Getting the packing right for the Camino will make your life on the Camino much more enjoyable. The intention with the following packing list is to list the essentials and leave the rest to you – but the lighter you pack often the more enjoyable your walking.
There are two areas where it is worthwhile spending some money and time on getting right. Boots are the first and most important item, not getting the right boots can lead to a painful journey due to blisters and a lack of support for your feet. I suggest that you take some time and make sure that the boots you buy are professionally fitted – you are going to be wearing them all day every day. This article is a guide on walking boots. Some pilgrims prefer walking shoes, I have walked in walking shoes on the Camino Frances in the summer. However there are other routes like the Le Puy Camino where even in summer I would suggest boots due to the uneven walking surfaces. You will find lots of talk and suggestion on the forum about what gear to use.
Again I have an article on choosing the right backpack. It is the one other item that I suggest you take your time over and get professional advice, it is usually worth spending what is required for a backpack that fits your body type and shape – this does not mean the most expensive.
With your backpack filled you are aiming for less than 10% of your body weight.
- Needle and thread – when you get a blister this will help. Thread the needle and run through the blister, leave a bit of thread inside to drain the blister.
- Two pairs of shorts, one for night other for day. (zip able long trousers are good)
- 1 T-shirt – I love the technical ones, cotton is to be avoided
- 1 shirt (light weigh, quick drying)
- 2 pairs of socks
- Sleeping bag
- 2 pairs underwear
- Rain gear or poncho
- Fleece, it does get cold at night and the mornings can be chilly
- Sandals for evenings
- Sunscreen, a must
- Toiletries – keep it very light, you can buy more as you go along
- Towel – get quick dry from outdoor store, they are also super light
- Mobile & charger
- Camera & charger
- Earplugs – too many people snore – loudly
- Small torch or use your phone
- Swiss army knife
For a more extensive list and discussion see this thread on the forum.
The above is the minimum. Many take a little more, if you find you have too much you can forward your extra baggage to a post office further along or in Santiago de Compostela and collect it there, (the main post office in Santiago is – Lista de Correos, Travesia Fonseca s/n, 15780, Santiago de Compstela – the Post Office now only hold packages for 2 weeks).
There are others things that I would also consider, a journal, Skype details, one novel (exchange when finished at hostels). The whole point of keeping your rucksack light is to make the journey more enjoyable, sore knees from carrying too much is common, and it is good to avoid any excess.
Please don’t take your wallet stuffed with very important papers of any kind that you don’t need. Most pilgrims are very helpful and very friendly, but I had one wallet stolen, no money thankfully, but credit cards and bank cards, a pain and a rare case, but be aware. In this case I was able to have my credit card company have money at a bank for me to collect. It meant I could continue with my Camino, good people.