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Equipment question!

niamhburke

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
August 2023
Hey! So I’m doing the costal Portuguese route for the first time this august, and was wondering, do I need trekking poles? And what are ppls opinions on bringing a water reservoir? I’m traveling for Europe for 2 weeks after the Camino, so I want to pack lightish but also be prepared for the 2 week Camino. Thanks!
 
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.

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Welcome to the forum! You will get plenty of opinions on both poles and water reservoirs.

I have added tags under the title of this thread. If you click on those tags, you can browse through other threads on those topics.
 
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Yep, it's personal preference. If you DO take poles, learn to use them before you go. A majority of pilgrims I have observed do not use them correctly, meaning they have a spare pound of useless baggage. If you use them correctly, the can take some strain off feet and knees.......and share it with wrists and shoulders.

As for the reservoir, most pilgrims buy a water bottle or two, and refill them along the way at bars and fountains. A reservoir is not NEEDED since there are usually opportunities to pick up water during the day. Some like to sip water throughout the walk, and find a reservoir a convenient way to do this.
 
I'm assuming by your question you're not a regular walker, or maybe just on pavements. You need to decide if you need pole support when walking on footpaths with your backpack. The average walker shouldn't need them unless going cross-country, off the track so to speak (or you're body isn't all it used to be). The coastal route is not in any way 'technical'.
 
Don't know what the trail is like, but poles are super useful for muddy conditions (which is perhaps what some people mean by technical?). They also take about 30% of the pressure of the knees - so if you're older or have knee issues, they will be good for you. As for the reservoir, I used a camel back, and really like how easy it was to drink whenever I needed it. The capacity was 1.5L, and I would fill it every morning, and would have to refill it about half the days.
 
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On poles: they are rarely essential, but they are always beneficial if you have learned to use them properly. It doesn't matter whether one is on the flat, climbing or descending, going cross country or on formed tracks, they can take some weight of your lower joints, improve your stability on uneven surfaces, etc. Whether they can reduce the pressure on your knees by 30% I think is debatable, but even reducing the weight on your knees by only one or two kg will have a significant benefit when you are doing perhaps 20 to 25 thousand steps or more each day. The rub is learning to use them properly.

On water bladders: I carry a two litre bladder and fill it every day, and have a small plastic 'single-use' bottle I carry in my pack as a reserve. Depending on where you are walking, you might be able to rely on fonts in towns and villages, but I generally refilled my (water) bladder when I was having a coffee. Many people survive with less, but I err on the side of caution when it comes to water, and I am prepared to carry the weight involved.
 
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Don't like water bladders for myself. Extra work to keep them clean, filled, and functioning. Plus, I don't really like straws (just a personal thing). I just use a single use water bottle and refill it. It hangs on the front strap of my pack with a clip where I can easily reach it. A second bottle in my waterbottle pocket as a backup.

I like walking poles. I didn't use them this year for a short Camino, but my husband finds them essential as he has fallen several times and he uses them to walk and steady himself. He also takes one on our walks through town at the end of the day as the cobbled pavements pose trip hazards, too.
 
On poles: they are rarely essential, but they are always beneficial if you have learned to use them properly. It
Couldn’t agree more. And that’s the key -if you decide to get some, learn to use them PROPERLY! As in, all the time. Dougfitz absolutely nails it (above ).
Carried, they’re just extra weight. I see FAR too many pilgrims carrying their poles, not using them correctly, improperly adjusted, etc. Consider watching this old video ( I’ve seen many others, but this is still the best I’ve found)
I’m a convert. Never used to use them, now I wouldn’t be without them on Camino.
 
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I'm assuming by your question you're not a regular walker, or maybe just on pavements. You need to decide if you need pole support when walking on footpaths with your backpack. The average walker shouldn't need them unless going cross-country, off the track so to speak (or you're body isn't all it used to be). The coastal route is not in any way 'technical'.
I’m a pretty avid hiker, I just haven’t done a trip such as this before and on all hikes I’ve done I’ve never used poles. I’ve done 20 mile hikes with no poles but everyone who I know that’s done the Camino has used poles so I was just wondering!
 
If in doubt, don't bring them..you can always change your mind along the way. The forrest will provide if needed, a solid branch of eucalyptus will do the job.
 
...and ship it to Santiago for storage. You pick it up once in Santiago. Service offered by Casa Ivar (we use DHL for transportation).
If in doubt, don't bring them..you can always change your mind along the way. The forrest will provide if needed, a solid branch of eucalyptus will do the job.
I would suggest almost the opposite. If you think there is a possibility that you will want to use poles, buy a set now and learn to use them properly. They don't have to be expensive - there are plenty of good quality poles available in most places.

