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What Footwear And Sleeping Bag

Discussion in 'The Camino Portugues' started by Tansey, Jan 5, 2018.

  1. Tansey

    Tansey New Member

    Jan 5, 2018
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    Attempting my first Portuguse Camino this September. (Porto start) haven't decided route yet, possibly part coast part central.
    Curious what people have worn for footwear? Hiking boots, trail runners, runners?
    Also sleeping bag or bag liner?
    Does one get credentials there, or before?
    Anyone use a service to carry their pack ahead?
    Thanks for any help !
    Greg Canning likes this.
  2. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Well-Known Member

    Sep 7, 2015
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    Hi Tansey and welcome to the forum

    You have asked some great questions and I look forward to the debate to follow around footwear :)

    Not having walked the Portuguese route I cannot advise on the specifics there but I can offer some advice on footwear. My best advice - look after your feet. They are after-all going to carry you all the way to Santiago. My wife and I have walked over half the Camino Frances and many thousand kilometres preparing for our walks and to date (touch wood) haven't had a single blister (we've had one or two hot spots but so far no blisters). So here is some basic advice:-

    1. Get to your local outdoors/hiking shop and get your feet fitted. Most people would recommend going a full size bigger for your walking/hiking shoes so that you can accommodate the thicker walking or dual-layer socks and allow for your feet swelling in the heat and from the constant walking. Getting a proper fitting is the best thing you can do.

    2. Deciding on boots versus hiking shoes versus trail runners versus hiking sandals really comes down to personal preferences. I use the merrell moab 2's with Superfeet insoles (for extra support) and my wife uses Columbia outdrys with the Superfeet insole. I would advise getting a goretex shoe as you will encounter at least some light rain and the breathable yet waterproof nature of the goretex shoe is worth the slight premium.

    3. Give the Superfeet insoles some consideration. They provide great ankle support and, depending on which you go for, great arch support. I have to say that they really help your feet walk those long distances.

    4. Get good socks. Remember that you will pay for a good pair of walking shoes so don't skimp on your walking socks. Having walked almost 500 kms of the Camino Frances and a couple of thousand preparatory kilometres, my wife and I have finally settled on the merino wool Smartwool socks. The wool is amazing at keeping you both warm and cool in different circumstances and the padding in the right places makes your feet feel nice and snug over long distances. My wife thought that it was a bit of an expense to begin with but she swears by them now. We had also tried socks with inbuilt liners and thousand mile socks but now prefer the Smartwool socks.

    5. Get and use Bodyglide on your feet. Bodyglide looks a bit like a stick deodorant and is rubbed on your feet. It reduces friction. Again we swear by it (I've just noticed I'm doing a lot of swearing on a Camino thread!).

    6. Finally keep the weight you carry to a minimum. The weight on your back is carried by your feet so keeping it down to the minimum (lots of advice on the forum about packing) will really help.

    7. Try using walking poles. Opinion on their use is divided so I would say try them out and learn to use them properly. We found them really helpful for climbs and descents but it is important to learn to use them properly.

    Hope this helps

    Buen Camino

    Last edited: Jan 5, 2018
  3. Crepes4Suzette

    Crepes4Suzette Well-Known Member

    Apr 9, 2016
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    Pennsylvania, USA
    Hi Tansey. That's all important information above from Greg. I did part of the Portuguese in September. Because it was my sister's first Camino and she didn't think she could carry her pack every day, we used TuiTrans. They were great and are highly recommended - just one day our packs arrived a little late, which was initially worrisome, but it worked out, and they are responsive if you need them.

    I always take a light, inexpensive sleeping bag. All the PRIVATE albergues I've slept in have had blankets, but sometimes only thin ones or ones that I'm convinced haven't been washed in awhile. Then I unzip my bag and use it as a blanket, and at other times it's nice to crawl into your bag when you get really cold and are having trouble getting warmed up (September is a great month to walk though, and you'll likely not have that trouble).

    I've most often worn Merrell Siren Sport hiking shoes, but this last time wore trail runners with good lugs (New Balance Hierro v2s) since it wasn't such a long Camino. What a difference in comfort! I take Thorlo socks with knee-hi nylons under and some Injinji toe socks to alternate with, and attend to any foot problems immediately.

    Some say that the Portuguese isn't challenging, but there were some days - I think it was the two days after Arcade - where having taken hiking poles would have REALLY helped.

    We walked the coast from Porto only to Matosinhos, which was lovely. We then took the metro back to Porto and trained ahead to Barcelos to start in earnest.

    Buen Camino to you!
    UnkleHammy, RJS, danvo and 1 other person like this.
  4. Canadian Wander

    Canadian Wander When in doubt, rack out...

