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Are Walking/Trekking Poles neccesary? Sleeping bag or Sleeping Bag liner

2020 Camino Guides

IcEaNa

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to go in Sept/Oct '16
Hello! I've finally fixed a date to my walk and will be starting my Camino in SJPDP on 19th Sept. I would be taking my time with the walk to Santiago and possibly to Finisterre. With some buffer time factored in, I'll be walking from Sept till early Nov. As such, I'm wondering if trekking/walking poles would be useful. And if I should bring a sleeping bag along? Or would a sleeping bag liner be suffice? Thanks in advance!
 

André Walker

Never loosing my way: always standing on it
Camino(s) past & future
Holland-St.Jean, Frances, Del Norte, VdlP.
No, trekking poles are not neccesary. There are a lot of pilgrims walking without them and they reach Santiago. There are also a lot that do use poles and wouldn’t walk without them. When me wife and I walk in rugged mountain terrain, we use poles. On the Frances (twice) I didn’t feel the need to. So neccesary? No. It depends on hoe you prefer to walk.

Sleeping bag? I’ve walked my 2nd Frances starting September 11, carrying a sleeping bag. Towards the end I needed it. In Galicia the nights were too cold to do without. But I’ve heard from other people that it can be warm the whole way even in October. It really depends on what the weather will be like this year.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Both are your choice and your gamble - you'll never know if they are necessary until, and unless, you find that they are! I wouldn't walk without poles at any time or without a sleeping bag in October-November.
 

nidarosa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Inglés 2009+2017, Francés 2012+2018, Astorga-Santiago repeatedly
If you love your knees you'll take poles
... and learn to use them. There is a third group of walkers who have brought poles but just dangle them half-heartedly alongside or in front of themselves, achieving nothing. Unless they have forgotten or worn through their rubber tips, in which case they succeed at making annoying clacking noises and not much else. I wouldn't walk without my Pacerpoles (use the forum search for more info) myself - they are my rocket boosters uphill, hand brakes downhill and prevent sausage fingers on the flat.

As for sleeping bag or liner, it depends on you - do you sleep hot or cold? My very lightweight down bag is well worth the extra weight on a cold night and I love having a snuggly cocoon to wrap into after a long day. If it gets too hot I'll just open it up.
 

Roland49

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2019 July
I walked the CF in July (1st to 27th) and did not take poles / sticks with me.
Only in very few occasions I did think, that I'd better bring them next time I will walk a camino.
They are a help in the steep parts downhill and will help training the muscles of your upper body.

Most hikers I've seen on the way did use their poles wrong.
You have to carry them all day long!
You need to train the correct way to use them.

With the experience of my CF I would recommend a lightweight, small pack sleeping bag.
 

malingerer

Active Member
... and learn to use them. There is a third group of walkers who have brought poles but just dangle them half-heartedly alongside or in front of themselves, achieving nothing. Unless they have forgotten or worn through their rubber tips, in which case they succeed at making annoying clacking noises and not much else. I wouldn't walk without my Pacerpoles (use the forum search for more info) myself - they are my rocket boosters uphill, hand brakes downhill and prevent sausage fingers on the flat.

As for sleeping bag or liner, it depends on you - do you sleep hot or cold? My very lightweight down bag is well worth the extra weight on a cold night and I love having a snuggly cocoon to wrap into after a long day. If it gets too hot I'll just open it up.
There is of course the added bonus of using poles if you suffer as I do from Meniere's disease. They help you to stay upright when the vertigo etc kicks in! I too would go no distance under load without my pacer poles. Mind you at 81 I am cheerfully considering the jet assisted skateboard with which that guy flew over the Channel! :)

yours aye,

The Malingerer.
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Two good questions. If you are an average healthy person then you don't need poles. Regardless of what people say there are no 'weight' benefits ... stand on your bathroom scale with two poles and push them down onto the floor either side - see how much strength you have to use to move the scale even a couple of pounds, and only one pole is in contact to the ground at any time.

I think pilgrims look silly, leaning forward like old cripples, tapping their way along the level Camino - sad.
But! There are plenty of fundamentalist Polists who will rage at me for the above - so, this is my opinion :eek:

Saying that I always carry one staff or pole with me as turning yourself from a biped into a stable triped when negotiating ascents and descents really helps, especially in wet weather, the rest of the time it is put away.

I would go with a bag - you will be ending late in the year, some terrain is high, as are the refugios, and our European weather patterns have been very strange the last few years - you could have warm sunshine all the way or cold and rain, we can no longer predict it.

