As in, things that are not too hard or soft or hot or cold or big or small, but Just Right. My favourites are, in random order:
Pacerpoles: I won’t go on any long walk without my Pacerpoles. The specially designed handle make them an absolute joy to use and can be rinsed off so they will never get grotty or sticky or smelly; they take some weight off my achy joints, and the model I have, the Dual Lock, are easy to extend and adjust without needing to screw them (too) tight. They might be heavier than some other poles but they are always in my hands so I’m not even counting the weight of them into my pack weight.
Birkenstock EVA Madrid: Cheap, light, comfortable, easy to pack, anti-slip and anti-stink, the perfect sandal to keep in a side pocket to step into as soon as you take your shoes or boots off. Wear them in the shower, shake them dry, potter around the albergue, nip to the shop or restaurant or make a midnight run to the toilet. Wear them with or without socks, just adjust the strap to fit. I love them so much I use them at home as well!
Brita Fill & Go filter bottle: An infinitely reusable, easy to clean water bottle with a small filter disc that removes some impurities and much foul taste from tap water. Saves money as well as plastic waste! I take a lightweight 1L water bag as well, fill it with tap water and top my filter bottle up along the way. The bag folds up really small when it is not needed.
Sea to Summit TR1 sleeping bag: I coveted it for so long I finally caved in and bought it. Not cheap, but very, very good! It is light at just over 400g, has a drawstring at the top and bottom and a two-way full length zip down one side, but no hood, so you can position the zip on any side you want or even down the middle. Open it up on a hot night and sleep on top of it, fasten it just over your middle bits if you need to cool down, or zip it up completely to keep warm. I love having my own little cocoon at the end of a long day and would get too cold in a silk liner.
Rab Kinetic rain jacket: So light and stretchy, but it really blocks the wind and rain. Tight fitting hood with a little peak to protect your head and ears. Packs down small, fits well and comes in good colours. I wear it on cold mornings and cool evenings, with a poncho on top in heavy rain. I can also recommend the Rab Vital wind jacket, very light and windproof, but much cheaper.
Purple Rain Adventure skirt: Easy to pull on, with a very comfortable yoga waist band instead of zips or buttons, with two large pockets – big enough for my mobile and even my guidebook, and a hidden pocket under the flap on each of them. I can mix and match with warm or wicking tights depending on the weather, pull on rain trousers when it gets wet, windy or cold, and the dust and dirt just seems to roll off them so you always look camino chic.
Arrival bag: My arrival bag is a packable Decathlon messenger bag, very light, with zip top, large zipped pocket on the front and mesh pockets on the side for water bottles, umbrellas etc. On my recent camino I fine tuned the arrival bag concept by putting my toiletry essentials in the zipped pocket, meaning I don’t need my hanging toiletries bag anymore. In the evening I pack my towel, clean underwear, top and skirt/trousers/dress into the main bag, with my brush, shampoo, deo, toothpaste and toothbrush in the smaller zipped pocket. The bag is the last thing to go into my pack in the morning after I have brushed my teeth, and the first thing to come out again, so I can go straight into the shower. I put my crossbody bag with my valuables in there for safe keeping as well. After showering and changing, I put my dirty clothes (wrapped in the towel) into the bag to go and do the laundry, and then carry the wet clothes out to dry. Then – you guessed it – I go and fetch my clothes again and pack towel, undies, socks, top etc ready for the next day. Brilliantly practical, and the bag is also great for on the plane on the way there and back. Other bags with two separate and preferably zippable compartments will work just as well, so find your own favourite.
Also my poncho, for its literally cover-all abilities, but a poncho is not right for everybody. Merino tops for their warmth even when wet and their non-stink properties, but there are many different brands and styles, depending on your preference. And last, but not least, my Hoka One One shoes! Mine are Speedgoats – light and springy and supportive and stable, with a grippy vibram sole, breathable and fast drying – but again other models and brands are available. And last, but by no means least, the perfect backpack – took some time, but I got the right one(s) in the end!
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