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Search 69,459 Camino Questions

Poles or No Poles?

ClaireMcMahon

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
May 2024
Hi there,
I’m starting my first Camino Frances early May, and I don’t know whether I need hiking poles or not?
I’m 26 years old, relatively fit and don’t have any injuries (yet!)
I used poles for the first time last year doing the Everest Base Camp trek, and they were a great investment, though of course Base Camp was very much a trek based on inclines and declines…
I just don’t know if they’ll be something extra to carry that I don’t need, or something I’ll be very grateful to have on the Camino.
Any intel would be wonderful. Thank you in advance! :)
 
Down bag (90/10 duvet) of 700 fills with 180 g (6.34 ounces) of filling. Mummy-shaped structure, ideal when you are looking for lightness with great heating performance.

€149,-
Hi there,
I’m starting my first Camino Frances early May, and I don’t know whether I need hiking poles or not?
I’m 26 years old, relatively fit and don’t have any injuries (yet!)
I used poles for the first time last year doing the Everest Base Camp trek, and they were a great investment, though of course Base Camp was very much a trek based on inclines and declines…
I just don’t know if they’ll be something extra to carry that I don’t need, or something I’ll be very grateful to have on the Camino.
Any intel would be wonderful. Thank you in advance! :)
Where are you starting from?
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
Take them.

A couple of kilos off every step you take for 26/27 days? Certainly worth it. If you were just walking the last few days it’s no big deal either way.

Have you figured out how to fit them and use the wrist-strap?

I was sceptical when I was young and climbed in the alps every year, then all of a sudden all the guides used poles and said it would add a few years to their working life. Now at 59 I wish I’d discovered poles a decade sooner. It’s not whether you can manage now, or not, it’s what you’re doing to yourself 30 years from now.
 
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Used properly poles are always going to be beneficial, whether is is on slopes or on the flat. Mine never leave my hands once I am walking - that is the only place that they belong to get any benefit. That said, they are not essential, and you can walk without them.
 
Take them.

A couple of kilos off every step you take for 26/27 days? Certainly worth it. If you were just walking the last few days it’s no big deal either way.

Have you figured out how to fit them and use the wrist-strap?

I was sceptical when I was young and climbed in the alps every year, then all of a sudden all the guides used poles and said it would add a few years to their working life. Now at 59 I wish I’d discovered poles a decade sooner. It’s not whether you can manage now, or not, it’s what you’re going to yourself 30 years from now.
Thank you, this is great advice! Yep - all good with fitting them, so sounds like they’ll be worth my while! Appreciate your quick response :)
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
Used properly poles are always going to be beneficial, whether is is on slopes or on the flat. Mine never leave my hands once I am walking - that is the only place that they belong to get any benefit. That said, they are not essential, and you can walk without them.
Good to know, thank you for your reply! :)
 
Hi Claire,
I was unsure about that before my first camino as well. I'm just a bit older than you, but had some minor knee issues before, and decided to play it safe and get some walking poles for the walk. It was the best decision I made in quite a while - I'm not sure I would have been able to complete the camino without them. They really helped me on the uphills and downhills. Sometimes I walked without them, when the route was easy, but on the more difficult parts, the poles really helped reduce the wear and tear a month long walk causes to your legs and body.
Michal
 
Hi there,
I’m starting my first Camino Frances early May, and I don’t know whether I need hiking poles or not?
I’m 26 years old, relatively fit and don’t have any injuries (yet!)
I used poles for the first time last year doing the Everest Base Camp trek, and they were a great investment, though of course Base Camp was very much a trek based on inclines and declines…
I just don’t know if they’ll be something extra to carry that I don’t need, or something I’ll be very grateful to have on the Camino.
Any intel would be wonderful. Thank you in advance! :)
I'm a relatively recent convert to poles, pity I didn't discover that earlier.
For me, they make the difference between arriving knackered with sore knees and feet, and arriving with energy to wander around town. At home I tend not to use them as I'm usually walking with a dog, but then I'm not walking Camino distances every day.
I wouldn't walk a Camino without them now.
 
