21 Pilgrims Share How They Pack for Camino De Santiago

Camino de Santiago is one of the world’s most popular hiking destinations so knowing what to pack is important to help you enjoy your walk.

To improve how we pack our bags, we have talked with 21 experienced pilgrims and asked them to share their best advice.

Read on and learn from their best tips and tricks (all the pilgrims have lots of experience, so they know what they are talking about!).

Camino De Santiago pilgrim sticks and shells

The 21 Experts

Luisa Carou Ferreiro
Born in The Netherlands but full-blood Spanish. My family is from Galicia, cradle of the Camino to Santiago de Compostela. The Camino is the cause of me becoming a hiker – although I prefer the word pilgrim. Not all hikers are pilgrims and not all pilgrims are hikers ;-). The Camino has become a life style for me and I even based my daily business on this trail of freedom. Because that’s what it is to me: a way to get down to earth, connect with nature and humans with the same mindset. Helping is #1 in this mindset and I try to do that in life too when I’m not on the Camino. We have a small service point and information center for pilgrims to Santiago in The Netherlands – literally in our backyard 🙂

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Camino de Santiago hikers bring?

  • My number 1 would be The Original Buff. It helps you keep warm or cool, adds a nice accent to the usually boring hiker’s outfits (usually carry more than one to switch colors ;-)), but above all: no bad hair days on the Camino ;-). Love the way you can use them in all kind of different styles. If you sleep in sometimes (I like that actually) you can use it as a sleeping mask :-). I even saw a pilgrim once using it as a towel after showering ;-).
  • My number 2 would be my iPhone. I do disconnect while I’m hiking, but I love to get in touch with folks home when I’m done for the day and share the super nice locations I encounter. If you manage to get lost on the Camino (??) it’s a great way to find your way back on the trail or in a big city. It also serves as a simple camera to cut down on weight ;-).
  • My number 3 is usually a Spanish and very delicious Fuet sausage which magically disappears after a day of hiking when we find our first bottle of wine :-).

There are no useless things on the Camino: it’s up to the pilgrim to decide whether something is useless or not. I did see a lot of things that I would find useless, but hey, that particular person might need it for unknown reasons to me. I saw someone taking an inflatable foot batch once. I would never do that but I must say there were times where I would have loved to soak my feet for a minute or so in one of those ;-). Sometimes you see people carrying hair dryers. I don’t need that with my short hair, but if you feel you need it, you need it and that’s the end of the discussion. One thing that keeps amazing me is the outrageous amounts of toilet paper along the way. Now, talking about something that (if you bring it and use it) should definitely go BACK inside your backpack until you reach a way to dispose of it properly…

How do you bring things with you?

My hips carry an Osprey Stratos 36 S/M. I’m short, but my back fits this wider version of the Sirrus series perfectly. Organizing this bag is a matter of seconds with the functionality it has. Love the side zipper which actually lets you open up the main compartment of the backpack without needing to open it in the conventional way. The separate bottom section is ideal to fit sleeping bag and mainly all things I need immediately when I arrive and for the night.

Of course, everything nicely packed and wrapped with the most heavy items placed in the lower regions against the back for proper stabilization. 36 Liters is more than enough for the Camino unless you plan on taking a tent or are hiking in winter with more extreme cold. You can even make it with a 30 Liter backpack, but I like to have some room left in there to to fit presents and souvenirs on my way back home ;-).

What are your top tips for other Camino de Santiago hikers?

I think I can summarize that pretty much by referring to our website, but in a nut shell:

Pack light by starting off with your first instincts. Put your pack on a diet by re-evaluating and investing in light-weight gear. As an example: my first sleeping bag was a simple 800 grams synthetic light weight. The next Camino I took a 425 grams dawn sleeping bag which has a much wider range of comfort temperatures. Same for your pack: don’t forget your pack adds weight. If you go too big, you add up too much unnecessary weight. My Osprey is 1.3-ish. Way better as my first Deuter 40+10 L of 2.3-ish kg.

Just go as lightweight as possible. Your feet will thank you (and your knees, and your hips…).

YES, there is something I see a lot of Camino pilgrims do wrong, but it’s not their error, it’s the sales person’s error who sold them the backpack: there are usually two upper straps on your pack called, load lifters. They lift your load (or not). Carrying load costs a lot of energy if it is shifted off your back. Tighten those straps (to a comfortable angle), they were put there for a reason :-). Note: yes, you can loosen them up when going downhill to provide some pull back balance. Great. Once done with the descent, tighten them again ;-).

