Packing the lightest Camino rucksack you can

I’m going to share with you all my Camino rucksack information before I forget it – you want the lightest load possible.  Believe me when I say that – I started out with 14 kilos at the domestic airport here in Oz and I reckon by the time I reached Santiago I was down to under 10ks.  I’d even hazard closer to 8.  And that’s BEFORE carrying litres of water.

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When I was in my house preparing I read all the lists available about what to take and so on.  I bought what was suggested and crammed everything into my Berghaus 45+8 rucksack.  Heavy as!

In the first week, I learnt a lot and ditched at least 2 kilos right then and there.  Along the way were several pilgrims who were toting only 7ks – and that’s an accomplishment.  I can say that I was still ditching stuff right up to the very end.

Naturally you prepare for the worst and you can’t foresee that you might/not come a cropper.  But I’m going to let you know what I will take on my next Camino (should there be one!).

Here we go and I hope it helps you in your packing:

Clothing

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2 underpants

2 pairs thin long socks

1 pair shoe skirts (the little things that workmen put on their boots over their socks – keeps the sand and pebbles out of your boots)

spare pair shoes (entirely up to you – I wasn’t confident my boots would last the distance and they certainly provided relief when I suffered the blisters from hell)

1 pair thongs for post-walking (simple as that)

I’d suggest 2 bras – but make one smaller – you WILL lose weight – I went down a size but ended up wobbling my way to Santiago because the bras were too big by then – I discovered gravity works!

1 pair shorts (get lightweight/quick-dry stuff – expensive but you will bless me for this)

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in retrospect I would take a very light dress or a pair of skorts (skirt/shorts combined) – some French women pilgrims wore dresses at night and it made such a change from trousers

1 long pants that zip off at the knee (again, the lightweight, quick-dry stuff) – these can double as your shorts which leaves the dress for nights

2 FLOURO tops (quick-dry etc) – this is for visibility when you have to walk for hours up the N630 in the rain – the cars and trucks can see the flouro

1 set thermal underwear (very good – but depends on time of year)

1 rain-suit (pants and jacket) – Flouro if you can or get yourself some flouro stripes (nothing worse than walking on highways in the rain and the drizzle in dark colours)

1 heavy-duty poncho – again Flouro

a micro towel – they work and are wonderful (especially if you don’t lose them as I did!)

a bandana is good to wipe your face and blow your dribbling nose as you walk those 20 ks  (I lost it 3 times, the last for good)

(a couple of the Frenchwomen had the walking outfit and the post-walking outfit – that was it!  next time I would do that too)

I took a pair of pyjama shorts and a light little singlet for bed-time and I’d do that again.  Hardly any weight.  A gram?

a hat with a wide brim and neck veil – invaluable

1 fleece jacket

1 pair aeroplane stocking/socks to prevent thrombosis – I found these kept me comfortable there and back – indispensable (the flight from Oz is long………)

walking poles – couldn’t have done it without them!

Foot care

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vasoline (to rub into your feet before every walk – helps prevent blisters)

antiseptic cream

bandaids which you can easily replace in the supermarkets along the way

gauze

a pair of elastic socks/bandage things to keep the bandaids in place – invaluable – you can buy them in Spain at the chemist’s

a couple of sewing needles (for blisters!)

a small spool of thread (for blister drainage)

a small pair of plastic scissors

toe nail clippers

footwear products like cushions for balls of foot, insoles (as many as you can – they don’t last but provide welcome relief from those roman stones)

Bathroom

toothbrush

toothpaste

dental floss

comb (lighter than a brush, less bulky)

deodorant

bar of soap

(I took moisturiser and sunblock but didn’t use them because I wore long sleeve shirts deliberately)

(all of these things are available in the shops along the way)

Nighttime

I bought 2 books to read eventually – 1 in Salamanca and 1 in Ourense (so bring a good book) – buying English books in Spain is a hit-and-miss affair!

exercise book to journal and 1 pen

1 good map – I had a Michelin map – it will show most of the villages you will stay in

if you intend to stay in albergues (the shelter/refuges for pilgrims you will need a sleeping bag and a liner perhaps – I took both and used them once each but then I avoided albergues as much as I could because I snore).

head-torch

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and that’s about it – you’ll have to ask me questions to clarify and in case I’ve left anything out.  I’ll now list most of the stuff I ditched along the way.