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@ClaireMcMahon, from what you’ve written you already know how to use them (which is key). They’re worse than useless on your backpack ( they’re added weight), in your hands, they’re working hard for you. All day. Every day. With rubber tips on please! (You’re not in the mountains)

Another YES from me.
 
Hi there,
I’m starting my first Camino Frances early May, and I don’t know whether I need hiking poles or not?
I’m 26 years old, relatively fit and don’t have any injuries (yet!)
I used poles for the first time last year doing the Everest Base Camp trek, and they were a great investment, though of course Base Camp was very much a trek based on inclines and declines…
I just don’t know if they’ll be something extra to carry that I don’t need, or something I’ll be very grateful to have on the Camino.
Any intel would be wonderful. Thank you in advance! :)
We found them invaluable. Even on the flat, they propel you a bit quicker. Tip…… make sure you hold your hands through the straps the right way. Otherwise a flight stumble could easily snap your wrist.
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
Hi there,
I’m starting my first Camino Frances early May, and I don’t know whether I need hiking poles or not?
I’m 26 years old, relatively fit and don’t have any injuries (yet!)
I used poles for the first time last year doing the Everest Base Camp trek, and they were a great investment, though of course Base Camp was very much a trek based on inclines and declines…
I just don’t know if they’ll be something extra to carry that I don’t need, or something I’ll be very grateful to have on the Camino.
Any intel would be wonderful. Thank you in advance! :)
Greetings,
I highly recommend using hiking poles - they were a real help to my knees and added safety on occasional steep rocky downhills.
I echo the suggestions to have rubber tips to prevent the click click on hard surfaces. I walked the CF in late April and May and it was beautiful to witness springtime there.
Have a wonderful Camino!
Daniel
 
Hi there,
I’m starting my first Camino Frances early May, and I don’t know whether I need hiking poles or not?
I’m 26 years old, relatively fit and don’t have any injuries (yet!)
I used poles for the first time last year doing the Everest Base Camp trek, and they were a great investment, though of course Base Camp was very much a trek based on inclines and declines…
I just don’t know if they’ll be something extra to carry that I don’t need, or something I’ll be very grateful to have on the Camino.
Any intel would be wonderful. Thank you in advance! :)
It’s preference, but I’d say get them and use them. Good for uphills and more important down hills. Also keeps your arms moving and helps to keep your hands from going numb under a heavy pack. I’d also recommend getting the hard surface caps - which I kept on almost 90% of the time. Get a good, lightweight pair. I used mine on both my Camino’s and thought they were well worth their weight and bringing! Buen Camino!
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
Hi there,
I’m starting my first Camino Frances early May, and I don’t know whether I need hiking poles or not?
I’m 26 years old, relatively fit and don’t have any injuries (yet!)
I used poles for the first time last year doing the Everest Base Camp trek, and they were a great investment, though of course Base Camp was very much a trek based on inclines and declines…
I just don’t know if they’ll be something extra to carry that I don’t need, or something I’ll be very grateful to have on the Camino.
Any intel would be wonderful. Thank you in advance! :)
I vote poles. I used them on the CF, Ingles and Fisterre Muxia route. Buen camino🥾
 
Any opposing views? I use one pole when hiking down steep mountain trails in Colorado. Otherwise, I find them cumbersome and added weight. I do not plan on bringing them on my Camino Frances (starting in Pamplona) next month. Anyone happy with their decision to not use poles? Also, I will be travelling for several weeks in Europe after the Camino, so I would likely need to discard the poles :(
 
Down bag (90/10 duvet) of 700 fills with 180 g (6.34 ounces) of filling. Mummy-shaped structure, ideal when you are looking for lightness with great heating performance.