Recommendations for getting out: don’t think about it, just do it. If it is hard for whatever reason, don’t think about that reason: just take that first step (make it 2, 3, 4, etc. If it’s doing the Camino you worry about, again: just do it, you won’t regret it! Buen Camino!

Visit Luisa Carou Ferreiro’s website

Sarah Wilson
Originally from the U.K., but currently living in Portugal. Before moving here, I lived in Thailand for 14 years and Laos for two years.

I have always loved hiking. I’ve walked the Inca Trail in Peru, the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, a charity trek along the Great Wall of China, to name but a few. My favourite walk though has been the Camino from St Jean Pied de Port in France, all the way to Santiago. Now planning my next Camino, as I live in Portugal, it makes sense to do the Camino Portuguese.

My partner Jon and I are members of the local hiking club on the Silver Coast of Portugal and join them regularly for walks.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Camino de Santiago hikers bring?

  • Sachets of electrolyte powders. Great for sunny days when you need that little bit more to drink than just plain water;
  • Soluble aspirin – it’s not nicknamed the Camino de Vino for nothing;
  • Plasters – fortunately never got any blisters but having plasters will make you very popular on the trail.

The most useless thing I saw someone bring: I shared a dorm with a woman who was complaining her bag was too heavy. She had about 4 kilograms of essential oils with her. She ditched them after a few days realising that essential oils were really not essential.

How do you bring things with you?

I use my Osprey Sirrus 36 back pack. I always pack light, I can easily travel a month with just a carry on. Not much organising in my bag as I don’t carry that much, just keep clean and dirty stuff separate.

What are your top tips for other Camino de Santiago hikers?

Don’t carry too much. I had 3 T-shirt s, one on, one for the wash, one spare. Same with underwear and shorts. I used quick dry clothes. No need to bring a sleeping bag, everywhere we stayed had sheets and blankets. Keep toiletries to a minimum. No need to bring all your camping gear either.

The lighter your backpack is, your walk is so much more pleasurable. Mine weighed about 5-6 kilos. I saw some hikers carry ridiculously huge backs and even pull a trailer behind them. There is no need!

Visit Sarah Wilson’s website. Photo credit: Jonathan Look

Dave Dean
I was born and grew up in New Zealand, so it’s probably not a big surprise that I went on hikes with my family from about as early as I can remember. I travelled continually for 5+ years, but I’m now based in the UK, where the walking/hiking culture is extremely strong — it’s actually one of the reasons I decided to move here a few months ago.

One of the problems with living on the road was not being able to justify carrying much in the way of specific hiking equipment (proper hiking pack, waterproof gear, etc) — it’s nice to have that stuff available when I need it now.

While I’ve always liked to walk, it was my first Camino that really got me into long-distance walking — I’ve now done several 1-5 week hikes, with a couple more planned over the next year.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Camino de Santiago hikers bring?

I try to carry as little as possible on the Camino — when you’re walking 500+ miles, you really feel every extra pound in your backpack. Probably the only unusual things I carry that others may not are:

  • a Hoboroll (https://www.gobigear.com/) — I used this on my first Camino, because I was only carrying a 30 litre backpack and really needed to minimize the space my clothes took up. It’s basically just a stuff sack with compression straps, but it’s divided into five sections, so if I couldn’t do laundry one night, I could keep dirty clothes in one part, and clean clothes in the rest;
  • a 4-way USB charger — power sockets are always at a premium in albergues, so having a USB charger with four outlets makes me pretty popular. It means several people (including me!) can charge their phones from a single socket;
  • an extra-long charging cable for my phone — when power sockets were halfway up a wall, or a long way from my bunk, having an extra-long cable came in super handy.

I try not to judge other people’s choices about what they bring with them — there’s usually a reason behind it — but I saw a lot of hikers lining up at the post office in Pamplona to send piles of stuff back home or on to Santiago, since they hadn’t enjoyed carrying it for the previous three days! The most unusual thing was probably a rice cooker… no, I’m not even kidding.

How do you bring things with you?

