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Le Puy-Pamplona in May & June - Equipment Review


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BOOTS, BOOTS, BOOTS! I initially bought some running shoes but am so glad I had second thoughts and bought some boots just before I left. I wouldn't have lasted a day in running shoes. The French paths are steep and stony and, this year, very wet and muddy as well (footpaths were often inches deep in water and/or mud). My boots,despite not being broken in, were absolutely wonderful. I had no blisters or foot problems (unlike almost everyone else we met) and most of the time I felt as though I were walking on cushions.

I bought a pair of Montrail Stratos XCR and although they stopped being waterproof after two or three weeks - I can't grumble because they had obviously rotted from the constant mud that they were coated in. It was very difficult to clean one's boots along the way as most places made you leave them at the door.

I am going right out to replace mine with an identical pair of new ones.: ... 40&prod=31
I customised these slightly replacing the default insolves with Brasher ones with some cheap foam insoles cut to leave more room for my toes beneath.

CAVEAT: Having said that, we did meet the odd person who was wearing trainers or running shoes and seemed to be able to cope with the mud regardless, and we met one young man who hopped, skipped and jumped through the mud in nothing but sandals.

STRONG ADVICE: But unless you are either very young and/or very sure-footed I would not advise anyone to try and do the Le Puy route in anything less than boots - especially in the sort of wet weather we experienced this year - see pictures linked in topic here: viewtopic.php?f=30&t=3224


We both carried OMM 32L rucksacks ( )
These showed no signs of wear or tear after our c.900 km (and mine had already been used daily for a year before I left) whereas quite a few of our clothes fell to pieces. However, I did suffer from shoulder ache - quite badly some days. I reckon I was carrying too much for me - about 8Kg. - but I couldn't bear to part with any of my load. It's one thing to pack for a month's trip but we had to pack for three months, for a variety of accommodations, and for every extreme of temperature . . . Full equipment list and review will follow in another message.

CHEST PACK - I got a chest pack just before I left but this just added to the load on my shoulders so I converted it to a waist pack for the duration. It was a bit annoying but saved quite a lot of weight on my shoulders because I put all the very heavy stuff in it - guidebooks, dictionary and some of the water.

Some things that I tossed in at the last minute thinking I might well ditch them early on proved very useful:

i. sellotape - this ran out really quickly and we had to buy some more - it's amazing how often we needed it! Not least to mend my credit card which developed a nasty split just days into the trip.

ii. needle and thread - we seemed to spend an awful lot of evenings sewing. My trousers did not stand up very well to the constant attack by mud, barbed wire, sharp stones, jagged rocks etc . . . Plus we sewed badges etc onto our silly hats.

iii. insect bite relief - we both got bitten a lot and by lots of critturs - fleas, bed bugs and mosquitoes. I'll try taking anti-histamine tablets next time as well.

iv - waterproof overtrousers - for me these made the supreme difference between being cold, wet and miserable or relatively dry, warm and comfortable.

v - gloves - I was very grateful for these when it was so cold and wet at the start of the trip - but, although water-repellent, they were not match for the drenching rain we got some days and I will replace them with something more robust on any future trip.

vi - aspirins - I had a headache the first few days - probably a result of the lack of sleep and tension getting ready to leave. I was SO GLAD I had packed some first aid stuff including the aspirins - people here have said - "Don't worry! Buy along the way!" but I have to tell you that we didn't pass a shop (apart from one boulangerie) for well over a week at the start of our trip.

Rural France is very RURAL, i.e. no shops and when we did find shops they were nearly always shut - there are umpteen bank holidays in France in May and the shops are shut for them, plus they shut on Sundays AND Mondays plus they shut for 'weekly rest' plus they shut for 'exceptional' reasons so you can never rely on finding anything open - including bars and restaurants - quite of few of which don't open until the first of June or even the 1st of July.

Hope the above is useful for someone . . .

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.
Thanks Windy for your comments and tips. Have read them with interest and am hoping the the mud may have dried a little in five days time when we start walking!! I will be very interested to read your further posts.

regards, Janet
Re: Le Puy-Pamplona in May & June - pics and perfume tip

My daughter has finally managed to sift through her several thousand photos of our trip and a carefully categorised selection is now available on her web page:

Might be interesting for anyone who is planning to walk from Le Puy and/or over the mountains from SJPP.

TIP: The one thing I didn't take with me - but wished I had - was a bit of scent/perfume/eau de cologne. I don't normally wear any but after many hot and sweaty and/or dank and muddy hours on the path it was just lovely to have a hot shower and get into clean dry clothes - a dab of smelly stuff would have been the icing on the cake. I shall take some next time.
Thanks windeatt.... as I am planning to start from le Puy about mid-April I expect I will encounter some of the same conditions. I look forward to browsing more of the photos!

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