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Wooden Walking Sticks or Modern Trekking Poles

Wooden Walking Sticks or Modern Trekking Poles

  • A Wooden Walking Stick

    Votes: 8 100.0%
  • B Modern Trekking Poles

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I usually use walking poles but didn't take them on the Camino because they can't go as cabin luggage. I didn't want the poles to be damaged in the aircraft hold. Wooden sticks are fine - and buying them gives the local people the chance to make a little money. One of the things that struck me about the Camino is that there isn't much money in many of the communities you walk through.


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Walking stricks

You will see many pilgrims striding along with two poles.
Did you know that "Nordic Walking" is the name given to one of the fastes growing sports with Nordic Walking Associations springing up all over Europe. If you do a Google search you will be faced with over 4.5m items to read!
Many pilgrims have voiced their opnions on using two poles (on another forum) and it seems that those with knee, joint or muscle problems swear by their two poles whilst the more agile don't rate them at all.
I found that a walking stick was wonderful - especially on the rocky, gravel or sandy steep downhills. They also helped in Galicia when we had to negotiate our way by testing the depth of mud and cowshit!


Hi and thank you for your responses. I think I may take Anne’s advice and buy a wooden stick when I get to Spain, although maybe there is one waiting for me to pick it up on the Camino.

Shell :)


I've found that while having a stick is nice on the more difficult parts of the route, most of the time you don't really need it.

However for me having a stick didn't help as much with my walking as it did for my blood-circulation. If you don't have anything to hold in your hands while walking your arms will dangle at your sides for hours on end, making your hands swell up and blocking circulation. I've found that having a stick to grip and play with while walking makes this problem go away.

oh and I prefer the lightweight alu-sticks. 0/10 for style, but 10/10 for practicality :)
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I've just finished the walk from St J PdP to Santiago and didn't use any form of stick. To my mind any advantage of using arm muscle strength up or down hill is countered by the problem of where do you put the damned things when you should be concentrating on body balance and where you put your feet.



Active Member

I wonder if age is a consideration?

How old are you Paul? Are you "in shape?"

I'm asking respectfully.
I'm 53 and have some health issues which make me very stiff in the mornings. There is a part of me that would resent having to carry sticks becuase I love my freedom and feel most of the time I would not enjoy carrying them.

On the other hand, a wrong step could hurt a knee or ankle and end my Camino......


New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances Apr 2003 - Lourdes to Burgos via Jaca, August 2006; Le Puy to La Faba 2016
I walked from SJPdP to Astorga without a stick. I was 31 and in adequate shape. I thought it would be a hassle to have to carry a stick at all. Once I got to Astorga a bought a single wooden walking stick and fell in love with it within a day. It helped so much with balance and a good aid up and down hills.
I had tried a friend's 2 trekking poles for half a day earlier in my Camino and felt that 2 poles were too cumbersome but the single staff was not too inconvenient.
Wannes makes a good point that a stick gives your hands something to do and stops the swelling.
Many people (especially northern Europeans) swore by the poles, many people felt poles were just extra weight to carry. I will probably (hopefully) find a nice stick to cross the Pyrenees with this time, maybe leave it behind when I hit the Meseta. It's a very individual thing.


In answer to Deborah's question, I am 69. I did the 800km in 29 days and although I did have trouble with my feet (blisters and tendon) I believe that it was the extreme heat in leather boots that did it and there were only two occasions when I felt that sticks would have been useful.

I have tried them in the past but fairly quickly handed back.



Last year my wife and I arrived a couple of days early and stayed with local friends. On a day trip to Castro de Baroña, on the Galician coast, I found an excellent pine branch that became my trusty walking staff for our week on the Camino:

I decided it was too large to bring back with me, so I left it at the final campsite, but found it very useful during the week. I'm hoping I'll have a chance to pick up something similar in the woods near O'Cebreiro this time round, otherwise I may well buy a wooden staff to help.

