I went to the Outdoors Show in London last month and I met El Camino bracelets. Now, for the first fortnight, I had something bigger and more ridiculous to think incessantly about but once I’d managed to stop thinking about it, I went back to these bracelets.
They’re an ultra-tough hand-woven bracelet, in a few colours and in either single length or double length and then you add “steps” for countries you’ve been to. Simple. You can also add wooden spacers (although as they come free with the steel steps, I don’t really see the need to), “small steps” which are for destinations that are not countries, eg London, California, the Great Pyramid at Giza etc, glass region steps and you can have them custom-engraved. As a simple wearable souvenir, I think it’s great and although I often find they rattle too much, I like bracelets a lot.
After much deliberation, I went for a single length bracelet in red, as part of a starter pack with two countries. I chose Iceland because it’s special, and Switzerland because I lived there. Of course, once it arrived, I immediately wanted more.
So. They come in black envelopes with the stickiest glue ever on them. I had to tear the envelopes open because unsticking the flap was never going to happen. The bracelet itself was in a little bag and the steps were wrapped up in black tissue paper in little boxes, strung on a piece of cord that matched the bracelet. Very decorative.
The bracelet was a bit stiffer than I’d expected and a bit bigger. I’d ordered it a a tiny bit too big – the size guide said to measure your wrist and kind of add 2cm for a snug fit and 3cm for looser. It’s loose enough to take off without undoing it but not so loose that it comes off by itself and I can feel that it’s harder to get off now I’ve added my second lot of steps. The clasp fits nicely into a loop at the end of the bracelet and you thread your various steps over the loop end in whatever order you like.
For my second order, I went for a four-country pack plus two region steps – Finland, Norway, Lithuania and Romania, plus Europe and Scandinavia. Scandinavia’s much prettier than it looks on-screen! However, with six countries, six coconut spacers and two regions, it’s already starting to feel a little bit full. I’m definitely going to get a custom Limestone and Lava step but I was hoping to get custom Altitude Festival, Edinburgh Fringe and Orkney & Shetland steps done too. However, given that the custom ones are quite expensive – ok for a special one-off or maybe two but too much for four of them – I’ll settle for plain Austria, France and Scotland, and I’m still missing Sweden and Denmark. But then I’m about done, which is good because that’s all I’ll have room for on the single bracelet.
One final good thing – they come nice and quickly! Or at least, they do to the UK, delivered the day after dispatch, so you don’t have to wait long for your shiny new toys to come through your door.