Camino Gear (Packing List)
Packing List for the Camino de Santiago (September-October)
UPDATE June 2012: As this is the most viewed webpage on my blog, I thought I would wish all who come here Buen Camino! May your journeys on the Camino and in life bring you the adventure, and peace, you seek.
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.”
–Jeremiah 6:16 (NIV)
Experienced pilgrims suggest that your Camino backpack should weigh about 10% of your body weight. That sounds great, but it is a bit ambitious for most first-time pilgrims. It’s okay if you overpack; there is usually a Correos (post office) in every town where you can box up extra items and mail them to yourself at the Santiago de Compostela post office.
It took me about three weeks on the Camino to figure out what I truly needed, versus what was extraneous. Part of what made the decision tough was the weather changing from summer to autumn.
Below is my final packing list for walking the Camino in September and October 2008. I have made notes next to each item about its usefulness:
Backpack (65L Osprey women’s pack): My backpack was too big. It was nice to have the extra room to carry food, but adding food meant more weight. Next time I would try to find a smaller pack.
Waterproof sack for clothes: Yes, very handy!
2 pairs of convertible pants: I wore one pair walking and one pair at night, while the walking pair dried on the laundry line
1 travel skirt (Macabi): Great in theory, and would be good in the warm, summer months. However, by the end of September it was getting too cold to wear the skirt at night. I ended up mailing it.
3 short sleeve shirts: I walked in one shirt and wore another shirt at night while doing laundry and going to dinner. I mailed the third one.
1 long sleeve shirt: Because the weather was colder than expected, I ended up wearing my long sleeved shirt while walking, and had to buy a second one to wear in the evening while the first one dried.
Long underwear bottoms: Used a couple of times. Would take again, just for peace of mind.
Underwear: I actually took too many pairs and ended up mailing a few back. I would stick with 4-5 pairs.
Socks: Smartwool, 4 pairs. Ended up working out okay. One pair got messed up because of Compeed, but I still wore them. I wouldn’t take fewer than four pairs. It usually took about 2 or 3 days for each pair to dry, unless you found a secadora/dryer.
Shorts & t-shirt to sleep in: Perfect for me.
Fleece zip-up jacket, no hood: Yes, wore almost every day.
Rain jacket: Yes. Try to get as lightweight as possible, because you don’t want too much weight in the pack. If it is cold and raining, you can just layer up with your other shirts.
Poncho: I thought my poncho was going to be the love of my life and I ended up really detesting it. The most use I got out of it was using it as a ground cloth when we stopped to take rest breaks. If I were to go again, I would invest in a high quality rain cover for my backpack, instead of a poncho.
Sun hat: Very helpful, especially on the meseta where there is little shade. Also became useful in the rain, keeping water off my face. Make sure you get a WIDE brim.
Knit cap: Yes, very useful in the early morning and nighttime cold.
Hiking boots: I wore Vasque waterproof boots and they failed me twice. There were two rainy days where my feet got soaked. One thing I think would have made a difference: Rain Pants. I think rain pants would have kept water from running down my legs onto my socks, which then would have kept my feet dry. Make sure you have good waterproof boots and rain pants. Even if it only rains one day, you will save yourself from one day of misery.
Extra laces for boots: Most brilliant thing I took with me because they were so useful as a laundry line. Even though I didn’t need them to replace the ones in my boots, it was nice knowing I had them with me, and they weigh next to nothing.
Merrill shoes: Perfect shoes to wear at the end of the day. Light weight and kept my toes covered.
Sleeping bag – down, 3-season:. PERFECT. Most alburgues are warm enough at night that you don’t need a heavy bag. When it got colder, alburgues offered blankets.
Shampoo/conditioner, small bar of body soap (YES)
Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss (YES)
Contacts, contact solution & cleaner, glasses, eye drops, sink stopper (YES. Especially the sink stopper. We used it a lot for sink laundry.)
Ear plugs, comb, hair bands, safety pins, chapstick (Yes to all. Also wished I have brought 6 laundry pins with me.)
Advil, Cold Ease, water tablets (YES to Advil or your pain medication of choice. No to cold ease and water tablets. Most water is potable, and if you get a cold you can find medication at a Farmacia along the way. Not worth the weight.)
Toilet paper (travel size), tissues (YES.)
Travel towel & washcloth (Yes)
Headlamp (3 AAA batteries) (YES)
Camera, USB cable, camera charger, adapter for Euro plugs (YES)
Money Belt – Wallet, Passport, copies of important papers (YES)
John Brierley Camino guide (The Confraternity of St. James also offers a useful guide.)
mini New Testament w/ Psalms
Journal, pens, mechanical pencil
Calendar, sponsor info
Platypus water bladder (fits into backpack): I LOVED my water bladder and would definitely use it again. I also carried a plastic water bottle with me, which was mostly kept empty, as it was useful to have every once in a while.
Trekking poles (DEFINITELY)
Cane (for visual impairment)
Things I did not take that I wished I had for walking in September and October:
-A second long sleeved shirt. I ended up buying one in Fromista.
-A high quality rain cover for my backpack instead of a poncho
-Rain pants. They are worth their weight in your pack, even if it only rains one day.
-A pillowcase. I ended buying one in Estella. Almost every alburgue has a pillow on the bunk bed. It was nice to have our own pillowcase to put over potential bed bugs. (And yes, people did get nasty bed bug bites in some of the alburgues.)
-6 laundry pins. Not necessary, but would have been useful on a couple of windy days.
-Small pocket knife. My friend had one and it came in handy for slicing cheese, bread, fruit when we ate lunch along the trail. Not necessary, but occasionally helpful.
Things I am GLAD I Did NOT Take:
-Sleeping pad. In the autumn, most alburgues always had room. I debated long and hard about whether or not I should take one, and I am glad I did not. I never would have used it.
-Light weight silk sleeping sack. I do not think I would have used it.
-Bandaids. If you need them, buy Compeed in Spain. The trick to Compeed is to warm up the bandage in your hands before applying it. Trust me, it works much better when you do this.
Questions? Feel free to email me at luciwalks @ gmail.com (no spaces).
Last updated June 23, 2012.