Hiking Sticks

Remove electronics on the Camino and maybe the question if you need to be religious to be allowed to call yourself a pilgrim, and hiking sticks are the most contentious topic on forums and Facebook.

As always, this is your Camino. Walk it however you wish.

Getting your walking stick(s) to the Camino

Don’t. Your €190 Leiki Ultralights won’t confer much of an advantage over a cheap €30 set purchased in Bayonne or even Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Alternatively, buying a wooden, traditional, walking stick runs you around €15, and is just as efficacious, just a little heavier.

Walking

Rule Number One: if you use your walking sticks on asphalt, you’ll annoy everyone. Even the rubber caps make a clack-clack noise after a few days of you wearing through them.

Also don’t drag them. You don’t need them on asphalt, so fold them and put them away. Energetically, it makes no difference if you use them in most any environment, except steep uphill and downhill stretches. The way down from the Alto de Perdon (the day you leave Pamplona for Puenta la Reina) comes to mind, also the hill down from the Cruz de Ferro to Ponferrada.

Do not ever put them down indoors and around protected areas. Churches and church yards, for example. One walking stick isn’t so bad, but 50,000 every year, that’s a surefire way to destroy old church floors or the Roman roads.

Getting them home

(Here’s a brochure by the post office themselves). You can send your sticks home with Correos (Spanish post) or check them as additional luggage in Santiago de Compostela at the airport. Many airlines will transport them for a nominal fee, Correos charges around €10 for your pair to any EU country and about €20 to the US/Canada and Australia.

My opinion

I walked two Caminos with sticks. One with a wooden one I purchased in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, and one with ultralights I brought from home. The difference was negligible, and having a stick from the Camino on my wall was an additional benefit of the wooden one. It also felt much more “authentic,” even though I am not a big fan of the fake authenticity lore of the Camino.

On the second day, downhill from Roncesvalles, and the two legs mentioned above, I actually celebrated the stick(s). On all other, 30+ legs, I cursed them. They were in the way, at risk of being stolen, at risk of being left behind, and more.

To me, it’s not worth it in the sum of things. But, again, walk your Camino.