The single major advantage of a technical walking pole is the strap (or handgrip for Pacer Poles). It is what allows technical pole users to walk all day without tiring out their hands trying to grip the shaft of a pole or stick hard enough to get the downward pressure needed to reduce the weight on their knees. Worn properly, the strap will be the one thing that will keep the pole in your hand if you stumble, and help prevent a fall. I doubt you will never be able to grip a stick tightly enough so that your hand doesn't slip.

I used a single stick for many years, but have used technical poles for the last couple of decades. I occasionally take one of my old sticks out - when I need a fashion accessory. They really don't have the same functionality as a technical walking pole. They don't do the same job at all.
 
Everybody's body is different, You dont know how your body is going to react to long walks until you actually do it.
Lugging around just-in-cass stuff, is generally seen as a bad thing in packing discussions.

Forgot to add, to my previous message. If you do try a forrest stick out and actually see a benefit, there are shops where you can buy proper poles.

I'm still unsure of them.
Yes, they can be helpful on inclines like the ponte lima hill.

I do find the concept of them has cons.
Like another item to accidentally lose along the way,
My hands like the freedom to be open handed, it's easier to take out my phone out of my cross body bag to take photos with my hands free,
And the click click noise can be distracting from the sounds along the path like bird song and wind rustling the leaves.
 
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Get a spanish phone number with Airalo. eSim, so no physical SIM card. Easy to use app to add more funds if needed.
I use my poles a lot, on every little uphill, but that is because I struggle with inclines. Plus, they keep my hands from swelling. For creeks and mud, they are good to have too.
For water, I prefer metal bottles. Easy to keep clean and your water will be cold and taste so much better than from warm plastic. Weight wise, they are pretty light.
 
Hey! So I’m doing the costal Portuguese route for the first time this august, and was wondering, do I need trekking poles? And what are ppls opinions on bringing a water reservoir? I’m traveling for Europe for 2 weeks after the Camino, so I want to pack lightish but also be prepared for the 2 week Camino. Thanks!
Yes, bring poles. We hiked from Vigo to Santiago on the Portuguese Way and there are a lot of hills all the way up the central route. You will be glad you have those poles.
 
After two camino, my observation is that many Europeans use them as that is what they are accustomed to use them when hiking. The majority of folks from the USA do not use poles. I would assume that it is a cultural preference.
 
...and ship it to Santiago for storage. You pick it up once in Santiago. Service offered by Casa Ivar (we use DHL for transportation).
I’m a pretty avid hiker, I just haven’t done a trip such as this before and on all hikes I’ve done I’ve never used poles. I’ve done 20 mile hikes with no poles but everyone who I know that’s done the Camino has used poles so I was just wondering!
I did the coastal route in 2019. I am old and creaky but did not need poles. I have found that the Camino provides a pole or poles or sturdy stick at times when needed. I would add that if I lived in Europe I most likely would bring poles but am not willing to risk putting mine in the belly of the planes I am on.
As to water, I learned early that I can't get myself to drink as I walk unless I have the tube right there at hand. So I have my one liter Platypus in my pack and the mouthpiece close to hand. And yes no need to worry about find places to fill up along the way.
 
After two camino, my observation is that many Europeans use them as that is what they are accustomed to use them when hiking. The majority of folks from the USA do not use poles. I would assume that it is a cultural preference.
Interesting conversation, but not one that I've found to be true. I have found more if a divide between older and younger pilgrims.
 
I’m a pretty avid hiker, I just haven’t done a trip such as this before and on all hikes I’ve done I’ve never used poles. I’ve done 20 mile hikes with no poles but everyone who I know that’s done the Camino has used poles so I was just wondering!
I walked from Sarria to Santiago last year as a 70-year old peregriña, using an inexpensive walking stick only. I found it to be useful to steady myself on uneven paths. I have never used poles and was completely fine with the single walking stick.
 
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,-
After two camino, my observation is that many Europeans use them as that is what they are accustomed to use them when hiking. The majority of folks from the USA do not use poles. I would assume that it is a cultural preference.
I never used them in my youth; but when I started climbing in the alps in the 1980’s, all the guides were using poles. They believed it would extend their career by a few years. I always used them when carrying a sack from that point on
 
@Enzed, you raise some interesting points in your most recent post.
Lugging around just-in-cass stuff, is generally seen as a bad thing in packing discussions.
So true. That is why poles should be in one's hands being used, and not in one's pack as dead weight. There is no point taking poles if they aren't going to be used while you are walking. More, if they are going to help you should you stumble or have some other emergency, they are of absolutely no use if they aren't in your hands.

