This is a photogaphic blog with a particular focus on walking the Spanish Caminos. Also included are walks in The New Forest, Wales and Southern England.

Gear and Equipment

The importance of backpack weight and the potential for damage and injury to feet is well documented. I learnt this to my cost walking some of the Via de la Plata in October 2010 when, even though I only needed light summer clothing (no need for heavy Winter clothing etc, temps. averaged 25 C) my pack weighed around 11kg without food and water. In November 2011 on the Camino Frances my 'Winter weight' pack weighed 6kg, so the temporary obsession with lighter gear paid off. I also changed from leather boots to goretex fabric boots which, I'm sure, helped with the blister problem . Oct 2010, 11kg = 5 blisters, twisted ankle. Nov 2011, 6kg =  no problems at all, despite walking faster and twice walking nearly 50 KMS in a day.

Unfortunately there is so much walking equipment on the market, and information regarding it, that it isn't easy to narrow down the choices. You can't just go in to a branch of Cotswold Camping and walk out with a pack full of the perfect lightweight clothing and equipment. The majority of shops seem to stock expensive but fashionable clothing and while the good (light) gear is often found in these shops you have to hunt for it.

For this reason I spent some time searching the net for equipment that although lightweight does not compromise too much on strength and durability, as there's a lot of ultra light gear available,  that probably wouldn’t stand up to rough handling (particularly backpacks) and having spent a significant amount of money I want this gear to last a few years. The downside to this is that this equipment is at the high end of the market and doesn’t come cheaply!

Below are some of the items that I took on the Camino Frances in November 2011. The walking gear will keep me warm whilst walking in temperatures well below zero. The sleeping bag, I'm guessing, would be good down to around zero in an albergue wearing additional clothes and sleeping on a bed rather than camping mattress. The sleeping bag is rated higher than this but that's relative to the surroundings. The pack weight (without food and water) was about 6kg and I hope to reduce this to 5kg for our forthcoming trip on the Via de la Plata.

Osprey Stratos 36 backpack
I chose this over the lighter Talon series as it is quite obviously made of stronger materials. I have a Talon 22 and the thinner material has failed in several places. The Stratos is 300-400 gms heavier than the equivalent Talon but the strength and extra pockets make it, for me, a much better buy. Weight 1400 gms.

PHD Minim Ultra sleeping bag
Warm enough for any albergue conditions that I could imagine on a Camino and the lightest bag I could find. I stayed warm even when other Pilgrims complained of cold in their bulky sleeping bags. Weight 345 gms.
The picture below shows the sleeping bag in a 3 litre Exped
dry bag.

Montane Atomic DT Stretch jacket
This waterproof jacket received good reviews for waterproofness, breathability light weight and comfort. As well as being light weight it packs down to the size of a large orange. Weight 315 gms.

Berghaus Paclite pants
These waterproof overtrousers are light, pack small and are extremely waterproof and breathable.
Weight 185 gms.

Montane Volt Jacket (fleece)
Good warmth to weight ratio. Plenty of pockets (essential). Weight 455 gms. This is for cooler weather and I won't take this on the Via de la Plata. A 300gm Microfleece will do, together with the Rab generator vest.

Rab Generator Vest
Brilliant versatile piece of kit. I used to think they were overkill until I tried one. Having one means I can travel lighter and stay warm. Useful throughout the year.  Tiny pack size. Weight: 290 gms

Rab Treklite pants
Not lightweight but then I don’t intend to be carrying them in my backpack. These are extremely comfortable trekking trousers. I put up for years with expensive, uncomfortable, ordinary polycotton trekking trousers (me big thighs) not knowing there were these stretchy trousers available untill I asked the question on a forum. I should have thought laterally as my Ron Hills did a fine job 20 years ago! and the fabric seems similar. Weight: 480 gms

Some other stuff:

1000 mile socks x 2 prs
1 x Hele Hanson long sleeve T shirt
1 x Mountain Warehouse short sleeve T shirt
2 x Lowe Alpine Trekking underpants
Karrimor thin liner gloves
Thin Camino buff
Rohan Bags (Trousers)
Petzl Tikka headtorch - good for lighting the trail 5-6 metres ahead.
Small but very powerful Fenix handtorch – great for finding yellow arrows at 50 metres. Absolutely worth the extra weight!
A small piece of foam sleeping  pad just big enough to sit on which is also great as a ‘dry island’  when getting dressed in wet showers with no seats. Weighs about 20 gms.

Berghaus Blitz Bumbag (Fannypack) / backpack
Sadly discontinued many years ago. Mine is at least 15 years old. The thin backpack pulls out of the top lid and has a total volume of around 20 litres. As a bumbag I use it for carrying my valuables, camera etc and it stays with me all the time. With the backpack open it keeps my valuables/camera /electronics separate from my wet towel etc when going to the shower and it’s great round town when you have to buy food. Wouldn’t be without it and I’m amazed the likes of Sea to Summit don't have a lightweight version in production now. Weight:250 gms

Toothbrush with refillable toothpaste tube in the handle
This just makes sense!
I found it here:

 A Brilliant idea. Working on the same principal as tent poles, with a cord running down the centre of the sections. The best thing is they pack down to only 40 cms and easily disappear into your pack which is ideal when albergue rules state that your expensive poles must be left outside the dorm. Oh, and they are very strong too.
This picture shows a Micro stick next to a standard Leki pole.