Ok this blog post is a bit geeky – it’s about what kit I’m taking with me and what I’m leaving behind. I’m indebted to two people for most of the ideas that follow: Brian Franklin, who lives in the next village (Shrewton), is a veteran of many long distance pilgrimages and is about to set off from Canterbury to Lausanne having completed the Via Francigena from Lausanne to Rome last year. The other is, author and journalist, Harry Bucknall, who completed the Via Francigena in 2012.
Boots: Meindl Respond Mid GTX. Lightweight, goretex with some ankle support
Boot liners: Boots active gel
Sandals: Birkenstock Eva (150g)
Socks: Injinji toe sock liner + hiker × 2
Hiking shorts: Karpos Rock Bermuda
Hiking Trousers: Rohan stretch bags (250g)
Briefs: EDZ Merino ×2
T shirt × 2 inc 1 long sleeved (Rohan Trail shirt (235g)
Outer shell: Mountain Equipment Paclite Garwhal jacket (345g)
Leggings: Berghaus Paclite (265g)
Inner layer: Uniqlo ultralite jacket (235g)
Sleeping bag: Alpkit Cloud Cover (450g)
Sleeping bag liner: Eurohike silk (109g)
Sunhat: Jack Wolfskin (85g)
Travel towel: Lifeventure Hydro Fibre ultralite (98g)
35l dry bag: (70g)
10l compression bag: (80g)
Map case: Ortlieb
Rucksack: 40l Atompack Mo (800g)
Savon de Marseille olive oil soap (150g)
Wash kit + medical kit: (250g)
Pen knife: 15 blade Mountain Warehouse (130g)
Camera: Canon G16 with 10x zoom + charger (500g)
Washing line + safety pins (35g)
Phone charger + spare battery pack (150g) + solar battery recharger (140g)
Travel plug adapter (35g)
Waterbottles: 2 x SIGG 1l (2.2kg)
Tent: Terranova Laser Competition 1 (1.1kg)
Sleeping mat: Thermarest Neo Air Xlite (350g)
Lowe Alpine fanny pack
Travel bath plug (10g)
Locstop storage bags × 3
Pilgrim staff/thumb stick
2 x iron keys of St Peter (85g)
Maps/guidebooks: OS/IGN/Kummerly Frei + GR145 Topoguide Canterbury to Reims (in French)
The above kit totals 8kg (including 2.2kg/2 litres of water). I plan to post the maps to poste restante addresses in France and periodically post maps, which I have used, back to the UK.
I debated long and hard about whether to take a tent and sleeping mat. In the end I decided that the extra weight (1.5kg) was worth the peace of mind and flexibility for the French section of the Via Francigena particularly with the ongoing Covid 19 situation. I only plan to use the tent ‘in extremis’ when no other accommodation options are available!
I’ll also be using the TopoGPS app, the VF and Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome(CFPTR) apps, IGNrando app and Canon camera connect app to transfer photos taken with my camera to my phone/upload to my blog. I plan to transpose information on accommodation locations from the Lightfoot/VF and CFPTR data sheets onto the maps.
Why am I taking maps (and a compass!) rather than just using a GPS app? Call me a technological dinosaur,but I prefer looking at larger scale hard copy maps with topography details rather than at a mapping app on my phone.
My focus is on travelling as light as I can and reducing the risk of injury and blisters!
Seems a bit rash to be leaving your sleeping mat behind…. With a sleeping mat, sleeping bag and bivvy liner you can sleep tentless if the weather is good, or sleep in hotel if preferred. But without the mat, sleeping rough will be a challenge, I reckon. For the sake of 500g…
Good point – tough decision but with decent planning I’m optimistic that I won’t need to camp out. The VF in Sept/Oct unlikely to be overrun with pilgrims.
Decided to play it safe and take a tent and lightweight sleeping mat
If you don’t think you’ll need to camp out, you shouldn’t need a sleeping bag, either. I walked the Via Francigena in Italy in September/October with only a liner, all the hostels provided blankets or quilts (often not necessary anyway). Also, instead of carrying a bulky British phone charger and a travel adapter, you could just buy a European charger as soon as you get across the channel….