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Best Backpack And Raingear -plus Oversized Sneakers!

Discussion in 'What equipment should you use and take' started by Terry Callery, Jun 28, 2017.

  1. Terry Callery

    Terry Callery New Member

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    From the Book "Slow Camino" by Terence Callery (slowcaminobook.com)

    Another website I stumbled onto was www.annieswalkers.com, which was full of sage advice by Annie, who has made a small business of taking others on the Camino as a guide and planner. The single best piece of advice came from Annie, who was adamant about getting hiking shoes or sneakers a size and a half larger than your actual size. I followed Annie’s advice and got a pair of size 12 ASICS (with gel innersoles) for my size 10½ feet—half a size more for my thick alpaca socks, which are very warm and which would wick the moisture away from my feet, and a whole size larger for my foot to swell. I also went with a second pair of running shoes, size 12 waterproof Columbias, which I would wear when it rained. I could switch from one pair of sneakers to the other when I felt rubbing that might turn into a blister. I learned to turn my socks inside-out halfway through the day to keep my feet dry. The other tip I faithfully followed, courtesy of Annie’s Walkers, was to put on a thin nylon sock liner. This not only wicks the moisture, but the rubbing now happens between the two pairs of socks and not so much on the foot. I followed the advice and got just one blister on my entire journey.

    The next most important piece of gear after the running shoes was the backpack. After spending a couple of hours surfing the Camino blogs and Googling questions like “What is the best sized backpack to hike the Camino de Santiago?” I discovered there were several mentions of a backpack manufactured by Osprey called the Talon which was a 33-liter pack, just right for the 20 pounds I planned to take. “Take no more than 10% of your body weight” was the Camino commandment. So for me at 220 pounds, it would be definitely less than 22 pounds.

    The back side of the Osprey Talon has a design feature that creates a vertical “air chimney” which is trademarked as “Airscape,” a construct of foam ridges and mesh which keep the pack from holding moisture against your back. Another trademarked feature is the “ergo pull” hip belt closure and the “biostretch” mesh-covered shoulder straps, making this a very comfortable pack to wear. It really seemed to give and mold right to my body.

    The harness had a number of adjustable back lengths, with a “rip it and stick it” Velcro attachment. There were mesh pockets on each side where I kept a water bottle and my pack rain cover for easy access. There was also a flat pocket inside the top flap where I could store my Apple iPad mini, making it easy to get to and pull out when I saw a photo opportunity. Altogether, the Osprey Talon 33-liter pack at $129 (along with the necessary waterproof backpack rain cover which was another $35) from REI was perfect.

    Choosing raingear turned out to be a bit trickier. Having done lots of sailing on the coast of Maine, I had used neoprene raingear that was really waterproof. But for sailing, you are just sitting in the cockpit. Walking on the Camino, you can get sticky and wet if your raingear doesn’t breathe. I decided to buy a pair of ultra-lightweight Frogg Toggs, which are made out of polypropylene and have a micro-breathable construction that lets air molecules in and keeps water molecules out. This was a good choice since the outer shell also doubled as a windbreaker and as snow gear. If it were snowing, I could wear the Frogg Toggs pants over my Nike running pants along with a pair of polypropylene long johns, and I would be warm and dry. The best thing was that the rain gear from Frogg Toggs weighed only one pound for both jacket and pants. I usually kept the jacket in an outer backpack pocket for easy access. After much experimentation, I went with a Maine yellow sou’wester fisherman’s rain hat for head cover. It was the only thing that kept moisture from going down the back of my neck, and the brim in the front stuck out just enough to keep rain droplets off my glasses. I saw hundreds of pilgrims as I walked the Camino, but not a single one wore a neon yellow sou’wester. Anyone want to buy some fish?
     
  2. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey Terry - Welcome to the Forum. "Best backpack" for the Camino has been a regular and important topic. Lots of factors, as you well know, go into this decision. I, too, like the Osprey packs! Although I don't have the Talon, I carried the 35L Stratos and my wife the 35L Sirrus models. Both are great! For the Camino, one doesn't need to look for a pack larger than these as I think we have found out. Ours carried everything we needed with room to spare. The special features you mentioned all make for a more comfortable fit and that is greatly appreciated as we wear these extensions of ourselves day after day after day. Although I have read complaints about the packs (i.e., can't easily reach the water bottle on the side), they have generally been minor and in the case of the water bottle, I'm not sure that our arms are designed to reach in that direction, so most packs would probably suffer from this particular design issue. I'm not sure about the Talon, but our packs, and we were able to find last year's models, allow access to the inside from both the top and the front. Front entry is a real plus from my perspective, but unfortunately, Osprey changed the design this year and now there is only top entry to the packs. Nonetheless, Osprey offers a great product for the hiker. Pilgrims just need to make sure that the one they pick fits them. I'm not a fan of the 10% rule because as you point out at 220 pounds, you don't need to carry 22 pounds of gear. To reference another Camino book, "To walk far, carry less." Buen Camino!
     
  3. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

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    Hi Terry

    Welcome to the forum and thanks for posting your views on footwear, rucksacks and rainwear.

    I have also written a few ideas of my own in both Rucksacks and footwear on my new blog at http://tipsonrucksacks.travellerspoint.com/ which people reading this thread might want to compare with what you have written :)



    With rainwear – The biggest problem that I come across is that wearing waterproof clothing often makes you sweat profusely (Particularly when you are expending energy walking in a warm country) and you end up just as wet from this as you would have from the rain !!

    So, Personally, When I am walking Camino’s, when it rains I tend to wear a single shell Gortex rain jacket, shorts and gaiters, so the rainwater runs off the bottom of my jacket, down my bare leg and then over my gaiters and boots – If you don’t wear gaiters then rainwater wicks down your socks

    and your feet soon become soaked and when this happens’ blister inevitably follow.



    Just a slightly different perspective – That’s all :)



    Best Regards

    Rob
     
  4. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey Terry - I can't say that I have seen anyone else with a neon yellow sou'wester hat! When walking, particularly during certain months, good raingear is crucial! With experience, I've opt for some things now that differ from when I walked a year ago. I, too, had the experience with rain pants that didn't breath. Not good! The perspiration buildup kept me wetter than any amount of rain would have. Plus, putting them on and taking them off was less than convenient.

    I like Frogg Toggs as a product. The poncho that I carry is by that company. It's very lightweight and breathable. Although I don't pull my poncho out often, I will continue to carry it for the possible heavy downpours.

    For most instances of rain, I've found a lightweight rain jacket with a hood, mine happens to be a Columbia, is more than sufficient. As I travel light, it also can serve as a layer in chillier morning or evening weather. In addition to that, I carry a pair of lightweight, short gaiters by Outdoor Research. They really do help in keeping the feet dry. Many hiking shoes/boots come in a waterproof model. My Merrell Moab GTXs are Gor-Tex lined. For a few extra dollars, it was a good investment to go with these.

    So, my rain kit is pretty simple: jacket, gaiters, waterproof shoes, and a poncho!

    Thanks for the comments on both backpacks and raingear. I hope to now see you as a regular participant on this Forum since you have a great deal of knowledge and experience to share. Buen Csmino!
     
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