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Hiking stick instead of walking poles

JamesHowe

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
April/May 2024
I'm aware that lots of people swear by using hiking poles (one in each hand and made from aluminum I think) and I'm seriously considering using them.

I think though that I'd like to go old school and use a wooden hiking stick (or staff). Is that a good idea or am I just being romantic?

If I do, I think I'd prefer a single piece that I won't be able to take as carry on. Will I be able to get one in France before starting in SJPP and taking the Napoleon pass? Or am I better to buy one here that can be disassembled for the flight?
 
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Lots of people use either bought or found hiking sticks. I don't remember if the pilgrim store in SJPdP carries them, but you can write to them and ask.


I just looked on their site and they list both hiking sticks and trekking poles. While you are there you can also pick up an Altus poncho/raincoat if you need rain gear.
 
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Lots of people use either bought or found hiking sticks. I don't remember if the pilgrim store in SJPdP carries them, but you can write to them and ask.


I just looked on their site and they list both hiking sticks and trekking poles. While you are there you can also pick up an Altus poncho/raincoat if you need rain gear.
Thanks! I didn't even realize there was a pilgrim store.
 
Hola, Of course a " hiking stick/pole" was what the pilgrims of 50 to 800 years ago would have used. Its only the spread or adaptation of the " two poles/sticks" used by cross-country skies that has seen the two-sticks come to the fore. What to use - well I suggest its just a matter of personal preference, what you like and what suits your back/shoulders/legs. If you don't have either at home, how about " making" yourself a stave (as it would have been called 500 years ago) and give it some practice. If its to awkward then change to the two sticks formula. Either way a great post. Cheers and Buen Camino.
 
I'm aware that lots of people swear by using hiking poles (one in each hand and made from aluminum I think) and I'm seriously considering using them.

I think though that I'd like to go old school and use a wooden hiking stick (or staff). Is that a good idea or am I just being romantic?

If I do, I think I'd prefer a single piece that I won't be able to take as carry on. Will I be able to get one in France before starting in SJPP and taking the Napoleon pass? Or am I better to buy one here that can be disassembled for the flight?
You can buy beautiful hand made hiking sticks all along the Camino and they work just fine!
Plus they're indestructible and if you forget one, you can pick up another for almost nothing.

MANY people I see using trekking poles don't know how to use them and are using them incorrectly anyway. An expense that is not needed imo. Buy (or make) a nice stick and be happy!
 
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I carried hiking poles, and usually only used one one flat sections as a stave. On hilly sections I broke out the other pole.

I found the single pole to be a good pacing tool rather than a relief to joints. I liked to have the rhythm of a walking stave. On hills 2 poles did help to maintain balance.

To be honest though there were some hills that I ran down without any poles just due to the sheer joy I was feeling.

I am no expert. The terrain will dictate how you move. With or without, the Camino will tell you if they will help. There are lots of stores on Camino if you decide to change things up.

Buen Camino

G
 
I've used both a single wooden walking stick, and two aluminum walking poles. I'm fine with the single one, and just switch back and forth, right side to left, when it feels right. I often don't need it, until I do. Going down hill, a sudden slight cramp in one leg or one foot-- I can put weight on the stick and keep going. They sell wooden walking sticks along the camino-- just get one that feels good to your hand and is not too heavy. Some sticks are made for tourists and are thick as a log.

buen camino.
 
Lots of people use either bought or found hiking sticks. I don't remember if the pilgrim store in SJPdP carries them, but you can write to them and ask.


I just looked on their site and they list both hiking sticks and trekking poles. While you are there you can also pick up an Altus poncho/raincoat if you need rain gear.
Thanks! I didn't even realize there was a pilgrim stor
I've used both a single wooden walking stick, and two aluminum walking poles. I'm fine with the single one, and just switch back and forth, right side to left, when it feels right. I often don't need it, until I do. Going down hill, a sudden slight cramp in one leg or one foot-- I can put weight on the stick and keep going. They sell wooden walking sticks along the camino-- just get one that feels good to your hand and is not too heavy. Some sticks are made for tourists and are thick as a log.

buen camino.
Good advice. Thanks!
 
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A single wooden stick can be just as useful as a set of two modern hiking poles. Just in a slightly different way.

A wooden stick is great for additional balance and in difficult terrain. It can also take some additional weight and help you to "push" up a mountain for example (but not as much as two poles). It can keep aggressive dogs at distance, can push overgrown plants to the side of the path, ect.

Personally, I've always used a wooden stick, even before the Camino. I prefer to have one hand free, and the more relaxed way of walking with one stick vs two poles. With two, it feels like running to me, I somehow get much faster than I usually walk to get the right "rhythm" with the poles, and since I prefer to wander more slowly and not to be in a hurry, it feels too hectic to me. Many people I meet who walk with two poles seem to have a much faster pace. Then again, that might only be so because I'm slow, in general!

Bought my first "Camino" stick in St. Jean in the pilgrim's shop. They had a nice collection. The owner can help to find one in the right length. As someone else said before, the stick shouldn't be too heavy, and should feel well balanced in your hand when you carry it. My favourite stick is a very lightweight one made from hazelnut tree. After six years of heavy use it is still my favourite stick, only needs a new metal tip for next season.

