Walking is an activity which is good for everyone because it doesn’t require any special skills but good health. Nevertheless, it is important to say that long-distance footpaths aren’t pleasant Sunday afternoon strolls from a physical point of view. Walking an average of about 25 Km per day, carrying along a load on your back represents a considerable strain especially for people who are not accustomed to frequent physical activity. For this reason, before undertaking a pilgrimage such as the Way of St.Augustine, it is advisable to consult your doctor to verify potential contraindications.
It will be useful to start practicing hiking gradually, (maybe walking 3-4 hours on Sunday afternoons) but bearing in mind that the effort required for walking the Way of St.Augustine is not comparable to any other trainings: it may be the case that after few days of walking, you decide to stop it because of physical problems or maybe you’re worn-out. Don’t feel ashamed: the Way of St.Augustine isn’t challenging yourself or others!
Special reference also needs to be made to the role of feet which are generally not taken into account despite their worthiness. The primary issue for long-distance walkers is blisters affecting extremities. They represent a real cross for the pilgrim to bear, possibly remaining quiet. Causes are different: the backpacking load (that should be maintained under 10 Kg), a daily and continuous walking that doesn’t allow to recover from the foot fatigue of the previous day followed by feet cooped up in hot and sweat shoes.
As said before, to limit the impact of long-distance walks, it makes sense to begin to get used to it, to make you “hardened”. Please avoid buying cheap hiking equipment and ask for some advice in stores that are exclusively specialized in sport equipment, explaining what are you going to do. While hiking, take off your shoes at least twice a day in order to let your feet breathe, change your socks frequently and get used to an evening foot massage with soothing oils which are available in sports stores.
If pain becomes unbearable consider delaying your journey for one or more days, or even stopping it completely. On the other hand, we must say that the Way of St. Augustine is an opportunity to put yourself to the test. If pain arises learn to bear it because undertaking a pilgrimage is about knowing and accepting your limits!
Clothing and Required Equipment
Pilgrim’s outfit is very similar to the one usually used for hiking. The first requirement is to buy high-quality trekking shoes and cotton socks, then buy lightweight clothing and carry some changes of clothes because it is known that walking makes you sweat especially in hot weather.
A water bottle is certainly necessary since some road sections along the Way are not equipped with water fountains. Then given that sudden downpours or cold snaps may take you by surprise it is recommended also to carry both a fleece jacket and a rain jacket. If you are keen to experience an outdoor overnight in some spots that you think are interesting, a sleeping bag will be essential.
Please find hereafter the required equipment along with some practical suggestions offered by Luciano Callegari on his website www.pellegrinando.it where he provides a detailed packing list for walking the Camino of Santiago de Compostela.
The first and most important suggestion is to carefully evaluate what to carry inside your backpack. As a general rule carry no more than 10-12 Kg or a 1/6th of your own body weight. Slim build people should reconsider those loads. You’d better carry out a preliminary test of packing so as not to risk having to carry impossible burdens.
|Rucksack||choose at least a 50-litre rucksack with multiple external pockets. Depending on the season, a rain cover will be very useful to prevent the contents from getting wet.|
|Sleeping Bag||During cold season choose a down sleeping bag, as lighter as possible (less than 1Kg).|
|Shoes||According to season, trekking boots are to be preferred to sneakers. Carry a second pair of lightweight hiking shoes or trekking sandals as an alternative.|
|Flip-Flops||Lightweight rubber sandals for showering or to wear during the outdoor rest periods. Waterproof sandals may be used as an alternative.|
|Lightweight Jacket||choose a waterproof and highly breathable jacket.|
|Trousers||1-2 pairs of walking trousers with half leg zips and 1 pair of shorts. Lightweight, easy to wash and durable.|
|Socks||4-5 pairs of seamless walking socks. Choose breathable socks specifically built for hiking or long trips.|
|Sweatshirt||According to season carry both a lightweight sweatshirt and warmer one preferably made from fleece fabric (Lightweight and warm).|
|Pants, Base Layers, Tissues||4 sets of each. Prefer microfiber, breathable and quick-drying underwear.|
|Hat||A broad-brimmed hat for protection from the sun and rain.|
|Consider to buy a lightweight water bottle which can double as a thermos and with add-on bottle holder.|
|String||5 or 6-metre lengths of string for hanging out the laundry or for other needs.|
|Safety Pins||Safety pins of different sizes. They are useful for hanging out the laundry.|
|Towels||Honeycomb towels are the best. Thanks to their surface, they absorb water better and they can be stored with ease. They are very similar to terry towelling towels but with a much higher water absorption capacity. They could be squeezed out and used without feeling uncomfortably damp.|
|Basic Toiletries Kit||to suit your needs or to do the laundry. Marseille soap flakes could be a good choice (it is advisable to grind your soap flakes), they are lighter than liquid soap and are suitable both for doing the laundry and body washing. Folding toothbrush. And don’t forget scissors and nail clippers.|
|First-Aid Kit||tubular bandage, band-aids, healing blister bandages, analgesics, anti-inflammatory drugs, soothing foot cream, mercurochrome or Betadine, needles for popping blisters, lancet, a sunburn cream relief. All available at Italian drug stores along the route.|
|Swiss Army Knife||suitable for every decent pilgrim!|
|Pen and Notebook||You can take notes or keep a journal.|
there are different opinions about the use of a cell phone. Although it’s nice to receive phone calls and texts from friends and relatives, the continuous invasion of privacy may not completely fit the spiritual moment you are living. When in doubt, turn it off and carry it with you and turn it on when it is needed.
Lightweight, compact, for capturing your best moments. Alternatively, smartphones are these days equipped with great cameras.
|Glasses||Sunglasses and eyeglasses if needed.|
|Needle and Thread||for running repairs.|
|Preferable Equipment But Not Required|
|Bivvy-bag||not needed if you are using a sleeping bag.|
|Bastoni da trekking||they are good to reduce the strain on your back while hiking. So what you choose is up to your preference, but bear in mind that you are carrying another load in addition to the total amount.|
|Torch||t could be useful on winter, during central stages of the Way, while hiking through mountain or hilly areas.|
|IPod, radio o CD||if you are hiking alone they could definitely entertain you. Otherwise leave them at home or tune the radio on Radio Maria (take the advice of a 100% Christian!).|
|some people think they are essential, others think they are not and for this reason they follow a balanced diet. The best thing to do is leave them at home and where necessary buy them along the route.|
|Sleeping Mat||lightweight, suitable to lie down outdoor or for emergencies. You can use it to wrap up your sleeping bag.|
|Folding Umbrella||Absolutely necessary in winter time. It must be very strong and windproof resistant.|
|Fanny Pack||it could be useful to carry wallet, maps, spares, cell phone.|