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Supplies/equipment In St. Jean Pied De Port?

Discussion in 'Camino Frances' started by Mike F., Mar 5, 2017.

  1. Mike F.

    Mike F. Member

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    I'll have a free day in SJPDP before starting out and I'm thinking of buying my sleeping bag, poles and, maybe, a few other supplies there rather than schlep them all the way from New York. I'm sure there are places in SJPDP to buy them, but 1) Are they conveniently located and, more important, 2) Are they priced extortionately to take advantage of last-minute buyers? (In which case, I'll make sure I'm fully equipped before leaving NYC.)

    Thanks
     
  2. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Mike - Although the are plenty of outfitting places in SJPP, let me suggest you take the time to thoughtfully put together your kit at home and bring it with you. Most pilgrims arrive in SJPP with what they need to start their Camino. Many have also put a lot of effort into choosing the right equipment. This is also part of the Camino experience - getting ready for it. There are a number of packing lists you can check out on this Forum or in guidebooks like Brierleys. One thing to focus on is selecting items based on weight. You want to keep your backpack weight down. I do a lot of my shopping on Amazon. Not only have I found the best selection of equipment and clothing, I've also gotten the best prices. There are plenty of things to do in SJPP on your day there. Unless it's a last minute item, I don't think you want to be putting you kit together the day before you start walking. Regarding poles, do you know that those have to be checked on most airlines? However, I would recommend that you bring your pack with you in the cabin as carry-on luggage. If anything, buy your poles and knife in SJPP. You won't have much else other than a 7-8 kg pack, so that's not really very much to be schlepping around. As you will be carrying this pack for over a month, you want it to be right. Buen Camino!
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2017
  3. danvo

    danvo Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Mike,I totally agree with Wily, best of all is prepare all things at home.. You can buy walking poles and knife nearly everywhere, and some parts of your equipment directly on Rue de la Citadelle in SJPP, but if you will find that there is one missing thing (and Camino you will walk only with few, but very important things) it won't be very good.
     
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  4. Canadian Wander

    Canadian Wander Well-Known Member

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    There is a lot to be said for the pre-planning part prior the Camino as well. A huge part of the fun was the planning and plotting and packing...then unpacking and weighing, and trying this idea and that. It helps ground you before you start so you don't feel as anxious and nervous. If I packed/unpacked once, I must have done it a hundred times before we ever left Canada...and was Roth all the planning time to come home and realize you did not need one item you didn't have, or wish you had left something out. We were very happy with our packs, and our walk.
     
  5. Mike F.

    Mike F. Member

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    Thanks, everybody. I do plan on being prepared and properly packed before I head to the airport. I suppose I was thinking mostly of the poles.
     
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  6. Mike F.

    Mike F. Member

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    I've noticed that some people use only one trekking pole on the camino. Is this common? I've been assuming I'll use/need two.
     
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  7. Canadian Wander

    Canadian Wander Well-Known Member

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    You should experiment with one, and then two before you go. I trained with one for most of the training period, and tried two on the urging of my wife just before we left...I found it (here comes the surprise...) my wife was 100% correct. Two pole gave me way more stability and found going up or down hill so much easier.
    Try both ways, and see what works for oy!
     
  8. Crepes4Suzette

    Crepes4Suzette Well-Known Member

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    Hi Mike - I bought one pole in SJPP for the first Camino at Direction Compostelle not far down from the general tourist center (a block off Rue de la Citadelle, which is the main historic pedestrian street). It was much harder to try to only use one pole - and the one I bought, I managed to pull out too far and it broke on the way up the hill beyond Castrojeriz. It was very reasonably priced (on par with basic hiking poles at big discount stores) - Direction Compostelle keeps them sticking out of an umbrella stand ,and you can pick what you want - they'll help you adjust them and they'll even hold some for you if you write them ahead. There is another outfitter - I think owned by the same people - right on Rue de la Citadelle - called Boutique du Pelerin.

    Last year I took two poles that collapsed to 27" and stuffed them into my 50L backpack (checked), and this worked out much better - although it took 1 hr. 15 min for the baggage carousel to start rolling in Madrid (nobody seemed to find this unusual). This year I'm taking a 36L pack and will attach the poles and stuff them into a disposable bag to get them through checked luggage.

    If you like crepes, try Kuka right across from the very old church (rue de la Citadelle).
     
  9. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Mike - Great question! This seems to be a bit of a personal choice. I had never walked with poles before and now I am totally convinced that that's the way to go. I like the two poles, so I can't really address the joys of just using a single pole. One sees both on the Camino and possibly in about equal numbers. For long distance walking, I found the two pole option helpful for several reasons. They helped me: 1) set my pace, 2) drive forward going uphill, 3) balance when descending, and 4) with stability when tired. Whichever way you go, one or two poles, I think you'll find them to be great friends across a 500 mike trek. Buen Camino!
     