The best light and packaway-small bag I know - and it is really cheap too - is the Snugpak jungle bag.
Snugpak make kit for our military and also sell it retail - rectangular, opens fully into a throw, built in insect screen, 7C comfort, 2C Low, and weighs 900gms, which is pretty good for a £44 bag! see here - https://www.snugpak.com/outdoor/jungle-bag
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
Two good questions. If you are an average healthy person then you don't need poles. Regardless of what people say there are no 'weight' benefits ... stand on your bathroom scale with two poles and push them down onto the floor either side - see how much strength you have to use to move the scale even a couple of grams.
I'm no Mr Universe, and when I try this, I get about 14 kg difference with moderate pressure, and about 27 kg difference with a really solid downward pressure. Sure, if you fairy tap the poles, you get fairy level weight changes. But I expect that for ordinary people rather than fairies, there will be reasonable weight reductions using the poles normally.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" Camino
but 2019?
Two good questions. If you are an average healthy person then you don't need poles. Regardless of what people say there are no 'weight' benefits ... stand on your bathroom scale with two poles and push them down onto the floor either side - see how much strength you have to use to move the scale even a couple of pounds, and only one pole is in contact to the ground at any time.

I think pilgrims look silly, leaning forward like old cripples, tapping their way along the level Camino - sad.
But! There are plenty of fundamentalist Polists who will rage at me for the above - so, this is my opinion :eek:

Saying that I always carry one staff or pole with me as turning yourself from a biped into a stable triped when negotiating ascents and descents really helps, especially in wet weather, the rest of the time it is put away.

I would go with a bag - you will be ending late in the year, some terrain is high, as are the refugios, and our European weather patterns have been very strange the last few years - you could have warm sunshine all the way or cold and rain, we can no longer predict it.

The best light and packaway-small bag I know - and it is really cheap too - is the Snugpak jungle bag.
Snugpak make kit for our military and also sell it retail - rectangular, opens fully into a throw, built in insect screen, 7C comfort, 2C Low, and weighs 900gms, which is pretty good for a £44 bag! see here - https://www.snugpak.com/outdoor/jungle-bag
In structural engineering we talk about the static loading and dynamic loading of a structure - the one being the self/stationary load and the other imposed by a moving object. The dynamic loading can have quite an effect on the design.
Oh dear, don't know what came over me there - off for a walk in the woods!

In answer to the OP - yes to both items.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
As such, I'm wondering if trekking/walking poles would be useful. And if I should bring a sleeping bag along? Or would a sleeping bag liner be suffice?
I got distracted responding to another post earlier, but my take is:

a. walking poles used properly are going to be useful, but they are not essential equipment. Pay heed to the concerns about using the poles with bare tips in urban environments.

b. I have carried a relatively lightweight sleeping bag on all my pilgrimage walks. However, in 2016, my wife and I made much greater use of private albergues, hostels and hotels than I had walking alone on earlier walks, and it was less important to have a sleeping bag. On the couple of stretches where I did walk alone, having the sleeping bag did allow me to use a couple of albergues where it wasn't clear blankets would be provided. It gave me greater flexibility to have the bag.

c. I come from a generation where carrying a YHA/HI liner was just one of those things one did if one wanted to stay in low cost, backpacker style accommodation. Would that suffice? I think so, but you might need to be careful about your selection of albergues to ensure that blankets will be provided.
 

Wrinklychick

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 15 Portuguese 16 Norte/P'tivo 17 Via de la Plata 18 Norte/Ingles 19 Via Francigena 20
Hello! I've finally fixed a date to my walk and will be starting my Camino in SJPDP on 19th Sept. I would be taking my time with the walk to Santiago and possibly to Finisterre. With some buffer time factored in, I'll be walking from Sept till early Nov. As such, I'm wondering if trekking/walking poles would be useful. And if I should bring a sleeping bag along? Or would a sleeping bag liner be suffice? Thanks in advance!
Hi there!
I've completed 2,650 miles of camino walking in Spain and have used walking poles EVERY time I walk. It's a well known fact, supported by physios & osteopaths, that walking correctly with poles takes up to a third of the pressure away from hips and knees. I personally think that feet aren't pounding the ground in quite such a hard way either and use of them is supposed to help you burn more calories than without.
Don't even think about leaving them at home! They'll be one of your best assets!
 

IcEaNa

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to go in Sept/Oct '16
Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences, awesome information and suggestions! I'm definitely taking all this into my preparation and planning. Appreciate it lots! :)
 

kelleymac

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
March/April 2015, Late April 2016, Sept/Oct 2017, April 2019.
I walk a lot at home and thought I wouldn't bother with poles, as they seemed just to be an encumbrance. But then i found that after walking over 5 hours with my pack, my muscles didn't really like going down hill anymore. My legs felt wobbly, and I was worried I'd twist my ankle or knee-- And that would be the end of the camino! So, I bought a wooden walking stick (a light one), and found it helped a lot. I have also used two walking sticks in the "proper way", but one helps too-- especially when the path is rocks that roll, and gravel that slides. -- I take a light weight sleeping bag, but might not if I walked in the summer.
 

c0484

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013
Hello! I've finally fixed a date to my walk and will be starting my Camino in SJPDP on 19th Sept. I would be taking my time with the walk to Santiago and possibly to Finisterre. With some buffer time factored in, I'll be walking from Sept till early Nov. As such, I'm wondering if trekking/walking poles would be useful. And if I should bring a sleeping bag along? Or would a sleeping bag liner be suffice? Thanks in advance!
Trekking poles can be useful if you use the properly. Most people do not. On level and uphill areas the poles come no further forward than the heals of your feet. On downhill areas they are in front of you and provide balance. Following these two rules you can make life a lot easier on yourself and save energy. If you do not, then you will waist a lot of energy.
 