I’ve used a couple of different bags on my Caminos, neither of which I was particularly happy with. I’ve now bought myself an Osprey Talon 44, and after using it on a couple of shorter (1 week) hikes, it’ll be what I take on my next Camino as well.

When using the 30 litre pack I mentioned earlier, space was very tight. I had the sleeping bag at the bottom, everything else in the middle, and the Hoboroll with clothes inside at the top. I now carry the same amount of gear into backpacks around 40 litres in size, which are much easier to pack in the morning since they’re only around 3/4 full.

I still tend to have my sleeping bag at the bottom, warm/wet weather clothing and first aid kit at the top, and everything else in between. I’ll keep things like my passport and snacks inside ziploc bags in a separate section, water bottle strapped to the outside of the pack for easy access, and that’s about it.

What are your top tips for other Camino de Santiago hikers?

The only way to work out what you should carry is to test it all out extensively in the pack you intend to use before you go. The general rule is to not carry more than 10% of your bodyweight (including the weight of water and food), so aim for that, and then go for a 15 mile hike, two days in a row. You’ll soon figure out whether you’ve overpacked!

Carrying too much gear is the biggest cause of injuries and general lack of enjoyment of the Camino — you’ll be sick to death of your backpack by the time you finish regardless, but much moreso if you’ve had shoulder, back, knee, and foot pain the whole way.

Not related to packing, but one of the biggest things I see people doing wrong is not giving themselves enough time and flexibility to walk their Camino. I understand vacation time is limited, but you’re better off only walking a section or two rather than trying to rush your hike, especially in the early stages when your body is still getting used to walking 15+ miles a day. That’s when you pick up injuries, which then get worse because you haven’t got time to rest or walk shorter days, and the end result is having to give up because you can’t physically walk any more. I saw quite a bit of that, sadly.

Visit Dave Dean’s website

Helen and Wick Van Wagenen

Co-counders of CaminoProvisions.com, an online resource for pilgrims.

We are both originally from Florida where we met in high school and married after college. We have always loved traveling with our three children, and in 2007 were looking for a special way to commemorate our son’s graduation from high school when we heard about the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. Helen recalls, “We were sitting at a dinner party when someone asked everyone at the table to tell their favorite city in the world, and someone mentioned Santiago de Compostela and the pilgrimage. I immediately knew in my spirit we were supposed to walk it. It took a couple of months for Wick to be convinced he could be away from his engineering business for a month, but as soon as he was on board we presented the idea to our son Hunter.

When we began researching how to travel to the tiny French departure town of St. Jean Pied-de-Port in the foothills of the Pyrenees, and what gear we would need, we didn’t find very good information. Thankfully we had a friend who managed a wonderful outfitter store who gave us great general advice, though he had never walked the Camino. Eleven years later we have had many, many Camino experiences and volunteered in Santiago helping pilgrims, and our son and his wife are following a call to live and work on the Camino. Our experiences led us to begin the website to inform and encourage others who want to walk the Camino. “We have discovered that the Camino experience is not just another hike, and there are some gear considerations that are specific to the experience.” There are many Camino routes, something else most people don’t know, but the most well known, the Camino FrancĂ©s, stretches 500 miles across northern Spain changing terrain and elevation many times. It is tricky not to overpack for the swings in temperatures and weather when the walk usually takes a month. This is where advice from people who have already walked can be helpful.”

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Camino de Santiago hikers bring?

In general, we advise using the time on the Camino to unplug from normal routines and media, and for people who are not addicted to using their smart phones, we actually recommend bringing it along. You have your camera, a way to call for help if you need it, a flashlight, etc. Camino packing is all about having items that have multiple uses. Scan or photograph your passport, and any pages from your guidebook and have those available in your photo library or phone’s books/pdf library. Make sure the documents you want to access are downloaded from the cloud, and you will be able to access them even without wifi as you walk.

The second item specific to the Camino would be some Leki carbon traveler Nordic walking poles. We recommend the Nordic walking pole over the trekking pole because the Camino has so many stretches of paved or groomed trails, the walking poles actually perform better. The reason we like these poles is because they are completely adjustable to your height and therefore collapse to a small, packable size, are lightweight, and the hand grip and strap design is super comfortable. The natural walking motion of your hand brings the pole into position for your next stride, rather than your having to grip the handle like you do on a trekking pole. And they also perform well on uneven terrain because of the carbide tips.

