Packing List for the Camino de Santiago
I have received several emails from people wanting to know specifically what we packed when we walked the Camino de Santiago what backpacks we used, etc., etc. This list will probably give you more information about our Camino walk than you want to know and I think we packed pretty well. The biggest thing to consider is PACK LIGHT! I have written the first part of the piece and Sarah has followed up with her take on packing for the Camino de Santiago as a woman. One thing to remember is that you will pass through some relatively big cities, so if you forget anything you can easily pick up what you need for your Camino de Santiago walk there. This is our Camino packing list for doing the Camino de Santiago in May.
R.E.I. Men’s Trail 40 Pack – this is technically a “day pack”, but it got us over the French Pyrenees, across Spain and into Santiago de Compostela with no issues at all. It was comfortable, well balanced and, very importantly for me, it has four zipper sliders which allows it to be fully opened for full access. There are other “bells and whistles” that I never used such as a pocket for a hydration reservoir and special fasteners for holding trekking poles. It was close to perfect, but I would consider the Osprey model that Sarah used as she loved it so much.
RAB Microlight Alpine Down Jacket – I can’t imagine a better suited jacket for walking the Camino. It kept me warm in moderately cold temperatures and blocked lights winds. It packs into a small bag when you aren’t wearing it and it weighs only about a one pound. It was a bit expensive, but I did a lot of homework and I can see this jacket serving me well for years.
Guidebooks About the Camino de Santiago – What we think are the best books about walking the Camino are: “Camino De Santiago: Way of St. James from the Pyrennes to Santiago” that gave great descriptions of the route and mileages between towns (this is the one we carried) and another called “A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago” that gave better descriptions of the villages and places to stay. If we were to do it over again I think we would bring both.
Large Sea to Summit Micro-Fiber Tek Towel – Many of the hostels and alburgues we stayed in didn’t have guest towels and this was essential. It was thirsty enough and dried fairly quickly on a clothes line (or over a bunk rail or the back of a chair). It came with its own carrying bag and even after being a little damp in a backpack all day, it never smelled.
2 Pairs of Mountain Warehouse Terrain Ultra Lightweight Hiking Shorts – As the name implies, these were super lightweight, had plenty of regular and zip-pockets, washed well, dried quickly and were comfortable day-after-day.
1 Pair Columbia Aruba III Long Pants – I have had a pair these for a while and brought them along. They worked good enough, but I won’t bring them along next time. First off, there was no fly (important) and the drawstring around the waist tended to bind and made them hard to get off. Also, I think I am completely over the convertible to shorts long pants. Yes, you can zip off the bottom of the legs, but then you have two pant bottoms to put somewhere and maybe lose. They were only marginally warmer than shorts and I didn’t like looking like a fisherman in search of a lake when we went out at night. Fail. I have gotten a couple of pairs of Mountain Warehouse Hiking pants to try next time.
1 Columbia Men’s Tamiami II Long Sleeve Shirt – Even though I still looked like a lost fisherman when I wore this shirt it worked out pretty well. It wasn’t hot but blocked some wind, it worked great as sun protection, washed well, dried easily and packed small.
KEEN Men’s Newport Sandal – I loved these sandals. These were the only pair of shoes I brought on the Camino de Santiago and they got me through all the way without a single blister. There were I few times when I would have preferred a full boot, particularly when there were puddles, but I didn’t want the extra weight. On cold days I would wear short black socks under them (not as bad as it sounds) and it was warm enough.
4 Pairs of 5 Black G3 Mens Microfibre Active Wicking Boxershorts / Trunks (bought in the UK) – They were light, packed tiny, washed easily in a sink and the active wicking kept things from getting too sweaty. I liked them so much I picked up another set before I left London.
3 Quick Dry T-Shirts – I picked some up on sale a few months ago at Uniqlo in Taiwan. Again, lightweight quick dry, worked well as a primary shirt or as a layer under everything as needed.
North Face Expedition Long Sleeve Zip Neck Base Layer – Okay, kind of a fancy name for a long-sleeve t-shirt, but this was probably the one item of clothing I wore most of all. It
Peter Storm Packable Men’s Rain Jacket (Bought in the UK) – I got the XXL size so it would fit over my down jacket and keep in dry in the rain. It packs into a small carrying bag. Worked great as a windbreaker as well. Nothing fancy, but it doesn’t have to be.
Silk Sleep Liner – A lot of people take sleeping bag on the Camino de Santiago, but we decided to bring just sleeping bag liners to protect us from sketchy beds in dorm rooms. Turn out even this wasn’t really necessary, but we did use them a few times for a little warmth.