€149,-
Tonight I am in Burgos and use them every day. Just managing on rocky surfaces but also when you need to jump over long stretches of water, mud. I would not do without. If worried about transport, get the collapsing hiking poles.IMG_3115.jpeg
 
Hi there,
I’m starting my first Camino Frances early May, and I don’t know whether I need hiking poles or not?
I’m 26 years old, relatively fit and don’t have any injuries (yet!)
I used poles for the first time last year doing the Everest Base Camp trek, and they were a great investment, though of course Base Camp was very much a trek based on inclines and declines…
I just don’t know if they’ll be something extra to carry that I don’t need, or something I’ll be very grateful to have on the Camino.
Any intel would be wonderful. Thank you in advance! :)
Our opinion is pokes are a necessity not a luxury. Do you have power steering , power brakes in your car? Have you ever driven one without them? Poles will help, save you. Ask us how we know.
Buen Camino
 
Hi there,
I’m starting my first Camino Frances early May, and I don’t know whether I need hiking poles or not?
I’m 26 years old, relatively fit and don’t have any injuries (yet!)
I used poles for the first time last year doing the Everest Base Camp trek, and they were a great investment, though of course Base Camp was very much a trek based on inclines and declines…
I just don’t know if they’ll be something extra to carry that I don’t need, or something I’ll be very grateful to have on the Camino.
Any intel would be wonderful. Thank you in advance! :)
I didn't have any injuries when I started my 2016 Camino. By the time I finally gave in and got them, after some real knee problems, I was very happy to have them. I've brought them on all subsequent Caminos and continued to be happy to have them. The help propel me, occasionally assist with balance, prevent my hands from swelling and I've never had knee problems again, not even on the Salvador and Primitivo Caminos, which have their fair share of steep descents. They are never something extra to carry, because I don't carry them, they carry me.
 
Very light, comfortable and compressible poncho. Specially designed for protection against water for any activity.

Our Atmospheric H30 poncho offers lightness and waterproofness. Easily compressible and made with our Waterproof fabric, its heat-sealed interior seams guarantee its waterproofness. Includes carrying bag.

€60,-
Claire
I didn't start faffing about with two poles until I was more than twice your age. My younger self had no interest in them other than when hiking mountain terrain with a full pack.
First couple of caminos I took one collapsible pole, which was handy for negotiating tricky ground and getting respect from try-it-on dogs. After that I tended to just find a big stick somewhere and call it a staff. And there's something about the staff that just feels right on the camino.
If you're a normally fit 26 year old I really wouldn't bother with two walking poles unless you feel drawn towards them. And if you suddenly do, you can pick some up along the Way.
 
Hi there,
I’m starting my first Camino Frances early May, and I don’t know whether I need hiking poles or not?
I’m 26 years old, relatively fit and don’t have any injuries (yet!)
I used poles for the first time last year doing the Everest Base Camp trek, and they were a great investment, though of course Base Camp was very much a trek based on inclines and declines…
I just don’t know if they’ll be something extra to carry that I don’t need, or something I’ll be very grateful to have on the Camino.
Any intel would be wonderful. Thank you in advance! :)
I never thought Id use poles until I found Pacer Poles. A real game changer.
 
Hi there,
I’m starting my first Camino Frances early May, and I don’t know whether I need hiking poles or not?
I’m 26 years old, relatively fit and don’t have any injuries (yet!)
I used poles for the first time last year doing the Everest Base Camp trek, and they were a great investment, though of course Base Camp was very much a trek based on inclines and declines…
I just don’t know if they’ll be something extra to carry that I don’t need, or something I’ll be very grateful to have on the Camino.
Any intel would be wonderful. Thank you in advance! :)
I do recommend poles. You are able to create better balance and distribute your weight to your upper body thus helping your walk.
 
New Original Camino Gear Designed Especially with The Modern Peregrino In Mind!
Any opposing views? I use one pole when hiking down steep mountain trails in Colorado. Otherwise, I find them cumbersome and added weight. I do not plan on bringing them on my Camino Frances (starting in Pamplona) next month. Anyone happy with their decision to not use poles? Also, I will be travelling for several weeks in Europe after the Camino, so I would likely need to discard the poles :(
Yes. Well, sort of. My first 10 years of Camino walking I never used them. I loved having nothing in my hands. Just a personal preference, I guess. Never missed them. When I got (a bit) older, I started to bring one pole for walking downhill. Last year I surrendered and walked for the first time with 2 poles. I know they are helping and more necessary now, but I haven't got used to them yet. I don't like holding them all the time and I don't like the ticking sound (even with the rubber tips on). But yes, they help. So now I use them about 50% of the time and carry them in pack the other 50%.

