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walking poles

sandycreek

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2013
I am doing the Cmino next year. Will be crossing the Pyrenees from France into Spain. What sort of walking poles are best? I've read that shock absorbing poles are a handicap on hard surfaces. Wouid appreciate any feedback. And what abourt footwear? Are hiking boots necessary or would confortable shoes suffice? I am doing the walk September into Oct. Cheers
 
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tyrrek

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPP-SdC (4-5/2011), Ferrol-SdC (9/2011), Pamplona-SdC (3-4/2012), Camino Finisterre (10/2012), Ourense-SdC (5/2014)
Hi Sandycreek.

Search the forum. There's loads of info and opinions on both walking poles and footwear. As Jeff says it often comes down to personal preference. Personally I'm not a huge fan of walking poles, but when it comes to footwear I just put myself in the hands of a good outdoors shop and have always arrived where I want to be...or further. :roll:

Buen Camino!
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
There is plenty of opinion and advice on poles and boots available on this site and elsewhere.

On the specific issue of whether to use a sprung or unsprung pole, I have been using a mix for several years, and have a slight preference for sprung poles, but it's not clear cut. Sprung poles can have the spring collapse, at which point you have an unsprung pole that flops around. PM me if you want details on the brands that have given me problems.

I trained for about a year with my current Komperdell poles, and walked across Norway with them this year without any issues. This is the longest a sprung pole has survived with my use patterns.

If you don't currently use poles, and think you will, get them early and begin walking with them regularly. Its too late to learn good technique at the start of the Camino. I train with mine in urban areas, on the level and in hilly terrain, hard surfaces and soft, and used them throughout the whole day in Spain and Norway.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
jeff001 said:
At least 90% is on roads and whether you need poles at all is a matter or personal preference.
90% appears to be a substantial overstatement. My 2009 Brierley shows over 500km of the route from SJPP as path and track, the remainder being a combination of quiet and main roads. This would indicate less than 40% is on roads of any type, a figure closer to my recollection of the amount of road relative to tracks and paths.

Regards,
 
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jastrace

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2010, 2013, 2015, and 2017.
Camino Portuguese in planning (Sept 2018)
Hi sandycreek,

I was originally anti-poles, now I would not do without them. What is "best" depends so much on your preferences and requirements. There are so many good options. I've been training with pacerpoles for our camino next year. They are un-sprung but have angled hand grips that are comfortable. I prefer them to my sprung carbon fibre straight gripped poles. You can do a search on these forums for more info.

The only answer you can give on footware is: "it depends". Everyone's feet and preferences are so different. There have been discussions on this forum about boots, half boots, hiking shooes, runners, sandals, thongs/flipflops/jandals, vibram five fingers and even barefoot. All have their pros and cons. My view is that normally it is hard to beat a pair of well broken and well fitting hiking boots because they are comfortable, generally offer the best protection against injury and are suitable in hot, cold, dry, wet, muddy, dusty, sandy and rocky conditions. About the only conditions I can think they are not as good as other options is on hard flat surfaces (eg pavement) where runners provide more cushion over short distances. There are devotees to the barefoot movement but I think that would require considerable preparation to embark on your Camino barefoot and also have an enjoyable experience.

There are always exceptions. I have gone through about seven types, styles and brands of footware now and am currently breaking in two pairs of Salomon hiking shoes (despite my preference for boots), because they are very good (for me and at this point in time). My only concern is the risk of rolling an ankle, so I have to take other measures to manage that. Without knowing what your feet are like etc I would suggest that the decision is between hiking boots or shoes (or variant) rather than just comfortable shoes. Ultimately it is your decision.

If you are concerned see a podiatrist or sports doctor for advice relevant for you.

The best advice is to shop around and find a pair that fit really well and then train in them and break them in.

Finally I suggest that you do a bit of research on this forum about blisters. There are many opinions on the best way to minimise the chances of blisters and if you do get them, how to minimise their impact. Definitely worth a read. For me blister management includes: breaking in shoes (and feet), the right socks (or sock combination), taping my feet in known problem areas and immediate intervention when hot spots are first felt.

