The person who is writing to you is a person who has traveled over 900 km on foot, without ever skipping a stage or having his backpack carried by a taxi or taking buses himself. I walked every single meter of this path only with my feet and I remember every single pain, suffering and sweat I experienced. Don’t worry, I don’t want to scare you, but this introduction is simply to make you understand that he writes to you with knowledge of the facts and not by hearsay. Listen carefully to my advice and I am sure you will be very happy avoiding my mistakes. Let’s start with the first essential accessory:
The shoes. Let’s start from an assumption: perfect shoes don’t exist! In a 30-day course, such as walking, there is no shoe that can guarantee you the “salvation” from blisters, tendonitis or ankle sprains. However, this does not mean that the choice of footwear should be left to chance. A wrong pair of shoes will cause you indescribable torment along the entire path. The path of the path, however, does not present any technical difficulties. Perhaps the first mountain stage, it deserves high boots, but it’s not worth it. Shoes must be light, gymnastics are fine too, indeed, those who walked seriously, I mean over 40 a day, had very cushioned sneakers. Therefore, it is very important to let the foot free to move naturally. The cushioning is important because it makes a lot of asphalt. Based on my experience, a lot also depends on the period in which you decide to tackle the journey but in any case I recommend you buy waterproof shoes, in Gore-Tex, which I naively did not think that starting from mid-July would save me from the risk of rain but I was wrong , as in any period the risk of precipitation is very frequent and having wet shoes means having wet socks, with the consequence that your feet will be too and the possibility of blisters will be 100%. I was very lucky, in over 36 days I only met the rain twice, but for example there were some pilgrims who left only two days after me and told me that for a whole week they were forced to walk hours and hours under water. Once you have chosen the type, it is advisable to try them on with the shoes you will use during the walk. I recommend taking an extra number, so that the fingers are free and do not “bang” against the tip, otherwise you risk making all the nails black. Once the shoes are on, tighten the laces well. Position yourself with your heel on a plane, as if to simulate a descent. If you feel your ankle tight and your toes free, then that’s fine. If you feel them touching the tip, you have to choose a higher number. FUNDAMENTAL thing, absolutely do not start with new shoes, whatever the model or cost as it will certainly lead to blistering. Whatever the brand, model, even the most expensive one will destroy your feet causing you a lot of blisters. Okay, it’s not the end of the world if a blister appears when you are comfortably seated on your nice sofa at home and you walk only to reach the car or the subway that will take you to work, but imagine a blister while walking the Camino, with 8 kg of backpack, with a distance to cover of about 25 km per day: pain, burning, irritation all this can turn out to be authentic torture. Shoes must be “run in” before tackling a long and demanding path like the road. During the running-in period, the shoe settles and adapts to our foot and the way we walk. Wear them a few hours a day for at least two months beforehand, then use them on some excursion, to evaluate the hassles and any problems. If you want to know what shoes I used and all my clothing you can go to my Amazon page. I have seen pilgrims throwing new shoes after less than a week and some even returning home because of blisters and severe pain.
Socks. Buy two or three pairs of hiking socks. The price may appear excessive (at least 5-6 times more than a pair of terry socks) but the comfort derived from the use of these technical socks is priceless. The trekking socks are in fact without seams, so they avoid friction as much as possible, have a reinforced heel and toe, are breathable and slightly rigid, in order to avoid the formation of folds. This leads to a lower risk of blisters and foot problems. For those who suffer particularly from it, there are trekking socks on the market specially designed to limit blisters as much as possible. This does not guarantee immunity from this problem but is still a non-negligible precaution.
What kind of backpack to buy.