Edit: IMHO you can do perfectly well without poles on most Caminos if you are young and fit.
 
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Any opposing views? I use one pole when hiking down steep mountain trails in Colorado. Otherwise, I find them cumbersome and added weight. I do not plan on bringing them on my Camino Frances (starting in Pamplona) next month. Anyone happy with their decision to not use poles? Also, I will be travelling for several weeks in Europe after the Camino, so I would likely need to discard the poles :(
I'm actually really surprised that fewer people that don't use poles haven't stepped forward. Whilst I nowadays love them, like @Luca I never used to use them.
On camino I see more people carrying them and hardly ever using them, than I do people using them properly. I suspect most of those would qualify as opposing views. You don't have to use them!

You could always pick up a cheap pair once you get to Spain and donate them when you no longer feel the need for them. Many do.
 
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Okay, I'll chime in. I don't really use poles on a camino. The main reason is that I don't check my luggage. I have Gossamer Gear LT5 carbon trekking poles, which I use in the mountainous terrain where I live (Montana). They are extremely lightweight as is all my gear (pack weight is about 3 kg). Other poles feel clunky in comparison. That said, I normally hit a Decathlon store and buy a single pole for balance on tricky downhills. Most of the time, it's in my pack. I confess that I get inwardly irritated on the camino when I get lectured about how great poles are. I know how great they are. Not once have I felt that I needed two poles. This could change when I'm older. I'm almost 66 and am starting my 4th camino next month. I give the pole away when I'm done.
 
Any opposing views? I use one pole when hiking down steep mountain trails in Colorado. Otherwise, I find them cumbersome and added weight. I do not plan on bringing them on my Camino Frances (starting in Pamplona) next month. Anyone happy with their decision to not use poles? Also, I will be travelling for several weeks in Europe after the Camino, so I would likely need to discard the poles :(
I expect a number of people who take poles don't use them, as I saw a lot being carried, or on packs. In which case, they're extra weight.
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
I have always used just one hiking pole on my many Caminos as I like having one free hand to get anything I need out of my waist bag easily, but mostly because I love the ease of grabbing my phone to take pictures without a hiking pole dangling off my wrist and using a single pole has been adequate for many years. My main reason for using a pole has been for slowing me down on steep downhills with small rolling rocks underfoot, and to help keep balanced and stable in mud and crossing streams.
One year I found a perfect stick on the ground and became very attached to it. I was disappointed to have to leave it behind before going home.
My next Camino on the Sanabres is in one short week and I normally pick up a pole at Decathlon when I arrive. I am considering purchasing two poles after breaking my arm last year, but have not made a final decision.
 
Yes. Rubber tips, please. Few sounds are more annoying on the Camino than the "clack clack clack" of pole tips striking sidewalks or paved surfaces.
And especially annoying to the residents of the small villages on the Camino!

We found them invaluable. Even on the flat, they propel you a bit quicker.

Yes - they give me a good rhythm. They also help my posture, especially when my center of gravity is off while I'm wearing a pack. Good posture keeps my back from becoming fatigued. They also help to keep my hands from swelling. And they help keep my arms toned.
 
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.
Hi there,
I’m starting my first Camino Frances early May, and I don’t know whether I need hiking poles or not?
I’m 26 years old, relatively fit and don’t have any injuries (yet!)
Then by all means let's not have them and have poles!😊
Seriously another vote for YES and I never dream of going on any trail anywhere without them
Good luck and Buen Camino
 
Hi there,
I’m starting my first Camino Frances early May, and I don’t know whether I need hiking poles or not?
I’m 26 years old, relatively fit and don’t have any injuries (yet!)
I used poles for the first time last year doing the Everest Base Camp trek, and they were a great investment, though of course Base Camp was very much a trek based on inclines and declines…
I just don’t know if they’ll be something extra to carry that I don’t need, or something I’ll be very grateful to have on the Camino.
Any intel would be wonderful. Thank you in advance! :)
You most definitely do not need them. However, you may want to use them.

