So you think you know hiking? Understand a thing or two about going on a long walking holiday? Walking the Camino will make you belive that you are a novice who has never been hiking before! the Camino is the challenge of all challenges when it comes to multi-day hiking trips so it’s good to take a note from people who have done the trip several times before.
This is one of the most important things to remember. In many ways it is far better to have too little stuff than too much. Laundry facilities are available at many refuges along the way and there are many villages on the journey with small stores to buy essential items like toothpaste.
I cannot stress this enough: It is vitally important that you take the absolute minimum amount of stuff with you in your backpack. Everybody takes too much and almost always end up sending it home or forward to Santiago in the mail or even just discarding it.
It is surprising just how little you really need to take as the shops in Spain are now very good and have all the “modern” stuff that people want such as Shaving Cream, or Suntan Lotion. You really don’t need to take those things, just buy them as you need them.
Personally I prefer to do it this way since it keeps the local economy running as well as keeping the backpack lighter. Some local communities seem to rely on the pilgrims walking through for their lively-hood. Some, on the other hand, hide their shops for the use of the locals only. You need to search out those sometimes when a town or village appears to have no shops.
That said, I do like to take a good book or two, even though they add weight. You may find, like I do, that you have a lot of time for reading while resting along the way.
In general, for clothes, take two pairs of everything, one to wear and one in the wash or drying on the back of your backpack.
The Best Packing List For The Camino De Santiago
1. Boots – Good ones, well worn in
2. Wool Socks – 2 pairs
3. Thin Socks – 2 pairs (to wear inside the thick ones)
4. Light T-shirt for the day
5. Heavier shirt for the evening
6. Trousers – 2 Pairs (The ones with the detachable shorts and legs).
7. Light shoes for the evening to give your feet and boots a rest.
8. Shower sandals. (Could combine with the above)
10. Aeroplane style toothpaste (very small)
11. Sleeping Bag
Passport, money, credit card, credential, maps and a “belly” pouch to put it all in.
13. Wide brimmed Hat
15. Sun screen (very important!)
16. Personal Toilet Items (you decide)
17. Shampoo – does for everything, washing hair and clothes.
18. Lightweight backpack
19. Water Bottle (sometimes it is a long way between fountains)
20. Wet weather gear, poncho, waterproof trousers. (vital for Galicia!)
That lot shouldn’t add up to more than 10KG and one of the heaviest items, the shoes, you will be wearing without noticing the weight.
On the subject of electronics, I would definitely discourage that as it’s a distraction, One refuge I stayed at, a guy had his mobile phone with him and it would ring all the time, even during the night. He was not a popular guy the next day, I can tell you. If the electronic items are valuable then you will be worrying about them being stolen and in any case one of the ideas of the camino is to get away from the modern world a little.
Of course you could say that I ignored my own advice, but I walked the second camino with a specific intent to get the sounds and photographs and needed that equipment to do it. But as I had the gear on me all the time in case of hearing a spontaneous sound or picture then I didn’t have to worry about anything been stolen. I never worried about that anyway.
I would recommend that you drink at least 3 litres of fresh water every day. It is very easy to become dehydrated on the Camino, particularly on the meseta and drinking coffee or soft drinks is not a suitable substitute as it dehydrates you. So for every “Grande Café Con Leche“, you need another 1/3 litre of fresh wather later to compensate! A real shame as I adore Spanish coffee (big sigh) and it’s one of the main “luxuries” I don’t wan’t to do without when walking the camino. I looked forward to my first coffee every single day.