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Poles

Maxetout

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances
Hi I’ll be walking my first Camino from
Sarria next month and think I’ll want walking poles! Should i bring them with me (from Australia) or are there poles others have left behind.

I don’t own any but am considering Black Friday sales!! Thanks in nervous anticipation
 
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Disclaimer: I'm spending a fair amount of my time hiking and I've seen far too many people with cheap hiking poles take a fall - resulting in injury and broken poles. So take this advice as you wish.

Buy some good quality poles in Australia and *learn how to use them* before boarding that flight to Spain. You'll have checked luggage anyway (I assume coming from that far away?) so that should be a non-issue.

Hiking poles are only useful if you use them correctly. Go to a dedicated outdoor shop and have the sales person help with pole height settings. You need to know the height for flat walking, uphill and downhill. Next you need to practice your hand / wrist position. Either have that explained in store or check Youtube and *practice*. Poles used incorrectly are a waste of money.

As for the quality. Most people get away with cheap Decathlon poles. However, in the event that you do take a fall (the path might be fairly wet in December) quality poles will hold your fall with a much higher likelihood than cheap ones. They snap much more easily, potentially leading to a more serious tumble and injury.

If you pick up poles in Sarria you wont have time to practice and you don't know of what quality they are / if they've already taken a beating and might already have structural issues.
 
Buy. 'Pacer Poles', unique design which aids posture( this minimises chance of injury). . Oh . . . and they do all the stuff other poles do.
Made in UK, but they ship worldwide.
Google them 🙂
Have a great Camino 👍
 
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Another option is to just buy a single hiking stick (pole) in Sarria. Plenty of options to buy or find one along the way, and a lot easier to adjust to than two walking poles. Buen Camino!
 
@Maxetout, I'm definitely with @sun is shining on this. Buy your poles NOW and learn to use them properly. It'll only take a few days the rest is just practice (to make it second nature.)
If you can't find a decent professional, the correct length is relatively easy to ascertain - your arms at a right angle to your body with the grip in your hand and approximately 10 centimeters adjustment in both directions so you can shorten or lengthen them as required.
I only use cheap decathlon poles because I don't 'need' poles. ( I use them because they assist me uphill, take pressure off my knees downhill, and significantly increase the distance I can walk on the flat!).
But if you want them for stability or support, eg to help prevent a fall then definitely buy better quality poles. @sun is shining is 100% correct here.
Do NOT buy online unless you already know exactly what you need.
As to training you could check out the YouTube video from Chase Mountains - a young Aussie bloke now living over here in Europe. The videos about six or seven years old but I've yet to find better, although the video he did about trekking Pole technique about three years ago is also very good.
0h, and buy the rubber tips! €5 at Decathlon, they improve the grip (especially in the wet) plus make life a hell of a lot quieter for everyone concerned. Unlike Chase you're not going to be hiking mountain trails!
Buen Camino!
 
I'd recommend getting poles at home, practicing a bit, and not needing to search them out after arrival in Spain. I use folding Black Diamond poles that easily fit into my backpack.

If you are stopping in Santiago on the way to Sarria, you could probably find some donated poles at the Pilgrim House or Casa Ivar. Otherwise, not many people are likely leaving poles in Sarria.
 
Be part of the Camino Cleanup team! Help us pick up litter from Ponferrada to Sarria.
Disclaimer: I'm spending a fair amount of my time hiking and I've seen far too many people with cheap hiking poles take a fall - resulting in injury and broken poles. So take this advice as you wish.

Buy some good quality poles in Australia and *learn how to use them* before boarding that flight to Spain. You'll have checked luggage anyway (I assume coming from that far away?) so that should be a non-issue.

Hiking poles are only useful if you use them correctly. Go to a dedicated outdoor shop and have the sales person help with pole height settings. You need to know the height for flat walking, uphill and downhill. Next you need to practice your hand / wrist position. Either have that explained in store or check Youtube and *practice*. Poles used incorrectly are a waste of money.

As for the quality. Most people get away with cheap Decathlon poles. However, in the event that you do take a fall (the path might be fairly wet in December) quality poles will hold your fall with a much higher likelihood than cheap ones. They snap much more easily, potentially leading to a more serious tumble and injury.

