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Cheapskate Camino


Dear All,

One thing that worried me preparing to go was reading entries about the cost of preparing for the Camino - some of the recommended sleeping bags cost a big proportion of my budget! I wonder if anyone has tips born out of experience for keeping the cost down.

I have only bought a few of major new items (Berghaus Freeflow 20L pack and Leki poles cheaply on eBay, liner socks in a sale, and a cycling poncho), but the rest nearly all scavenged from charity shops, adapted or made from other bits and pieces. I admit to being very lucky with charity shops - a pair of nearly-new Brasher boots for £3.99 (and a pair of Manolo Blahnik knee boots in the same shop for £2.99 [Oxfam in Headington, Oxford, if anyone wants to know...]), but I would say that I have spent about £100 on everything. My flights were 1p each way (last chance saloon for cheap flying, but the ferry was £300). Of course time (and the Camino) will tell if I should have invested more - but what have others found they can 'get away with'?

I am taking a couple of big freezer bags and and knicker elastic in case I need to make gaiters...

Do I need professional help?
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If you want cheap trekking gear Aldi are currently selling gaiters for less than £3 and lots of other trekking gear of reasonable quality. I bought a telescopic trekking pole for about £4 last year and it's been fine. I think they sell sleeping bags and ponchos too.

I am also unable to spend big money on the preparations for this trip. It has made me a bit nervous to hear about the investments others have made in gear. I understand paying for quality, but I'm in a position of watching every euro. I am perhaps sacrificing some comforts, but that is sort of the point, in my case.
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.

the kit does not have to be expensive in my opinion, I nearly collapsed at the price of some Gore-Tex trousers in the high street - £100 !

I got some water-resistant (not waterproof) zip off trekking trousers in Lidl the other day for £5.99 - that's more like it !

If I get wet I get wet, for me that's what the camino will be about - doing something in a kind of minimalistic basic way without the cushion of modern life

I am starting in Sept, my only real expense to date is the flight tickets (about £60) but I will need to invest in some new walking boots (my oldies are worn out) a waterproof jacket and a lightweight sleeping bag (new ones about £40 I think)

Any ideas on where to get these at reasonable price ??? :?:

Buen Camino

Andy F
I deliberately didn't take a poncho or any sort of rain gear last summer. I kept my eye on the weather reports, and when it looked like rain I bought a cheap (50c) poncho from one of those shops that sell everything.

It was only flimsy but at that price it's not the end of the world if you have to buy a replacement.
What a relief! I am so glad to find others of the same mind. I have had some 99p rubber tips for my poles from Lidl, but hadn't looked in Aldi - so will go for some gaiters - many, many thanks for the tip. I wasn't too sure about the freezer bags!

Blokes are at a bit of a disadvantage in charity shops. Women seem to buy and discard far more clothes and shoes - I pick up lots of clothes with the price tags still attached. Men seem to generally have a more realistic approach to sizing, and wear their things until they fall apart. But my husband does well out of chaps who have outgrown a 32-inch waistline, and manages to find good (Rohan, Craghopper, Helly Whatsit, Henri Lloyd) trousers and shirts on a regular basis.

I have seen good men's boots in my trawls (my Brashers have a boy's name in them) - so it's worth a look. Otherwise eBay?

I have made a double thickness silk sleeping bag (I'm not the most proficient seamstress, and have an ancient machine) out of silk shirts and a silk shawl picked up in charity shops - at a total cost of just over £10 and about an hour of my time - and it's much higher quality material than the flimsy bags sold in hiking shops. The trick is that silk with labels in Italian or Spanish (seta or seda) don't get priced as high.

I'm beginning to sound like a lunatic miser, but hell, I work for the NHS...!
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ultralight sleeping bags are very expensive - if you're going when it's likely to be warm you might get by with a silk sleeping bag liner (£30 or so)
I am also at the other end of the spectrum of those "my rucksack was only 300$" posts - they just make me shudder ... apart from anything else I must admit that I would feel guilty walking past anyone poorer than me and me wearing enough money in kit and clothing to get them out of debt!

So .... my boots are cheap Hi-Tecs (30 euros I think) and all my 'out there' clothing and so on is from charity shops or verr cheap. I met an English girl at .. errmmm ... well, somewhere .. just outside Burgos .. and she had no sleeping bag at all, would just find a blanket and go to sleep. She told me it worked most of the time and she had only had one or two cold nights....

If you were to wear a monastic habit you can take it off, reverse it 180 degrees and use it as a bed cover :) Cheapest (and lightest) way to go is with just a sheet/liner.
Asda and Tescos are both doing very cheap sleeping bags - but not wildly light ... you can save on a pole if you carry a pocket knife by making one from a stick in the first wood you walk through - though they are truly cheap now and I like my pole. I do prefer a poncho to a coat for coolness and free moving air (who cares about the legs? they are waterproof!) and a fleece (charity shop again) under for warmth .... though, on the other hand, the recent weather would have meant me buying more warm kit ... but still the cheapest ....

Another thing to remember - or realise - is that we do not own possessions - possessions own us. If they are expensive then we will fear them being stolen so then we will fear strangers ... we have to worry about them all the time - it is really a fetishism, consumer fetishism ...