So don't worry, nothing "romantic" about a wooden stick, it's a great piece of gear.

Buen Camino!
 
I only use one hiking pole as I like one hand free and it stabilizes me just fine in wet mud or balancing on rocks crossing a shallow stream.
Last year on the Via F I happened to find a perfect smooth stick and fondly ended up using it the whole way. It was sad to let it go at the end.

I just finished the Camino de Madrid. We stopped at Decathlon in Segovia where we'd started from for cheap poles, but they were all out. I'd read on the forum that China Bazaars carry poles, so we found one; they only had two poles, each different. I took the normal one and my son took the nice wooden staff...both worked great. Like others have said, it is just a matter of preference...I like both types; my son prefers the staff.
Last spring I disassembled my telescoping pole completely in three separate parts to go home in my backpack and TSA still took them and demonstrated how I could still hit someone with a piece of it. I guess the Black Diamond bungee style poles can't hurt anyone.🙄
 
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I used to use one pole and not often as it was principally for balance on steep descents and creek crossings. I, like many others preferred to have one hand free. I had also seen very many users of two poles using them incorrectly. Conducting an orchestra perhaps?

Then I saw them being used correctly by a couple on the Voie de Vezelay who had walked from Holland. I called them "The Flying Dutchmen".

Now I use a pair of Pacer Poles and my knees and ankles sing my praises.
 
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.
Two very different purposes in my view.

A traditional 'stick' will look nice and give you some balance when on rough terrain and crossing obstacles.

Two hiking poles, used 'correctly' will take weight off your joints, improve your posture and actually help you walk faster on the flat and on gradients. Once you have tried two hiking poles, used 'correctly' you would never use one or none.

One hiking pole will perform similarly to a 'stick'. Which is fine if that's all you need.
 
A shorter walking stick can be OK, and not hard to use, if you have no particular knee or ankle problems etc.

A proper hiking staff is harder to learn, but overall once you have, it's great.

The hardest thing is learning balance, so that you don't lean into it, but yet learn how to use it to support both sides of your body, while propelling yourself along with it.

Staves are particularly good though for supporting yourself downhill or down steps.

Once you've really learned how to use it, it's more versatile than anything else.
Two hiking poles, used 'correctly' will take weight off your joints, improve your posture and actually help you walk faster on the flat and on gradients. Once you have tried two hiking poles, used 'correctly' you would never use one or none.
A proper staff, which IMO should be simple ash wood, and straight with no frills and about as high as your armpit or shoulder, does exactly the same. The commercially available staves in pilgrim shops and so on are tall enough if you're not too tall, but for me personally they are woefully short.
One hiking pole will perform similarly to a 'stick'. Which is fine if that's all you need.
One hiking pole will perform similarly to a shorter wooden walking stick, but not to a correctly used hiking staff.

A wooden stick is great for additional balance and in difficult terrain. It can also take some additional weight and help you to "push" up a mountain for example (but not as much as two poles).
If it's long enough to use two-handed, then even one-handed it will be good for that purpose, as you could give yourself support for two uphill paces, pull it up quickly, rinse and repeat.

If your feet, knees, and ankles are in more pain than usual, using it two handed for actual support is very useful too.
 
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For my last Camino Frances walk in September a friend and I simply bought wooden broom handles and rubber ferrules from a China bazaar. I used a pair while my friend had one. We have done this several times in the past. I usually loop my spare bootlaces through the hanging loop or hole in the handle end for use as a wriststrap. Cheap at about 2 euros each and effective. As we were only walking for a week we left them at the pilgrim welcome office on the bridge in Logrono for other pilgrims to take if they needed them.
 
Its only the spread or adaptation of the " two poles/sticks" used by cross-country skies that has seen the two-sticks come to the fore.
I suspect that the use of trekking poles emerged from more ancient walking traditions than the modern Nordic walking movement, which seems to have emerged in the late 1990s (https://www.nordicacademy.com.au/index.php/about-nordic-walking/nordic-walking-history-a-development). I have seen claims from Komperdell that they made their first commercial poles in the 1920s, which would clearly pre-date Nordic walking.

I don't practice Nordic walking, but I see many local people who do. Whether the differences are as significant as the Nordic walking industry wants us to believe, they are very protective of the claims of difference they exploit in the commercial provision of training, products, etc.

What I couldn't find was any reference to when it became common to use two hiking poles rather than a single hiking staff. Did this practice, like Nordic walking, emerge from skiers who used their ski gear on their walks? Or was their another origin story that I couldn't find?
 
If it's long enough to use two-handed, then even one-handed it will be good for that purpose

True. When I broke my foot last year, I used the stick as second leg for several kilometers into town. All the weight on it. Without it, I probably would have had to crawl!
 
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I think though that I'd like to go old school and use a wooden hiking stick (or staff). Is that a good idea or am I just being romantic?
@Wendy Werneth has used a single wooden hiking stick on all our caminos. She swears by it and calls it her 'trusty companion'.

