If you have chosen to go on a Camino this year, congratulations! You are about the have the experience of your lifetime! There is nothing like breathing in the fresh air every day, getting lost in the rhythm of your footsteps, sometimes with no one around you, just you and the sound of your breathing.
However, before you head out on your trip, there are several things you need to consider. First, the route itself. Then the distance. And finally, you need to pack.
Packing for the Camino de Santiago can be a challenge. You don’t want to over-pack, as you will have to carry all of your belongings with you day in and day out. Then again, you don’t want to forget anything.
Here is a checklist for the Camino. Make sure you adjust our list to your own needs and preferences, and you are good to go!
Choosing a backpack
The first thing to choose is the backpack itself. Not the other way around. You shouldn’t first make a pile of things on your bed, and then shop for a backpack accordingly. You need to limit yourself off the bat, and know that you can only take the essential things with you.
You want to pack no more than 10% of your own bodyweight, so make sure you weigh your fully loaded backpack.
The pack itself should naturally be waterproof, and sturdy enough to survive some serous tugging and lugging around. It should also be made of light materials, and not weight much itself.
Choosing the footwear
The shoes you choose are arguably the single most important part of your gear. They need to be both waterproof and super comfortable. Feel free to splurge on this item, as good shoes will have many miles in them, and can make your experience a true joy.
You can find useful tips on choosing the right brand and make of a hiking shoe on Camino forums, if you prefer to take someone’s recommendation.
Bear in mind that you need to break the shoes in, not put them on when you arrive at the starting line. Also consider the socks you are going to wear, and choose hiking socks, which will absorb the sweat and prevent blisters.
Choosing your outfit
You will soon come to realize you don’t care what you look like on the road. All you will care about is comfort. To that end, pack some pants, t-shirts, shorts, shirts and a jacket that are moisture-wicking and can withstand a lot of wear. Some people wear gym clothes, but you can again go for some hiking equipment. Don’t pack a bunch of cotton t-shirts you would normally wear to the park.
Choosing the odds and ends
As for the rest of your kit, you will need your phone and a USB charger, perhaps even an extra battery. A flashlight and several extra batteries for it are also advisable. Make sure you have enough free space on your memory card, that you have a reliable map, and GPS.
You can take an umbrella as well, but a reliable jacket with a large hood might be a lighter option. A walking stick is also a good choice, if you feel you might need a bit of support.
As for your medicine bag, you are going for a painkiller of your choice, for the occasional headache and the muscle aches. Band-Aids are also a must. Sunscreen with a high SPF is also non-negotiable. You should also pack something for sunburn and insect bites.
Don’t over-pack your toiletries more than you need to. You can refill anything you run out of along the way, and bottles and tubes will just way you down.
You are also going for toilet paper and a towel, a cup, safety pins and scissors, a small sewing kit, a notebook and a few pens, a dictionary if you feel you will need it. A sleeping mask and earplugs are also something to consider, as is a hat and sunglasses.
If you have anything you feel needs to be added to this list, do so by all means. Just remember that you are going on a vacation, after all, and that you don’t need to overstuff the backpack. What may feel light a few miles in, might feel like lead at the end of the third day. Pace yourself according to your fitness levels, and enjoy the walk!