happymarkos

HappyMark
Camino(s) past & future
2013 CF
2014 Le Puy-St Jean. 2014&16 Volunteer St JP
2016 Portuguese
2017 Porto-Santiago
2018
Walking poles used correctly reduce the ground force shocks that our bodies experiences with each step. I think this is particularly helpful for older people (such as myself still walking at 75) and those with past feet, ankle, knee, hip or back problems.
The science is abundantly clear and discussed in some detail in chapter 2 "Walking as a System" in "Camino Ready. Backpacks, Boots & (no) Blisters" To quote " as we walk, the soft tissue, bones and joints provide a controlled pattern of shock absorption"
There is also a chapter on walking poles. As most don't use them correctly they see little use. Other benefits include keeping dogs away, crossing muddy patches and streams to provide better footing and balance, harvesting fruit! We loved using them to get at blackberries and raspberries growing wild to avoid the thorns on the walk from Le Puy.
REI in the US has some great videos on how to use them as has Leki and many other manufacturers.
My suggestion is to do your own research, try them during the initial training and take off the tips for soft surfaces and use the rubber stoppers for hard surfaces.
Buen Camino

Mark
 
Camino(s) past & future
2013 SJPP to Santiago in September
2014 Camino Aragon
GR65.3.3 2015, 16, 17
Del Norte 2018 & 2019
J'ACCUSE: WALKING POLES
TAC's editors are opened-minded guys. Both assiduously use the very items of equipment Grant Hutchison pans below, but that doesn't stop them allowing their misguided colleague his petty rant. Just remember that, as they say, the opinions here expressed are not necessarily those of the editors ...

OF ALL THE CREATURES encountered on the hill, it used to be that the one most commonly spotted using a stick for support was the dog: a big, daft, cheerful dog with a two-foot beech branch lodged firmly between its teeth. The support, of course, was entirely psychological: while the stick served no useful purpose, it had a powerful effect on the dog's feelings of security and self-worth. A concept that segues seamlessly (and with admittedly transparent irony) into the topic of the walking pole.

Walking poles are clearly the immediate, mutant offspring of ski poles. A few years back, you occasionally encountered someone carrying a ski pole around the hills with them, pretending it was a walking stick. The purpose of this gambit was, of course, to transmit the message, "Hey, I also ski." Such individuals were deeply sad and lonely creatures, more to be mocked than ignored. They were carrying a ski pole mainly because it interfered less with a day on the hill than, say, a hang-glider or a wet-suit. However, gear manufacturers (ever swift to tap any new seam of weakness in the human psyche) quickly responded to the ski pole abuse phenomenon by creating the so-called "walking pole": no more than a ski pole with a couple of telescopic sections added, to allow it to be collapsed for easy rucksack mounting.

Well whoopee. Let's just run that thought by again: a collapsible walking stick. Surely a concept to rank alongside the chocolate teapot and the glass buttock in the "About-As-Much-Use-As" Hall of Fame. Admittedly, it is possible to prevent the walking pole collapsing: a mole wrench is particularly useful in this respect, but does rather render the thing indistinguishable from its previous, saddo ski pole incarnation. But, once suitably rigidified, surely the walking pole relieves the knees of many Newtons of excess force, by transferring weight to the shoulder girdle?


Oh aye, that'll be right. Look, let's set aside for the moment the fact that your knees have been designed to bear weight by several million years of evolution, and your shoulders haven't. (Like, if they sold a drug that made your lungs pass urine, to take the load off your kidneys, you'd be at the front of the queue, would you?)

Let's just take a look at the ordinary walking stick, as used by people whose legs are sufficiently knackered that they're obliged to seek alternative means of weight-bearing. It works, and works well, because it transmits force from the shoulder down a straight arm, and then through the broad pressure-pad of the heel of the hand.

Compare this happy picture, if you will, with the walking pole: customarily held in the fist, with the elbow at right angles. Any force transmission that occurs is at the expense of big work from the muscles that flex the fingers and extend the elbow. Very inefficient. Which is why Monsieur Eiffel didn't put an ornamental right-angle bend into the middle of his celebrated tower. And even if you collapse the damn thing down to a sensible length, you still can't use it for straight-armed weight-bearing, because the upper surface is too small to spread the load. You end up with a deep, painful indentation in the palm of your hand, often bearing the unmistakable imprint of a Phillips-headed screw.