The third item may seem small or insignificant, but since you want us to recommend things other than the usual items, our third item is GoToobs and GoTubbs. The GoToobs are handy silicone tubes that provide a safe way to transport liquids and lotions. We have used them for years and never had a spill. They come in TSA approved sizes, several colors, and the top has a cool labeling system. The GoTubbs come in two sizes and are handy for transporting non-liquids. These are ingenious in their design because you can open them with a one-handed squeeze, and close them with a one-fingered push. We put vitamins, powdered things and paste-y things we want to use in small amounts. We have seen many useless things brought on the Camino, but that said, what might seem useless to one person may be important to another. However, we took some things on our first Camino that we realized we didn’t need. We thought we would be very remote for the entire walk, which is not the case. We walked through many villages and several big cities, so it is easy to replenish basic necessities. For instance, soaps and personal hygiene items. Take enough for a week or a few days, but buy more when you need to. This really cuts down on the pack weight. One of the things I would not take again is a “campsite toilet paper holder.” Mine got to smashed as we walked so it never performed well. We prefer using little packs of kleenex type tissues, called panuelos. But our son still likes the camp toilet paper holder. The other item we would not take again is heavy rain gear, especially rain pants. They are heavy to carry, and are not easy to use or deal with when wet.

How do you bring things with you?

We like Deuter packs with a front loading feature. Super for accessing things as you walk. We use Sea to Summit dry sacks (they come in all sizes and colors) inside for items that have to stay dry. They are absolutely waterproof. We have one specific for our phones and passport and credit cards and cash. We also use Eagle Creek packing cubes in white (spectre), because they are somewhat sheer and you can see what you want without opening the bag. We carry a lightweight shopping bag (Baggu brand) for shopping and carrying dirty laundry to the washer or sink. We roll each clothing item before putting them in the packing cubes, which works well when you want to pull out just one thing. Get the bag that fits what it will carry. The Eagle Creek cubes have a zipper to compress the cube once it is loaded, which is a nice feature.

What are your top tips for other Camino de Santiago hikers?

General rules of thumb when packing for the Camino: realize you will be walking through villages and cities with amenities. IF you are trying to decide whether or not to pack something ask yourself, “Am I taking this because “What if such or such happens?” Don’t take something because of fear. Take something because you know you need it and will use it. IF ‘such or such” happens, trust God to provide what you need. Road test everything foe a few weeks before going on the Camino to make sure it performs as expected. Do not take something you have not tested, and that includes laundering, air drying, etc. Pack light? You can even cut off labels and straps you don’t need on your equipment. Overpacking is one of the common mistakes on the Camino, and there are ways of lightening your pack and shipping a box ahead if you know you don’t need something but do not want to donate it along the way. Most injuries on the Camino occur from over-doing it. People often try to keep up with a set itinerary in a guidebook, rather than listening to their bodies. Take cues from your body, and give yourself a break, especially in the first few days of walking.

Visit Helen and Wick Van Wagenen’s website

Sheree Hooker
I am the clueless British traveller behind the site Winging the World. The blog was set up to guide those who feel out of their depth when it comes to travel (I do too!) and to show people, through my own misadventures on the road, that anyone can travel even if they are not the most confident person.

I was born and raised in rural Norfolk, England where I am currently residing after returning from a short break away in Portugal. Living in the countryside where public transport isn’t great has always meant that walking has been a big part of my life but it was a long time before I made the transition to hiking. It was only when my partner Tim suggested doing the Camino de Santiago that I began to try to prepare seriously for the venture.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Camino de Santiago hikers bring?

Undoubtedly the most important thing that I brought for the journey was a multiple port USB charger. During our Camino, Tim and I wanted to limit our expenditure by staying in hostels along the way and unfortunately, not all of these provide many plug sockets. Bringing the four-port USB charger meant that we were both able to charge our phones as well as our e-readers at the same time and only use one plug socket in the dorm room. Not only was this convenient for us but I think our fellow bunkmates were pretty happy too!

I planned to walk the entirety of the Camino Francés which totals nearly 500 miles. I wasn’t sure how long this would take, having never tackled a such a big hike before. Despite this, I figured I was likely to get at least one period during the trek. As the years have gone on, the difference between the number of men and women doing the Camino has narrowed and the split is hovering at nearly 50/50. To save myself money on the road and the reduce the weight in my pack, I shunned the traditional disposable period products and instead opted for a reusable menstrual cup. Whilst this item is only relevant to women, it was something that was invaluable in helping me manage my period on the hike.