I did look at walking poles but decided to save the money (or, at least, spend it on other things, like a water pouch with sipping tube and anti-bacterial socks!).

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I found my first pole in the woods after Leon. It did very well until I stumbled and managed to snap it. But then not 20 minutes later there was another ideal stick lying across the path. I really felt someone was watching over me that day!

And a week or so later when my knee started to play up at Eirexe it was a real godsend.


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Thanks everyone. Great photo Wulf! I think I'll just wait for a stick to find me on the way....

Just 7 more weeks... YIPPEE!


New Member
Deborah, what day do you start if you don't mind me asking? I'm starting on the 25th July from SJPP, just wondering if anyone is. :D

William Marques

Staff member
I have to admit being a walking stick maker in my spare time so I am obviously prejudiced. I can see the technical benefits of the treking pole. It is light, can be shrunk for airflights, can be adjusted in height.

But underneath I am drawn to the wooden staff. It is heavier but as some have said this does not matter so much as the stick is in your hands and it's weight is on the ground much of the time. It is difficult to transport, but not impossible a good cardboard tube or two will protect it from damage and some flights will allow them on especially if you are older and look as if you need it for walking anyway (a little acting). A long staff can be held at any height you want that's why I prefer the staff to a walking stick.

If you have enough time making your own staff is something that can be done easily and is a step up on picking up a stick from besode the path.

See for some pictures and a few websites that can help you.

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Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2006)
Initially I thought a wooden pole would make my camino more 'authentic' (whatever that means), but practicality and vanity prevailed. Not wanting to be totally reliant on passing pilgrims who may not know how to take a fantastic photo, I wanted to be able to control the creative process of taking my own photographs (of me, of course) along the trail, so I brought a walking stick that becomes a tripod (, and used the timer in my digicam. Great for group photos.

Mark TQM

Deleted member 397

I thought they were a waste of time and frankly striding along with two poles looked ridiculous and seemed of no advantage-its not the himalayas it's spain. I walked the vdlp last may and relied on something I've had for 54 years-2 legs

Dawn of a new Day

Active Member
I didn't use walking sticks, however what really annoyed me while walking was metal poles (used by others) walking early in the morning and all i could hear was click click click, couldn't hear the birds sing.
This was when on the roads or pavement.
i wouldn't use them, to much hand action.


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Camino Frances - Lourdes v SJPDP - Santiago (June/July 2010) Camino Frances - SJPDP - Santiago (July/August 2015) Camino Frances - SJPDP - Santiago (June/July/August 2017)
Re: Wooden Walking Stick

Hi fellow Pilgrims out there,before i start, have just got back from my Camino,got to Santiago
on the 24 July,after leaving Lourdes on the 17 June,at times was hard going up and down the Hills
etc,but got stronger and fitter each week.A Stick was very handy going down the Hills helps steady
you from sliping,and also helps on the flat like the Meseta,and keeps the wild Dogs at bay,but most of them are no trouble,as for my stick i made it before i went,for any one out there who would like
to know how,,out of a Garden Broom Handle,the height is up to yourself mine is about 42 inches,in old money,about 1 metre.9,try and make or find a handle for the top,which when placed in a Carpenters vice,can be Drilled into the bottom,with a drill piece the size of the Handle which you are using ie 25m handle 25m drill piece,but drill about 3/4 in,then Glue and Screw,or Glue and Peg,
after try and get hold of some metal tubes(ferruls) about 25m or less,and about 75m long,that slide into each other with a firm fit,but thats no big deal as i will get to later,,now the Garden Broom Handle,with the Handle fitted,should be cut straight in half in the middle,,and the metal tubes(ferruls) fitted one on each half,with a small hole and screw at the top of each tube,(try and make the tubes a firm and tight fit on the cut Broom Handle)when thats done you should have a walking stick that fits into one,as i said before if the tubes are not a firm fit, one can always find a scrap of paper or wood etc on the camino to wedge between the two tubes,to make a steady and firm fit,
and now you can slide your walking stick in two halfs down into the back of your rucsack to be checked in? and you can always fit on walking stick mounts,and carve stuff out of the handle,good luck,,as for my self i am at present starting on my next stick,for when i do the camino next year,freespirit : :shock:
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I've done it both ways. In 2006 I bought a stick in SJPP and it served me just fine.

