The Rain Jacket Dilemma

Eureka!

Ahem…sorry if I scared anyone with my opening line there but I may have cracked the one quandary I have left with my kit…the rain jacket. And it was purely incidental.

After yesterday’s rains, I woke this morning to discover my phone was unable to charge. So I needed to bring it to the local phone repair store to have it checked out. There was a possibility that the charging mechanism was water damaged, although I hoped that wasn’t the case. So I brought it to the store and the guy behind the counter had a look at it. After waiting 5 minutes for the phone to turn on, I saw the charging icon. It was just a false alarm. Phew! That will teach me to leave my phone cover at home while it rains!

While leaving the shopping centre, my brother and I passed a new Regatta Great Outdoors store and decided to check it out. I have been on the hunt for a more effective rain jacket since yesterday so maybe…just maybe..they may have something in stock. The brother was looking for hiking trousers as well and he bought his first pair of zip-off trousers and quick-dry socks. I will have him on the Camino in no time 🙂

While he was making his purchase, I asked one of the guys working there if he has any hi-end rain jackets in stock. He had Craghoppers, DareToBe and Regatta (obvs as it is a Regatta store!!). My ears perked when he mentioned Craghoppers. There was a good selection in stock and I tried on a few. Of the lot, the Kiwi Classic was the best and with a 10% sale, I bought it. So now I have another jacket to test and if it doesn’t do the job, I have 30 days to bring it back and get my money back. Win-win. My only concern is that it is slightly heavier than the Helly Hansen. We will wait and see what it is like on my next hike on the Grand Canal next Saturday, the 3rd.

 

Up-to-date Packing List

It is quite normal to change your packing list if you are one to return to the Camino frequently. There may be items that just don’t work for you or a better item might be available for sale. So I’m just going to post what I have scribbled down for my Camino in September. I weighed this at 7kg last week, the lightest pack I have brought so far. This is without water and snacks.

Pack – 33 litre Osprey pack

Wearing:
North face microfleece 1/4 zip
Craghopper shirt
Craghopper trail trousers
Bridgedale socks
1 under armour underwear
Salomon trail shoes with superfeet insoles
1 baseball cap
1 buff
Small over the shoulder bag containing the following: Phone and Earphones, Passport, Flight details, Debit card, Small amount of money, Camino Society Ireland Credential

Within the backpack:
Vaude Backpack raincover
Silk liner
1 pair of Sandals
700ml Water bottle – attached to pack with carabiner
Small plastic folder containing: – Flight details – Prescription – E111 card

Top pocket of pack:
Craghopper Kiwi Classic Jacket – Hooded rain/wind jacket (replacing the Helly Hansen Loke Jacket)
Berghaus Rain trousers

Within a Compression sack:
1 pair of shorts
Helly hansen t shirt
Icebreaker coolmax t shirt
2 under armour underwear
2 pair of bridgedale socks

Within a dry sack:
First aid kit (ibuprofen, motillium, etc – includes blister kit, germoline, small swiss knife with scissors)

Within a dry sack:
Toiletry kit (Travel toothbrush/toothpaste, roll on deodorant, Lifeventure all purpose soap 100ml, disposable razor, hand sanitiser)
Quick-drying REI packable towel
Medication
Wet wipes

Within a dry sack:
Ear plugs
12 safety pins for drying clothes
Phone charger / lead / Adapter
Power bank for phone
(Still debating whether to bring my action camera with strap attachment)
Camino Shell (take out when I start walking)
Spork

Backpack Waist pockets
Headlamp / tiny torch
2 carabiners

If you have any questions about my packing list, please feel free to ask in the comments below.

Bray Head with Camino Society Ireland

Hike #2
Bray town, around and over Bray head and back to the town.

Another weekend and now just 100 days (eek!) before I fly back to Spain and into Madrid. Time flies, doesn’t it? And speaking of time flying, this day 4 years ago I had completed my third day on my third stint on the Camino Frances. My 2013 Camino was easily my favourite and one I will cherish for a long time. I met so many good people and I hope, one day, to see some of them again.