  10. Canadian Wander

    Canadian Wander Well-Known Member

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    Not sure why I am always surprised to find my wife is right, maybe I should just use that as the starting position, and save time.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2017
  11. UnkleHammy

    UnkleHammy Well-Known Member

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    It doesn't make much difference as long as you train with it/them before you go. I would recommend two but it is your Camino.
     
  12. Mike F.

    Mike F. Member

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    Thanks, CS....I'll buy a pair just in case...and it sounds like I might as well buy them in SJPP, yes? (For ease of packing on this end. Also: I've been to a couple of sporting goods stores and I'm shocked at how expensive they are--I mean, they're poles!
     
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  13. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Well-Known Member

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    Hi Mike

    There are many pros and cons as to whether you should buy your poles before you go. In the the pro corner it helps if you have time to go to a couple of stores and get advice and then have the time to actually get used to getting the correct length of adjustment for you and for using them. It really is better if you have practiced with them before you leave. Some can be a bit fiddly to lengthen/shorten, some have shock absorbers, some have cork handles and adjusting and learning to use the wrist straps is more important than you's think.

    On the con side there is the issue of transporting them on the plane. Mostly it will mean that you have to check in your pack or use a separate box to transport them (see Wily's suggestions on another thread). Last year we flew from Dublin to Biarritz with Ryanair. We had no problem either with Security in Dublin or Ryanair in bringing the poles on board. However when flying back with Aer Lingus from Bilbao security told us we had to check the poles in. We got them them security wrapped at the airport and Aer Lingus checked them at no extra charge. So there is no really safe guide as to whether you will be allowed them as carry-on.

    As to cost, well as with most things you get what you pay for. For our first Camino in 2015 we bought walking poles from a supermarket chain here called Lidl. They were fairly basic and good enough but not great, did the job I suppose you could say. However we ran into the checking in problem on the way back and decided to leave them behind. Last year we opted for a mid-priced set (Craghoppers). They were better, lighter (important) but sturdier and had the shock absorber system which is good for walking on asphalt. However they can be a bit of a pain to adjust. We will be using them again this year but I kind of wish I had gone for a good set of Leki poles in the first place (they have external adjustment rather than the twisting adjust of the Craghoppers). So as I say ye pays yer money and makes yer choices.

    There a number of very good videos on youtube to show you how to use the poles. Having never used them before I wouldn't even consider stepping out on the Camino without them now.

    Whatever choice you make I hope it's the right one for you.

    Buen Camino

    Greg
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2017
  14. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Mike - As Greg said, there are a lot of choices out there. If cost isn't an issue or you think you might use them on other occasions, go with a pole like Leki. There are a number of models, but you can get a good pair in the $60-100 range. I use a much less expensive set of poles by BAFX and only paid about $20. They have the disadvantage Greg spoke of above whereas you have to twist them to adjust the length. They're a popular pole that gets good reviews (check them out on Amazon). They worked fine for me and I've picked up a pair for my wife as well for our upcoming Portuguese Camino. They are easy to adjust too, but there are a few things that a little instruction will help you with to enjoy them more and use them more efficiently.
     
  15. fluffkitten

    fluffkitten Member

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    Although I tend to have two poles with me it depends on the terrain as to what I use. Up hill or a technical down hill I use two, most other down hills it'll be one to steady myself and on the flat I tend not to uses poles at all as for me they're in the way at that point.

    It is pretty much finding out exactly what works for you by giving it a go. A very good excuse to go out for a walk.

    Think I use trekking poles more for my tent than walking. :D
     
  16. Crepes4Suzette

    Crepes4Suzette Well-Known Member

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    I'll bet you'll like using a pair much better than one. Two can really help pull on a steep incline. Yes, equipment can be very expensive, but most of it except maybe a good backpack can be gotten for low prices as long as it's not important to you to have the spiffiest things on the market. I figure the more money I save on the stuff that doesn't make much difference, the more discretionary money I have to TRAVEL with:0)).

    Direction Compostelle closes around 7 pm in SJPP, and I think they open around 8 a.m. The time I bought ONE, it cost no more than 14 Euro. Last year, the PAIR I took was $16.74 U.S. from Walmart. My lightweight Ozark Trail sleeping bag was $18.99 U.S. If by some chance you miss their hours, there's Bouricott Express to transport backpack or give you a lift to either Orisson or the Vierge d'Orisson to cut off some of the worst incline (the Col de Lepoeder is really the only steep incline after the first 5K, and it's not that long an incline). Caminoteca right by the Camino in centre-town Pamplona can sell you hiking poles also. Happy planning, Mike!!
     