So look: if you want to second-guess evolution and distribute your weight to places it isn't meant to go, by all means buy a proper walking stick. But if you're going to use a walking pole, you might as well just acknowledge its true purpose and carry it between your teeth.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (Sep/Oct 2018)
Camino Portugues (Sep 2020)
Regardless of what people say there are no 'weight' benefits ... stand on your bathroom scale with two poles and push them down onto the floor either side - see how much strength you have to use to move the scale even a couple of pounds, and only one pole is in contact to the ground at any time.
With all due respect, this "experiment" is meaningless. Your body will absorb the same amount of force going downhill, but the use of poles allows your upper body to absorb force that would otherwise be transferred to you legs / knees. if you can feel it in your arms, it means you're not feeling it all in your knees. BTW, if I look silly striding down a level path with my poles, I hope I'm bringing a smile to someone's face. :)
 

josephmcclain

Active Member
Hello! I've finally fixed a date to my walk and will be starting my Camino in SJPDP on 19th Sept. I would be taking my time with the walk to Santiago and possibly to Finisterre. With some buffer time factored in, I'll be walking from Sept till early Nov. As such, I'm wondering if trekking/walking poles would be useful. And if I should bring a sleeping bag along? Or would a sleeping bag liner be suffice? Thanks in advance!
Yes, to poles. BUT you have to use them correctly. Otherwise there is little reason. There are great tutorials on UTUBE. IF you use them correctly they are a tremendous aid on flat ground, inclines and downhill. I have a piece written up that gives instructions. Glad to share it if you want it. Poles are also an amazing way to help your body in general function well. But only if you use them correctly.
 

Chris Gi

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Did April through June 2018 from Pamplona to Santiago. 2020 May or end of September.
Two good questions. If you are an average healthy person then you don't need poles. Regardless of what people say there are no 'weight' benefits ... stand on your bathroom scale with two poles and push them down onto the floor either side - see how much strength you have to use to move the scale even a couple of pounds, and only one pole is in contact to the ground at any time.

I think pilgrims look silly, leaning forward like old cripples, tapping their way along the level Camino - sad.
But! There are plenty of fundamentalist Polists who will rage at me for the above - so, this is my opinion :eek:

Saying that I always carry one staff or pole with me as turning yourself from a biped into a stable triped when negotiating ascents and descents really helps, especially in wet weather, the rest of the time it is put away.

I would go with a bag - you will be ending late in the year, some terrain is high, as are the refugios, and our European weather patterns have been very strange the last few years - you could have warm sunshine all the way or cold and rain, we can no longer predict it.

The best light and packaway-small bag I know - and it is really cheap too - is the Snugpak jungle bag.
Snugpak make kit for our military and also sell it retail - rectangular, opens fully into a throw, built in insect screen, 7C comfort, 2C Low, and weighs 900gms, which is pretty good for a £44 bag! see here - https://www.snugpak.com/outdoor/jungle-bag
This 79 year old finds poles to be very helpful and I shall try to remember not to be leaning over them like a “silly old cripple”🙄
 

easygoing

Camino Sharon
Camino(s) past & future
I have walked the Camino Francis 7 times, twice in 2017 and 2018. (2019)
Hello! I've finally fixed a date to my walk and will be starting my Camino in SJPDP on 19th Sept. I would be taking my time with the walk to Santiago and possibly to Finisterre. With some buffer time factored in, I'll be walking from Sept till early Nov. As such, I'm wondering if trekking/walking poles would be useful. And if I should bring a sleeping bag along? Or would a sleeping bag liner be suffice? Thanks in advance!
You will get lots of advice on the advantages of trekking poles and some people that will tell you how much they don't like them.
I love poles and they help me climb hills and steady me on the downhill especially when Rocky.
My advice is simple if you have to ask if you need them you probably don't because if you don't know how to use them you will be like all the people I see with them strapped to their backpack. As for a liner or sleeping bag that depends on where you stay and how persnickety you are. I only stay in private alberques which have blankets and I don't care if they've been washed or not however most of them seem clean to me so I only bring a silk liner. If it's a particular a chilly night I wear my windbreaker for a vapor barrier and stay warm. But if you're a cold sleeper and are staying in municipals you might want something a little warmer than a silk liner.
 
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nickpellatt

Member
Camino(s) past & future
French 2015 Portuguese 2018 Norte May 2019 Finesterre and Muxia April 2019
I dont use poles, they seem awkward to me. On my first two Camino's I bought a wooden staff for each trip, which whilst not essential, made a nice souvenir. If you walk a lot now, and you use poles, continue. If not ... they arent essential.

Liner or bag. I would suggest a liner to be enough in September, and you may often find blankets if needed. If you find yourself getting cold in October ... you could buy a sleeping bag in Spain.
 

Turga

Camino tortuga
Camino(s) past & future
CF (Aug/Sep 2017)
CF (Aug/Sep 2018)
I don’t understand this continuing debate pro et contra walking poles. If some people think they are useful then why should they not use them –even if the effect is more or less “psychological” and not conclusively proved? It is known that the placebo-effect cannot be neglected. If you don’t think they are useful, then do not use them –simple!

Me, I am in a third camp, I use a single wooden walking pole –and I wouldn’t miss it for the world 🙂
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
When I don’t use poles my hands swell, not sure if anyone else finds this.
I also get this, and think you will find this is pretty common. Do a web search using the term 'oedema walking hands' and you will get a range of resources to keep you reading for a little while. There are several reasons advanced for the swelling including things like increased blood flow at higher heart rates, the action of moving/swinging one's arms, and electrolyte imbalance.