This weekend was shaping up to be something special. During the week, temperatures were in the 20s and the sun was out most days. I had 2 walks planned and was eagerly looking forward to them. Today (Saturday) was in Bray with Camino Society Ireland, and Sunday with the Camino prep / training meet-up group. There were rumours of rain coming up from the South to hit Dublin today but I quietly had my fingers crossed. The last thing I wanted was to be mid-hike in the middle of a downpour. So I packed my rain gear in the hope that there would be just a few showers and that would be the end of that. I left the house in the midst of light rain but nothing that would bother me.

After an hour trip by train, myself and my brother arrived at Bray and was welcomed by quite a few fellow walkers. There were more at the first outing in Howth a month previous but I would put that down to the weather. I brought my Osprey 33 litre backpack with Helly Hansen rain jacket and Berghaus rain trousers. I had my pacerpoles with me this time as we were advised to bring poles with us. They proved to be a great help.

So 10 am came and went and we started to move out. The walk involved using the cliff walk from Bray to Greystones but rather than continuing to Greystones, we would climb up and over Bray Head and loop back to Bray. Looking from Bray, it seemed daunting, but we were assured that the climb was gradual and not as steep as it looked. Onwards we went along the promenade which was bustling with joggers, walkers and a solitary accordionist. The clouds were dark but I wasn’t dressed for rain at this stage.

10 minutes in, as we were walking along the cliff walk, we felt the first drop. One drop became two until a steady shower started. “This is down for the day”..I said to myself. I pulled on the rain jacket and continued in the hope that it was a solitary shower and it would clear sharpish. At the very least, it would be a good time to test the rain gear! A half an hour and it hadn’t relented. The zip-offs were soaked so I thought that now would be a good time to don the rain trousers. The backpack was a lost cause at this stage and soaked through. I should have brought a cover! After a little while, we stopped for a bit so I could put on the rain trousers. They were a massive help! I would recommend them to anyone interested. Most there had ponchos but I prefer rain jacket and trousers.

The climb up the hill was tough in places but nothing too challenging. It was pretty funny seeing a sign warning us of the presence of a bull and totally disregarding it. Yes, we are that crazy!! There were a few awkward obstacles to negotiate but all in all the climb is anything you would see while walking from Rabanal del Camino to Foncebadon. At times, we were walking through flowing streams but the rain started to subside while we were making the descent back to Bray. It was pretty misty also, and it was a shame that we didn’t see the one thing that we came to see…Bray Head cross. Visibility was very poor being so high. The descent was gradual but the rain made walking difficult and it was very easy to slip. After another hour, we made it back to base safely and in one piece.

Despite the conditions, it is a beautiful walk and I would love to give it another go in better weather. During the week, the Camino Society left me a message on Instagram (after I expressed concerns about the forecast)..”It will be like a new adventure”..and it most certainly was. It gave me a great chance to test my rain gear and find any faults..which there were many. I have a few months to find a more effective rain jacket as my Helly Hansen just didn’t cut it. It was also great meeting society members again and talking about future plans. Bernard and Jim can’t be praised highly enough. I can’t wait for the next outing.

Unfortunately, with the poor weather conditions, I felt it wise to cancel the Camino prep / training meet up in Howth tomorrow. I have been on the Howth cliff path while it is raining and it can be difficult to negotiate some sections.

More photos can be found on Camino Society Ireland’s facebook page.

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Don’t Stop Walking – Season Two

I’m a big fan of Andrew Suzuki’s work on the Camino de Santiago. His two series – Don’t Stop Walking and Beyond The Way have been massive hits over on Facebook. We have already been treated to Season One of Don’t Stop Walking, which is a pilgrim’s guide to the Camino de Santiago. A handy digest of do’s and don’t’s which will surely point you in the right direction during your planning. If you haven’t seen Season One – go do so now!! I’ll wait until you finish….

Done?