But train, test things, work out what works for you. Spend time dealing with all this stuff now so you can enjoy your Camino as much as possible.

Good luck with it all.

Jason.
 

nreyn12

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Walked (2005) (2007) (2008) (2009) (2010) (2011) (2012) (2013) (2014) (2015); Guide 2013-2016
I have four requirements for walking poles:

1. must have wrist straps
2. must be telescopic (so you can make them longer or shorter, depending on the terrain, and so they can be collapsed and strapped to the outside of my backpack when not in use and put inside for flights)
3. must have rubber tips to go over the metal tips for walking on asphalt and concrete
4. must learn how to use them so they are actually useful!

I've never used poles with the spring-y feature, and so far so good.

Nancy
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
1. must have wrist straps
Wrist straps carry the weight when poles are used properly. However, the molded handles of the increasingly popular Pacer Poles make wrist straps unnecessary. Pacer Poles are the only trekking poles I have seen that do not have wrist straps, so requirement #1 is met with every pole except staves.
 

Abbeydore

Veteran Member
Pacerpoles are best, if you don't like them after getting them & trying them you can send them back.
They are wonderful, and they will post them anywhere in the world. They tick all the boxes & your knees will thank you too :) ; they are different to anyother pole, they have patented their grip, the others are in awe of their attention to detail.

The only thing I've found wrong with pacerpoles is that some people tend to borrow them permanently :lol: So you need to almost sleep with them :wink:
@ the end of the day we all make our own choice.
 
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Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
If you join the Pacerpole crowd you're likely to be accused of being evangelistic about them - but you'll see why if you do. Yes, another Pacerpole user here. After all the discussion about them on this forum I expected to see a pair every other day on the camino - yet mine were the only ones I saw.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
jeff001 said:
dougfitz: I was referring to the original question about the route over the Pyrenees, not the entire Camino.
Sorry, I didn't realise.

In that case, your 90% is merely an exaggeration. I walked Route Valcarlos, which has a 9km stretch from Arneguy as well as a couple of km at the start on main road. Even there, I would have estimated perhaps 70% was on roads, certainly not 90%. Route Napoleon appears to have more path or track. Perhaps one day I will find out.
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
PingHansen is so right....if you get Pacers, you will find people asking to have a hold and they will all smile as they slip their hand onto the handle. Of course the real benefit comes when you get walking, but even just holding them is a good experience!

You need only claim they are good and someone will accuse you of being evangelistic - but it's a crime I am happy to be found guilty of. I'm intrigued that I have not seen the same accusation made of Leki users, but maybe it's because they are the majority choice. Don't know, don't mind.
 

soch

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camiño Portugués 2012
Kiwi-family said:
PingHansen is so right....if you get Pacers, you will find people asking to have a hold and they will all smile as they slip their hand onto the handle. Of course the real benefit comes when you get walking, but even just holding them is a good experience!

You need only claim they are good and someone will accuse you of being evangelistic - but it's a crime I am happy to be found guilty of. I'm intrigued that I have not seen the same accusation made of Leki users, but maybe it's because they are the majority choice. Don't know, don't mind.

################################################################################
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cecelia

Wandering for the love and growth of it
Year of past OR future Camino
2013
sandycreek said:
. And what about footwear? Are hiking boots necessary or would comfortable shoes suffice? I am doing the walk September into Oct. Cheers
Hi Sandycreek,
Much has been said about poles already. About boots or shoes - certainly much has been said about this as well on this forum but in brief the right answer is: (drum roll) That depends.
September is usually a very dry month and you could easily walk in hiking sandals if you're that type (I'm not). But sometimes it rains like crazy all month and you will be soaking wet. So it's not really a question anyone else can answer for you. Poke around at all the many and varied opinions and check the various sites available about weather and then decide what YOU think will work best. Consider any need you might have for extra support considering you are suddenly 7 or 8 kilos heavier with your backpack. Consider slippage (make sure they don't have any). Consider which would make you most uncomfortable - hot, sweaty feet or cold, wet feet because in October especially it could be either.
Sorry - not trying to make things difficult.
Buen camino.
 
