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Last Minute Questions! (First Aid and Water)

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esmir

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Planned April 2022
Hey Guys!
I will be starting my camino in Pamplona on Thursday. Ive weighed my bag and it comes in around 5kgs... without water or any first aid.

I just wanted to ask what first aid did you guys take that you either don't think you would again or something you wouldn't have gotten through el camino without.
My knees also start to ache if I walk too much in one go, so I'll be taking plenty of breaks- and I'll take a bandage to compress and give a bit of support when necessary.

Also! Water, I know most towns have free water from fountains but I've seen a few people on this forum who on hot days have found themselves having to ration their water intake. I have a 6L water sack which I can keep water in but that's a lot of extra weight if I'm not drinking it all. How much did you guys drink, what would you advise?
 
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On the Frances, I never carry more than 1.5 liters of water. There are frequent opportunities (with a few exceptions) to refill regularly.

If it's hot you can always carry more.

I have a general first aid kit and a 'foot bag' - the latter with what I use every day (paper tape, omnifix, lambs' wool, a tube of Glide). The regular first aid kit has betadine, antibiotic ointments, bandaids, gauze, a few alcohol wipes, and an elastic bandage.

I've used all that at least once. Some folks advise not carrying much in the way of first aid supplies since the camino goes through towns with pharmacies. I've always wondered: do they plan to fall or twist a knee/ankle right outside the pharmacy door? I've lent 1st aid stuff to people like that.
 

jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2021, 2022
Water - I fill a 1L water bottle daily and refill as needed. Most days, that is plenty. Days where I might need more - I have a 2nd 1L water bottle that I can fill half way or all the way. I am a very conscientious water drinker - I dehydrate easily. This truly is plenty! The ONLY place you MIGHT need more water on a HOT day is the 17km stretch after Carrion de los Condes. If that is a stage that concerns you - get another water bottle. I just use a disposable bottle of water that you can buy anywhere and refill as needed. Like I said - most days 1 bottle is enough, but I have the 2nd bottle when I need it.

The only first aid you need to carry is a couple bandaids, a couple compeed and/or tape, and a couple tiny packets of antibiotic ointment. Really. That is it. You can buy everything else in pharmacy along the way. I also carry a tiny baggie of ibuprofen, benadryl, and prescription medications.

If you require a knee brace - bring it. Otherwise things like knee braces and ankle support can be bought at a pharmacy IF you need them. I bought ankle support last year due to an injury. Won't bring one this year but if needed - will buy again. Same with elastic wraps - can buy at pharmacy if needed.
 
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J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
When hiking in the US I carry a way too big first aid kit and have used it a few times. In Spain, I carry some anti itch cream (benadryl or cortisone), a few ibuprofen, benadryl tabs, and a couple of bandaids. You have cell service most places along the CF or another pilgrim will have it and you can call a cab if someone turns an ankle or I have also seen locals transport someone. For something serious call 112 which is for true
emergencies.

For water I carry a 500 ml plastic water bottle that I buy when I arrive and refill it. On I a longer stretch without water points I add a 1 liter water bottle.
 

jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2021, 2022
I've used all that at least once. Some folks advise not carrying much in the way of first aid supplies since the camino goes through towns with pharmacies. I've always wondered: do they plan to fall or twist a knee/ankle right outside the pharmacy door? I've lent 1st aid stuff to people like that.
My only response to this is - do you carry these same items with you at all times (elastic bandage esp) throughout your daily life? No, you are not likely to twist your ankle in a convenient location. However, most of the time - you can still walk to wherever you need to go to get the supplies you need. And if you can't? Well - that is why I advise people to keep their cell phones with them to call for assistance. Don't need to carry a pharmacy with you, just a few of the basic items. It isn't a wilderness trail where you can't get help/supplies for days at a time and help may not be able to get to you. Also - we usually have enough gear in our packs to improvise when an injury occurs (i.e. that bandana can be an arm sling, that buff can become a pressure dressing on a cut on an arm/let etc).
 