I find keeping the forearms level if cannot use poles for a long walk helps, as do poles which achieve this effect anyhow.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
When I don’t use poles my hands swell, not sure if anyone else finds this.
Yes, that happens to me. But worse, when I let my arms dangle, and don't give them a job to do over the month or so that I'm on the Camino, I lose muscle in my arms. While I'm using my poles I can feel my arm muscles activate. I suppose that I could do some push-ups and other bodyweight exercises at the end of the walking day, but for some reason I'm just not usually in the mood for that. 😀 Even with using poles all the time on the Camino I notice a decrease in arm strength when I get home. I hate to think what they would be like if I had just let my arms hang there for 5 weeks!
❤ my Pacer Poles
Me too!
 

Arlene Laskey

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances April-May 2018
Camino Portuguese ?2021? maybe
One more thing, not sure if already mentioned, but there are a few places in St Jean Pied de Port where you can purchase walking sticks, very reasonable. I appreciated having them for many of the reasons mentioned above.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
See signature
I take poles because ... I am not young any more and I was told they helped take strain off your joints, whatever....
i must admit, sometimes I do not need them and they are more of a hindrance.
Do some training walks with and without and see how you feel. If you are young and fit, you probably don’t need them.... ?
As for the sleeping bag, I always take one with me. Again, it’s personal preference, I just don’t like being cold. And I have been cold, in Spain, in August ....
 

Anthony18

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2019
Hello! I've finally fixed a date to my walk and will be starting my Camino in SJPDP on 19th Sept. I would be taking my time with the walk to Santiago and possibly to Finisterre. With some buffer time factored in, I'll be walking from Sept till early Nov. As such, I'm wondering if trekking/walking poles would be useful. And if I should bring a sleeping bag along? Or would a sleeping bag liner be suffice? Thanks in advance!
If you're using a backpack transportation service and/or your pack is super light plus an avid hiker- then maybe you won't need them, but...I'm for the use of trekking poles.

Here's why I recommend them based on my recent experience with CF:

1. When used properly, they will help you take weight off of a sore foot, knee, etc. Especially downhill. Just use the sticks and slow your pace.
2. They're great with assisting when crossing muddy, slippery areas with puddles. I had to cross a few, and I'm glad I had them.
3. They help if you have to go off trail to take care of business. Throughout the camino, you'll find that right off trail, the land can sit much lower or there are parallel ditches that are hard to see because of plant growth that conceals them. They help you feel the terrain to make sure you don't take a sudden fall. Saved my butt on more than one occasion.
4. They will help you when going uphill as well, especially when you're gassed.
5. Protection. I came across a snake as well as some unsavory characters during my 35 day trek without a pilgrim in sight. Glad to have something that can provide a bit of protection. Something most of us don't consider when speaking of trekking poles.
6. Compact and can store easily when not needed.

Trekking poles are one of those items that I'd rather have and not need, then need and not have. :cool:
 

PeterM

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese (2017)
If you're using a backpack transportation service and/or your pack is super light plus an avid hiker- then maybe you won't need them, but...I'm for the use of trekking poles.

Here's why I recommend them based on my recent experience with CF:

1. When used properly, they will help you take weight off of a sore foot, knee, etc. Especially downhill. Just use the sticks and slow your pace.
2. They're great with assisting when crossing muddy, slippery areas with puddles. I had to cross a few, and I'm glad I had them.
3. They help if you have to go off trail to take care of business. Throughout the camino, you'll find that right off trail, the land can sit much lower or there are parallel ditches that are hard to see because of plant growth that conceals them. They help you feel the terrain to make sure you don't take a sudden fall. Saved my butt on more than one occasion.
4. They will help you when going uphill as well, especially when you're gassed.
5. Protection. I came across a snake as well as some unsavory characters during my 35 day trek without a pilgrim in sight. Glad to have something that can provide a bit of protection. Something most of us don't consider when speaking of trekking poles.
6. Compact and can store easily when not needed.

Trekking poles are one of those items that I'd rather have and not need, then need and not have. :cool:
Hi,
For what its worth I am a 66 year old man. In Mar/Apr this year I walked the Camino Portuguese from Lisbon to SDC and then as I has a couple of days over did Muxia and Finisterre.
I had never done any form of distance walking/hiking before and had no particular problems apart from 1 over enthusiastic dog which eventually came around to my point of view.
Did not use poles, a significant number of walkers I saw who had poles were carrying them.
Had a sleeping bag without liner and used it every night without problem.
Each to their own but from my experience I am a strong advocate of the KISS principle - keep it simple stupid.
Whatever you take you have to carry, so keep it in mind though obviously your own fitness, health etc will provide guidance as to what you need.
Cheers
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Whatever you take you have to carry,
Which is why I use my poles almost all the time - the exception being when I'm in busy cities and towns. My poles do me no good as added weight in my backpack.

