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The Camino is an excellent adventure for all outdoor enthusiasts. Every year a wide variety of walkers are attracted to one of the many routes through Spain and France. This religious pilgrimage is an excellent way of exploring Europe and taking time out of our busy lives to slow down and just walk!

1. Choosing the right route

There are a few different Camino roots that you can take. The most popular is the Camino Francais which goes from Saint Jean Pied du Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in North Western Spain. The entire route is over 800km and offers a wide variety of different terrain from the mountains of the Pyrenees to the plains of the Midlands of Spain and the thick greenery of Galicia. Outsider contributor Matthew walked 320km of this route in 2017. 

“I walked the route from Leon into Santiago, The first 100km or so out of Leon were not particularly interesting. However, I really enjoyed the final 200km. When we were researching the Camino before we departed we thought that the first kilometers out of France would be the most interesting, but since we wanted to finish in Santiago we decided to just tackle the second half of the French route.”

Another popular Camino route is the Camino del Norte. On the northern route, you will be treated to spectacular beaches, incredible cuisine as well as a rich history. If however, you are tackling the Camino in wintertime, the Camino del Norte is more susceptible to poor weather.

We would advise taking a look at the different routes before deciding which one to tackle.

2. The right footwear

Meindl Boots Great Outdoors

This will of course be dictated by the time of year that you plan on tackling the Camino as well as how long you are going to be gone! If you plan on being gone for longer, you will more than likely be carrying slightly more weight in which case a boot or mid might be a good option. Otherwise, we would recommend a supportive and comfortable walking shoe from a reputable hiking brand. 

Where to look!

Great Outdoors is an outdoor shop that has been based in Dublin for over 45 years. They specialize in kitting you out for your adventures! One of their key services is a custom footwear fit service. We recently visited Great Outdoors and got fitted for a pair of boots. We would highly recommend visiting them and talking to one of their experts about their range and what they recommend for your Camino adventure. 

Cushioning!

The vast majority of the Camino is on very well-maintained trails. One feature we would look for in a pair of shoes for the Camino is good cushioning. If you intend to be hiking for a number of hours every day with weight on your back, your legs will definitely be thankful for some extra cushioning in the midsole of your walking shoe. 

Waterproof or not?

This is definitely a question that comes down to personal preference and time of year. 

“When I walked the Camino in 2017 I had a lightweight pair of non-waterproof walking shoes. My friend, that I walked it with, had a heavier pair of waterproof hiking boots. Neither was necessarily better than the other.” – Matthew

Our general rule of thumb is if you are walking the Camino during summer, opt for a more well-ventilated non-waterproof walking shoe and if you are walking it in early spring, late autumn, or in the winter months, consider a waterproof alternative.

Socks

It’s funny to think that something as simple as a pair of socks could make or break your Camino experience! When we were in Great Outdoors their footwear experts showed us their range of hiking socks and talked us through their benefits. Get yourself at least two pairs of high-quality hiking socks and rotate clean pairs every day! 

Other Kit

There are so many items that will make your experience of the Camino more enjoyable. We think it is essential that you are quite strict with what you want to bring though as you could easily end up bringing far more than is necessary! Great Outdoors has written a very interesting piece on their website that covers the Top 10 Items for the Camino (that you may not think of), check it out!

3. Accommodation

Along the Camino, there are a few options when it comes to accommodation. The most popular of which are the huts or albergues along the way. These are generally very inexpensive pilgrim-specific accommodations where you can expect to pay €10-20 per night. Many of these albergues also have a Peregrino meal for pilgrims which is a great way of sampling the local cuisine at a very reasonable price (especially for the quantity you get!).

You can also seek private accommodation, the pilgrim’s specific “pensions”, or even a hotel bed if you need more comfort! 

A few people will also camp along the Camino which is definitely possible, but in some sections may be difficult due to the number of small towns you pass through. 

4. Pace yourself

Historically the whole purpose of the Camino was as a pilgrimage. So we would implore you to take the time on your Camino adventure to “smell the roses”. Stop in the small town for a coffee, sit down and observe the sunrise, and enjoy a fresh peach on the side of the trail. The Camino is not a race and is one of the rare thru-hikes where you can truly tackle it with no plan. Accommodation is so readily available that you do not need to plan out where you are going to stop. With this in mind, take your time, enjoy the experience and you’ll get to Santiago when the time’s right.

5. Self-care

Looking after yourself on the Camino is vital to your ability to keep going. 

Hygiene

Foot hygiene is of vital importance! We would recommend having a foot care routine every time you arrive at your accommodation for the night. A personal favourite foot hygiene product of ours is the Nuasan Foot Spray. This keeps your feet fresh and will avoid the risk of fungus growth that hours of hiking a day may encourage.

Read more about Nuasan

 

Hydration

A very important way to look after yourself while on the Camino is to stay hydrated. A great way to stay hydrated is by using a hydration reservoir. These make it easy to drink as you hike! In the warmer months, we would encourage you to consume an electrolyte drink during the day to replace the salts that you will lose in sweat. This will keep your body functional and functioning well and ensure that you enjoy the hike all the way to Santiago.#

The Camino truly is a magical adventure and we would highly recommend giving it a go. We hope that these tips will help you on your journey! 

If you want to find out more about the Camino why not check out Great Outdoors’ Camino homepage, which has everything you will need for your Camino adventure on it!

Everything you need to know for the Camino: Great Outdoors

¡Buen Camino!

 

By Matthew McConnell

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