To help us to prepare for the Camino, Tim and I read through guidebooks and saw sleeping bags recommended a lot. Whilst we knew we would need something to sleep in, (many of the hostels do not provide sheets) we didn’t want the extra weight of a bulky sleeping bag and thought they were likely to be too hot considering the climate. Instead, we opted for sleep sacks. These are similar to sleeping bags except that they are made from sheets so that they are cool to sleep in. The stitching allows you to insert a pillow inside and leave the side open for extra air. The best thing about the sleep sack is that they pack down into a small rectangle – around the same size as a microfibre towel!

The most common pitfall that hikers fall into on the Camino is overpacking. Not only is carrying unnecessary weight going to make you miserable but you are also more likely to become injured doing this. The funniest and most unnecessary item that I saw used on the Camino was a hands-free umbrella. Not only did this flop in the wind but it also seemed to block much of the view down a steep hill. Considering how rocky some of the paths are and how important good visibility is, I would definitely recommend a rain poncho instead!

How do you bring things with you?

During the Camino, I carried a 35-litre pack with an external frame. It was purchased some years previously from Trespass and therefore had already had quite a lot of wear. Bringing this bag was an error on my part. Unfortunately, using an old pack meant that the frame came loose during the hike and offered me zero back support. Although I was determined to finish the trek with my original bag, I suffered from backache frequently and therefore wouldn’t recommend this particular pack. This was still preferable to the wheelie suitcase that I saw one woman struggling with though! Despite the faults of my bag, I felt that a 35-litre rucksack provided just the right amount of room and I always had a little bit of space left for my morning snacks.

I am a big advocate of packing cubes and use them to keep my stuff organised in my rucksack. I had one for my clothes which I rolled up to save space and another for toiletries. I kept all of my electronics in waterproof bags in case of rain and leakages.

What are your top tips for other Camino de Santiago hikers?

My ultimate advice to someone planning to walk the Camino de Santiago would be to pack light and choose a rucksack with an external frame to help balance the weight of the bag. It is important to remember that whilst your pack may feel light for that short hike you did, it will certainly feel heavier after repeated use and strain on your back. Ideally, the maximum weight of your bag should be less than 10% of your body weight. Of course, packing light isn’t as easy as it sounds so it is best to have several packing attempts, each time removing more unnecessary items. It can be helpful to write down the bare minimum you think you will need to do the hike and then add in the luxuries you feel that you couldn’t do without – be warned though, there isn’t many of them!

Taking on a hike like the Camino de Santiago can be overwhelming, so try not to view it in its entirety and instead break it down day by day. If you are still apprehensive about starting your journey, check out some of the blogs and literature by those who have already done it. These will give you an idea of what to expect and why this hike is special to so many people.

Visit Sheree Hooker’s website

Tom Bartel
I am from Minnesota, and am currently in my home in Saint Paul planning a hike along the St. Olav’s way in Sweden and Norway. I plan to start that hike in early September 2018. I’m just doing a “sample” at this time, but plan to do the entire pilgrimage in late Spring 2019. I’ve always enjoyed hiking and have done a lot of day hiking in the United States National Parks. The two “long” hikes I’ve done are the Camino de Santiago from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Santiago in 2011–the year I turned 60–and a 120 kilometer 5-day hike into the Guatemalan jungle to the Mayan ruins at El Mirador in 2013.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Camino de Santiago hikers bring?

I’m not sure I took much of anything that most people don’t carry on the Camino. The thing is to pare your pack down to the bare essentials, and I tried to do that. In fact, we stopped three days into the Camino and mailed some things ahead to Santiago, and threw other things out. That said, the things I’m glad I carried that violated the “bare essentials” rule were extra socks and a second pair of shoes. I had two pairs of Adidas trail running shoes that I alternated day to day. That way, one pair could be attached to the outside of my pack to dry out. I carried four pairs of socks. I’d use two per day, stopping about half way into each day’s hike to take one pair off, air out and powder my feet, and put on a fresh dry pair. That’s about the best comfort advice I can give you. Bring that body powder, too. You’ll find your feet aren’t the only place you’ll use it.