On all of my caminos I have always just carried a single pole (normally strapped to my back pack) for those tricky water crossings and to fend off the odd overly intrusive dog.
 
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On all of my caminos I have always just carried a single pole (normally strapped to my back pack) for those tricky water crossings and to fend off the odd overly intrusive dog.

That is exactly what I used to do and for the same reasons. Whether you need them or not is moot and may depend on what condition you want your knees to be in down the track when you are old and buggered, but still want to camino.

I wish I had started using them sooner.
 
Claire
I didn't start faffing about with two poles until I was more than twice your age. My younger self had no interest in them other than when hiking mountain terrain with a full pack.
First couple of caminos I took one collapsible pole, which was handy for negotiating tricky ground and getting respect from try-it-on dogs. After that I tended to just find a big stick somewhere and call it a staff. And there's something about the staff that just feels right on the camino.
If you're a normally fit 26 year old I really wouldn't bother with two walking poles unless you feel drawn towards them. And if you suddenly do, you can pick some up along the Way.

This is great advice, thank you Tom!
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
That is exactly what I used to do and for the same reasons. Whether you need them or not is moot and may depend on what condition you want your knees to be in down the track when you are old and buggered, but still want to camino.

I wish I had started using them sooner.
At 70 I still find no need for poles. I just walk a lot.
 
I'm 67, I've hiked, backpacked, climbed and led groups in Western Canada since I was in my teens. I have never used poles and I honestly don't see the need for them for individuals who are fit and don't have STABILITY issues. Until recently, during my 50+ years in the outdoors, the only times I saw individuals using poles was when they were skiing!! What's changed? Are people using poles as a result of marketing or a herd mentality (i.e. everyone is using them)? It appears to me that poles are more cumbersome and restrictive and your hands aren't free to use for other purposes.
 
Poles are great and as others have said, use the rubber tips and take a spare set of tips as they do wear out. I then put a new set at the end of the trip so they are clean when I put in my luggage and they are ready to go next time.
 
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,-
Hi there,
I’m starting my first Camino Frances early May, and I don’t know whether I need hiking poles or not?
I’m 26 years old, relatively fit and don’t have any injuries (yet!)
I used poles for the first time last year doing the Everest Base Camp trek, and they were a great investment, though of course Base Camp was very much a trek based on inclines and declines…
I just don’t know if they’ll be something extra to carry that I don’t need, or something I’ll be very grateful to have on the Camino.
Any intel would be wonderful. Thank you in advance! :)
Let us know what you decide (says Mr. Curious :) ).
 
I sniffed at poles until my late forties. I hiked in the Rockies many times, and the west coast trail, the Nootka Island trail, the Milford Track etc etc without them. Then I saw the light! I am now almost 80, Hiked another camino last year and would never consider even a local back country walk with out them. Just over 10 years ago I slipped on icy cedar roots in the back trails of winter Vancouver Island, smashed both tib and fib and it took years to recover. If I had my poles that day it would may have slipped, but with no dire consequence.
My poles are ultra distance Black Diamond and I have never regretted the cost.
Always take poles, and in another 50 years you will be nearly as old as I am but with. Younger knees and hips.
 
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I'm 67, I've hiked, backpacked, climbed and led groups in Western Canada since I was in my teens. I have never used poles and I honestly don't see the need for them for individuals who are fit and don't have STABILITY issues. Until recently, during my 50+ years in the outdoors, the only times I saw individuals using poles was when they were skiing!! What's changed? Are people using poles as a result of marketing or a herd mentality (i.e. everyone is using them)? It appears to me that poles are more cumbersome and restrictive and your hands aren't free to use for other purposes.
I used to think the same. Until I started seeing videos from young extremely active people that had picked up the habit in I think Nepal. (The young porters did it because they wanted to prolong their working life span.)

Basically the thinking was that it not only added stability but helped reduce stress on your feet and legs. Like many things that invited research and the science then followed. So whilst the exact figures are in dispute - I've seen anything from a 15% reduction to a 30% reduction - it does significantly change the stress on your lower joints. Hence, presumably, prolonging your walking life. For some, it also encourages them to adopt a better posture.