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good_old_shoes

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Francés ('15, '19)
Via Coloniensis ('16)
Trier-Nancy + Le Puy-Fisterra ('17)
Aragonés ('18)
It is a good idea to carry a basic first aid kit. Some will say it's unnecessary, but usually you'll need it most when there's no pharmacy nearby. So, good idea.

I bring a few ibuprofen / paracetamol / aspirins. Some electrolytes (in sachets). A few water purification tablets for water emergencies. Disinfectant for wounds (many bring betadine, I prefer octenisept). Some bandaids and bandages. Tape for hot spots. A pair of gloves and a space blanket. Sterile needles for popping blisters.

Might sound like overkill but I know what I need and also want to be prepared in case I need to help someone else who decided not to bring a first aid kit for whatever reasons.

I have used that kit on every longer hike/Camino so far. Either for myself or for someone else.
 

Scott Sweeney

Veteran Member
Hey Guys!
I will be starting my camino in Pamplona on Thursday. Ive weighed my bag and it comes in around 5kgs... without water or any first aid.

I just wanted to ask what first aid did you guys take that you either don't think you would again or something you wouldn't have gotten through el camino without.
My knees also start to ache if I walk too much in one go, so I'll be taking plenty of breaks- and I'll take a bandage to compress and give a bit of support when necessary.

Also! Water, I know most towns have free water from fountains but I've seen a few people on this forum who on hot days have found themselves having to ration their water intake. I have a 6L water sack which I can keep water in but that's a lot of extra weight if I'm not drinking it all. How much did you guys drink, what would you advise?
Band aides, Neosporin cream, needle and white thread , tweezers and nail clippers. Also ibuprofen and a few Pepto capsules. I have always been fortunate enough not to suffer from blisters or drink from public fountains so my first aid is minimal.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
Hey Guys!
I will be starting my camino in Pamplona on Thursday. Ive weighed my bag and it comes in around 5kgs... without water or any first aid.

I just wanted to ask what first aid did you guys take that you either don't think you would again or something you wouldn't have gotten through el camino without.
My knees also start to ache if I walk too much in one go, so I'll be taking plenty of breaks- and I'll take a bandage to compress and give a bit of support when necessary.

Also! Water, I know most towns have free water from fountains but I've seen a few people on this forum who on hot days have found themselves having to ration their water intake. I have a 6L water sack which I can keep water in but that's a lot of extra weight if I'm not drinking it all. How much did you guys drink, what would you advise?
Take the basics for first aid, painkillers/anti-inflammatories, blister treatment, and benadryl (which I've never taken before but will in future after reading a thread here) - you will find pharmacies on the Camino, but in my experience seldom open when you need one.
 
Past OR future Camino
Next up 2022?
do you carry these same items with you at all times (elastic bandage esp) throughout your daily life?
Oh, for godness sake, Jeanine, of course not "at all times." That's a really silly comparison.
Then I'm not walking with my pack on my back over varied terrain, either. It's hard to fall or sprain an ankle when you are sitting, which is what I'm doing for 12 hours a day when I'm working.

When I travel, all that stuff is with me all the time.
If I fall or twist an ankle on the camino, I'm not going to call the bombeiros for a sprained ankle, grazed knee, or a blister. They have far more important things to attend to than trivial injuries, and I have all the first aid skills I need to deal with what's most likely to arise.
 
F

Former member 99290

Guest
Some folks advise not carrying much in the way of first aid supplies since the camino goes through towns with pharmacies. I've always wondered: do they plan to fall or twist a knee/ankle right outside the pharmacy door? I've lent 1st aid stuff to people like that.
I agree with this 100%. I’ve also ‘dispensed’ supplies from my personal ‘farmacia’ many times. Things such as hikers wool, KT tape, tea tree oil to disinfect, bandaids, Panadol and anti inflammatoires I carry a small supply of all of these 😎 and more.
 