How do you bring things with you?

I carried a Deuter ACT Lite 65+10 Hiking Backpack, but if I were doing the Camino again (and I plan to) I would carry a smaller pack such as Deuter ACT Lite 40 + 10 Ultralight Trekking Backpack. The 65 liter pack is too big for what I carried, and after I tossed out some stuff I didn’t need, there was a lot of empty room. If you pack carefully, 40 liters should be plenty. After all, unless you are camping out, you don’t need a sleeping bag. My wife carried a 28 liter backpack, and that was enough for her. Don’t forget that if you run out of room, you can always hang stuff from the outside of the pack. One tip I’d give: get a pack, like the Deuter, that has a small compartment that you can easily get into while you’re on the path. Put your first aid stuff, your toilet paper, and other stuff you might want to reach without digging around, in that compartment. Also, zipped pockets on the waist strap are good for small items. I kept lip balm, bug repellent, sun screen, and my knife in the waist band pockets.

What are your top tips for other Camino de Santiago hikers?

I wrote several blog posts on how to pack for the Camino, but the basic thing to keep in mind is don’t carry anything you’re not using. The main thing I saw people do wrong was carry a big camera in their backpack. Too many times you want to take a photo, but that involves stopping, taking off your pack, getting out your camera, and shooting. Take a point and shoot, or use your phone, and buy a clip to carry the camera right on your shoulder strap so you won’t pass up a shot because it’s too much trouble. I wish I had known that when I started. As for getting out the door and doing it, I know that’s tough, especially for people who don’t have 30 or 40 days free to do it. If that’s your problem, you can always do it in stages. We met many people who were doing a week per year until they were done. Don’t let anything stop you. Yes, it’s hard, but it’s something you’ll remember doing for the rest of your life.

Visit Tom Bartel’s website

Angel and Tim Mathis
We’re a couple with our home base in Tacoma, WA, but traveling constantly for business and pleasure, as we’re the owners of a business that organizes events all over the place, where local outdoors-people of all types can gather to tell their best short adventure stories. We record those, and put them into a weekly podcast called Boldly Went.

We’ve been hikers for years – initially starting backpacking when we lived in New Zealand from 2003 to 2005. We got really into trail and ultra running in Seattle, and then thru-hiked the Camino and the Pacific Crest Trail, along with doing a bunch of other shorter stuff along the way.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Camino de Santiago hikers bring?

The better question is what don’t we bring! We’re not really minimalists usually, but the Camino is the ultimate ultralight trail. We ran a huge portion of it, carrying everything we needed along the way, with a baseweight of less than 5 pounds.

On the traditional Camino Frances, the longest distance you have to travel between towns during the high season is 10 miles, and there is only one stretch that long. The rest of the way, you can count on the availability of food, lodging, coffee, pharmacies, and everything else hardened thru-hikers dream of every 3 – 5 miles. That meant that our most important pieces of gear were our trail running shoes and Solomon running packs, along with some anti-chafe cream.

On the Camino, it is almost universal to pack too much – especially for North Americans who are used to wilderness trails. Tents are generally useless, as it’s harder to find a legal camp site than a hostel, and the terrain never requires more than tennis shoes. I didn’t even use the backup water bottle I took!

Having said all of that, the three essential pieces of gear, for us, were Patagonia Houdini Jackets (super light weight, warm enough for the chilly summer mornings in northern Spain), our silk sleeping bag liners (super light weight, warm enough for the oppressively hot summer nights), and our trail runners: Tim wore Brooks Cascadias, and Angel wore Solomon X-Mission Trails.

How do you bring things with you?

We carried discontinued 17 liter Salomon packs. For hiking rather than running though, we love the ULA Circuit ultralight backpacking pack, or anything by Gossamer Gear. For a Summer Camino, a day pack genuinely is sufficiently big! We had one pair of clothes, a camera, toiletries and first aid, silk sleeping bag liners, Houdini pants and jackets, and a pair of flip flops. Tossed it in and were good to go – a light pack is a comfortable pack, and if you can keep your pack weight down, most anything you find comfortable will work!

What are your top tips for other Camino de Santiago hikers?