Last year, I took my Pacer Poles, and I loved using them, but it was a bit of a responsibility and in one case, I chose to seek other lodging rather than not be allowed to carry them into the alburgue. The fear of having them stolen was a fear I didn't like.

Next Camino, I"ll probably just buy another stick.
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Camino Frances - Lourdes v SJPDP - Santiago (June/July 2010) Camino Frances - SJPDP - Santiago (July/August 2015) Camino Frances - SJPDP - Santiago (June/July/August 2017)
Anniesantiago said:
I've done it both ways. In 2006 I bought a stick in SJPP and it served me just fine.

Last year, I took my Pacer Poles, and I loved using them, but it was a bit of a responsibility and in one case, I chose to seek other lodging rather than not be allowed to carry them into the alburgue. The fear of having them stolen was a fear I didn't like.

Next Camino, I"ll probably just buy another stick.
Hi Annie, having seen your message,on fear of having stick stolen,now iam glad i took a stick that disconnects into two pieces,for the above reason,so as to fit inside my rucksac at night time,in the alburgue.I did the Camino this June/July,and need to get back there as soon as pos,talking about
stolen sticks,when i stayed in the alburgue at burgos,someone had there boots stolen,talk about low life,,freespirit :shock:

Rebekah Scott

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Year of past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
Masajista David of Sahagun advised me to not use a walking stick, as I tend to get tendinitis in my right shoulder. The repeated motion adds to the inflammation. I can´t tell you the number of walking sticks and poles I´ve left behind on trains, in taxis, hotel rooms, and bars -- it is a good thing I only use walking sticks I find along the way!

I do believe they have their uses, however. High-altitude in the snow, a walking stick is almost essential. Mud and icy conditions? yes. Flooded paths that force you to climb up or down to get around deep puddles -- you can reach your staff up or down to the person behind you and help them cross over too. And if one of those infamous Camino Flashers ever decides to share his gifts with me, and I have a stick in my hand? Problem solved!

Seriously, though. I walked my last two caminos without a stick, and I didn´t miss it.


Active Member

I've used both and I have come down on the side of not using but carrying a pair of metal hiking poles. In 2008 I was doing the Camino and hurt my ankle. I tried a single wooden walking stick and that helped my ankle a bit but seemed to stress other parts of my body at the same time. I think this because the support was on one side and I was unbalanced (as my friends would say I often am). Cause the one wooden stick left me sore and uncomfortable I bought a pair of metal hiking poles and they worked great. Much more comfort for my ankle and my whole body.

This year I brought a pair with me in case I needed them but left them collapsed and strapped to my pack except when a new friend was having some trouble with her knee and I was able to lend them to her. I didn't think they weighed much and were no problem when strapped to my pack. I was glad to have them along in case I needed them and was glad to lend them to a friend to make her camino a bit less stressful.


I walked three Caminos this year and my findings are the following:

1) Portuguese Camino - used a wooden staff for half the walk and found it useful for the muddy, steep and uneven bits. Distance wise not really necessary.

2) French Camino - started with nothing, bought a wooden staff fairly soon and in Leon bought hiking poles as I was getting pain in right knee and ankle due to uneven taxing of that side due to staff in left hand. After that poles helped to support me evenly when needed and were light to carry.

3) Via de la Plata/Camino Sanabres - Bought some top quality , light poles from Leki before leaving and when needed they were brilliant and meant I had no trouble with ankles or knees the whole 1000kms.