After the shoes, the backpack represents the foundations of the pilgrim, all the rest represent only accessories. Considering the weight of the material that you are going to store inside, the fact that you have to carry it on your shoulders for 10-12 hours a day, this for a month straight, my advice is not to skimp on the purchase. The ideal would be a trekking backpack of at least 40-60 liters, with padded shoulders, padded straps to tie at the waist and chest and a reinforced backrest to cushion contact with the back. The trekking backpack is designed so that the weight is balanced, so as to make it more comfortable to carry on the shoulder. Also in this case on the market there are any, focus on backpacks that are practical, avoid advertising, fashion brands, the backpack will be your home for over a month and you will carry it on your shoulders, there will be no one who will do it. for you, so choose a backpack that has large side pockets (where the guide, diary, slippers, spare socks and possibly also the water bottle will find space), an internal pocket for storing medicines, hooks and straps to close the sleeping bag and pockets made in the waist straps (for storing camera, money and documents). The purchase of the backpack must be made by evaluating its capacity, solidity, the quality of the seams (you certainly don’t want the backpack to stretch halfway?) And its comfort once worn. Go to a specialized shop (buying on the internet, even if advantageous, can be misleading, backpacks must be tested). Try the backpacks, get help from the clerk, put some weight in the backpack (empty backpacks are all nice and comfortable) and wear it. Tighten the belt across your belly, lowering yourself to load the weight in the middle of the back. Then tighten the shoulder straps to balance the load and adjust the chest straps so that the weight rests close to the neck. If the angle created between the ventral straps and the shoulder straps is greater than 30 °, then the backpack is too large and you need to take a smaller size. If it is less than 30 °, you have to choose a larger size. It depends on the needs, on the physical capacity, on what we put into it. For the choice of the backpack and many other accessories, I relied on the Italian company Marsupio.it, a company that represents one of the local excellences in this field and the reasons for this choice were dictated not only by the quality of the materials but above all by the fact that their backpacks are much lighter than many others of the same capacity and you will find that even two hundred grams more will make a difference on your shoulders after 10 hours a day. For my journey I chose and recommend the Nevada 40 backpack, a multi-pocket trekking backpack with a capacity of 40 liters and a weight of only 1.37 kg, almost a record for this category. The back is not in contact with the backpack, but with the back in breathable mesh, in order to guarantee continuous ventilation. The shoulder straps and strap are anatomical, padded and adjustable, further padding is present on the pads and on the lumbar area, there is a sliding chest strap with whistle for emergencies, which should not be underestimated. Compression straps on both sides, pole holders and ice ax holders. Double pocket on the hood, front pocket, one compartment that can be divided on the bottom, two side gusseted pockets, two bottle pockets and two on the lumbar pads. Compatible with the hydration system and very importantly, it has the backpack cover inserted on the bottom in case of rain. You can buy the backpack by clicking here.
Whatever your choice, remember that in principle the weight should not be greater than 10kg as weight affects tendonitis and blistering by placing the weight on the feet, stressing them. So be careful in choosing the material to take with you, because I repeat, the backpack will then be you to carry it on your shoulder and no one will give you a push! At the first experience of the journey, you can be led to put even futile objects in your backpack, following the idea of ”you never know”. Nothing more wrong! Every object, even the most insignificant, means more weight in the backpack and therefore more weight to carry on the shoulders. To hear this theory of mine, many turn up their noses saying “what will two hundred grams more ever be?”. Do one thing, take your backpack, fill it with ten kilos and start walking for an hour in the sun, then remove 500 grams and see how you feel, I’m waiting for your messages 😉.
You will spend 70% of your day walking, the remaining 20% relaxing and 10% sleeping. These are roughly the average percentages of the pilgrim’s life. You will not go dancing or wandering around clubs, you will not participate in social events or gala evenings. This is to make you understand that you have to bring the essentials as everything superfluous will affect the weight of the backpack and consequently on your shoulders. My clothing (not the one I brought inside the backpack) consisted of: 2 pairs of socks; 2 underpants; 1 swimsuit; 2 breathable shirts; bandana; sunglasses, very important since we will spend most of our walk during the day and in the hours of greatest light; 1 short shorts; 1 long trousers; 1 sweatshirt;1 kway.
My clothing and equipment (brand and model)
To buy them, you can visit my Amazon page. Let’s start with the first essential accessory:
The shoes. The shoes I used for the walk are the ASICS Gel-Cumulus 23. If you have the possibility, take the gorotex model that will have the GTX wording “ASICS Gel-Cumulus 23. In my experience, a lot also depends on the period in which you decide to tackle the journey but in any case, I recommend you to buy the model in gorotex as in any period the risk of precipitation is very frequent and having wet shoes means having wet socks, with the consequence that your feet will be too and the chance of blisters will be 100%. You will find all my clothing and accessories on the Amazon page. I have seen pilgrims throwing new shoes after less than a week and some even returning home because of blisters and severe pain.
The backpack. For my journey I chose and recommend the Nevada 40 backpack, a multi-pocket trekking backpack with a capacity of 40 liters and a weight of only 1.37 kg, almost a record for this category. It is produced by the Italian company Marsupio. You can buy the backpack by clicking here.
Sticks: Decathlon MT100 model mountain poles at a cost of € 5.99 each. Simple but very effective Push-pin adjustment. A simple push on the button, and it’s done. Having never made long walks or hikes, I had many doubts about the effectiveness of the sticks. Fortunately, I have listened to the advice of many experienced pilgrims and I can tell you that they have proved very useful. Your back and knees will thank you. They proved to be indispensable and I definitely recommend purchasing.