If you pick up poles in Sarria you wont have time to practice and you don't know of what quality they are / if they've already taken a beating and might already have structural issues.
I would add that the correct length of poles for uphill and downhill is related to the steepness of the hill.

But one thing to remember is you should be pushing yourself up hill with your poles - not pulling yourself up! And use your poles in front when going down hill to slow your descent and reduce knee strain.

Many people have their pole handles set too high on the flat - I’ve seen them set at chest and even shoulder height

The section from Sarria is mostly flat or undulating (also very pretty) so it’s an easy-ish section to walk.
 
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Hi I’ll be walking my first Camino from
Sarria next month and think I’ll want walking poles! Should i bring them with me (from Australia) or are there poles others have left behind.

I don’t own any but am considering Black Friday sales!! Thanks in nervous anticipation
I suggest buying them at home. Second hand is fine (try Gumtree or Gear Freak) or Decathalon.

I just brought my usual hiking poles - Pacer poles. For 26€ you can post them back home from Santiago if you end up with good ones that you don’t want to lug around for the rest of your trip.

The correct length of poles for uphill and downhill is related to the steepness of the hill. But one thing to remember is you should be pushing yourself up hill with your poles - not pulling yourself up! And use your poles in front when going down hill to slow your descent and reduce knee strain.

Many people have their pole handles set too high on the flat - I’ve seen them set at chest and even shoulder height!

And take the rubber tips off for traction on earth, shale or rock. Pop them back on when you want to reduce noise on roads.
 
Disclaimer: I'm spending a fair amount of my time hiking and I've seen far too many people with cheap hiking poles take a fall - resulting in injury and broken poles. So take this advice as you wish.

Buy some good quality poles in Australia and *learn how to use them* before boarding that flight to Spain. You'll have checked luggage anyway (I assume coming from that far away?) so that should be a non-issue.

Hiking poles are only useful if you use them correctly. Go to a dedicated outdoor shop and have the sales person help with pole height settings. You need to know the height for flat walking, uphill and downhill. Next you need to practice your hand / wrist position. Either have that explained in store or check Youtube and *practice*. Poles used incorrectly are a waste of money.

As for the quality. Most people get away with cheap Decathlon poles. However, in the event that you do take a fall (the path might be fairly wet in December) quality poles will hold your fall with a much higher likelihood than cheap ones. They snap much more easily, potentially leading to a more serious tumble and injury.

If you pick up poles in Sarria you wont have time to practice and you don't know of what quality they are / if they've already taken a beating and might already have structural issues.
Thanks for so much great advice. Sounds like good ones are worth the money
 
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,-
@Maxetout, you have some great advice here.

If you are prepared to spend some time before you leave learning how to use the poles correctly, you will get a better result from the outset.

More, you won't need to get distracted by Pacer Poles. They have some advantages for users who have not been able to invest some time in learning how to use conventional poles correctly. I suspect it is impossible for a new user to get the grip action wrong with Pacer Poles. Of course, that is going to be sufficient advantage for some people, but it doesn't mean that they have learnt enough to use them effectively, even in the limited range of conditions you will face walking the Camino. My observation is that once you have worked out how to use the straps correctly, or the hand grips, almost all other things are going to be equal between Pacer poles and conventional poles.

As for this comment:
Buy. 'Pacer Poles', unique design which aids posture( this minimises chance of injury). . Oh . . . and they do all the stuff other poles do.
it is true but I think it is misleading. Any pole will help improve your posture when used correctly, both Pacer Poles and conventional poles. It is an advantage you can get from any and every pole that you are using correctly.
 
The correct length of poles for uphill and downhill is related to the steepness of the hill. But one thing to remember is you should be pushing yourself up hill with your poles - not pulling yourself up! And use your poles in front when going down hill to slow your descent and reduce knee strain.


And take the rubber tips off for traction on earth, shale or rock. Pop them back on when you want to reduce noise on roads.
Absolutely agree with the first point - hence my comment in my original post about ensuring you've got room to adjust your poles , I just failed to be specific. The video I included covers all of that.