I know people who leave them strapped to their pack. I don't understand that at all. I use mine everywhere, including towns and cities.
Yes, they can be helpful on inclines like the ponte lima hill.
Of course, and they can be helpful everywhere else as well. The physics of pole use doesn't change with the slope. People use them to increase their speed, reduce the weight on their lower joints, or some combination of both. If you don't want those advantages, and feel that your hips, knees and ankles will survive without using poles, that's fine too. They aren't essential, but they are always useful.
My hands like the freedom to be open handed, it's easier to take out my phone out of my cross body bag to take photos with my hands free,
If this is happening to you, I would suggest that you are not wearing the strap correctly, because if you were, the poles would fall away from your hands as soon as you released the handles. You could retrieve an handkerchief, pick your nose, take a photo or any of the many other things one might contemplate because your hands are free of the poles.

In contrast, if you are carrying a simple wooden pole, at least one hand is never free of the pole, unless you put it on the ground or rest it against some convenient object, which you would need to do if you needed to use both hands to retrieve something along the way.

A simple test of whether you have the strap the correct way around on your wrist is to hold the poles in front of you and let them go. If the strap sits between your thumb and fingers, it is the wrong way around. If the handle falls away from you hand, and the strap is just around your wrist, then you are wearing the strap correctly.
And the click click noise can be distracting from the sounds along the path like bird song and wind rustling the leaves.
I am a little puzzled by what you mean here. If you are talking about the tapping noise of your own poles, you are entirely in control of that. Make sure your 'rubber' pole tips have not worn through so the metal tip has been exposed, and carry some spare rubber tips. If you are talking about other people with poles tapping away, I suggest you have no control over that at all, and it isn't a good reason for you not to carry poles. In either case, I don't see this as a valid reason not to carry poles.
 
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After two camino, my observation is that many Europeans use them as that is what they are accustomed to use them when hiking. The majority of folks from the USA do not use poles. I would assume that it is a cultural preference.
I have found more if a divide between older and younger pilgrims.
I agree with Trecile.
But I would take it further. Moreo99 is perhaps also partly correct. Of those that were using them, many were European, (regardless of age) OR ( like a couple of Americans I met) had previous Camino experience. Is it perhaps not cultural, rather an element of ignorance, or simply a lack of good information?
Out hiking in Europe - Germany, Norway are recent examples - I often see people using poles. (And in Germany that's within a few minutes walk from where I live, not miles from town!) Which I initially thought was just a trend. But it lead me to ask - why? So I did some research. And when you find information that suggests a benefit (prolonging my hiking years, easing joint pain, etc) , or come across quality videos ( like the one I linked above), it really makes you think.
My poles cost me €30 , including the rubber tips ( I agree, the tapping of unclad poles drive's me nuts! Actually, I find it rather inconsiderate).
From talking with American friends, it's not something they often see. A couple near the PCT, yes, but they associate them with hardcore hikers/ thru hikers.
So perhaps they just simply don't know to ask?
 
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I did this trail in July last year. I liked my water reservoir and filled it with ice and water so I could suck on the water and not have reach for the water. I didn’t use poles but was traveling light. Some people had poles then so I’d say it’s more personal decision preference.buen camino.
 
Hey! So I’m doing the costal Portuguese route for the first time this august, and was wondering, do I need trekking poles? And what are ppls opinions on bringing a water reservoir? I’m traveling for Europe for 2 weeks after the Camino, so I want to pack lightish but also be prepared for the 2 week Camino. Thanks!
Hey, I'm by no means an expert but do have 3 caminos under my belt, and have opinions on what worked for me.
Poles are quite a polarising :))) subject. I love them and use them all the time (check out Pacerpoles, they are unique and will change your life!)
I did the Portuguese Central last May and walked out of Porto along the Litoral for the first couple of days. This is a popular route out of Porto whichever Camino you are doing as it avoids the industrial area north of the city. One issue I found when walking by the ocean was that there were long stretches on boardwalks which aren't very pole friendly due to the gaps between the wooden lats. Poles are great for protecting joints and are really handy when ascending/descending, particularly in wet conditions.
Water bladder is my preferred option for hydration, I carry between 1 to 2 litres depending on the stage. If you opt for a water bladder, don't forget to take breaks - it is tempting to push on as you don't need stop to use it.
I normally carry a 500ml bottle as an emergency back up (think nursing an injury in hot sun waiting for the cavalry to arrive)

Bom Caminho/Buen Camino
 

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