And deeper down ... there is only one real currency on this planet, it isn't dollars or pounds or euros or whatever, it is time - irretrievable segments of your life.
If you buy a rucksack for £150 and you earn £75 a day then you have just given away two days of your life for the 'pleasure' of wearing an expensive rucksack. Looking cool at the traffic lights in a new car that will be in a scrapyard in just a few years and that cost you £15,000 isn't as cool as you think it is as, if you earn £15,000 a year, then you have just given away one whole year of your life for that dubious pleasure - in the truest sense it is a pact with the Devil .....
what a waste of a life! - so, I agree, go functional, but go cheap - spend your life currency on important things ... don't you agree?
Ideal pocket guides for during and after your Camino. Each weighs just 40g (1.4 oz).

I sure am glad I don't live in the UK sometimes! It is so expensive!!!! My boyfriend and I bought superlight sleeping bags (they weigh less than 1 kg) on the internet from some Italian brand, and they cost the equivalent of about 25 pounds. Our super light tent (under 2 kg) cost about 30 pounds. I mean, it's not high-end super quality amazing stuff, but it is certainly functional and new and of adequate quality for this trip. The same goes for our pannier bags (we are biking by the way).
The only expensive part is the bikes, or rather by BF's bike... I guess that would be the equivalent of having good quality hiking shoes... that's one investment I would be willing to make if walking, really good shoes.
We are leaving in just over 3 weeks. It seems like yesterday that I was reflecting on the fact that we would be leaving in 3 months. Yikes! I'm excited and scared and... :shock:
Sounds good to me Klarita - I agree with you about bikes .. not worth buying the cheapest, would be a horrid experience ...

have a great time you two - where are you starting from?
I agree that you don't have to spend lots on equipment. My only proviso would be footwear where I think you do tend to get what you pay for. Having said that my boots were about US$50 on sale (columbia trail meister).I bought a very good quality Snugpak sleeping bag (900 gr) on the net for US$100.
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we are leaving from Roncesvalles... ariving at night on June 4, then hanging around for a while and leaving June 6. At least that's the plan at the moment, we'll see how it turns out. :)
In reply to XM - I've tried out my home-made silk sleeping bag on a coldish night and it is very warm (and only weighs 500g). I'm taking silk thermal gear as well, so can sleep in that - and even my fleece jacket, if needed (though the jacket is my pillow...). I thought the silk liners in trekking shops looked too thin - and I made mine to suit me (I can get my feet out if they overheat). The raw materials cost £10 plus a few pennies. Even shantung silk from a fabric shop wouldn't have cost £30 for the amount I needed.

Dear God, I never thought I could be so obsessive...

I will report back in a few weeks when the Camino has been the true test.

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.
And Br David...you are so right about possessions - I worried about my obsessing to have everything 'right' - but it is not about brands, or an equipment fetish - but wanting to be prepared, and not be distracted from my journey by not being able to deal with a simple need (to be warm and reasonably dry).

I could lose the lot and not be worried, though - it gave me pleasure getting it together from bits and pieces, but none of it cost much. I would only really miss my battered old drinking cup that has travelled with me for 30 years.

And next time, I will have the experience to know what I can leave behind!

Things I wouldn´t skimp on:
ultra light or light weight back pack & sleeping bag (obviously look around for bargains, but don´t get caught at the last minute like I did; my sleeping bag is on its way home because it´s too heavy)

Footgear, both boots & socks

It´s okay if you get wet, but KEEP YOUR FEET DRY. The one blister I have I got on Saturday between Valcarlos & Roncesvalles when my boots & feet got soaked.

Adhesive bandage tape is cheaper & lighter than duct tape (tape your feet each morning where you know you get blisters)

Anything else can be easily obtained at Goodwill. Oxfam, or the Dollar Store.

re: possessions: if it isn´t on my person at all times, I´m not married to it. Believe me, no one wants to carry extra weight, but keep your $, passports, & cameras on you at all times.

Thank you DG - now I know what the duct tape was supposed to be for! I thought it was for mending bits of kit - not a blister remedy.

I have loads of different types of medical tape - I know exactly which one will do the trick. Good idea.

And I will definitely have my passport and cash next to my skin. No camera - will just take the pictures in my mind.

3rd Edition. More content, training & pack guides avoid common mistakes, bed bugs etc
dg, try putting newspaper inside ur wet wet wet shoes when u get to an albergue & leave 'em like that overnight. Tell me if that helps ithe process of drying. Best, xm 8)
Ok but let's remember that not all routes have the facilities of the Camino Frances and not all seasons are as safe or kind to pilgrims as the late spring - autumn. As far as equipment is concerned buy what is fit for the purpose always keeping safety paramount.
xm, stuffed ´em with paper several times in Roncesvalles. Worked like a charm. :D

But I got a blister that day because my shoes & socks got wet & there was no place to stop. It was raining all day, so it wasn´t a good time or place to stop, change socks & apply tape or a bandaid to the area I got a blister.

So far, though, thanks to taping my feet every day, it´s the only one I have.

I´d say walking poles are a necessity (based on my experiences this past week) & I personally would not walk the Camino without at least one. Safety is paramount. AN ounce of preventions is worth a pound of cure.

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stuffed ´em with paper several times in Roncesvalles. Worked like a charm.
Great! Wonder why that works :? ?

I...would not walk the Camino without at least one (pole)...
Voice of experience talking there, couldn't agree with u more.

Best, xm 8)
Erm, well, maybe you should see it! Actually, it looks better since I dyed the whole thing black - it was a multicoloured patchwork before - 4 old silk shirts, a shawl and a long silk skirt (all past charity shop purchases) - with a double layer of heavier fabric where I want the warmth. Pockets in strange places, though...

I'll report back if it works or not - leaving early tomorrow!

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