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Abbeydore

Veteran Member
If you where shoes you are going to need an umbrella of sorts for each foot unless you like walking in wet feet & getting blisters too boot :wink:

Me: Boots everytime & NOT goretex either, they get too HOT!
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
The poles certainly do help you glide along the flat, but they really come in to their own on the downhills. I had a knee injury that plays up whenever I hike downhill - now I will not claim the Pacerpoles have cured me, but they do make going downhill bearable. I put my weight on the sticks and save my knees. They are also good on the uphills - you can really push down on them and urge your body onwards and upwards.
I have not needed to adjust the length at any stage when walking with them.

Sometimes it's all so effortless that I wondered if they were even helping - so one day walked without the poles, and DID find a difference.
The main disadvantage is that at the end of the day you are still moving your arms as if you're holding poles and you look like a complete dork!
 

Abbeydore

Veteran Member
Kiwi-family said:
The poles certainly do help you glide along the flat, but they really come in to their own on the downhills. I had a knee injury that plays up whenever I hike downhill - now I will not claim the Pacerpoles have cured me, but they do make going downhill bearable. I put my weight on the sticks and save my knees. They are also good on the uphills - you can really push down on them and urge your body onwards and upwards.
I have not needed to adjust the length at any stage when walking with them.

Sometimes it's all so effortless that I wondered if they were even helping - so one day walked without the poles, and DID find a difference.
The main disadvantage is that at the end of the day you are still moving your arms as if you're holding poles and you like a complete dork!

Were your family jealous of you & your poles :wink:
& how often did they steal them from you! :mrgreen:

I'm pleased we all convinced you to buy them, Heather(Pacerpole owner/designer) will be very pleased, & I'm sure she probably has a remedy for you to stop looking like a D... :)
David
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
Abbeydore said:
Were your family jealous of you & your poles :wink:
& how often did they steal them from you! :mrgreen:

I'm pleased we all convinced you to buy them, Heather(Pacerpole owner/designer) will be very pleased, & I'm sure she probably has a remedy for you to stop looking like a D... :)
David

Yes they were jealous! Grandpa had borrowed a pole from a friend and I actually tried to convince him to use my poles before we went so that if they wre good for him, I'd have happily offered them to him - but he wouldn't persevere with loving his arms withe very pace and so he stuck with his one stick. It worked for him and he was heavily reliant on it on the uphills. As for the kids, they all picke dup a stick along the way - and the youngest found herself TWO sticks and walked with them correctly!
 

hotelmedicis

Commercial Interests
Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2001 (+more)
VDLP 2013, 2018
As people have already written, Pacerpoles seem to be very popular and many people swear by them. I have never used them but if I were to replace my pair of Komperdell poles I would first try the Pacerpoles. Have a look.
 
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30daystosantiago

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2002 solo and 2013 with wife and toddler
As mentioned, there are many opinions about these topics. I will share my personal experience. I used one telescoping, spring loaded trekking pole (by a company called Leki)- loved it. I used it every day even on level surfaces -- I found it theraputic. It came in very handy on inclines and decents.

As for footwear - again lots of opinions. My view is to avoid hiking shoes (I actually wore hiking shoes for a portion of the Camino and found they did not provide ample ankle support over the 500 miles). My recommendation is to select instead lightweight mid rise hiking boots like those from Merrell.
 