IMG_3212.jpg
 
I use a single, wooden hiking stick for every Camino and I love it! For my first Camino, I bought a stick at one of the shops in St Jean Pied de Port (and was happy to have it for the Pyrenees crossing). On every other Camino, I've found a stick as I'm walking, and it's become a fun tradition. What will this year's stick be like? Those first few days are almost a tad stressful, as I search for a suitable stick, but there's some fun in that too. And as others have said, I get very attached and am always sad to give the stick up at the end! (the best times are when I can find someone to pass it off to)
 
Well, I've been using two poles for more than 25 years and the only that I know is that my both knees are intact. Other friends of mine (I'm a mountain guide as they are too) have had knee surgery and many other problems. I don't know if that is because my genetics or because of the pair of poles, but I will keep using them till the last moment, Just in case. (I´m 60 years young)
 
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A single wooden stick can be just as useful as a set of two modern hiking poles. Just in a slightly different way.

A wooden stick is great for additional balance and in difficult terrain. It can also take some additional weight and help you to "push" up a mountain for example (but not as much as two poles). It can keep aggressive dogs at distance, can push overgrown plants to the side of the path, ect.

Personally, I've always used a wooden stick, even before the Camino. I prefer to have one hand free, and the more relaxed way of walking with one stick vs two poles. With two, it feels like running to me, I somehow get much faster than I usually walk to get the right "rhythm" with the poles, and since I prefer to wander more slowly and not to be in a hurry, it feels too hectic to me. Many people I meet who walk with two poles seem to have a much faster pace. Then again, that might only be so because I'm slow, in general!

Bought my first "Camino" stick in St. Jean in the pilgrim's shop. They had a nice collection. The owner can help to find one in the right length. As someone else said before, the stick shouldn't be too heavy, and should feel well balanced in your hand when you carry it. My favourite stick is a very lightweight one made from hazelnut tree. After six years of heavy use it is still my favourite stick, only needs a new metal tip for next season.

So don't worry, nothing "romantic" about a wooden stick, it's a great piece of gear.

Buen Camino!
Thanks! I think you put into words why I prefer to use a wooden walking stick in a way I couldn't. I think it fits me and who I am better. I'll look for one I can use in my preparation hikes. Can always change later.
 
Well, I've been using two poles for more than 25 years and the only that I know is that my both knees are intact. Other friends of mine (I'm a mountain guide as they are too) have had knee surgery and many other problems. I don't know if that is because my genetics or because of the pair of poles, but I will keep using them till the last moment, Just in case. (I´m 60 years young)
I'll be 59 when I walk. My knees are in good shape thankfully. Of course, I'd like to keep them that way
 
I suspect that the use of trekking poles emerged from more ancient walking traditions than the modern Nordic walking movement, which seems to have emerged in the late 1990s (https://www.nordicacademy.com.au/index.php/about-nordic-walking/nordic-walking-history-a-development). I have seen claims from Komperdell that they made their first commercial poles in the 1920s, which would clearly pre-date Nordic walking.

I don't practice Nordic walking, but I see many local people who do. Whether the differences are as significant as the Nordic walking industry wants us to believe, they are very protective of the claims of difference they exploit in the commercial provision of training, products, etc.

What I couldn't find was any reference to when it became common to use two hiking poles rather than a single hiking staff. Did this practice, like Nordic walking, emerge from skiers who used their ski gear on their walks? Or was their another origin story that I couldn't find?
When out yesterday, I was passed by a man much older than me going at a good pace using walking poles. But I suspect he's been doing a lot more walking for longer than I. I tend to prefer a more comfortable pace though.
 
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A shorter walking stick can be OK, and not hard to use, if you have no particular knee or ankle problems etc.

A proper hiking staff is harder to learn, but overall once you have, it's great.

The hardest thing is learning balance, so that you don't lean into it, but yet learn how to use it to support both sides of your body, while propelling yourself along with it.

Staves are particularly good though for supporting yourself downhill or down steps.

Once you've really learned how to use it, it's more versatile than anything else.

A proper staff, which IMO should be simple ash wood, and straight with no frills and about as high as your armpit or shoulder, does exactly the same. The commercially available staves in pilgrim shops and so on are tall enough if you're not too tall, but for me personally they are woefully short.

One hiking pole will perform similarly to a shorter wooden walking stick, but not to a correctly used hiking staff.


If it's long enough to use two-handed, then even one-handed it will be good for that purpose, as you could give yourself support for two uphill paces, pull it up quickly, rinse and repeat.

If your feet, knees, and ankles are in more pain than usual, using it two handed for actual support is very useful too.
Thanks! Lots of great useful info. So far I've mainly seen a need for support going up and down hills or uneven ground. Good to know a staff meets that need. I'd see myself using a longer one too rather than a short one that I'd consider a cane.
 
You can buy beautiful hand made hiking sticks all along the Camino and they work just fine!
Plus they're indestructible and if you forget one, you can pick up another for almost nothing.