Completely disagree with the second point. Numerous research shows that the rubber tips offer far more grip on hard surfaces , regardless whether that is the road, cobblestone, rock, shale etc. Logical when you think about it :The rubber tips greatly expand the available surface area from the small metal carbide tip to a large rubber base. And rubber provides more friction than metal - hence, more grip.
The two very obvious exceptions are ice and mud. If for whatever reason you've got a lot of it, your carbide tips are your best friend.

Not that it's really an issue considering how heavily walked the Camino is, but tips on your poles also reduce the environmental impact.... . Something to consider on your training walks on your local trails.
 
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Another option is to just buy a single hiking stick (pole) in Sarria. Plenty of options to buy or find one along the way, and a lot easier to adjust to than two walking poles. Buen Camino!
Walking with a single pole is not advised, because it would lead to a bad posture.
 
Thanks for so much great advice. Sounds like good ones are worth the money
Definitely! I bought a fairly expensive pair of Leki poles 5 years ago. They are as good as new and trust me, they've taken their fair share of slips and falls over the last years. 110€ well spend.

If hiking is something you want to get into - or do any more Caminos after this one - invest in a decent pair right from the start. You might never need their sturdiness but if you do, you'll be grateful for them.
 
All good replies, but we are definitely all different. I have a pair of nice Leki poles purchased because of all the hype when I used to day hike in mountains, but I rarely use them at home. I no longer check baggage on my flights, and on the Camino I prefer using a single pole and usually purchase a cheap one at Decathlon. In Italy I even found a perfect stick that worked great. It was unique and became a good friend and was sad to have to leave it behind on my way home.

I have been on eight Caminos and have never personally seen anyone fall, due to using cheap poles or otherwise. I have decent posture and do not walk crooked. I will switch to two poles when my body decides it is time. Last May I did take a bad fall, slipping on the slick granite floor at the Chamartin train station in Madrid. I was running much too fast to catch a train wearing my backpack. I broke my arm, but it had nothing to do with poles.
 
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Excellent. Tks so much
LOVE my Pacer poles. Wouldn't use anything else. A whole different way of walking. I am 73 and have done a few Caminos. My body never feels as good as when I am walking with these poles. With these poles, you are walking upright at all times and the whole mantra is shoulders down and gently back, and when I have my pack properly placed with the weight on my hips, my body feels great. No more expensive than any other poles and you will not be sorry.
 
Buy. 'Pacer Poles', unique design which aids posture( this minimises chance of injury). . Oh . . . and they do all the stuff other poles do.
Made in UK, but they ship worldwide.
Google them 🙂
Have a great Camino 👍
I am with Frankybaby66. The PacerPoles will carry you to Santiago, up and down the Alto de Perdon, into O Cebreiro, over Monte de Gozo and down again, you will walk on wings and you knees will be protected. Once, someone on this forum asked whether any Pacer Poles owner was ready to part with them? There were zero replies. They are more expensive but you will cherish them every kilometer on the Camino.
 
I just carry one folding Black Diamond pole. It is usually in my pack side pocket. It comes out mostly when descending rocky ravines or crossing streams, or on steep descents to take some weight off my knees. It has a small hard rubber tip that can be replaced when worn down. I don't go click clacking through towns or cities. And extended poles in cities are a nuisance if not a danger to others. They are effective, though, in discouraging menacing dogs, sometimes just by a little low wave. I have been using just one pole, of various kinds, in the mountains of Alaska for 50 years and think my posture is still ok. Maybe the best part left of me. 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 I’ll be walking my first Camino from
Sarria next month and think I’ll want walking poles! Should i bring them with me (from Australia) or are there poles others have left behind.

I don’t own any but am considering Black Friday sales!! Thanks in nervous anticipation
For my last two Caminos, I've purchased basic poles. I've found these in variety and souvenir stores for less than €10 per pair. At the end of the Camino, I leave them propped against the Cervantes Fountain. They're gone in a few hours.

You can't bring poles in carry-on baggage, though you can check them
 
Hi I’ll be walking my first Camino from
Sarria next month and think I’ll want walking poles! Should i bring them with me (from Australia) or are there poles others have left behind.

