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Finding magic under the stars of the Camino Santiago de Compostela

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Don't Break the Bank for the Camino. Part 1.

Though I've posted ideas about gear on this blog, 
it's possible to walk on a budget.

There's really no need to break the bank on clothes 
when walking the Camino. 

Use clothes you already have! 

In the summer, shorts or a skirt and teeshirts are fine. 
They'll dry in the summer with no problem. 

I love my Macabi skirts,
but they are a bit spendy.
Hiking in a skirt is sooooo comfortable.
The skirt keeps your legs from being burned in the sun,
and protects them from the wind and rain in the cold.
But any comfortable skirt will do, really.

Lightweight clothing like yoga leggings 
with a long cotton shirt (that covers your butt if it looks like mine!) 
might be good.
The leggings or shorts or boy cut underwear are good
so your thighs don't chafe when you sweat. 
I like cotton broomstick skirts because they are lightweight and comfortable.

You can often find hiking skirts on Ebay 
or on my Used Camino Gear website.

Skorts are good.
They are a pair of shorts with a skirt over.
We wore them a lot in the 60's.
They're especially nice if the shorts have a pocket.

Feel free to wear the underwear and bra you wear at home. 
There is no need for technical gear. 
Underwire bras may be irritating but any good regular bra will be fine.
Look for inexpensive sports bras at Walgreens 
or other drugstores where they sell those tv ad goods.

Instead of an expensive fleece, 
just buy a men's soft, lightweight, large merino wool sweater
and felt it in the washing machine and dryer. 
You can find instructions online
for felting wool,
and I will post a blog on it once I'm back home. 

Unless you are walking in shoulder season in the snow, 
you really do not need a jacket. 
Just wear layers. 
You warm up quick when you walk.

In early Spring, or Autumn, 
take clothes you can layer, 
including a soft shell layer or featherweight jacket. 
I wear a long sleeved shirt, with a short sleeved tee over it. 
I put a fleece over that, 
and I'm peeling clothes off after half an hour, 
even in the coldest weather. 

Here are some layering ideas:

I take a featherweight wind breaker, 
but your rain gear can double as a windbreaker if it's stormy.

Quick drying clothes are no longer really necessary as many albergues along the way now have washers and dryers.  If you are staying in private lodgings, they'll almost always do your laundry for a small fee of €3-6.

Yes, I buy merino wool tees, but I walk every year more than once. 
I also prefer merino wool to synthetics, which begin to stink after a few weeks.
For a one-time Camino, you really don't need all that. 

If you live in the USA, go to your local Goodwill. They have an ActiveWear section where I've found fantastic buys! I've found brand new zip-off hiking pants there for under $10, and a large assortment of quick-dry shirts.

Take a hat that will shield your eyes from the hot sun as well as the rain. 
A chinstrap is good for windy days on the meseta. 
I love my Tilley hat, but any hat with a peak will do.

Rain gear will be necessary, especially in Galicia. I love my ALTUS poncho, and you can often pick these up used. It covers me and my pack and keeps me toasty warm as well, and I've used it as a blanket in albergues where there are no blankets to keep me warm at night.  I've also walked in rain jacket and pants, in which case you'll need a pack cover. 

I don't like regular ponchos without sleeves because they will blow like crazy. If you wear one, consider a belt to hold it down.

Socks can be any comfortable sock.
If you wear through them,
there are plenty of places to buy inexpensive socks on the Camino.
I love SmartWool socks.
They are comfortable and they wear well.
Make sure your socks do not have seams inside.
They will cause blisters.

The two items you will want to spend the most money on 
are your backpack and your shoes.

And if you have to choose between them, choose shoes.

You MUST have well-fitting shoes, whether you choose boots or trail runners.

This guy wore the wrong boots!

I prefer trail runners myself, as I've said.
You should not have to "break in" shoes.
They should fit walking out the store.
If you have to break them in, they are the wrong shoes.
I spend about $150 for my shoes each year.

A good pack will set you back $100 or more.
If you are carrying your pack, do NOT buy one online.
You need a well-fitting pack and not all packs are created equal.
If you are using pack transport, it doesn't matter.

And please,
don't go buying a HUGE pack.
The bigger pack you buy the more you will fill it.
Mine is a 30L pack and it's plenty big.
I promise, if you carry much more than the 
10% of your body weight 
suggested by experienced Camino walkers,
you will either be dumping gear the 3d day
or paying lots of $$$ to mail it home.

Whatever you buy,
try it out on the trail BEFORE you go.
Finding out that your pack straps cause a blister
where they rub on your bra strap adjuster,
is just a bummer once you've left home.

If you can afford it, it's fun to buy new gear.
But it is absolutely not necessary.
Just wear what you have in your closet and don't break the bank.
The Camino isn't a fashion show.
Just be comfie!

And please,
if you have ideas for inexpensive gear on the Camino,
feel free to post a comment below.

Buen Camino!

Need help planning your Camino? 
Don't want to walk alone? 
Don't want to race for a bed?
Walk with us in a small group or alone.
Booked lodging!

1 comment:

  1. A number of times a year, most REI stores have "garage sales" for members. REI has a most generous return policy, and they have incredible deals. I got a great pair of convertible hiking pants for, I think, $8.00. If you live near an REI, check to see when their garage sales are in advance of your camino.


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