Buff-UV Headwear – I picked one of these up at a sporting goods shop in the U.S.A and now use one almost every day that I travel. I use it mostly like a bandana to keep the sun off of my head, but you can use it around your neck to keep you warm, as an eye shade on long airplane flights, as a dust mask or a headband.
Small LED Flashlight – I never had to use the flashlight, but I was glad I brought it along.
Canon PowerShot G16 12.1 MP CMOS Digital Camera – I bought this along because I wanted a camera that shot RAW images and good video. Honestly, I almost never took it out of my pack. My iPhone 6S+ made some, I think, amazing photos and was useful for so many more things.
Thermal Mylar Blanket – This was kind of an an after though and we never need it, but we got it as a freebie from running the London Marathon and decided to pack it in. It weighs so little and in a pinch it might have come in handy. I would take it again.
L.L. Bean Personal Organizer Toiletry Bag – One of the best investments I have made in a long time. It isn’t absolutely the most portable, but functionality makes up of that. It hangs open and makes everything inside easily accessible. It has tons of pockets and holds all the toiletries you would ever need. Inside I just carried small bottles of shampoo, sunscreen, soap, tooth paste, razor, etc., etc., just the normal toiletries albeit in small sizes where I could.
iPhone 6S+ – This was my mostly my still and video camera for the Camino. We also used to to make a few hotel reservations, lookup the history of places we passed through, find restaurants in some bigger cities and even to make a few phone cards. It is relatively easy (and cheap) to get a local SIM card in the larger cities in Spain. I started out with a Europe wide data card to cross the border from France to Spain. I worked pretty well, but only went to 3G, was S-L-O-W during peak periods and very expensive considering what was available on location.
iPad Air – I brought this along for writing the Camino de Santiago blogs for LifePart2.com as we traveled along. The iPad worked okay for blogging, but it wasn’t perfect. If I am going to do daily blogging again I think I will use on of the tiny MacBooks that don’t weigh much more. If I wasn’t blogging, I would have let it behind.
RayBan Sunglasses – After year of using cheap, knock off, sunglasses I have returned to buying the high-quality, but pricey (overpriced) quality ones. I don’t think you have to buy expensive ones, but a good quality pair is important.
Miscellaneous – A pouch to carry cords and electrical chargers, and electrical adaptor, a few plastic grocery bags along to put laundry and rubbish in, two big ziplock bags to put my phone, iPad and passports and paperwork in as double protection when it looked like rain, a bottle opener and that is about it. If I think of anything else I will add it.
Sarah has written her own summary along with some advice for pack for women and making life easy on the Camino de Santiago:
The key to the Camino is travel light, although if you’re really organised and can’t travel light, you can easily forward your bag to the next destination but as we didn’t know half the time where we were going to stay that night, we packed pretty light.
So, after much research online, I decided to travel with the Osprey Sirrus 36 backpack which I really really recommend. Not particularly cheap but great quality and a lifetime guarantee so you can’t really go wrong. It was very comfortable to carry with just the perfect amount of storage space and pockets. It also comes with its own raincover which is very handy when walking in northern Spain. One thing I would suggest is get yourself measured and find out what size backpack fits best. I assumed because I’m tall (5 foot 12 inches) that I would be large but turns out I was a girly S to M. Hence this is the first time I’ve travelled with a really comfortable backpack!
So just how much stuff did I bring?
3 X quick dry tshirts. One on, one spare, one in the wash!
1 X quick dry, light weight long sleeve t- shirt and one fleece.
2 X quick dry, light weight 3/4 length trousers
1 X quick dry, light weight long trousers.
1 X silk sleep liner
1 X quick dry towel
3 sets of underwear and 3 pairs of socks.
Most people wear hiking boots but I find them a bit heavy and often end up with blisters so I wore my favourite Keen hiking sandals. Really comfy, no blisters!!! Although I admit in some of the really muddy bit, boots would have been nice.
Also, a pair of flip flops for evenings.
A rain coat which packed up really small plus a light weight down jacket that also packs up really small.
And I bought a Buff scarf along the way.
Toiletries – just the bare essentials in travel sizes. That meant I could take my bag on board the plane there, no problem, didn’t take up too much space and easy to buy on route.
Sounds like I carried quite a lot but total weight around 7kgs. Some travelers had just one change of clothing but I didn’t want to do laundry every day and sometimes it was cold and rainy so nothing would dry. Other travelers carried their life possessions with them, but at the end of the day it’s your Camino!
Also published on Medium.