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.
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:
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)
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!
vasoline (to rub into your feet before every walk – helps prevent blisters)
bandaids which you can easily replace in the supermarkets along the way
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)
comb (lighter than a brush, less bulky)
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)
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).
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.
1 swimming suit (sniff….)
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
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,