My personal thought process was that I would buy a cheap pair and trial them. I watched a quality video on how to use them, within three days I'd nailed the technique. To my absolute astonishment I was walking approximately 10% further in exactly the same timeframe on the same trail ( My thrice weekly walk) . After just three days using them.
Not only that but a few weeks later, once I had adjusted to the technique and the slight additional strain on my (weak!) arms and shoulders, I realised my recovery time frame at the end of a days walk (25-30km) was significantly reduced.

Hence I am now a convert.

It's not for everybody - but I do encourage people to give it a decent trial.

Footnote: with the exception of those who carry them purely for occasional stability use purposes, I think many people take them on camino without ever learning to use them properly. They're next to useless if not used properly and can potentially even be a hazard. Sitting in your backpack they're just added weight.
In those situations they are indeed just a 'fad' - or perhaps, more accurately, a poorly informed choice.
 
My current thinking is that I might pick up a single pole at SJPDP and see how I fare with that for a little while, and then decide along the way if I want to pick up a second or drop the first!
The use of a single pole is (he says, stating the bleedin’ obvious as usual) - is as a walking stick.

Some people swear by their one pole, using it for balance and other purposes, but the biomechanics are not comparable with the correct use of two poles. It could make your gait uneven.

As you’ll see above there are plenty who are certain of their view whether it be for one, two or no poles. There’s no definitive right answer, just well intentioned advice.

Buen Camino.
 
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,-
Hi there,
I’m starting my first Camino Frances early May, and I don’t know whether I need hiking poles or not?
I’m 26 years old, relatively fit and don’t have any injuries (yet!)
I used poles for the first time last year doing the Everest Base Camp trek, and they were a great investment, though of course Base Camp was very much a trek based on inclines and declines…
I just don’t know if they’ll be something extra to carry that I don’t need, or something I’ll be very grateful to have on the Camino.
Any intel would be wonderful. Thank you in advance! :)
I used poles from Urban Poling - super strong and light weight with removable rubber feet so good for rocks or pavement. Not only do they transfer much of the work from lower extremities to core and arms (so very helpful in the mountains!) they help save your ass when you slip on wet rocks. On boring paved roads, I used my arms to lengthen my stride and build more speed, getting back to the quiet path more quickly. Or just stride along and practice twirling. Yeh, poles are useful and fun.
 
Take them.

A couple of kilos off every step you take for 26/27 days? Certainly worth it. If you were just walking the last few days it’s no big deal either way.

Have you figured out how to fit them and use the wrist-strap?

I was sceptical when I was young and climbed in the alps every year, then all of a sudden all the guides used poles and said it would add a few years to their working life. Now at 59 I wish I’d discovered poles a decade sooner. It’s not whether you can manage now, or not, it’s what you’re doing to yourself 30 years from now.
Fully agree. I had never used poles before El Camino. Wisely, I decided to take a pair, and watch some videos about how to use them properly.
As I walked, I understood better and better how to combine the grip and the position of the wrist straps to get better support, and I now cannot picture ever doing another similar trail walk without poles. What a life, wear, and exhaustion-saving resource they turned out to be for me!!
 
I am 54yrs young and carried my poles for three days, then donated them, didn't really need them, wife used them but if i got mine out i tended to walk faster. My wife saw the benefits as it toned her arms up 😁
 