    Apr 9, 2013
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    Alberta, Canada
    Good advice all. And actually, my wife and I will also be doing Porto to Santiago in Sept! Hope to meet some of you.
    I like Wright Socks, an US company that has a built in liner, worked great for me when we did out Camino France in Sept 2015, not one lost toenail or blister!
    Foot wear is very personal, but proper fitting and socks are critical... as is body glide! My best and only advice is regardless of what your choice is...you have to get out and walk in advance, with your weighted pack, to predict how it works for you.
    I always carry my light weight bag as well, same reason as C4S.
  5. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2014
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    Cumbria UK
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    I have walked the Camino Portuguese from Porto – Although it was a while ago ;-) But I will have a go to add a few snippets to what has already been posted :)

    Footwear - Footwear is a personal choice with different pilgrims choosing different options, my own preference is lightweight “Gortex” fabric boots as these need very little maintenance, keep your feet dry (*) when it rains and let your feet breath when it is hot

    (* As Spain and Portugal is usually quite warm 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)

    You also need to decide on your socks – For many years I used Bridgedale liner socks and Thulo outers and this proved to be an effective combination for me, but on my last 1,000 mile Camino, I was given some 1.000 Miler socks and even after walking this distance, I never had a single blister.

    After footwear, your next consideration could well be your Rucksack – My “Advice” here would be to go to a professional outdoor shop and get the sales assistant to explain all the adjustments to you and help you fir it to your own body – I have written a few of my own ideas about Picking and Packing Rucksacks at https://web.archive.org/web/20151115120943/http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/23c942/

    But the “Trick” is to go as minimalistic as possible, keep your weight to a bare minimum and choose the correct size rucksack – Not one that is too small so that you then have to strap things on the outside, nor one that is too big, so you end up packing lots of “Just in case” items that you don’t really need.

    Then you should try and do at least a few days walks to ensure that your chosen footwear and rucksack fit you comfortably and, I then believe that, given your timeframe, you will be as prepared as you can be for your Camino

    Sleeping Bags – I always take an ultra light Sleeping Bag on Camino with me as I tend to stay in as many Municipal Refugio’s as I can, these sometimes only offer very basic facilities (Particularly on the less walked routes), so a Sleeping Bag can be very useful (Even on the more popular Camino’s, Municipal Refugio’s operate on a first come, first served basis, but when all the beds are taken, there is still sometimes floor space available, and having a Sleeping Bag can make the difference between a comfortable night, and a very uncomfortable one!!)

    “Credentials” are available from the cathedral in Porto, The desk at The cathedral opens up at 0900, so If you are making an early start then get them the day before.

    As already mentioned, it’s a while since I walked the Camino Portuguese, but my trek notes are at https://web.archive.org/web/20151031050709/http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/50192/c4/ and IF you like, might still be worth a read :)

    Good Luck and Buen Camino

    Crepes4Suzette and Greg Canning like this.
  6. UnkleHammy

    UnkleHammy Well-Known Member

    Dec 5, 2015
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    Fresno, California
    This entire section has solid well throughout advice that has obviously been learned through solid experience. So far it is the best set of recommendations I have seen here, or anywhere.

    Thanks to all the posters.
    RJS, Crepes4Suzette and Greg Canning like this.
  7. calowie

    calowie Active Member

    Jul 24, 2014
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    We walked from Porto to Santiago and then on to Muxia in 2016. We stayed completely on the coastal route, vila do conde, esposende, caminha, vigo, then took a detour through Bueu to Pontevedra on the central route. Then deviated again for the spiritual variant through vilanova de arousa to Padron. Expect for 1-2 days, the terrain was pretty flat and we used hiking shoes, but trail runners would have been fine. We did have a light weight sleeping bag (600 gm) that we had used previously and we used it each night. For ease of everything, as mentioned above, get comfortable sock/footwear and keep the pack weight light! Buen camino!
  8. samantha davies

    samantha davies Member

    Dec 14, 2017
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    In September the weather will still be quite hot so I'd stay away from hiking boots, your feet will boil inside!
    Get a good pair of trail runners or runners and bring good quality and comfy flip flops, they are very useful for warm days. A sleeping bag is a staple in my experience, as you never know what's gonna dappen during the camino. Doesn't have to be a thick one, a standard from Decathlon will do fine.
    You'll get the credentials during the Camino. I used Pilgrim for backpack transfer during my Portuguese Camino as my back was extremely sore the year before from bringing the rucksack with me all the time. It was something I highly recommend, especially if you're planning on walking in summer. I only brought a small bag with me with the essentials, and all the big stuff was already at my accommodation when I arrived.
    Crepes4Suzette and UnkleHammy like this.

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