And just a little rant - it drives me crazy to walk behind someone who is not using, but carrying their poles in their hands perpendicular to their body as they swing their arms back and forth. With every backwards movement of their arm the pole goes backwards too. Not so bad between towns, but especially annoying on a busy sidewalk/pavement.
 

mvanert

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Bits and pieces - 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020?
Hello! I've finally fixed a date to my walk and will be starting my Camino in SJPDP on 19th Sept. I would be taking my time with the walk to Santiago and possibly to Finisterre. With some buffer time factored in, I'll be walking from Sept till early Nov. As such, I'm wondering if trekking/walking poles would be useful. And if I should bring a sleeping bag along? Or would a sleeping bag liner be suffice? Thanks in advance!
Walking poles, for me, absolutely, especially going downhill, in the rain and going uphill. Basically, all the time LOL. As for bag or liner I think it will be very cool in the evenings by then and you'll appreciate having a bag.
 

josephmcclain

Active Member
I'd read up on any info I can get to understand better!
Here you are!!

HOW TO USE TREKKING POLES

Hi everybody! Given the wildly differing opinion on using trekking poles and also taking into consideration the amusing sights one sees on the Camino of flailing around with poles, I thought I would try to get some quick tips in. One thing is for sure: unless you learn to use them, they are almost useless. Before my Camino I had never touched a pair. Feeling kind of stupid about it all, I went to YouTube and watched tutorials and set off from Saint Jean. So, everything I write here is stuff that I felt was central to my surviving the Camino in good shape at age 74. What do you think? Other ideas? These are just my experiences that helped me enormously.

The most basic stuff:
1. Adjust your poles for level ground at a height that makes the angle at elbow between upper arm and lower arm about a 90 degree angle.
2. Put your hand through the loops of the wrist straps from below, up through. Your thumb will actually go over the strap. If this is crazy uncomfortable make the strap a little looser.
3. Don´t grasp the pole tightly. You just guide the pole between your thumb and forefinger. The pressure is carried on the strap. You should get a feel of the pectoral muscles being worked. Great upper body excercise.

The most important stuff
1. Right arm moves with left leg and left arm with right arm. No exceptions for me! I felt so awkward doing this. It took me about two days of practice runs to get to feeling natural. That way of walking is, of course, natural, but nevertheless.
2. On level ground the poles should hit the ground at the level of the alternating foot as you step forward. Press into the wrist straps and feel the transfer of work to your chest muscles. The poles are helping your body carry the load of the backpack.
3. Ascending you want the poles to hit a little behind you to give you more forward propulsion. Ideally, and on very long ascents you should shorten them. You will get much more power out of them. But on the Camino Francés, with notable exceptions, one is always going up and down and constantly adjusting poles is a drag. I only adjusted for long ascents. Otherwise left them in the level ground position and used them as if they were shorter. Compromise.
4. Descending swing the poles forward with a flick of the wrist and let them hit the ground in front of you. This is a phenomenal way of avoiding strain on the knees. Generally a big issue! And great to avoid slipping or instability on descents. Also here one should lengthen the poles for long descents. It works even better. Same compromise can happen as above.
5. Level ground, ascending, descending always sticking with the rhythm of left foot with right arm and vice versa. Always. After a couple of days you will not be able to do it wrong!

General walking tips:
1. The rhythm of the alternating hand-foot motion is easy to transfer into the whole body and it feels like a massage if you do it. Feel your body. How it swing and moves along.
2. On level ground I like to have a feeling of ¨planking.¨ That is, taking advantage of gravity and leaning the whole body a little forward so that gravity participates in moving you along.
3. Try to land on the middle of your foot and not the heal and for sure not the toes.
4. When ascending just feel the hips moving from side to side. Only the poles strive upward. The rest of the body is moving side to side. I got this watching a horse climb the steep trail to O Cebreiro. And felt like I had become four-legged once I got the hang of it.
5. This may be especially for men. Become aware of the pelvic area as you walk. I tend to hold too much energy high in my chest and I really had to let that go. This is the Pilates core! I think, not sure, but I think women have an easier time with this.

CAVEAT....These are just my experiences. I am not anybody´s expert, but this really helped me and wanted to share! Buen Camino!!!
 

Telboyo

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
I intend to leave the UK the day Before Brexit and walkMarch -April 2019 Camino Frances
if you can find a suitable solution to the sleeping bag conundrum, parse the pole problem you will indeed be a very wise person. There will be no need to walk the way as you will have the answers to all that you seek. Many have walked the way multiple times approaching from every direction, using feet, bicycles and horses, yet none have been able to answer the sleeping bag question.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Hello! I've finally fixed a date to my walk and will be starting my Camino in SJPDP on 19th Sept. I would be taking my time with the walk to Santiago and possibly to Finisterre. With some buffer time factored in, I'll be walking from Sept till early Nov. As such, I'm wondering if trekking/walking poles would be useful. And if I should bring a sleeping bag along? Or would a sleeping bag liner be suffice? Thanks in advance!
These are perennial questions on the forum. Just do a quick search on "walking poles" and see. If the answers were easy and universal the questions wouldn't come up that often.

