- Camino(s) past & future
- Portuguese (2019) Walked Tomar to Coimbra - Porto to Ponte Vedra - Spiritual Variant to Santiago
Notes on my Equipment - The Lighter the Better - Women and Men!
The lighter the better - no doubts about it. There is data from the Pacific Crest Trail that showed a direct correlation between finishing the PCT and the weight of pack. Only the people with the lightest packs usually made it the whole way.
My Gregory Jade 38 pack performed brilliantly, I never had one sore neck, back, or shoulder moment - not once!
My Ahnu boots were rated always in the top few hiking boots for women I did not feel were up to the Camino. The average person takes 2000 steps to the mile, I walked 230 miles, ergo I took (just on Camino and I walked more of course) 460,000 steps. Of those steps probably half were on cobbles, Old Roman roads, tree roots, gravel and so forth. My soles took punishment for most of that, the soles were not rugged enough for what I was doing and obviously boots only have one Camino in them - but highly ranked or not - they were not up to it. So, for a quarter of a million steps I felt discomfort or pain to some degree. My next boots will still have ankle height but will have twice as thick soles and probably cost twice as much which is obviously worth it. There is no easy answer since the Camino is walking long distance, with some backpacking weight added, and some rough surface walking.
My walking poles were needed way more than I anticipated. My set only cost 20 dollars and performed perfectly - more lightweight ones cost more and might be worth it, but I needed them every second. Google how to use them by the way, it is not how you think! You do not hold the grips very much in other words, but it is how you let the straps hold your weight on your wrists and take pressure off joints. They also help you to set your pace, probe rocks for steadiness, push branches out of the way and so forth - just bring them. As far as taking them on the airplane, I read that TSA does not permit them, so check them separately from your backpack - do you really want to lose your backpack - no, no you do not, so take that on the plane with you. So, just wrap and check your poles. On the way back, I did not want to check anything, so I slid my poles apart and considered seeing if I could break them down enough to look harmless. But, at the last minute, I threw the carbide tips and last segment of the pole into a trash can and took the other parts on the plane which nobody seemed to care about. Next time, I might try and remove the little pointy tips that must be the issue and put them in another part of my pack and see if I can just reconstruct them when I get there. I will see what I decide, you do get a little attached to them after a long Camino.
I bought a cheap, 5 dollar on sale cell phone charger, that was supposed to charge just one time and is the size of a little pack of mints. But, it did not work, it would not charge my phone, it was too weak. So, next time, I will bring an Anker 3 days phone charger and not mess around with charging. I did not find there was competition to charge my phone, there seemed to be plenty of places and if in a pinch, you can ask a wait staff person to plug your phone in while you are eating. I saw someone do that once and they just said sure. Speaking of phones, while I do not love paying 10 dollars a day to Verizon for my unlimited plan (data, texting, and phone calls) I would always do this. It is not so much for safety, I felt safe and you will not always have a signal. But, if it gets dark and you need a taxi or a ride from an albergue (who might be able to collect you, no promises here but they can at least get you a taxi) - you want it. If you want to chat with your child or family member, you can, you just call and they can call you and it does not cost them anything extra. I used my phone to call ahead one Sunday along the coast because it occurred to me that all of Portugal seemed to be on the coast that day - and I got a reservation at an inexpensive hotel and could relax while I walked. Just do it, you will not be sorry,
I brought one pair of Columbia hiking pants with pockets and should have brought two which I would next time. My other pants I used to sleep I thought I would hike in but did not and they made a crinkle sound which was crazy sounding g at night lol. Next time two Columbia pants and I will splurge for a Hanro wool/silk long sleeved top and bottom to sleep in warm and clean each night - just do not google what they cost, haha.
Smartwool socks yes! And one pair of thin women's dress socks
I loved having polarized sunglasses, kept me safe and my vision sharp and eyes safe.
I brought a bright red waterproof bag that closed with Velcro and then snapped. It held passport, extra euros, my Pilgrim credential stamp book, and anything I just wanted to know where it was, because color coding is the way to go for an organized mind. I tucked that inside the top inner flap - and I never had to worry if it rained my documents would get wet.
My Portuguese scarf I threw in last minute before I left served my so well! It dressed me up to go out in the evenings, it was helpful to give me privacy in bunk bed settings, and as you saw permitted me to elevate my legs as a sling at night! Hooray!