MANY people I see using trekking poles don't know how to use them and are using them incorrectly anyway. An expense that is not needed imo. Buy (or make) a nice stick and be happy!
Do whatever you want. Many use no sticks at all. A commercial trekking pole, properly used, is better than a stick due to the stirrup/handle configuration and rubber tip for grip on slick sidewalk surfaces and carbide for certain other surfaces where wood might slip. Two trekking poles are more than 2x as good as one for walking assistance and to relieve stress on joints. Two sticks also give a fair upper body workout.
 
I'm aware that lots of people swear by using hiking poles (one in each hand and made from aluminum I think) and I'm seriously considering using them.

I think though that I'd like to go old school and use a wooden hiking stick (or staff). Is that a good idea or am I just being romantic?

If I do, I think I'd prefer a single piece that I won't be able to take as carry on. Will I be able to get one in France before starting in SJPP and taking the Napoleon pass? Or am I better to buy one here that can be disassembled for the flight?
I have walked 10 or more pilgrimages since 2018 and I always start my pilgrimage without a stick and trust in the pilgrim spirits to connect me with a good natural walking stick. I feel it allows for a better connection to nature.
 
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What I couldn't find was any reference to when it became common to use two hiking poles rather than a single hiking staff. Did this practice, like Nordic walking, emerge from skiers who used their ski gear on their walks?
FWIW a pair of skiing poles or a long wooden staff for skiing was once similarly debatable. Once each region had its own traditions in that respect, though a pair of poles became nearly ubiquitous during the 20th Century.

https://seniorsskiing.com/long-pole-skiing/

 
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I have walked 10 or more pilgrimages since 2018 and I always start my pilgrimage without a stick and trust in the pilgrim spirits to connect me with a good natural walking stick. I feel it allows for a better connection to nature.
I like the idea of my hiking stick finding me. On the other hand, I'd like something for crossing the Pyrenees and don't want to leave too much to chance.
 
I'm aware that lots of people swear by using hiking poles (one in each hand and made from aluminum I think) and I'm seriously considering using them.

I think though that I'd like to go old school and use a wooden hiking stick (or staff). Is that a good idea or am I just being romantic?

If I do, I think I'd prefer a single piece that I won't be able to take as carry on. Will I be able to get one in France before starting in SJPP and taking the Napoleon pass? Or am I better to buy one here that can be disassembled for the flight?
It's all a matter of taste, but we should bear in mind that hiking and walking are different forms of transport. Hiking is actually a faster form of locomotion where the poles are moved in a kind of "milking" motion. Walking (which is usually slower) involves gripping the pole loops from below and transferring your weight to the pole with almost no hand pressure. Also downhill, where poles are often more important than uphill, you can cushion your own weight better with the poles forward.
So my assessment, and I do both hiking and walking outside the Caminos, is clearly in favour of (telescopic) walking poles.
 
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It's all a matter of taste, but we should bear in mind that hiking and walking are different forms of transport. Hiking is actually a faster form of locomotion where the poles are moved in a kind of "milking" motion. Walking (which is usually slower) involves gripping the pole loops from below and transferring your weight to the pole with almost no hand pressure. Also downhill, where poles are often more important than uphill, you can cushion your own weight better with the poles forward.
So my assessment, and I do both hiking and walking outside the Caminos, is clearly in favour of (telescopic) walking poles.
Hiking staff technique is very similar, though a proper staff has no loop (because you need to be able to shift your grip upon it dynamically, including looser or firmer, often letting the staff slide up and down in your staff hand), though I will say that a staff is better than poles downhill, at least for most people I'd say -- yes, some pole users would be more comfortable downhill with poles rather than staff, but this is because there never has been any one-size-fits-all universal "best" solution to these questions !!
 
I'm aware that lots of people swear by using hiking poles (one in each hand and made from aluminum I think) and I'm seriously considering using them.

I think though that I'd like to go old school and use a wooden hiking stick (or staff). Is that a good idea or am I just being romantic?

If I do, I think I'd prefer a single piece that I won't be able to take as carry on. Will I be able to get one in France before starting in SJPP and taking the Napoleon pass? Or am I better to buy one here that can be disassembled for the flight?
Trekking poles are great if you are trying to offload your knees or hips, especially on hilly terrain. On flatter terrain, you can use them to "push off" and increase your stride and speed. They have also been shown to increase core involvement about 30% more than without sticks.
For most people without joint issues, a single stick is just fine. Try to change sides once in awhile though, especially on long hikes like ours, so you don't develop imbalances that may cause issues.
P.S. I am a certified physical trainer/coach who has worked through bone-on-bone knees for 24 years.
 
I used to use one pole and not often as it was principally for balance on steep descents and creek crossings. I, like many others preferred to have one hand free. I had also seen very many users of two poles using them incorrectly. Conducting an orchestra perhaps?

Then I saw them being used correctly by a couple on the Voie de Vezelay who had walked from Holland. I called them "The Flying Dutchmen".

Now I use a pair of Pacer Poles and my knees and ankles sing my praises.
Husband and I have been practicing, around the local trails. It is part of our preparation. Took us about 7 -8 miles on 3 different occasions to fully get the hang of it. Once you use them correctly, things start feeling different, we aren't experts but for sure intermediate or maybe a bit more. I think it will make a difference for us.
 