Ok 🙂

Now you are ready to start watching Season Two. Episode One contains a top ten list of essential foods you need to try while in Spain and Portugal (No, pulpo though!!), while episode Two breaks down the top ten extremely small items that you must bring with you on your Camino. What I like about his videos is his sense of humour, you are guaranteed to have a smile on your face at the end. Plus, you will be eager to watch the next episode!!

More information can be found on his website: www.beyondtheway.net.

Osprey Talon 33 Backpack

Just a quick post about the above. I’ve been eyeing it up for quite a while now, even before my recent Camino Finisterre. There are many different sites and forums that rave about it, because of it’s many pockets, because it is well-ventilated and because it is probably the lightest pack on the market. However, this particular rucksack is not sold in Ireland for some strange reason. So, for my recent trip to Spain, I stuck with my trusted and loved Lowe Alpine Airzone 35-45litre and left a change for another day. It’s a great bag “but” it’s a little too big for the Caminos that I usually take, which are 1-2 weeks.

The left is the Osprey Talon and the right is my current Lowe Alpine.

As mentioned before, my next outing in Spain will be along the Camino Ingles next May. However, before then, I have a good bit of testing to do when it comes in the post. This is the first time I have purchased a pack online without trying it out beforehand, but I can always send it back if it doesn’t suit. I think it’s safe to say that 2 packs will suffice now 🙂 Here’s hoping my Lowe Alpine doesn’t read this post!!

Here is a review of the Talon 33:

Camino a Finisterre – A definitive packing list

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you will already know that I am returning to Spain on September 1st to walk the Camino a Finisterre. This route takes me from Santiago de Compostela, where I will see plenty of pilgrims finish their own caminos, to Finisterre and then further north to Muxia. I have set aside 5 walking days and that will be more than enough to reach the edge of the world and the sea.

However, the point of this post is to give you a few details about what will be in my pack for this particular journey. My previous Caminos varied from 2 to 3 weeks, but as this trip is relatively shorter, you may ask will that have an effect on my packing list. The answer is no as I have always kept my kit down to a minimum, regardless of the length.

So here goes:

  • Lowe Alpine Airzone Pro 35:45 Backpack – What I will be carrying each day. I have worn this pack on two previous Caminos now and love it so much that there is no point making a change. It may actually be too big as it is really a 45l pack but as long as I am not filling up this empty space I will be ok. The pack I own is blue and I have the Irish Camino Society patch sewn on the front for good measure. The straps are ideal and there is a great front zip for easy access. I would recommend this. There is actually a great review of it on YouTube here.

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  • Sea to Summit Cotton Sleeping Liner – One of the great advantages of walking a short Camino is you see the weather forecast for that week before you go and you can get an indication if there will be cold weather in store. This liner was bought for that. I will be using it alongside my sleeping bag or not at all. And hey! I’m going to Galicia in September; it’s not a case that it will be warm. I have tried this a few times and it’s a good buy.
  • Ayacucho Lite 700 Sleeping Bag – Pictured on the left above, the Ayacucho Lite 700 has been voted one of the top 10 sleeping bags for backpackers in the Independent. So, that was enough reason to buy it. Ideal for backpacking across warm countries, it packs down to take up just 2.5 litres of space in your pack and weighs just 680 grams. As I have said above, if the weather is foul, i’ll bring along the liner!
  • Brooks Cascadia 10 Trail Shoes – Another piece of kit that can make or break your Camino. I actually won these in a raffle and have loved them ever since. I am definitely bringing them along. It’s worth pointing out that no matter what shoe / boot you choose to wear, that you are comfortable with them.

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  • Bridgedale Men’s Coolfusion Run Speed Demon Socks x 3 – I’ve toyed around with socks since I took my first steps on the Camino back in 2011. Every year a better pair is manufactured or better material is used. I’ve worn nylon socks (never again!), wool (nope!) and last year, 1000m socks. However, I seem to have found a sock that makes my feet and me happy! I’ll bring 3 of these along.
  • Under Armour Original Boxerjock 6 Inch Extended Boxer Brief x 3 – Another piece of underwear that doesn’t need any introduction. These have caused me no problems at all.
  • Craghopper Mens Basecamp Convertible Zip Off Trousers – The ultimate Camino item of clothing! Most pairs of convertibles have pockets further down the leg to put money in, or, your credencial, let’s say. They are extremely handy, and I rarely wear them with the lower section on. I will also bring along a spare pair of shorts in the event of a downpour and they need to dry.