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.
Hi Claire, Firstly, no matter what, have a wonderful adventure.
In looking over the answers, the ones who are only so-so about using poles are the one-pole users which is probably because they don't get many benefits with only one pole. One pole is a crutch. It gives a false idea of stability on rough surfaces. It is rather like an old, doddery, frail person only using a walking stick to help them get around and not a wheelie walker. The walking stick will help a bit, the wheelie walker will give stability, safety, AND a seat to sit and rest on and a place to store your stuff.
Likewise, the two poles will give you SO MANY added advantages than one pole. It will not just give superior stability and a way of fighting off dogs! It will also give you the ability to plant both poles together and leap over a big puddle. Better balance with a full pack where a single pole or none gives no advantage.
It will let you use your arms as well as your legs for propulsion up hills while also giving your arms and shoulders a workout, and this will also help with back and shoulder pain from carrying a pack. The other huge advantage is that it helps stop swollen fingers and will even repair ulnar nerve issues like Tennis elbow.
They will give you a good rhythm and pace, especially on the flat.
They will make a huge difference when going down a steep, slippery hill.
Finally, they will give you something to lean on when you bend over with a pack on to pick something up or just to stretch out your back.
I would never be without them.
If you want to bring an umbrella, which I am also a huge advocate of for its many uses not just the obvious one, I use the hands-free Euroschirm. There are lighter, cheaper ones, which I have tried, but the many disadvantages of umbrella use are overcome with the Euroschirm and it is worth its weight in gold. It has especially saved me from heat stroke for weeks at a time.
 
Hi Claire, Firstly, no matter what, have a wonderful adventure.
In looking over the answers, the ones who are only so-so about using poles are the one-pole users which is probably because they don't get many benefits with only one pole. One pole is a crutch. It gives a false idea of stability on rough surfaces. It is rather like an old, doddery, frail person only using a walking stick to help them get around and not a wheelie walker. The walking stick will help a bit, the wheelie walker will give stability, safety, AND a seat to sit and rest on and a place to store your stuff.
Likewise, the two poles will give you SO MANY added advantages than one pole. It will not just give superior stability and a way of fighting off dogs! It will also give you the ability to plant both poles together and leap over a big puddle. Better balance with a full pack where a single pole or none gives no advantage.
It will let you use your arms as well as your legs for propulsion up hills while also giving your arms and shoulders a workout, and this will also help with back and shoulder pain from carrying a pack. The other huge advantage is that it helps stop swollen fingers and will even repair ulnar nerve issues like Tennis elbow.
They will give you a good rhythm and pace, especially on the flat.
They will make a huge difference when going down a steep, slippery hill.
Finally, they will give you something to lean on when you bend over with a pack on to pick something up or just to stretch out your back.
I would never be without them.
If you want to bring an umbrella, which I am also a huge advocate of for its many uses not just the obvious one, I use the hands-free Euroschirm. There are lighter, cheaper ones, which I have tried, but the many disadvantages of umbrella use are overcome with the Euroschirm and it is worth its weight in gold. It has especially saved me from heat stroke for weeks at a time.
I agree completely. I saw many, many people just sort of waving their poles around, and tapping the ground tick-tick-tick, which doesn’t seem to do much other than add weight.
I played with mine a fair bit, changing the way I gripped them, how I wrapped the straps around my hands, and with the pressure i placed on then, until that moment of revelation where I finally understood: “oh gosh, these things do make a BIG difference!” And yes, from that point on, it was fully like switching to four-wheel drive from two on a slippery road. Thanks for the detailed analysis!
 
Hi there,
I’m starting my first Camino Frances early May, and I don’t know whether I need hiking poles or not?
I’m 26 years old, relatively fit and don’t have any injuries (yet!)
I used poles for the first time last year doing the Everest Base Camp trek, and they were a great investment, though of course Base Camp was very much a trek based on inclines and declines…
I just don’t know if they’ll be something extra to carry that I don’t need, or something I’ll be very grateful to have on the Camino.
Any intel would be wonderful. Thank you in advance! :)
Used a light-weight high-quality walking pole for the first time last year on the Via Francigena. Just for a day as I was delivering it to a pilgrim who had left it behind. What a revelation! All future caminos for me will be with a single pole.
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
Footnote: with the exception of those who carry them purely for occasional stability use purposes, I think many people take them on camino without ever learning to use them properly. They're next to useless if not used properly and can potentially even be a hazard. Sitting in your backpack they're just added weight.
In those situations they are indeed just a 'fad' - or perhaps, more accurately, a poorly informed choice.
Completely agree.

More people seem to be using them correctly now than was the case some years ago when conducting an imaginary orchestra was popular.
 

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