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Do whatever you want. Many use no sticks at all. A commercial trekking pole, properly used, is better than a stick due to the stirrup/handle configuration and rubber tip for grip on slick sidewalk surfaces and carbide for certain other surfaces where wood might slip. Two trekking poles are more than 2x as good as one for walking assistance and to relieve stress on joints. Two sticks also give a fair upper body workout.
ok?
The key words here are "properly used."
 
First Camino, age 56, I thought taking hiking poles was just additional weight. What was the point? By day 2 I bought a wooden staff from a roadside stall. By Pamplona I bought a pair of ‘proper’ hiking poles and have never looked back. The wooden staff was more certainly more romantic and felt more personal, but the poles were more effective for me. I learnt to use the poles properly from watching others. They don’t make me walk faster - everyone still seems to go faster than me - but they do make things easier.
I guess you will work out your preferences along the way.
Buen Camino
 
I like the idea of my hiking stick finding me. On the other hand, I'd like something for crossing the Pyrenees and don't want to leave too much to chance.
Yes, and "crossing the Pyrenees" consists of walking over one or two fairly gentle hills, just a few hours at most, much of the time on roadway. It's not at all like a mountain climbing expedition.
 
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I'm aware that lots of people swear by using hiking poles (one in each hand and made from aluminum I think) and I'm seriously considering using them.

I think though that I'd like to go old school and use a wooden hiking stick (or staff). Is that a good idea or am I just being romantic?

If I do, I think I'd prefer a single piece that I won't be able to take as carry on. Will I be able to get one in France before starting in SJPP and taking the Napoleon pass? Or am I better to buy one here that can be disassembled for the flight?
You will get (and have gotten) many different answers. I think it depends on what you are hoping to get from the pole(s). A nice staff certainly fits the romantic image much better than two modern trekking poles. It can help with your balance on tricky ground, and help propel you forward. In my experience, the two poles help much more if you have knee issues.

When I started my 2016 Camino I certainly didn't want hiking poles. When I started to develop knee issues (unanticipated) I tried a hiking staff (and knee brace and ibuprofen) but it wasn't enough. I eventually succumbed and got the poles which I have used on every Camino since. With the poles, my other Caminos have been without knee issues. Even the San Salvador/Primitivo one this year. So I understand shying away from them. But I also understand how much better the two were than the one staff for my knees.

If you do go for a single hiking staff, I would go for a single uninterrupted piece of wood that you acquire upon arrival rather than one that disassembles. If you are going old school, go old school.
 
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I think though that I'd like to go old school and use a wooden hiking stick (or staff). Is that a good idea or am I just being romantic?

Yes and yes. I used a wooden stick as well, and will do the same next time. The pilgrim shop in SJPDP sells wooden sticks, and if you dig through them you might find one that's made of bamboo, which is really light and strong.
 
I'm aware that lots of people swear by using hiking poles (one in each hand and made from aluminum I think) and I'm seriously considering using them.

I think though that I'd like to go old school and use a wooden hiking stick (or staff). Is that a good idea or am I just being romantic?

If I do, I think I'd prefer a single piece that I won't be able to take as carry on. Will I be able to get one in France before starting in SJPP and taking the Napoleon pass? Or am I better to buy one here that can be disassembled for the flight?
Hi Use hiking poles as it's much better support. ( Takes pressure off your knees, hips & back)
 
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Yes, and "crossing the Pyrenees" consists of walking over one or two fairly gentle hills, just a few hours at most, much of the time on roadway. It's not at all like a mountain climbing expedition.
Gentle hills, may be a relative term. For someone in Colorado (or similar) also many places all over, most likely 100% accurate, for someone in South Florida or other very flat areas would be more like climbing the Everest.

Looking at topographic maps the actual change in elevation is over 1000 meters from St. JPdP to Lepoeder then down over 400meters to Roncesvalles.

The photo below is where my husband, dog and I walk regularly. Elevation is about 1-3 meters above sea level. This particular trail is about 60 km We are making a point of using good technique with those poles, because the last thing we need is to fall or twist something on the 1st week of the Camino.

IPXL_20231021_154238029.MP.jpg

For sure those things are not needed, who knows how many people have done that and more without them. I just want to improve my odds to do well, not just survive.
 
Gentle hills, may be a relative term. For someone in Colorado (or similar) also many places all over, most likely 100% accurate, for someone in South Florida or other very flat areas would be more like climbing the Everest
Yes, there are some steep parts - especially before Orisson, but the terrain is not difficult since it's mostly on paved roads and good trails.

This video shows what it's like.

 
I'm aware that lots of people swear by using hiking poles (one in each hand and made from aluminum I think) and I'm seriously considering using them.

I think though that I'd like to go old school and use a wooden hiking stick (or staff). Is that a good idea or am I just being romantic?