I don’t own any but am considering Black Friday sales!! Thanks in nervous anticipation
If you bring them with you, you get the exact poles you want. However, you need to plan to place them in checked luggage.

Depending on where you are starting, you may have access to a decent hiking store, selling poles. There is no way to know in advance what will be on offer, what they will cost, or if you would spend money on them.

Personally, I have Black Diamond carbon fiber poles that I really like. They collapse to fit inside my rucksack. My rucksack goes into a large nylon laundry sack, This is checked as luggage. It has always worked for me. I typically have one connection on the way to my starting point.

OTOH, if you are flying to your starting place on the cheap, and checking a bag would break the bank, then refrain from buying poles in OZ, and hope you can pick up a decent pair on arrival. There is at least one very good Camino outfitting shop in Sarria. I think it is called Caminoteca and is located at the very bottom of the stairs you must climb to exit Sarria.

Hope this helps. Buen Camino!

Tom
 
You can't bring poles in carry-on baggage, though you can check them
Totally depends on your point of origin. As evidenced by the massive number of posts here on the forum. Some say yea, some say nay.
And it’s nothing to do with the airline, it’s down to the regulations in your country of origin, and how stringent security is.
You sure as heck won’t be able to take them as carry on flying out of Santiago though! Super friendly security, super strict on this point…. .
 
Be part of the Camino Cleanup team! Help us pick up litter from Ponferrada to Sarria.
My reason for not checking anything is that I dislike waiting for my bag/s to come through on the carousels with the hordes of other people.
Ditto
But I have a second reason - the Airlines have temporarily misplaced/ mishandled my luggage twice. Which considering that it happens extremely rarely (less than 1% of bags are mishandled according to the official statistics) is a tad annoying. Although to be fair that's over quite a number of flights.
Heading out on camino I just don't want to take the chance of having to wait or worse still never having it turn up (extremely rare!). So I make sure it fits the relevant Airlines 'Carry on' policies, and if that meant leaving poles behind and buying new at my destination then that's what I would do.
 
Ditto
But I have a second reason - the Airlines have temporarily misplaced/ mishandled my luggage twice. Which considering that it happens extremely rarely (less than 1% of bags are mishandled according to the official statistics) is a tad annoying. Although to be fair that's over quite a number of flights.
Heading out on camino I just don't want to take the chance of having to wait or worse still never having it turn up (extremely rare!). So I make sure it fits the relevant Airlines 'Carry on' policies, and if that meant leaving poles behind and buying new at my destination then that's what I would do.
Exactly! Potentially lost backpack or luggage is another reason I keep mine with me. I've read of a few nightmare experiences on the forum over the years.
 
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@Linda Fantillo and @Madeleine Jacobs, over the years on this forum, I have regularly seen Pacer Pole afficionados sing their praises. Are you able to tell us why the advantages you claim from Pacer Poles aren't the benefits other pole users will also achieve?
With these poles, you are walking upright at all times and the whole mantra is shoulders down and gently back, and when I have my pack properly placed with the weight on my hips, my body feels great.
@Madeleine Jacobs, I think we've also become used to Pacer Pole users engaging in a high level of hyperbole, but this takes the cake on that score:
The PacerPoles will carry you to Santiago, up and down the Alto de Perdon, into O Cebreiro, over Monte de Gozo and down again, you will walk on wings and you [sic] knees will be protected.
Absolutely none of this is completely true. Even allowing for a level of enthusiasm, this is completely over the top. More worthy of some advertising campaign for Pacer Poles than a more objective level of discussion one might expect on this forum.

I will go so far as to suggest that even the statement 'you [sic] knees will be protected' is misleading. Certainly correct pole use will take some weight off the lower joints, and might delay the onset of joint problems like osteoarthritis. But that is delay, not complete protection. And it's a benefit every pole user will get from pole use, and nothing to do with Pacer Poles per se.

It is now over a decade that I have been waiting for a reasonable explanation for the unique benefits of the Pacer Pole design from someone on this forum. Unfortunately, these contributions aren't going to stop the wait.

As a postscript, those Pacer Pole users that have engaged in this discussion before might recall that I do agree that they appear easier for inexperienced pole users to use correctly from the outset. If that is all that can be provided as an explanation, I will remain unconvinced.
 
