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Advice on using poles in the Camino de SantiagoWalking poles, hiking sticks, no poles… Which option is the best for your Camino?

Poles or staffs have been used by original pilgrims since the beginning of the Camino the Santiago. It was part of their pilgrimage equipment. By the late middle ages, the small nature of their bag represented voluntary poverty, the staff was a representative of faith, to both lean upon for support and ward off evil in the form of dogs and thieves.

Formerly, a pilgrim’s dress consisted on a long cloak, broad hat, a staff and gourd, a pouch to hold alms and a scrip or satchel. The broad hats to protect them from the sun, the cloak to counter cold and rain, the satchel for food, the gourd for water and the staff for defence and support over rough ground. The scallop shell, which the pilgrims wore soon, became the symbol of the Jacobean pilgrimage. This was to identify them as pilgrims and not vagabonds.

Nowadays, pilgrim´s equipment has changed a lot in shape but not in its essence. So taking poles or not has become a controversial topic, which pilgrims often debate about. If you have made your mind up to take ones, there are even different options to choose: walking poles, trekking poles or hiking sticks.

Whatever you choose you should notice:

  • The number one rule is to simply always aim at keeping a comfortable 90 degree arm angle in your elbow. So they should be adjustable in length.
  • They should be as light-weight as possible while meeting all your other needs.
  • The benefit of using poles comes from the reduced impact on hips, knees, and ankle. Besides, they help on conquering hard and rough terrain.
  • You can use just one or two, according to your fitness, preference or age.
  • If you want to use your hands very often while walking, take poles with wrist strips. Beware of  watching videos to know how to use them properly, or they will become useless and a nuisance.

Some pilgrims say that in case of choosing technical poles, it’s advisable to learn how to use them in order to use them all day and every day. Otherwise it’s better to buy a simple pilgrim staff at the start to save money and to avoid the frustration caused by the complicated technical features of certain poles.

Whatever you choose….Buen Camino!

Article by caminotravelcenter.
Recommended by HOSTAL GAU TXORI.


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