Jacket: Men’s mountain jacket model NH500 Flap blue by Decathlon at a cost of € 29.99. This waterproof jacket proved invaluable especially in the morning when temperatures were low and the wind was biting. Also nice is the possibility of transforming it into an elegant shoulder strap with a mesh pocket to keep the phone close at hand.
Travel backpack: TRAVEL model folding trekking bag backpack | 15 liters of Decathlon at a cost of € 19.99. This compact additional backpack is very useful when we need an extra bag and can be carried in our backpack and used when needed. Small sizes and imperceptible weight.
Socks. Buy two or three pairs of hiking socks. The price may appear excessive (at least 5-6 times more than a pair of terry socks) but the comfort derived from the use of these technical socks is priceless. The trekking socks are in fact without seams, so they avoid friction as much as possible, have a reinforced heel and toe, are breathable and slightly rigid, in order to avoid the formation of folds. This leads to a lower risk of blisters and foot problems. I bought the socks of the vitsocks. Thermal Trekking Socks. This does not guarantee immunity from this problem but is still a non-negligible precaution.
Sandals: Very often you will have mixed days, with one part on a path or a dirt road and the other on a paved road. At that point, taking off your shoes and putting on sandals is a real “turning point”. In the summer they are very comfortable. They allow the foot to breathe. In spring and autumn they can be used with heavier socks. Mine are “Geox Uomo Strada A”.
Slippers: to be used for the comfortable and super light “Cressi Beach Flip Flops” shower.
T-shirt: Decathlon MH100 men’s mountain t-shirt at a cost of € 4.99. This breathable t-shirt is made from recycled polyester, lightweight and dries fast.
Trousers: I chose the Decathlon “TREK100” modular trekking ones at a cost of € 24.99. These pants have the particularity that they turn into shorts and we can comfortably choose to have them long or short according to the needs. These modular pants also offer incredible carrying capacity with their 6 pockets!
Hat: Brand TAGVO, Sun Hat with Detachable Face Cover, Breathable Bucket Hats with UPF 50+ Protection Quick Dry Foldable Hiking Hats for Men Women.
Sun glasses: Very important accessory since we will spend most of our walk during the day and in the hours of greatest light. Having a slight myopia and having to wear them for almost the whole day, I got advice from my friends at Ottica Vista Chiara in Fiumicino and I chose their new brand “Ombra” and the Aviator model whose shape will be familiar to many of you, built in super light metal ideal to be worn for many hours. They have green G15 colored lenses that do not tire our eyes and give a feeling of rest and relaxation. Calculate that I have worn them for over twelve hours a day for more than thirty-six days and I almost felt like I didn’t have them. Do not underestimate this choice as it is difficult for you to wear sunglasses for more than ten hours a day in “normal” life. The great Ferini family will be at your complete disposal and you can view the news and the collection on their Facebook page “Ottica VistaChiara” and Instagram profile @vistachiaraeyewear, with a special discount for all pilgrims
Sleeping bag: company Marsupio.it Maiorca model, compressible and not bulky. It takes up little space, weighs 0.64 kg and by opening the zip it can become a simple blanket for a nap. It features a hood with drawstrings and a compressible bag.
Sheet bag: Marsupio.it company, Candy model. With a weight of only 0.35 kg it is compact and light.
Poncho: since the weather conditions are unfortunately always unpredictable, especially during the summer a sudden downpour is to be anticipated and in this case a comfortable poncho is essential in order not to arrive at the hostel soaking wet and it is essential to have the rear extension to put it on comfortably even with the backpack worn as not all backpacks are equipped with backpack covers; The one always chosen by Marsupio.it is super light, waterproof, heat-sealed on all seams. It features a hood with peak and elastic closure and a retractable backpack cover pocket on the back. It has velcro on the sleeves for better adjustment and is resealable in a convenient bag with a weight of 0.34 kg.
Bottle: “magic bottle” model of the Marsupio.it company. Along the way there are often points for water supply and having a convenient collapsible bottle can be very useful; it is made of platinum silicone, a material that makes it flexible, odorless and easily resealable. Its quick closing system is easy to use. The peculiarity of this bottle is that once its content is finished it can be rolled up on itself to take up as little space as possible. There is also an external volume indicator.
Waist bag: “Como” model of the Marsupio.it company. Spacious thanks to its numerous pockets, it is equipped with an adjustable waist belt, rear document pocket and front pocket with zip for objects. We can store our documents, money, telephone and camera to always carry with us. Remember that on the way we are not at home, there will be many people and it is a good idea not to leave valuables unattended because, as often happens, the opportunity makes the man a thief.
Towels: extra-compact XL 110 x 175 cm microfibre towel model “Nabaiji” from Decathlon at a cost of € 9.99 and extra-compact L 80 x 130 cm microfiber towel from Decathlon “Nabaiji” also cost € 5,99.