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Take it for what it's worth:
About 12 years ago I purchased a cheap set of poles on Amazon. IIRC I paid about $15.00 for it. 3-section extending poles made of cheap aluminum (aka aluminium) with cheap cork handle grips. Somewhat on the heavier side.
Took me through various portions of AT, many local trails big and small, 4-day trek on Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, full Frances (SJPdP to SdC), Finisterre, many more local trail and I have no doubt about it that it will take me through TMB come summer of '24.
Just sayin'....
And yes I bring them with. Checked in along with my Gregory Zulu 35L using one of those foldable nylon "duffel bags" (there are enough threads on the Forum about those). Absolutely agree with folks who say they do not wish to wait by the carousel for-like-EVAH but I am willing to 'sacrifice' my time...
To each his/ her own.
 
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I will go so far as to suggest that even the statement 'you [sic] knees will be protected' is misleading. Certainly correct pole use will take some weight off the lower joints, and might delay the onset of joint problems like osteoarthritis. But that is delay, not complete protection.
All I can say is that when I started the Camino Frances without poles in 2016, I completely shot my knees. Knee braces and ibuprofen were not sufficient. I needed poles (and knee braces and ibuprofen) to complete my Camino. This year, I walked the Camino San Salvador and the Primitivo with poles from the beginning. These seemed to me to be at least as challenging to the knees as the Frances if not more so. I had no knee problems at all. So I have anecdotal experience that poles protected my knees.

And, while I do my best to use my poles more or less properly, I know I am not using them perfectly as they are used in the videos. But I still get lots of benefit from them (although likely not as much as I would if I were more rigorous in that regard). So I would disagree with those that say that poles not used perfectly are of no benefit at all. They can still assist with balance. They can still prevent hands from swelling. They can still help take the weight off your knees when you are walking steep descents. They just may not propel you quite as much on the flats.
 
Prepare for your next Camino on Santa Catalina Island, March 17-20
So I have anecdotal experience that poles protected my knees.
Are you suggesting that your current pole use will provide some form of complete protection of your knees into the future? That would be an ambitious claim, but it appears to be the suggestion in one of the earlier posts that I quoted. As I said, there is ample evidence that using poles correctly will reduce the weight on your lower joints. That is not in dispute. I am suggesting that this is not a benefit unique to Pacer Poles, much as those who advocate for them might suggest or infer that it is.

As for what is 'using them correctly', there are so many pole skills videos available today that it is difficult to comment upon whether any individual one provides an unarguably best practice guide. My touchstones are around the use of the strap on conventional poles, pushing down with sufficient force to get some benefit, and on adjusting pole length to suit your preference for greater weight reduction or increased walking speed. That leaves a broad range of things that I have come to think of as matters of individual preference.
 
Take it for what it's worth:
About 12 years ago I purchased a cheap set of poles on Amazon. IIRC I paid about $15.00 for it. 3-section extending poles made of cheap aluminum (aka aluminium) with cheap cork handle grips. Somewhat on the heavier side.
Took me through various portions of AT, many local trails big and small, 4-day trek on Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, full Frances (SJPdP to SdC), Finisterre, many more local trail and I have no doubt about it that it will take me through TMB come summer of '24.
Just sayin'....
My own experience with cheap poles has not been great, but I have also had more expensive poles fail as well. My simple take-away is that if you do want to buy less expensive poles, avoid getting any with anti-shock springs. With sufficient use, these springs will eventually fail as they reach the end of their fatigue life. Of course, if you never do more than fairy tap your pole, and don't exert any real pressure, you might never reach that point. For others it might take some time, but every set of poles I have used with these springs has eventually had one or both collapse.

As an aside, the only anti-shock poles that I now have in my collection are from Black Diamond, and these have an external elastomer collar that provides the anti-shock compression. I have been using these for over a decade, and apart from some lack of responsiveness in cold weather until the collar 'warms up', these are still going strong today, and the collar is not showing any signs of damage or decay.
 
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,-
Are you suggesting that your current pole use will provide some form of complete protection of your knees into the future? That would be an ambitious claim, but it appears to be the suggestion in one of the earlier posts that I quoted. As I said, there is ample evidence that using poles correctly will reduce the weight on your lower joints. That is not in dispute. I am suggesting that this is not a benefit unique to Pacer Poles, much as those who advocate for them might suggest or infer that it is.