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F

Former member 99290

Guest
Just to add … while I know the OP is going to walk the Frances - as this thread is under the category of general planning and preparation for any camino …. It’s worth noting that for many routes other than the Frances you can often walk stages without the opportunity to refill water, or buy food - let alone a pharmacy😎
 
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dbier

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Last 114km Camino Frances, Jul 21
2023 - Camino P
Although one can certainly buy most things at a farmacia, they don't always come in small, light, individual packets. I ended up buying a bandage packet...and scissors... in Arzua and passed on the box of 50 gloves;)

Bring what you are comfortable and practiced using. Don't experiment with drugs on the Camino ;0. :::tongue firmly in cheek:::
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
The regular first aid kit has betadine, antibiotic ointments, bandaids, gauze, a few alcohol wipes, and an elastic bandage.

do you carry these same items with you at all times (elastic bandage esp) throughout your daily life?
The elastic bandage is perhaps an optional item or would depend on your body's history of sprains. But I would recommend all the other items on a day hike anywhere. They do not take up much space or weight, since you don't need to carry large containers of betadine, ointments, boxes of bandaids, whole rolls of gauze, etc. A small selection is enough. In addition to some Advil (which I'll probably use a few of), I take some medications that I hope not to use - 2 Gravol tablets, 2 Immodium tablets, 3 or 4 antihistamines, the end of a tube of antibiotic ointment, etc. Enough to tide me over until a pharmacy is convenient.
 

jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2021, 2022
The elastic bandage is perhaps an optional item or would depend on your body's history of sprains. But I would recommend all the other items on a day hike anywhere.
Yes - the elastic bandage was the main aim of my - "do you really need this" items. But betadine and alcohol - do you really need both? And do you really need either if you are carrying soap and water? (I am a nurse who has worked with a lot of infectious disease docs that preach 'soap and water' over other wound cleaners) Gauze - a large bandaid will usually suffice.

Anyhow - yes - a few items are obviously needed - especially anything blister prevention/treatment related - but I saw way too many first aid kits that were ridiculous in size and contents last summer.
 
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Yes - the elastic bandage was the main aim of my - "do you really need this"
Yes. I do. And have used it.
As well as the gauze 2×2s and paper tape. It was my MD Dad who sugested the betadine powder and wipes, for different uses. And both have been useful. None of this stuff is heavy, except the elastic bandage, and even that is not much.
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
the elastic bandage was the main aim of my - "do you really need this" items. But betadine and alcohol - do you really need both? And do you really need either if you are carrying soap and water?
Maybe that was the main aim, but you were rather harsh in your challenge to someone carrying a few items for convenience. Nobody said you must carry a pharmacy. I have a few packets of alcohol wipes and a few of antiseptic, and I like to bring them along, rather than buying a large bottle in Spain and then deciding whether to carry it the next day. They are small, light and handy if I don't want to use up my drinking water for that purpose.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
It seems to me there are a couple of things beyond first aid kits that need to be considered here.

The first of these are the items needed for routine treatment that need pharmaceuticals or other items, eg for blister prevention, such as tapes and foot powders or other lotions and potions. Some pharmaceuticals might be difficult or impossible to obtain regularly on the Camino. Tapes etc won't be, but you might want to have enough to last for a week or more without having to resupply those items.

Second, are analgesics or other things like anti-diarrhoea treatments, which are not part of a first aid kit, but are personal medical supplies. How much you want to take is a pretty personal decision. It's not something that you want to necessarily wait until you need them to obtain them, so having some minimum amount is always worthwhile.

My other concern is that much of this advice seems well meaning enough, it also appears to have been given by some who've never actually experienced twisting an ankle or a knee somewhere between towns on the Camino and having to struggle into the next town to get treatment, only to find the health centre or pharmacy isn't open. I view being minimally self-sufficient as a good thing in those circumstances.
 
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Barbara

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
Get a tick remover. They weigh less than two grams. You don't need it often but when you do you really need it. Lyme disease, anyone? Betadine gel in a tube stays put on the skin and is lighter to carry than the liquid sort. If you have a bandana then you don't need bandages. Or, come to that, wet wipes. You have soap or shampoo, don't you? A couple of sticking plasters and you are good to go. Elastic strapping is probably a good idea, and you can use it to repair all sorts of things.
 

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