  17. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Mike - Lots of good points above made by Suzette. Let me second her point on getting a good backpack. Spend the money on a good quality pack like an Osprey (you won't need more than a 35L one), and it will pay big dividends on how you feel across the 500 mile trek.

    As Suzette points out, there are good options for picking up poles in SJPP. Otherwise, you're going to have to check them as most Airlines departing from the US won't allow them in the cabin with you. In Saint Jean, you can also pick up a classic Opinel pocket knife for as little as 10€. You'll enjoy having it when it comes time to slice fruit, meat, or cheeses as you picnic along The Way. Buen Camino!
     
  18. UnkleHammy

    UnkleHammy Well-Known Member

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    I believe of the most important things you can do is practice/train with whatever it is that you plan to use in 500 miles of walking. I look at buying stuff, after I leave home as an emergency action when something is going wrong.
     
  19. Mike F.

    Mike F. Member

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    Thanks, guys....As for the pack, it sounds like I'm on the right track, as I've been looking at Osprey 35s and Gregory 36s.

    Speaking of equipment, a question for a fellow American: I was on the REI site and am confused by just what "REI Co-op" is and how it works. Is anyone a member?
     
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  20. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Mike - I've got the Osprey Stratos 35L pack and love it. I think that you'll find the best price for this in Amazon.

    Regarding REI, you can join and become a member for discounts and rebates. I believe that may be what the Co-op part is all about.
     
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  21. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Well-Known Member

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    One word of advice on the backpacks - do check whether you can access from a front or side zipper or is it from the top. I have an Osprey Stratos 34 large which has a large zip pocket. This makes it easier to access items inside the pack. My partner has the Sirrus 26 which is accessed from the top and can be a pain if you want to get to an item at the bottom of the sack.

    Buen Camino

    Greg
     
  22. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    As Greg said above, having a front zipper, at least for me, is an important feature and one of the reasons why I have switched to the Osprey Stratos. Last year I used the Fjallraven Friluft 35L pack and I was very pleased with many of its features. However, I found that as a top loading-only pack, it was not best for easily accessing the contents. My wife has the Sirrus 35L Osprey which also has the front access.
     
  23. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Well-Known Member

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    Mike

    One other thought - re sleeping bags. I would suggest shopping around at home for a good lightweight bag. It has taken me quite a bit of time to find a decent lightweight bag here in Ireland at a reasonable price so if you can find one there I would suggest you buy that in advance too. It also allow you to check how it adds to the overall weight of your pack.

    Buen Camino

    Greg
     
  24. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Mike - After choosing a sleeping bag, I'd recommend that you treat it with Permethrin. Although some people (and I completely respect this perspective) do not like to use chemical sprays, from everything that I've read, Permethrin does not pose any significant threat to humans. As sanitary conditions may vary greatly from albergue to albergue, treating your bag and backpack may be the best way to prevent bed bugs from hitching a ride with you or causing any skin irritations. It was either my good fortune or because I did treat my equipment last year, that I had no encounters with these nasty insects.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2017
  25. BROWNCOUNTYBOB

    BROWNCOUNTYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Mike - we never used trekking poles before our 2015 camino and they proved to be life savers from day one. My wife and I both had a pair of cork handled Leki's. We purchased these on Sierra Trading Post and got a good bargain. Before our camino, I watched one or two YouTube videos and we were ready to go. Very easy to set up and also collapse when these are not needed. These helped "pull" us up a steep descent, and also provide support during steep downgrades. When we reached the long, flat meseta, I simply collapsed my set and attached to my backpack. We both walked the full 800 kms and never fell even once, which was great.

    Another point about gear, there are very good sport / equipment shops along the way. In addition to SJPDP, there are shops in Zubiri, Pamplona, Leon, etc. So not to worry if you've forgotten something - you can pick up along the way.
     
  26. Mike F.

    Mike F. Member

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    Thanks much!
     
  27. Mike F.

    Mike F. Member

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    A friend has offered to loan me their North Face Blue Kazoo sleeping bag. It's rated at 20/15 degrees, weighs 2lbs 7oz. That's not too warm a bag for a May Camino, is it?
     
  28. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Mike - At that temperature rating, you're looking at a 3-season bag which is much more than you need in the albergues in May. For me, the bigger concern would be the extra weight you'll be carrying and the space it will take up with this particular bag. Go lighter if you can.
     
  29. Mike F.

    Mike F. Member

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    So, 2.7 lbs. is heavy for a bag?
     
  30. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Mike - The 1-season bag that I carry, I also walked in the month of May last year, weighs 1.1 pound. So, by my standard and based soley on absolute weight, I would say that 2.7 pounds is a relatively heavy bag. You won't need a bag that heavy in the albergues. Mine compresses into such a small package that it hardly takes up any space in my pack.
     
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