If I do, I think I'd prefer a single piece that I won't be able to take as carry on. Will I be able to get one in France before starting in SJPP and taking the Napoleon pass? Or am I better to buy one here that can be disassembled for the flight?
This can be contentious
The pros of walking poles are many including if used correctly reducing strain on ankles, knees, hips etc by medically tested up to 40%
They give stability on uneven ground and can be lengthened going down steep hills and shorten to help drive you up steep ones.
Crossing streams they are great.
You can buy in StJean. But cheap ones may be heavier and not have a built in spring to help take your weight
There are many ways to use them. Check out Leki, REI and similar as they will have videos.
In early days many people walked in very poor footwear And the staves also gave protection from robbers and wild dogs etc.
only great sinners and saints walked bare footed.
Hope this helps
Mark
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
The wooden staff was more certainly more romantic and felt more personal, but the poles were more effective for me.
It really is the case that staff is harder to learn than poles. A shorter wooden walking stick is easy though ; some people use two shorter wooden staves, looks from the outside to being similar to two pole use, but the "proper" long hiking staff is different, as you sometimes need to use it two-handed, so you need to keep your off-hand free.

I needed ~100K from Bolsena to Rome just to get the basics of what not to do with one's staff ; then a significant portion of the ~1,000K from Monaco to Lourdes > SJPP to really master the thing. But by time I reached the Francès, I was really flying with it ...

As to now, I've been using staves for over 20 years, and am quite unlikely to switch to anything else. A staff is what feels natural to me, including every day just getting about town.
I guess you will work out your preferences along the way.
IMO most people's Caminos are not long enough to make the effort with a staff worthwhile, though the effort can certainly be worth it for a repeat offender.
 
When I was in Boy Scouts, we were told that the stave should be shoulder high or higher but not taller than the top of your head.
It should not be too heavy but strong enough that you can place each end on a support and hang your body weight from the middle without the stave breaking.
I like finding suitable sticks on walks, peeling off the bark and smoothing any rough or sharp bits. I go a bit shorter now, mid-chest high is good for me. I like to put a rubber foot on it for better grip (don't know name, used for legs of furniture? $2 for a pack of 4). And a nice triangular cross-section for the hand grip can be good.
 
I use them mainly to keep my hands elevated to prevent swelling, assistance up hills and occasionaly for balance on tricky trails, creek crossings etc. I prefer a relaxed style/rhythm moving them every second step, sometimes together, sometimes alternatively. I am happy with my pace and don't feel the need to go faster and my knees are fine. So to all those you say they see people not using poles 'correctly' maybe consider that not everyone has the same needs as you. HYOH.
 
3rd Edition. More content, training & pack guides avoid common mistakes, bed bugs etc
Yes, there are some steep parts - especially before Orisson, but the terrain is not difficult since it's mostly on paved roads and good trails.

This video shows what it's like.

Thank you.

Certainly helped me to relax some, I guess the bits of video I've seen here an there showed sections of what to me appeared to be real climbing.

My next concern: "staying warm"
Everyone talks about avoiding heat strokes. My winters are in the very hi 20's C with a week or so on the low 20's and maybe a day or 2 where it can be anything 0-5C or 35 C.

So I look at the average temps between. Saint J. to Pamplona end of May to mid June and it makes run for wool everything.
 
we should bear in mind that hiking and walking are different forms of transport. Hiking is actually a faster form of locomotion

I'm not an english native speaker, so, sorry for the stupid question - but is hiking by definition faster than walking in the english language?

I always thought that the difference lies within the distance and environment. At least in my native language "going for a walk" would be in a less natural environment, like a park, and short distances. Hiking would be longer distances and, depending on definition, maybe in a more natural area. Nordic walking would be very sportive.

The nordic walkers I sometimes meet are usually on completely flat&easy terrain in/close to the city (like bike paths), and definitely walking much faster than I do when I'm hiking uphill on rocky terrain with a 12kg backpack full of camping gear. They're almost running while I'm more of a snail!

Maybe someone can explain...? I'm confused now 🤣.
 
I'm not an english native speaker, so, sorry for the stupid question - but is hiking by definition faster than walking in the english language?
Not to me.

I always thought that the difference lies within the distance and environment. At least in my native language "going for a walk" would be in a less natural environment, like a park, and short distances. Hiking would be longer distances and, depending on definition, maybe in a more natural area.
I agree with that definition, and for me hiking is usually slower because of the usually more uneven terrain, and elevation changes.
 
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'm not an english native speaker, so, sorry for the stupid question - but is hiking by definition faster than walking in the english language?
I wouldn't feel embarrassed. I was confused by the comment that hiking was faster than walking as well. More, I don't agree that it is, albeit most people might be able to hike much faster than I can walk these days!
 
I'm aware that lots of people swear by using hiking poles (one in each hand and made from aluminum I think) and I'm seriously considering using them.

I think though that I'd like to go old school and use a wooden hiking stick (or staff). Is that a good idea or am I just being romantic?