Two walking shirts - one short sleeved and one long sleeved. Next time both with be bright colors, I think bike wear is bright and probably a good choice.
I wore a crazy French bought bra lol and it did fine. Just wear what you usually wear, do you really want to lift a sports bra over your head over and over?
My fleece was bulky and annoying but I needed it (even though I left it behind in O Porriño), next time I will have a very firm fitting fleece, maybe a splurge for a wool one.
My puffer vest was essential to maintain core warmth - you can get in trouble I think without one. Plus, it is a nice pillow.
My silly looking puffer hood was awesome, probably prevented early stages of hypothermia in the boat ride and also was an excellent warmer in low or no heat albergues. Plus, it was black and made a good black out hood for sleeping - everyone is way too exhausted to look at you anyhow. Trust me haha.
I brought about 10 large (not huge) sized safety pins and they helped keep my laundry on lines in big winds or all the clothing pins had been used. Also you can hang socks off your pack to dry as you walk.
My super lightweight lime green sleeping bag was perfection. Sleeping mask is not optional in some situations, I used mine most nights. Earplugs, I had a little bag of them and shared them if someone wanted some.
I wish I had brought more of my elegant smelling Italian shampoo for mood lifting
I highly recommend taking a "foot repair kit" with Compeeds or mole skin and some antibiotic cream, anti-chaffing cream (if you get rain soaked, your pants, ouch) maybe an "ace" bandage or duck tape in case you roll an ankle. I got around TSA problems by squirting into a little zip lock bag creams and ointments - so, no bottles or tubes. Now, I might write on them what they are, because to be honest, it looks like you might have taken something from a fertility clinic if you get my drift. You can buy more there, but, have some with you in your pack, because you will probably not be near a Farmacia when you discover your problem.
Quip toothbrush worked excellently and the plastic version is brilliantly light.
Safety equipment I brought were Lifestraw (I nearly needed it a few times when my water was low but I found a good source before I used it) my emergency blanket and my headlamp I did not use but I would take again for sure. I did wear the yellow safety vest more than once when I had to deal with some road side walking and I was tired and annoyed and wanted some space - it works.
My selfie stick I did not use enough to justify taking again, but when I used it it was fun.
I was super happy with my Laundress laundry bar for hand washing - it was small, got out all smells, and just amazing help to get stuff clean every late afternoon to dry over night.
My water bottle I brought was useless lol. You cannot reach it in my pack and I had it in my pocket a lot of the time which was awkward. So, I will have a camelback water pouch in my pack for next time - this was my biggest aggravation next to my boots.
My sun protection equipment was perfect - my lime green compression sleeves, sun hat with back flap to protect against the sun and SPF 50 rated with "sexy" chin strap lol was brilliant and made for a no fuss windy walking day. My umbrella was spf rated too and ultra light but I used it for rain and I was really happy with it. I used SPF rated lightweight gloves to keep sun off backs of my hands exposed using walking sticks. I bought sunscreen in Portugal, it is expensive but has less harmful chemicals then USA.
The lime green waterproof leg gaiters were very important. Made for good visibility, kept pants clean, absorbed twigs and thorns on narrow paths - I really appreciated them.
My friend Amy lent me her Gore-Tex rain coat - it was my life or death barrier. In the future, I would buy one for myself that is ultralight and a bright color- it is worth the money. If anyone reading this wants to invent this I encourage you. I called this phenomenon "pocket confusion" I was always confused which pocket had phone or money or Kleenex etc - so, please invent color coded zippers on these jackets - spare our sanity!!
Something I did not bring but bought there, but should have brought - hairbrush! I just thought I would pick one up there, but, really, I had to use a farmacia to buy one. The pharmacist, yes, I had to ask a pharmacist for one, said he only had one and it was made out of a special kind of Portuguese wood and was 14 Euro. When I look dejected, he said "ok, special Pilgrim price of 10" and I bought it.
Do not judge lol, but I threw my "shower shoes" away in Tomar - they were the little pull on beach type because they were too heavy. I only had boots with me, that is kind of funny maybe haha. But, next time I will have one other kind of footwear - but I am telling you - it has to be ultra ultra light! Like lighter than flip flops -so if you know anything ... and no, my feet did not get diseased (thankfully).
Some days my pack felt super heavy, some days crazy light, some days it switched hourly but I feel good I carried my own pack for every 460,000 steps.