As for what is 'using them correctly', there are so many pole skills videos available today that it is difficult to comment upon whether any individual one provides an unarguably best practice guide. My touchstones are around the use of the strap on conventional poles, pushing down with sufficient force to get some benefit, and on adjusting pole length to suit your preference for greater weight reduction or increased walking speed. That leaves a broad range of things that I have come to think of as matters of individual preference.
I think that saying something will be protected doesn't necessarily guarantee complete protection but rather suggests that some level of protection will be provided.

When I said I thought my knees had been protected by my poles, I was suggesting they had received some level of protection, protection that was sufficient for the strains that they received on the San Salvador and Primitivo. Is that complete protection for anything that may happen in the future? Of course not! If someone were to take a baseball bat to my knees, I don't think I am suggesting my poles would protect them. But I see no reason to believe they would not provide the same benefits in the future that they provided on my Camino earlier this year.

You seemed to be suggesting that correct pole use would only serve to delay osteoarthritis. I simply responded I received other benefits.
 
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We are certainly all different in the way we use and do things😅 I use my poles to get what I want out of them, not what someone else thinks I should be doing! and I would much rather wait for my luggage (poles included) than add to the buy and discard economy - I bring my own drink bottle too😄 Flights from Australia usually include checked baggage but 5 of us last May/June also had 3 internal flights within Portugal and Spain where we paid to have all our packs checked in - in hindsight could have just checked one with all 5 sets of poles! Happy to report that none of our stuff went missing tho😊. Just choices we all make I guess🤷
 
I think that saying something will be protected doesn't necessarily guarantee complete protection but rather suggests that some level of protection will be provided.
That's an interesting perspective. If the person who posted the remark that I commented on had wanted to qualify their statement that way, they were at liberty to do so. They didn't.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Hi I’ll be walking my first Camino from
Sarria next month and think I’ll want walking poles! Should i bring them with me (from Australia) or are there poles others have left behind.

I don’t own any but am considering Black Friday sales!! Thanks in nervous anticipation
I didn't check my pack on my flight from the US so I waited until I got to France to get mine. I'm glad I waited because they were much less expensive (Decathlon 20€ each for perfectly fine poles) By the way, one pair of their red rubber tips lasted me the entire CF while the black ones friends picked up along the way wore through.
 
I didn't check my pack on my flight from the US so I waited until I got to France to get mine. I'm glad I waited because they were much less expensive (Decathlon 20€ each for perfectly fine poles) By the way, one pair of their red rubber tips lasted me the entire CF while the black ones friends picked up along the way wore through.
And may I ask what did you do with them once it was time to go home?
BTW, in preparation of aforementioned TMB hike, I just purchased a perfectly fine poles for my wife on Amazon for $18.00. Practically same as mine, but lighter and with extended grips. So far they passed the test of hiking on Bruce Trail in Ontario Canada....
 
) By the way, one pair of their red rubber tips lasted me the entire CF while the black ones friends picked up along the way wore through.
I've just finished walking a very hilly Camino on Gran Canaria. My flights from/to the UK were ridiculously cheap because I brought only one small carry on bag. I bought a pair of Decathlon's cheapest poles on arrival and used the red pole tips which I had saved after use on two previous short caminos. The poles served me well and I am sorry to have to abandon them so soon. I hope someone else gets good use from them. The red tips are in pack for next time!
 
A Treasure Trove Of Interesting Pilgrim Hacks! Learn & Share Your Own Too!
And may I ask what did you do with them once it was time to go home?
BTW, in preparation of aforementioned TMB hike, I just purchased a perfectly fine poles for my wife on Amazon for $18.00. Practically same as mine, but lighter and with extended grips. So far they passed the test of hiking on Bruce Trail in Ontario Canada....
I checked my pack on the way home, but my poles didn't collapse enough to fit completely inside. I was able to leave them with my son who currently lives in France. If I didn't have this option, I think I would have put them inside my pack as much as possible and them had my pack wrapped at the airport.
 

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