Walking poles are absolutely necessary for some and unnecessary (and unwanted) for others. You may not find out which until you go. I thought I was in the "unnecessary camp for my 2016 Camino. I certainly started out in the "unwanted" camp. They seemed just to modern and sporty as opposed to the traditional and spiritual Camino I was looking for. Maybe a nice wooden staff but certainly not trekking poles! Then the various descents (to Zubiri, after the Alto de Perdon, etc.) did in my knees. I tried ibuprofen; I tried a knee brace; I tried a wooden staff. I am convinced that without the walking poles I bought in Viana I would not have been able to complete the Camino and, furthermore, had I begun with them I wouldn't have had the knee problems that required constant management throughout the rest of my Camino. Certainly, walking poles are unnecessary for some and many complete their Caminos without them. But you may not want to be like I was and find out too late that they are necessary for you.

As for sleeping bag vs just a liner, many take sleeping bags and are happy that they did. I took just a liner on my Camino last October and didn't regret it. Do you sleep hot or cold? Do you like a lot of blankets or not? Where will you be staying? These might factor into what you will bring.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Hi,
For what its worth I am a 66 year old man. In Mar/Apr this year I walked the Camino Portuguese from Lisbon to SDC and then as I has a couple of days over did Muxia and Finisterre.
I had never done any form of distance walking/hiking before and had no particular problems apart from 1 over enthusiastic dog which eventually came around to my point of view.
Did not use poles, a significant number of walkers I saw who had poles were carrying them.
Had a sleeping bag without liner and used it every night without problem.
Each to their own but from my experience I am a strong advocate of the KISS principle - keep it simple stupid.
Whatever you take you have to carry, so keep it in mind though obviously your own fitness, health etc will provide guidance as to what you need.
Cheers
For what it is worth, I found the Camino Portugues to be much easier on the knees than the Camino Frances. I'm not saying that there were no descents, but not ones like I had experienced on my previous Camino a couple of years previous. Perhaps on the CP I would not have needed poles like I found myself needing on the CF.

As to "whatever you take you have to carry": I am always astonished when I see people carrying poles and using them sparingly. When I have poles I use them all the time. The job of the poles is to carry me, not visa versa! :)
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I use a silk liner and a tiny down blanket from Montbell, it's on sale right now, but you can achieve pretty much the same size and weight for a much lower price by cutting a down blanket from Costco in half and binding the raw edge. Unfortunately, the Costco blankets are a seasonal item, so they probably won't be in stock until at least September.
This combination has worked well for me on 4 Caminos. Both items together weigh less than one pound, and I like the flexibility that this "system" gives me. On hot nights I can sleep in just the silk liner, and sometimes put the down blanket between the silk liner and the plastic covered mattress. On cold nights I tuck the down blanket inside the silk liner - it's too slippery to put on top, and I think that the warmth stays in better when it's inside the liner.
 

Mera

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France, Camino del Norte, Camino de Madrid
Camino Porto, Camino Primitivo
If you love your knees you'll take poles!
I absolutely agree! Especially when going up and down a slippery slope. I also felt that it deterred stray dogs from approaching too close. Most dogs were friendly or chained but a few times I encountered free roaming big dogs.
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
Geez, so many proclamations of "the right way to use poles". I remember a conversation in the past on the subject, basically "pacer pole technique or leave them out" At the same time I watched a show on some real hiking experts hiking the 4270 km Pacific Crest Trail at a pace of 65km a day, and they were seldom in the pacer pole rhythm. In fact, the areas where that was practical, they often had them on their packs, not in their hands.

The poles can work in many ways. I use them in pacer pole rhythm some, double pole three step "walking staff" rhythm some, random "get me down this rocky hill without a twisted ankle" some. It is a long hike, feel free to experiment and find what works for you.

On a recent trek in Nepal I used a set of carbon fiber poles that can be found at Costco for $29.95. I preferred them to my $100 Black Diamond poles, though the tips were worn out by the end.
 

Evvie

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2019
Hello! I've finally fixed a date to my walk and will be starting my Camino in SJPDP on 19th Sept. I would be taking my time with the walk to Santiago and possibly to Finisterre. With some buffer time factored in, I'll be walking from Sept till early Nov. As such, I'm wondering if trekking/walking poles would be useful. And if I should bring a sleeping bag along? Or would a sleeping bag liner be suffice? Thanks in advance!
I would never walk without poles. They take weight off your joints, especially your knees, and are invaluable going both up and downhill.
 

Dadhairday

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte (2020)
Poles take some strain off knees so worthwhile if you have any fragility there already. At my age, 60+, I’d take as a preventative anyway. However, beware if you don’t do manual work and don’t already use poles using them all day can lead to sore, blistered hands. Do some practice, shorter walks with poles before the Camino to toughen the hands up and get used to the technique. They can feel clumsy at first. Sleeping bag likely to be used at least some nights from mid-October. Good luck.
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
The experienced advice of others on the practicality of taking a sleeping bag or liner is worth taking account of.

