Tech on the Camino
In a conversation that is full of highly controversial topics at the best of times (where to stop, what to bring, how to walk, should atheists be allowed to walk, etc.) this is probably the most controversial one: tech or gadgets on the Camino.
Some dislike them, even radically object to them and others bringing them, as they feel is it not in the “spirit” of The Way. Others point out, that those things have the ability to distract from the “real” experience. And then there are those who like their tech. This is for the last group with a little shimmer of a hope to at least make the second group understand.
Since the Camino existed, pilgrims have tried to bring the best modern technology available to them. From impregnated clothes (fats, mostly), to lighter fabrics for their robes, sticks that were ornamentally carved to make them lighter while still providing the benefits of a stick, self-filling quills and paper that did not wilt in moisture, light and easily concealable weapons, and more.
We all use modern technologies on the Camino. Medications, glasses, or backpacks made with recent discoveries in polymer development. We fly and train to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port instead of starting at home, and we sleep in modern albergues instead of the forest or begging for entrance at monasteries.
That said, onward.
Dual 10’000 mAh chargers
When I first walked the Camino, it was a kinder, gentler, place. Albergues were less prevalent but all had common room power plugs that were used, fearless that anything could be taken, by pilgrims.
Since then, things have changed. People steal. Albergues are so overloaded, you might not find a power plug you can use. So I am bringing two 10’000 mAh chargers, which are cheaper and more easily replaced on the Camino (remember, you are never more than a short stroll away from civilization) than an iPhone or Air Pods. I’ll charge those any place I can, keeping my actual possessions close.
(for non-EU) A power adapter
I live in Cyprus now, which is EU but hasn’t received the memo, yet, so we’re still using those shitty UK power plugs. In any case, you should bring one EU style dual wall charger instead of bringing an adapter and charger separately. If you’re flying in, you’ll be able to buy one of those for a few bucks at the airport, but there are also plenty of shops in Biarritz, Bayonne, Bilbao, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, and anywhere in between.
Together with the two 10’000 mAh chargers you’ll have everything you need to make it well powered through the Camino.
iPhone, AirPods, and Apple Watch
I am not using my iPhone much, except to take videos and photos and post some of them for friends and family to see. Additionally, my iPhone, together with my watch, serves as a medical device, monitoring my blood glucose (see: Being Diabetic on the Camino).
Additional apps I have found indispensable:
- tomorrow.io - a weather app with a unique skill: it warns you when thunderstorms come closer. This has saved my hide more than once on the Camino.
- Day One - an electronic journal to keep your thoughts in. Some opt for pen and paper, I like the ease of electronic writing that leaves more time for content and demands less style.
- what3words: w3w overlays the whole world in 3x3 meter squares that have a unique, easy to spell name. When communicating where you are, especially when you’re in the Meseta or forest, this is an amazing tool. More, you can get a name in most languages, so you can communicate your location in an easy to remember format that is sensible for the multicultural, multi-language, Way.
My watch is set to silently (vibrate) wake me, and is used to monitor my pulse. A rising pulse despite invariant exertion means that your blood volume is low, meaning you need to drink more. This is the best way to remind you to drink and refill your bottle.
Also see music and podcasts on the camino.
I will be carrying an insta360 Go 2, a small (120g) lifelogging device that can take short videos or timelapses.
I am talking about this a bit more on my page on Diabetes on the Camino.