If I do, I think I'd prefer a single piece that I won't be able to take as carry on. Will I be able to get one in France before starting in SJPP and taking the Napoleon pass? Or am I better to buy one here that can be disassembled for the flight?
Interesting topic. I make walking sticks for myself here in Canada and intend to bring one with me to walk the Frances next fall, despite the hassle of shipping it. I find there is a very nice metronome effect to an oak stick with a decent heft- it seems to keep me in a very good rhythm, about every three steps. I find that with the very light and shorter hiking poles I don't get that same effect. I make mine with a moderate bend about a foot from the bottom which means the foot is flat to the ground when I place it in front of our behind me, versus a straight pole which is perpendicular when it is by my feet. I walk a lot in winter on icy roads and put on a retractable cane spike you can buy at the drug store for such conditions. Looks a bit wierd but sure works on slippery surfaces. You might want to try a shoulder height stick with some weight and see if you get the same rhythm effect.
 
Thank you.

Certainly helped me to relax some, I guess the bits of video I've seen here an there showed sections of what to me appeared to be real climbing.

My next concern: "staying warm"
Everyone talks about avoiding heat strokes. My winters are in the very hi 20's C with a week or so on the low 20's and maybe a day or 2 where it can be anything 0-5C or 35 C.

So I look at the average temps between. Saint J. to Pamplona end of May to mid June and it makes run for wool everything.

Hi Anna
I empathise with your concern. Two points-
I. I use merino tops for all weathers. I take three layers - one light sleeveless; one medium short sleeves; and one heavier long sleeve. Plus a light fleece and light wind jacket. That takes me from 32C to 1C.
2. Condition the body - I used to suffer from the cold in all its forms till I started taking regular alternate hot and cold showers / contrast showers a few years ago



Buen Camino
 
Self-guided 4-7 day Walking Packages, Reading Abbey to Southampton, 110 kms
It really is the case that staff is harder to learn than poles.
It doesn't help that, while there are many YouTube videos on how to use a pair of hiking poles, if you search YouTube for "how to use a walking staff" you will pretty much get videos on how to use a cane or a single pole rather than the longer staff that you favour. So people are going to have to learn by finding someone using it effectively along the road or figuring it by themselves. You report taking over 1000 km to do so. Others may not have the patience and decide just to go with the poles where they can shorten te learning cycle with a tutorial. That way they also get the benefits right from the beginning.
 
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It really is the case that staff is harder to learn than poles. A shorter wooden walking stick is easy though ; some people use two shorter wooden staves, looks from the outside to being similar to two pole use, but the "proper" long hiking staff is different, as you sometimes need to use it two-handed, so you need to keep your off-hand free.

I needed ~100K from Bolsena to Rome just to get the basics of what not to do with one's staff ; then a significant portion of the ~1,000K from Monaco to Lourdes > SJPP to really master the thing. But by time I reached the Francès, I was really flying with it ...

As to now, I've been using staves for over 20 years, and am quite unlikely to switch to anything else. A staff is what feels natural to me, including every day just getting about town.

IMO most people's Caminos are not long enough to make the effort with a staff worthwhile, though the effort can certainly be worth it for a repeat offender.
I see a pattern here. Like you JabbaPappa I have thousands of km on my current staff and at this point it feels unnatural not to be walking with it. Maybe that familiarity is what makes it work? I really can't recall how long it took to get to that point but now it is so integral to how I walk I am determined to take it with me from Canada. I would think if someone is doing a lot of training in advance, it should be possible to figure out if this is something for them. Personally it has been worth it but I can also see the case for poles particularly if long distance walking is not a regular thing.
 
Self-guided 4-7 day Walking Packages, Reading Abbey to Southampton, 110 kms
cold showers
I was taking morning cold showers straight out of bed until "summer" ended here, i.e. just over a week ago. Then sometimes several over the day.

Which is when waking up between 2AM and 5AM drenched in sweat came to an end.

I'm still sleeping with the window open -- though really the Camino last year was less directly sweaty overnight than home was this year !!
 
Hola, Of course a " hiking stick/pole" was what the pilgrims of 50 to 800 years ago would have used. Its only the spread or adaptation of the " two poles/sticks" used by cross-country skies that has seen the two-sticks come to the fore. What to use - well I suggest its just a matter of personal preference, what you like and what suits your back/shoulders/legs. If you don't have either at home, how about " making" yourself a stave (as it would have been called 500 years ago) and give it some practice. If its to awkward then change to the two sticks formula. Either way a great post. Cheers and Buen Camino.
All I would add is that if you are going to use a staff then using one you have found is the way to go. When you get to SdC you can leave it at the Pilgrim Office where it will be made into winter kindling for seniors. Or so I have been told.
 
I'm aware that lots of people swear by using hiking poles (one in each hand and made from aluminum I think) and I'm seriously considering using them.

I think though that I'd like to go old school and use a wooden hiking stick (or staff). Is that a good idea or am I just being romantic?

If I do, I think I'd prefer a single piece that I won't be able to take as carry on. Will I be able to get one in France before starting in SJPP and taking the Napoleon pass? Or am I better to buy one here that can be disassembled for the flight?
There were more than one local artisan selling poles and walking sticks along side of the Caminho Portuguese a few years ago. I suspect most major towns along the popular caminos will be similar.