The advice of others on poles is probably not. Give them a try and if you think they help you - take them. If you do then please set out with a new set of rubber ferrules and take a spare set with you. They may not last the whole distance and the clicking of metal poles is really annoying.

Someone will have to prise my poles from my cold dead hands. I was convinced when the super fit alpine guides started using them 25+ years ago. They said that the poles would extend their career by a few years.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
I use them in pacer pole rhythm
What is this rhythm? I have never heard of it before, and did a quick browse of the pacer pole site and couldn't see anything there about it. Would it be possible to get some details of this?
 

sambajammer

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2017
Camino del Norte 2018
I would say yes to poles all year round. Particularly if you are over 50. Age aside, poles are great for mud, steep wet sections with rocks, frost and snow, as well as for pointing out at the yellow arrows to your comrades. Use rubber tips unless your are maneuvering rock or ice when you need the carbide tips. So far I covered about a week of walking the Camino--most likely you wont need them after that week which is at the beginning and about two thirds of the way through. They also help take the weight off your knees when you are going down hill and ease you back when going up hill. If you take them learn how to use them before you leave.
I didn't keep mine once we got to Sarria, wanted them going to Finisterre though.

Late october and November it is getting cold in Northern Spain, so yes to a sleeping bag when walking after September. Unless you sleep cold a summer weight bag is plenty.
 

Zordmot

First timer Spring 2019
Camino(s) past & future
April-May 2019
I walked CF in May and found that probably 90%+ of the folks were using sticks of some sort. I took one that I bought for $10 at Sportsman's Warehouse and came to really love it. There ARE portions where they really do come in handy. I found the downward slopes where you are walking on smooth river rocks is the most important moment because it provides stability. This would be even more true if it were wet. Also when you are walking on rocks to cross streams or going on narrow passages around big mud puddles. For me, age 63 and in good health I wouldn't walk without one. They're light, adjustable and you can always attach them to your pack when not needed. PS--I wear a cycling glove on my right hand when using a pole. If you're on the fence, there are many places in SJPP and a few places along the way to buy your particular best buddy
 

Zordmot

First timer Spring 2019
Camino(s) past & future
April-May 2019
I would say yes to poles all year round. Particularly if you are over 50. Age aside, poles are great for mud, steep wet sections with rocks, frost and snow, as well as for pointing out at the yellow arrows to your comrades. Use rubber tips unless your are maneuvering rock or ice when you need the carbide tips. So far I covered about a week of walking the Camino--most likely you wont need them after that week which is at the beginning and about two thirds of the way through. They also help take the weight off your knees when you are going down hill and ease you back when going up hill. If you take them learn how to use them before you leave.
I didn't keep mine once we got to Sarria, wanted them going to Finisterre though.

Late october and November it is getting cold in Northern Spain, so yes to a sleeping bag when walking after September. Unless you sleep cold a summer weight bag is plenty.
as well as for pointing out at the yellow arrows to your comrades.
Haha--the real reason for having a pole!!!!
 

Herndon

Self Proclaimed Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
France 2016
Portuguese 2017(Porto to Santiago)
Ingles 2017
Portuguese 2019(Lisbon to Porto)
When I don’t use poles my hands swell, not sure if anyone else finds this.
Yes, everytime...so even when I do training hikes on flat paths, wearing my pack, I use my poles...definitely keeps my hands from swelling...as far as keeping balance, on my first Camino in 2016, the poles were particularly helpful the first several days during some sharp downhill segments...
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
What is this rhythm? I have never heard of it before, and did a quick browse of the pacer pole site and couldn't see anything there about it. Would it be possible to get some details of this?
Single poll action only, none of this double pole, step step step stuff! I have nothing against it, but it isn't the only way to use poles
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Single poll action only, none of this double pole, step step step stuff! I have nothing against it, but it isn't the only way to use poles
I just use my poles in what feels like a natural rhythm, though on steep hills I do change it a bit.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Single poll action only, none of this double pole, step step step stuff! I have nothing against it, but it isn't the only way to use poles
Isn't this (shown on the link you posted) the standard recommended method - not unique to pacer poles?
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
Isn't this (shown on the link you posted) the standard recommended method - not unique to pacer poles?
I cannot see the video right now, but it's not like Heather Rhodes invented walking. And call me thick if you like, @newfydog , but I am having difficulty understanding what walking might be if not this 'step, step, step stuff', whether it is one pole or two.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I have skimmed through all of these posts and find that no one has mentioned what I think are some very important considerations.

Poles — Hiking poles keep a stumble from turning into a face plant. For me that is a big enough benefit, since I am not very graceful and frequently stumble!

Sleeping bags or not — Whether you need a bag depends on how your internal heating system works. If you are the one who always wears a sweater inside when the AC is on, you will need a bag. If you go into icy movie theaters in sleeveless tops, you probably won’t. Gender also plays a role: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/04/science/chilly-at-work-a-decades-old-formula-may-be-to-blame.html

I have read the posts of so many who say, nah, you don’t need a bag in the summer, and I think — I would never walk on any camino without a sleeping bag. But that’s me and my body, which may be very different from you.
 

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