Headlamp: LED Headlamp with 3 Lighting Modes, Adjustable 60 ° Angle Head Lamp Brightness 140 Lumen brand “Suright” at a cost of € 8.99.
Patches: COMPEED Blister Patches, long lasting and fast healing – For medium or large blisters, 5 Patches.
Cream: Podovis, Anti-Fatigue Gel, with the “Ice Effect” and Gives a Sensation of Immediate Relief for Feet and Legs, Eliminates Heaviness and Fatigue, 150 ml.
Cream Extracts Of Devil’s Claw And Arnica Montana – Strong Soothing Action Effective Against Bruises, Hematomas, Muscle Pain – Ideal For Sportsmen – Anti-inflammatory – Made In Italy.
Supplements: Esi No Dol – Food Supplement for joint and muscle pain, 60 Capsules.
Mosquito Spray: Zig Zag, Repellent, Insects, Sandalwood and Magnolia Scented Insectious Body Spray, Mosquito Repellent, Tiger Mosquitoes, Ticks, 100 ml.
Tent: Bessport, ultralight camping tent, waterproof, 3 – 4 seasons, instant dome tent, for hiking, outdoor activities, festivals, camping, backpack, with small footprint.
Cookware Set: Camping Cookware Set with Camping Stove, Lightweight Aluminum Alloy Camping Pots and Pans, Foldable Stainless Steel Spoon / Fork / Knife, 1-2 Person.
Airbed: Upgraded Relefree Inflatable Camping Mat with Built-in Pump, 2.5 Inch Thick Camping Mat, Durable Waterproof Air Cushion, Suitable for Travel, Backpacks.
Solar Charger: 26800mAh Solar Power Bank, 4 Foldable Solar Panels, Emergency LED Light for iPhone, Huawei, Samsung, Xiaomi, Tablet – Orange.
Bags: Comius 8 PCS Travel Bags, Waterproof Soft Bag, Portable Shoulder Bag Gym Bag, Cosmetics Suitcase Laundry Toilet Pouch, Drawstring Bag.
Knife: 12 in 1 Multitool Utility Knife with Claw Pliers Hammer Screwdriver Opener for DIY Camping Hunting Fishing, Emergency & Outdoor Survival Tools, Personalized Gift for Father and Husband.
Other: aloe cream for our precious feet to put on in the evening at the end of the day or during our breaks; sunscreen and after sun cream (a pilgrim stays in the sun for eight to ten hours a day! So, even in spring and autumn, it is a good idea to spread the exposed parts of the body (face, arms, legs) with sunscreen with protection 50+. Do not do like me that the first week I completely burned my arms. You have to do it in the morning, before leaving and repeat the operation at least every two or three hours; My friends, do not underestimate my advice. pilgrims with sunstrokes and in the throes of heat stroke The sun is strong and not in all places there are shaded areas, also calculating the fact that you will walk mainly during the day and therefore you will be exposed to the sun for many hours; 1 swimsuit (depending on the season).
To deepen the subject, to find out more and if you too have decided to walk the Camino de Santiago or dream of wanting to do it sooner or later, I suggest you buy my book where you will find out why every year, 300,000 people from all over the world, they decide to tackle the most famous Way in the world. If you too, like me, have always dreamed of giving up everything, aware that the life you lead is not the one you dreamed of as a boy, perhaps my experience could give you the courage that I lacked for 36 years …
Reading my experience, you will discover in detail and above all proven in the “field”:
- the history of the journey (historical notes, symbols and legends) and symbolic places;
- suitable clothing and shoes, which backpack to buy and above all what to put inside;
- duration and distance of the journey, how many days it takes to complete it and where to start based on the days available;
- how to train before leaving and the necessary physical preparation;
- how much does it cost to walk the path, where to eat and sleep along the path;
- whether walking the path alone can be dangerous for a woman and whether there is a possibility of getting lost;
- the answer to many questions and concerns (which were also mine) posed by many aspiring pilgrims and the possibility of contacting me to dispel all your doubts / hesitations;
- finally, I will tell you why a journalist and radio host gave up his whole life of comfort and materiality, to travel more than 900 km on foot from the Pyrenees to the Atlantic Ocean, alone and without a telephone, sleeping over that in the various hostels also on the street, in a stable, in a tent, in an abandoned monastery and living two days in a hippie community.
…. “I gave up everything, I left home, sold my car, motorcycle, clothes, my rolex and most of the material things I owned to follow that almost nagging, suffocating, undeterred feeling that once known does not make you find peace: SANTIAGO, the Camino de Santiago. My life needed answers that only a journey in complete solitude could give me “….