Mysticl

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances May (2015) - pending
Adding my voice to the choir. I made the plunge and got Pacerpoles last year and I won't go hiking without them now. They help me to walk straight something I didn't know I didn't do naturally ... which might explain my horrible balance. When I walk with them I DO NOT get the lower back pain I get when I walk without them. Hills are much easier and downhills are a breeze. My kids think I look like a dork but I am a happy dork. They came within a week of ordering all the way from the UK to Vancouver Island BC and the customer service contact was impeccable right down to a personalized email to check on their arrival and to see if I had any questions. I am going to smuggle them into the alburges at night by breaking them down and stashing in my pack (sneaky) as I hear they sometimes make you stash the poles by the door (horrors) ... I may even sleep with them to make sure they stay safe ... yes they are that important to me ... if I lose them on the Camino, I might as well go home, cause I highly doubt I could finish without them, they make that big a difference to my walking. I confess I am older and overweight (altho I'm working on that) with a bit of a bum hip and a wonky knee from time to time but when I walk with the poles I do not suffer from any of those problems ... not even on very long day hikes in the mountains. They also help immensely with balancing on tricky climbs down rocky or steep hilly terrain. Yeah ... I am one of the converted ... and a passionate Pacerpole owner.
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
Mysticl
If you pack your poles down and fit them into your pack, there's no reason for you to NOT take them into an albergue. Just remember to put the rubber street feet on so you don't tear your pack (although you'll probably have the rubber tips on by the time you get to an albergue - I don't remember too many of them being directly on the rocky path.)
 

vicrev

Active Member
Hi All...I had been using walking poles up till just recently,my wrist & finger joints started to ache after a couple of hours of walking.I decided to make my own pole handles.Bought 40mm square pine,cut about 300mm long, drilled a 19 mm hole at 45 degrees,ripped off the stupid plastic handles,inserted & glued the poles into it,shaped the handles to my natural grip....The benefits ??...No more aching joints...sweaty hands.The weight is transferred through my palms, to the handles,not my fingers & wrists.....They work a treat !!!......Cheers Vicr
 
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D

Deleted member 3000

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shaped the handles to my natural grip....The benefits ??...No more aching joints...sweaty hands.The weight is transferred through my palms
You just invented the Pacer Pole (or violated their patents :D )!

You were gripping your old poles too tightly. I did that, and one evening both hands cramped so that I could not hold a fork. Your weight should have been on the wrist straps, properly adjust, so that your hands do nothing more than guide the placement of the pole tip. That is more a tip for pilgrims using traditional poles. I vote, if you are counting votes, for your custom made pacer poles.

Buen camino.
 

vicrev

Active Member
No Falcon269, I did not re-invent the Pacer Pole,the idea of a crossbar on top of a pole or stick has been around since Adam was a pup !! I tried the straps loose,tight, every which way,still sore wrists & fingers.Might be because I am 70 ?? The custom fitted handles work for me,nothing like making your own gear that works! If you happen to be walking the Le Puy route in early May & see someone with poles that have wooden handles,a big smile on their face,that will be me !!........Cheers Vicr
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
I am leaving Le Puy on April 17, so will be a bit ahead of you. Should we meet, you will know me by my Pacer Poles. :wink:
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances ('10), Portugues ('11), Promitivo ('13), VdlP ('14), Ingles ('16), Torres ('17), Litoral '19
I am surprised no one has mentioned Nordic Walking Poles in this thread. I wouldn’t dream of attempting a Camino without them. I go for a 5km walk most days and have given up worrying about what the neighbours think and ignore the comments about impending snow. The poles take a considerable weight off the legs, provide forward momentum, increase the amount of upper body exercise and transfer most of the weight from the hand to the wrist by the design of the “glove” attached to the handle.

I used fixed-length extremely light Exel poles on the Camino Frances and the Camino Portugues. I have now acquired equally light collapsible Leki poles. These have the added advantage of “gloves” that easily detach from the pole rather than having to remove the glove when you need to use your hand for something. They also have rubber paws that unlock and slide up the pole about 1cm to reveal the “steel” point when on gravel paths.

I can’t heap enough praise on my Nordic Walking Poles but recognise that, while they are perfect for me, others will find that different poles are right for them or they may prefer not to have any.

Liam
 
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Trekster

Member
Alright already. I've just ordered a pair of pacer poles. If they live up to their reputation I'll have two pairs of Black Diamond poles on Craigslist soon!
 

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