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  • Craghopper Kiwi Mens Long Sleeved Shirt – I wore a Craghoppers shirt on my 2015 Camino and am bringing the same one along this time. It is perfect for warm days and perfect for not-so-warm days. The collar saved my neck many a time last year. Plus if it is too cold, you can layer with a fleece or a wind breaker. And it’s lightweight, which is the main thing!

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  • Helly Hansen Lightweight Fleece (below) – For those cold mornings! I’m a big fan of Helly Hansen and wear their fleeces anywhere I can, the Camino included. But seriously, a good lightweight fleece is essential.

 

  • Helly Hansen Men’s Driftline Polo Shirt – Cobalt Blue (above)- Another item that will be making a re-appearance from last May. I loved this polo. It’s superquick-dry and lightweight. And no, I don’t have a “thing” with the colour blue 🙂
  • Beechfield Baseball Hat – For the sun!
  • Rain gear – A lot of people choose to buy a rain jacket, but I am planning for the worst. I have an Altus Atmospheric Poncho added to my kit from last year. I am bringing a pair of waterproof Half Leg Gaiters which you can buy in most outdoor stores. The key here is keeping your feet dry and not getting blisters, or flu for that matter.

So that’s the clothing part of my kit in detail. Of course, there are a few other things that need to be mentioned.

Electronics – I try to avoid the over use of electronics and just use my Samsung phone to blog and take photos. I also intend to bring along my Fitbit Charge. Of course, this is all optional. I met people with Kindles, iPads, etc..I have no idea how they charged them all.

Blister kit & First Aid – I usually carry a small selection for ailments all in a dry bag. If you do need more, there will be a pharmacy close by. On this Camino, I am taking Blistermedic and  Bodyglide Anti Chafing stick for feet, Victorinox Classic SD Swiss Army Pocket Tool, a Needle and thread and 5-10 Ibuprofen tablets. If you take medication, make sure you carry a copy of your prescription in your backpack.


Toiletries – Again, keep everything to a minimum as there are plenty of stores in Spain. Travel size toothpaste and soap lasts a while. While last May, I brought All Purpose Soap by Lifeventure, I will bring Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap. It is an all-in-one soap. It is highly recommended so I thought I would try it out. A microfibre quick dry towel is essential also. So on this Camino, I will be taking: Osprey carry on washbag,  Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castille Bar Soap, Antiseptic wipes, Trespass Antibacterial Microfibre Towel – Quick dry, Toothbrush and travel size toothpaste, Disposable razors x 2

Side Bag While Walking – A side bag comes in many different shapes and sizes. There are large bum bags with holders for water containers, over-the-shoulder bags, while some pilgrims don’t find it necessary to carry one. I prefer an over-the-shoulder bag that has room for money, my phone, my passport and  credencial…the important things!

And the others that I can’t place under any category:

Headlight
Walking pole
Sandals –  when not walking
5-6 breakfast snack bars – for the morning
Safety Pins x 6 – great for hanging up clothes for drying.
Plastic bag for rubbish
4-5 Different coloured dry bags for inside your rucksack– various sizes
Flents Ear plugs x 1
Light My Fire Spork
Flight tickets

Here is a link to an online spreadsheet of my kit. It contains links to reviews and pictures.

One piece of kit that I have not mentioned however, is left until last. It’s the humble scallop shell. You see, after the death of Denise Thiem, a memorial tree was planted outside of Astorga. I won’t pass this tree but I’ve been told that if I bring along the shell to the Pilgrim House in Santiago, they will do for me. So in a way, that is the most important piece of kit for this trip.