My advice, dependant on distance, age, fitness, joints and muscles, is use poles. Especially for long distance walking they keep you in balance more than a staff and spread and lighten the load and taxing of your body on the difficult parts of the trail. Most of the time I didnt use them on the trails but when the going got tough or I felt I needed that extra support they made a vital difference in keeping me on the move and preventing injury or tendonitis.

In a nutshell the pros and cons:


Pros: in balance, hastlefree, no extra weight or something to leave behind
cons: no support on muddy, rocky, wet or steep paths (both for descent and ascent)

Wooden Staff:

Pros: You feel like a real pilgrim and look like one! :), extra support, becomes a companion (emotional attachment occurs), good to scare away dogs or other human or animal pests. You can engrave it during stops. Its wood so feels natural in hand and bonding occurs...

Cons: On longer and harder routes leads to an unbalanced walk and extra taxing of other leg, heavy, you tend to forget it and need more than one on the trip.....


Pros: Light, telescopic, you walk in balance, helps reduce taxing on knees and ankles by up to 10-20%, useful in mud, stony and watery bits, helps braking going down mountains and climbing going up.

Cons: 2 of them, unhandy on planes although I just put them in my rucksack and in the hold which worked fine, not handy for fighting off aggressive dogs due to flimsy design and weight (doesnt inspire confidence at that moment!), you look like a nordic walker!

Well thats about all folks!


I meant last year of course in my last post...still living in 2010 by the look of it...thats what the camino does for you :roll:
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Looking at one of the 'Nordic Walking' sites I saw this comment at the end;-
"While nordic walking, you burn more calories per mile while feeling no more exertion."
As I only weigh in at 63 kilos ('wet through' as my mother used to say !) I do not think they would suit my physique :)
The big disadvantage with poles for me, is that I would not trust them with my weight (little as it is) when negotiating mud and water - I have seen a number of bent poles (cheap models??).
With a stout stick I can walk on the bank and lean on the stick. Certainly, I would recommend anyone doing the Primitivo in April / May to take a good stout stick.
It still comes down to personal preference. Get out there and try them at home first!

Blessings on your walking
Tio Tel


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A thick single walking pole has always been my choice - It gives me confidence on all those slippery downhills , allows one hand free and I feel safer when coming across big dogs.
Both options are good though , taking a lot of strain of the legs and feet and providing stability.


Veteran Member
I most certainly agree with Muppet's comment about using trekking poles in order to minimize wear and tear on muscles and joints - and this comes from someone who thought poles a ridiculous sight prior to my Camino last summer .

While descending out of Cirauqui (remember that lovely Roman road?) I started having pain in my right knee - something I never experienced in all my years hiking/running. After 2 days I was praying for uphills as I had no pain during ascent. I finally broke down and bought a basic brace but it was not until I tried someone's walking poles that I realized how wonderful it was to use them! My stride became smoother and pace faster. It was actually fun using them! A Camino angel came to my rescue in Grañon. One of the Italian hospitaleras gave me her set when she heard that my knee was hurting. One unfortunately broke coming out of Portomarín but by that time my knee was almost fully recovered. I used the one till Finisterre and although beneficial, I recommend 2 to beter distribute weight.

I am definately going to purchase a new set for my upcoming Camino from Sevilla.



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I say it again - I can't speak highly enough of the Pacer Poles that I have used on the last 2 Caminos - being a very anti pole / stick person till then! The added bonus (apart from all the obvious stuff) is that I no longer get swollen fingers from my hands hanging by my side - makes for a much more comfortable day. cheers, Janet
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My solution - home made bamboo poles, in 3 sections. joined by glued in pieces of 6mm threaded rod and nuts. Each piece is 350mm long, so the lot fits easily in my small rucsac. 280grms each pole, strong, light, and CHEAP!! cost about £2-00 each..... I haven't done a camino yet (roll on next month) but have used them for multi day walking in Mallorca.
(and I use the hollow top section for carrying washing powder, closed off with a plastic cap!) :D

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