Reflections After a Long Distance Hike – 3 Changes for Next Time

By on April 2, 2022

Why did I bring that, why didn’t I pack a …, why didn’t I put things away differently. Let’s do this again! Haha

The analyzing of all of our gear began on the first day of walking and before the weekend is over we will have resupplied. Gear has been our top conversation this week from undergarments, to camera gear, to shoes, and everything in between. We knew it would be the top conversation but we didn’t know how intensely we would scrutinize our gear.

I’m sure it’s because we have the ability and time to make changes before we backpack the Via Francigena from Switzerland to Rome this summer. We know our hike will be more comfortable if we change out some of our gear for we go.

First change: Why in the world did I bring pajamas? I brought them because I thought I would wear them in the evenings and I would wear them to bed. However, to save weight (the ultimate goal), I should have just worn the extra outfit I brought. I should take the clothes I’m wearing, the clothes I wear when I’m washing the one outfit, an extra layer for rain/warmth, and that’s it. It was an amateur move on my part. Bottom line: Everything should serve multiple purposes.

Second change: Headwear options. I have 2 buffs, 2 bandannas, a couple rubber bands, and hair clips. Why? Oh my gosh, another amateur move on my part. One bandana will be great and one buff. I need a bandana for wiping sweat off my face throughout the day and a buff to keep my hair back when I want it down. However, I think I’m going to bring a microfiber cloth instead of a bandana that will serve as my washcloth for showers and wiping my face during the day. Again, saving weight and ensuring everything serves multiple purposes.

Third change: Shoes again. Through no fault of my own, this is still an issue for me. I have one foot that swells up a lot due to past injuries. I have tried almost 20 pairs of shoes and they all have one issue or another. For me, the Merrell Moab Vented shoes work best. When you’re long distance hiking you should wear shoes that are 1/2 to 1 full size larger because your feet will swell, I have tried both but I am still having blisters on my injured foot because of how much it swells. I think I am going to try a wide shoe to give my toes more wiggle room. I’m also trying a different compression sock for swelling. I may even end up wearing two different size shoes. Whatever makes my feet the most comfortable. We have 55 days until we leave so I pray I get this worked out. Walking with blisters, though we know how to treat them, is no fun.

Tending to my injured foot was a daily ritual

We’ll continue to make mistakes but I’m thankful for this training week. We haven’t done a long distance backpacking trip since the summer of 2019. You forget how heavy the pack feels at the end of the day. We needed that reminder so every item we bring is intentional and as light as possible. It’s not just what we bring but where we put it. The ibuprofen doesn’t do us any good deep in the backpack during the day when we need it, but it’s perfect in an easy to access part of the pack. Life lessons right there. 😆

Backpacking is a lesson in owning what you need, having it where you need it when you need it, and clutter will always weigh you down. That’s all I have for now. I’m going to kick my feet up and rest for a bit. Have questions? Comment below.



10 comments on “Reflections After a Long Distance Hike – 3 Changes for Next Time

    1. Hi Darlene! We will be sleeping in monasteries, churches, hotels, B&B’s, so no tent gear. Yay!!

  1. Have you tried Eurosocks? I started using their compression and hiking socks when I was experimenting with combinations for our first Camino in 2014, and this worked for me. I coat my feet with Body Glide first, next the hiking compression socks, and finally the hiking socks. Also, I wear the Lowa Renegade hiking boot which has taken me hiking in New Zealand, Spain, Scotland, France, Italy, and Switzerland with never a blister.

    1. I was going to ask Michele if I could introduce her to my good friend Beth! Since “Beth” was an experienced hiker with the best suggestions for all gear. I guess you know her!

    2. Hey Beth! I haven’t tried Eurosock, I tried something similar but I just ordered a pair of Eurosocks. Thanks for the tip! Do you wear a full size bigger on your shoe? I am going to check out Lowa’s!

      1. For the Eurosocks, I order my regular shoe size sock. This is also a medical company, and they will take back the socks if you don’t like them. The socks are made in Italy and are reasonably priced. I found that their compression sock is the right “thinness” to be a liner, and it does not stretch out, which means no rubbing. I buy the light weight hiking non-wool sock, as I cannot wear wool. I am on my third pair of Lowa Renegades; the first pair lasted over 800 miles. My husband also wears the Lowa Renegades and loves them, too. Good to stay connected!

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