When considering the advantages and disadvantages of walking with a staff or stick or without it, we can affirm that yes, without a doubt the use of a staff or cane is recommended. But then we move on to another discussion: what to use? Traditional staff or hiking poles?
The great advantage of the hiking pole or poles is the ease with which they can be folded and transported, not only on the Camino but also before reaching the starting point and during the return home on planes, trains and other transport.
But the classic staff has other strengths: it allows you to better mark your step, choose the most suitable length or height for each walker – there are those who argue that a greater length, even close to the height of the pilgrim, facilitates stability – and also tend to have a greater symbolic and affective charge for the pilgrim.
The pilgrim’s staff is made, but hiking poles are bought, so if we decide on these, a new question arises: What poles to buy?
It is important to also measure the extension on them, that they can at least reach the necessary height to form an angle of 90 degrees with the elbow. In addition, it is very important to test the comfort of the grips well, choose softer materials such as foam or cork and avoid plastic or materials that could lead to scratches on the hands. Regarding the material of the pole, they are usually stainless steel, aluminium or carbon fibre. Among these three, carbon fibre is usually the lightest, but also the most expensive. However, the extra cost is not really justified since the difference in weight can be very small. Regarding the tip, what we recommend is, out of social considerations, to opt for a model with a tip that will not damage or spoil the surfaces on which it rests e.g. the floor of the shelters and other places through which you will pass with them.
Finally, if you opt for hiking poles, it is normal that the compulsory purchase is two poles and not just one. Do we use both or just one?
The most experienced pilgrims point out that on the Camino one pole is enough, two being recommended for harder terrain, such as mountain areas and more difficult GR. However, for people not used to walking on irregular terrain, with injuries or fears to overcome, the option of walking with two can be a good one.