chips 12 euros but my goodness they took a bashing and so did i but saved me 100 times a day.
I still fell several times quite badly over the length of the walk;i got lost a lot so worked out just over 400km! Without having them and 4 points of contact with the ground i would not have been walking anymore; i will always walk in future with poles.
Umbrella, well i took a Euroshirm hands free tried it for sun on the boardwalks;blew inside out after about 100metres;so didn't bother with it again.
That is until walking from Redondela it poured hard all day walked for about 8 hours it was then that i loved my umbrella!!
But was it worth carrying it the whole Camino for that one day ;i don't know.
Woody
 
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
I'd say it's probably 60% who bring them, but from recent experience about half had them strapped to the pack, and of the people who used them, only 10% used them effectively. My impression is a lot of people think they have to have them and then end up not using them.
On the other hand, you also get people like me who deliberately did not bring them, and avoided picking them up early in the Camino, but acquired them later on (Viana, in my case) out of necessity. The earlier stages of the Camino are not always easy on the knees.
 
I love my poles too, they save my knees , help me balance (I do have some vertigo issues) and serve as a clothes line from time to time, I find that walking with poles allows me to arrive feeling great as opposed to shattered. I was surprised to discover how much easier they made my walk.
I bought some ultra light ones in Leon for my cousin who was due to join us, but used them myself and love them. He preferred my older heavier ones - each to his own.
 
I bring two poles, but only use one of them. I loan my other one, when needed, to my adult son, a wilderness backpacker (who never brings any) cuz he thinks Caminos need none, when we are navigating through muddy waters. Moms always watch out and protect their "kids"...no matter their age.🙂😅
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Another 20 minutes of observation of Camino walkers shortly before Santiago:

No walking sticks: 17
1 walking stick in use: 5
2 walking sticks in use: 6
2 walking sticks, not in use: 8
Total: 36 pilgrims

Confirms my gut feeling that, overall, 50-60% is too high as an estimate. But could apply to the forum demographic.

Sample time/location also matter. A person who is stiff in the morning might pack up the poles later in the day. Some people might use them only in mountainous areas... few, I think, would be like me and use them every day, even at home.

But "how many use walking sticks" is a question that will have a different answer if we add qualifiers:

a) ever?
b) every day?
c) all day when walking?
d) every day but only "off road"

etc etc
 
Curious, how did you come to that conclusion based upon the above postings?
I think most were writing about 60 percent used them.I would agree that younger people used poles less than older pilgrims , but no percentages for that.
I'd agree with that approx. 60% use poles. FWIW, I'd also estimate that less than half of these know how to use them properly and/or to their full benefit.
 
About half. If you do use them PLEASE make sure they have rubber tips. Available cheaply from Amazon eBay etc if your trekking poles do not have them.
Thank you
Buen Camino
Rubber tips last 1 or 2 days at most. I tend to put them on if walking through a town or village.
 
Ideal pocket guides for during & after your Camino. Each weighs only 1.4 oz (40g)!
Rubber tips last 1 or 2 days at most.
Depends what tips you get, that sounds like a once-only purchase - as in get better ones on day 2. Like @trecile, I found that my original Pacerpole ones lasted me 1000+ kms before I changed them, and I still keep them as spares in my daypack. I also bought Leki ones for comparison, they are £7-8 for a pair, will fit most poles and last a camino and then some. I believe the difference is not just in the quality of the rubber or whatever they make them with, but the metal disc/ring that stops the tip from wearing through. I have seen so many with metal tips poking out and still they don't remove and replace them ... Yet another example that buying cheap can be a false economy. Also, ask yourself if you trust the cheapos to keep their grip on wet/cold/slippy surfaces?
 
Rubber tips last 1 or 2 days at most.
Goodness! Has this been a recurring experience? Mine last many hundreds of km, and I've had several types.
I believe the difference is not just in the quality of the rubber or whatever they make them with, but the metal disc/ring that stops the tip from wearing through.
True.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Goodness! Has this been a recurring experience? Mine last many hundreds of km, and I've had several types.

True.
How long the rubber/plastic tips last may well depend upon how extensively/hard you use the poles. For myself, I use them to take weight off my legs (on the flat and downhill) and to 'drive' up the hills....which is to say, that that they are usually bearing at least some weight and at times, quite a bit of weight. Carbide/steel tips tend to provide better traction than rubber/plastic, hence more effective if one is using the poles to bear weight, and not just for balance.
 
How long the rubber/plastic tips last may well depend upon how extensively/hard you use the poles.
Very true. But it doesn't explain why mine last 50 times as long as someone else's, unless of course mine never touch the ground, which is not the case. Mine do bear some weight, although perhaps not as much as others. I would say that it is not the norm to get only one or two days use from a pair of rubber tips.

[Edited to correct math, to account for time actually walking!]
 
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I'd agree with that approx. 60% use poles.
I've found this year it's closer to 30%.

But it's an unusual year.

I am in the minority using a hiking staff (as opposed to the ad hoc "big stick" from the woods that some use).
 
Technical backpack for day trips with backpack cover and internal compartment for the hydration bladder. Ideal daypack for excursions where we need a medium capacity backpack. The back with Air Flow System creates large air channels that will keep our back as cool as possible.

€83,-
I would say that it is not the norm to get only one or two days use from a pair of rubber tips.
Agree, that is absolutely not the norm. Though it seems a lot of people just keep walking with the worn rubber tip around the pole and the metal tip clicking and clacking merrily away. Try Leki ones, they are widely available and will last the month no matter the poling technique.
 
Agree, that is absolutely not the norm. Though it seems a lot of people just keep walking with the worn rubber tip around the pole and the metal tip clicking and clacking merrily away. Try Leki ones, they are widely available and will last the month no matter the poling technique.
Just personally, as a staff hiker, I don't mind the hiking poles click-clack from other pilgrims at all, and it may be that the main benefit of rubber tip noise reduction could be to those pole hikers themselves. They are, after all, those who cannot escape from that click-clack for weeks or months on end !!
 
Hi

This is a question for people who've already walked the Camino Francés.

From your observations what percentage of pilgrims use walking sticks on the Camino Francés?

And by walking sticks I mean the metal sticks with are specifically designed for walking and which are used in pairs.

Thinking about this my recollection is about 50%, but my memory of this isn't very clear because I never thought about it before.

Please note, this is not an invitation to engage in a pro- or anti-walking stick debate.

Thanks
Gerald
I just returned from walking the Madrid/San Salvador/Primitivo.

On the Madrid only saw one other person, neither of us had sticks.

On the San Salvador 4 other Pilgrims, two had sticks

On the Primitivo at least twenty to thirty Pilgrims, eight to ten had sticks.

In 10+ Camino's, I have never used sticks, That said, I injured myself and used a set the last two days from Melide to Santiago and found them helpful.

I also noticed that people use them situationally. Uphill and downhill carrying in flatter area's.

In my observation, I would say more women than men use them.
 
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