You may wish to try an aluminum folding walking stick with a wooden handle. If you get along with one of these you could choose a real wooden walking stick from one of the vendors along the Camono.

BTW a folding walking stick is allowable as cabin baggage while poles are considered dangerous and not allowed.



1698420751548.jpeg
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
I returned home yesterday from my Camino de Madrid. At the airport I decided to try to get my collapsed single walking pole through security in my back pack. This was only the second time in my 9 Caminos it has been allowed through. I saw it on the screen and the TSA scanner person asked me if I "needed" the pole. I didn't know what to answer. He asked me again and I lamely replied "Well, I broke my arm", as I didn't want to lie. He asked me two more times and my son finally chimed in "Yes", knowing what answer was wanted. The TSA guy smiled and happily said, "That's what I wanted to hear", and he left it in my pack.
Like many of us often say...rules are rules, but there are occasionally exceptions depending on the personality of the TSA agent and possibly if they are having a good day, or are tired and grumpy.
That said, don't count on getting poles through. I never check any baggage, so it is always a risk for me and buy the cheapest pole I can; this one was about €9.
 
I'm aware that lots of people swear by using hiking poles (one in each hand and made from aluminum I think) and I'm seriously considering using them.

I think though that I'd like to go old school and use a wooden hiking stick (or staff). Is that a good idea or am I just being romantic?

If I do, I think I'd prefer a single piece that I won't be able to take as carry on. Will I be able to get one in France before starting in SJPP and taking the Napoleon pass? Or am I better to buy one here that can be disassembled for the flight?
First, sticks will be a PROBLEM as carry-ons as most airlines will not permit them. This means that you have to check your bags.
Second, look around where you live as there must be a place where you can rent a pair to test it out. As for testing a stick, pick one up as you walk and try that.
Third, I strongly recommend that you buy aluminum walking sticks and start walking with them NOW BEFORE you go on your trek. Buy a pair and use them wherever you walk. Look up some videos on to use them properly.
Buen Camino
 
This is not an answer to your question, but I can´t avoid showing you a special one.
In Spain we call it a 'bordon', and in French speaking countries 'bourdon'.
The 'Associaciones de Amigos del Camino' use to organize each year an associations meeting in one of them, and it is tradition to transmit every year 'the' bordon to the receiving association, who engraves in it a mark.
Pictures are the result.
 

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A selection of Camino Jewellery
I'm aware that lots of people swear by using hiking poles (one in each hand and made from aluminum I think) and I'm seriously considering using them.

I think though that I'd like to go old school and use a wooden hiking stick (or staff). Is that a good idea or am I just being romantic?

If I do, I think I'd prefer a single piece that I won't be able to take as carry on. Will I be able to get one in France before starting in SJPP and taking the Napoleon pass? Or am I better to buy one here that can be disassembled for the flight?
Hardly anyone will begin their Camino trip in Santiago, but if they did they would see umbrella stands in the hotel lobbys with discarded walking sticks. Our hotel had around 5 pairs left by previous guests.
 
Join the Camino Cleanup in May from Ponferrada to Sarria. Registration closes Mar 22.
I'm not an english native speaker, so, sorry for the stupid question - but is hiking by definition faster than walking in the english language?

I always thought that the difference lies within the distance and environment. At least in my native language "going for a walk" would be in a less natural environment, like a park, and short distances. Hiking would be longer distances and, depending on definition, maybe in a more natural area. Nordic walking would be very sportive.

The nordic walkers I sometimes meet are usually on completely flat&easy terrain in/close to the city (like bike paths), and definitely walking much faster than I do when I'm hiking uphill on rocky terrain with a 12kg backpack full of camping gear. They're almost running while I'm more of a snail!

Maybe someone can explain...? I'm confused now 🤣.
Hiking is most often dirt trails in natural areas. I consider walking to be when the surface is smooth and man made (including gravel).
 
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'm aware that lots of people swear by using hiking poles (one in each hand and made from aluminum I think) and I'm seriously considering using them.

I think though that I'd like to go old school and use a wooden hiking stick (or staff). Is that a good idea or am I just being romantic?

If I do, I think I'd prefer a single piece that I won't be able to take as carry on. Will I be able to get one in France before starting in SJPP and taking the Napoleon pass? Or am I better to buy one here that can be disassembled for the flight?
Personally I think you're being romantic if you're walking 500 miles. One staff will throw off your balance and rhythm. Poles make your movement much more efficient. If you're walking 66 miles, it probably won't matter.
 
I LOVE my poles. I thought I was well trained for a "flat lander" on my first Camino. I started out of SJPDP on a sunny day and less than a mile later hauled out my poles and leaned on them all the way up to Orrison! I would have been on my knees without them!
The only place I didn't use them much after that was on the Meseta, which was relatively flat.
Watch videos (plenty on YouTube), practice, enjoy.
 
Ideal sleeping bag liner whether we want to add a thermal plus to our bag, or if we want to use it alone to sleep in shelters or hostels. Thanks to its mummy shape, it adapts perfectly to our body.

€46,-

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