STUFF DITCHED

1 swimming suit (sniff….)

1 compass

2 guides of the route (I’d brought 2 guides and 1 set of photocopies)

3rd pair underpants

2 pairs of shorts – bought 1 smaller shorts along the way

3 shirts

2 pairs thick walking socks

1 tiny perfume

1 set wet-wipes

those small shoe skirts (stupido!)

both books eventually

lots of bandaids towards the end

I even left my walking boots just outside Santiago – their soles were worn and seams were splitting – they now encourage pilgrims on their entry into Santiago

I left a whole bunch of other stuff too – and I brought back things that I never used – eg a hand torch, a whistle, rescue remedy, string, shoe laces, and so on.

I think the next Camino would be the merest weight in the backpack – but I’ve listed the essentials that struck me as most important.  It boils down to clothes, feet, bathroom, sleeping.  And you can buy/replace everything in Spain.

But you’ll find that out for yourselves when you do your own journey,
Buen Camino,

Nancy

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Nancy Liddle

In 2014 I walked from Seville to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, some 800 ks I walked, aged 56. I learnt that no matter what age we are, our bodies are strong work-horses. Ageing doesn't have to be the nightmare that our culture feeds us. We can be strong and vital and energetic! And meditation exercises our minds. Clearly these discoveries have impacted my life deeply.

5 thoughts on “Packing the lightest Camino rucksack you can

  1. Hi Nancy’s. Just saw your blog after reading the non conformity FB post in you. Enjoying your blog!! How weighty was your back pack please? May I say what an amazing feat – pardon the pun! 🙂 I love your writing and am working my way through your journey! Thank you for reminding me that I can do anything! Kindest regards Cathy (Adelaide)

    • Hi Cathy,
      thanks for reading my posts – and welcome to my little community! 😀 my pack started out at easily over 10 kilograms – it felt like a tonne! After I hauled it up some really relentless altitude, I started ditching stuff out of it – clothing, guide books, fly net, compass, anything I could survive without. It eventually got down to around 10 kilograms, or maybe even less. The great thing is that as you keep walking, your back gets stronger and thus the weight feels much less. Around the middle of the pilgrimage, the pack felt really light! I even started to whizz without taking it off (but that’s probably too much information! 🙂 ) You can do it! stay in touch and let us know how you are going, Nancy

      • Thanks for your reply Nancy. What I meant was how many kilos did the actual backpack weigh empty. I am warming to the idea of doing a Camino in 2016 which gives me time to “train”! Would you recommend September and October now that you walked during these months? Thank you. Regards Cathy

        • oh sorry Cathy – i reckon the rucksack weighs around 1.5 kgs. here’s a link to the actual rucksack i carried – it was more than fine. https://youtu.be/RTQ-KZxY_zU in itself, it’s a lite weight rucksack.
          and I didn’t have any trouble walking in Sept/Oct but I live in a hot town in Far West NSW. If you’re used to heat, then you’ll find Sept is hot-ish. Oct it rains! so take flouro stuff – like a flouro poncho or a flouro backpack cover. the berghaus one has its own cover but it’s grey. i think you can get flouro stick on straps? http://www.ebay.com.au/sch/High-Visibility-Reflective-/123473/i.html i only include this link to give ideas – not affiliated with either of these links. the idea is that you are seen on the highway (N630) or whatever highway/route you choose. grey just doesn’t help neither does dark blue – bright flourescent colours are the GO!

          • Thanks for your reply Nancy. What I meant was how many kilos did the actual backpack weigh empty. I am warming to the idea of doing a Camino in 2016 which gives me time to “train”! Would you recommend September and October now that you walked during these months? Thank you. Regards Cathy