I genuinely believe that you could set out from St Jean pied a port on the Camino Frances with just the clothes on your back, and you could make it safely to Santiago. We’re not dogmatic minimalists (we carried probably five pounds of luxuries from Mexico to Canada on the PCT), but for this trip I genuinely think you’re best served by keeping it as light as possible. For a summer Camino, you genuinely don’t need a sleeping bag, heavy boots, or a heavy coat. Decent rain gear is advisable, because, while it doesn’t rain much, when it rains it pours, but beyond that it’s as friendly as a long trail possibly could be!

Find some shoes that fit and are comfortable, hike or run to train yourself up as much as you can, keep your pack light, and have the time of your life!

Visit Angel and Tim Mathis’ website

Carol Guttery
I’m a travel blogger and philanthropy consultant living near San Francisco California. As I write this, I’m home. But I do get around. This year I’ve been ice caving in Iceland, exploring offbeat sites in Paris, checking out Luxembourg, driving the California coastline, getting to know Estonia and seeing a street art festival in Bristol England.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Camino de Santiago hikers bring?

I always travel with a small roll of duct tape. It’s very useful for making small, on-the-fly repairs and resealing food and snack packaging. I used it regularly when I was on the Camino. I also took a medium sized scarf which I used as a pillow case, shower wrap and something to sit on while taking a picnic on the trail. I also recommend taking a few gear ties or caribiners which you can use to attach wet laundry to the line and hang stuff off of your bag.

I saw several women carrying bathing suits which, while small, are unnecessary on the trail. You only need three days of shirts/underwear/socks. Anymore than that is overkill when you can hand wash your clothing everyday.

How do you bring things with you?

I did my Camino with a 35-litre women’s Osprey bag. I chose the 35L because it forced me to keep my packing list to a minimum and I did not want to exceed 14 pounds of gear. That size was just right for all of my stuff and left me with a bit of room on the top for snacks.

I used two Sea to Summit drybags to keep my clothing organized. Not only do they protect against rain, but they compress down, which makes packing the bag very efficient.

What are your top tips for other Camino de Santiago hikers?

My advice to women would be to ignore any family, friends and toxic culture that discourage you from traveling alone. Half of the people doing the Camino every year are women and you can have as much company….or solitude as you want on the trail. You should GO…but don’t go on an impulse. If you aren’t a regular hiker or walker, you will want to spend time training before the hike so that you are fit enough to enjoy yourself. That said, I have a friend who was overweight, out of shape and recently recovered from heart surgery and even she did the Camino. She just took it slow and did it her own way. Ultimately, that’s the best advice of all. Each person’s pilgrimage is their own unique journey and I encourage you to explore it at your own pace and in your own way. Buen Camino.

Visit Carol Guttery’s website

Jane Casey
I’m from Dublin, Ireland and currently reside here – although I travel whenever I can!

I always struggled to exercise, as I found it so boring! That was until my brother brought me on a hike of The Wicklow Way in Ireland (a gorgeous seven-day hike through mountains, fields and over lakes). It was here that I discovered that long-distance hiking was for me. In 2016, I did my first Camino and it changed my life. I have been three times ever since. I’m lucky that I now have my dream job working for Follow The Camino – the original Camino de Santiago experts – and I get to help others find their way.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Camino de Santiago hikers bring?

  • Vaseline (petroleum jelly). I discovered this tip from a fellow pilgrim on my first Camino. Rub a little bit on your toes and moisture doesn’t penetrate your skin, causing painful blisters;
  • Multifunction Tubular Scarf (Buff). These things are amazing – no matter what you need them for, they do the job. You can wear it as a beanie, a neck scarf, a bandana, a wrist sweatband or a face mask. They’re perfect for any weather and lightweight enough to not add any weight to your bag;
  • Hand sanitizer. Being far away from home comforts like running water and indoor plumbing is tough, so any semblance of hygiene is welcomed!

How do you bring things with you?

When walking anywhere from 15 – 35KM per day on the Camino, it’s important to be comfortable and to choose the right bag. Everyone is different, and we recommend visiting your local outdoor store to get a fitting and talk to a professional about your needs.

I use a compact, 35 litre rucksack. It’s perfect for my hiking needs. When walking in Spain, it’s important to have a bag with breathability and a sternum strap to give you a little extra support.

I keep clothes and extra shoes in the main compartment, toiletries in one side compartment and electricals (phone chargers, camera batteries) in the other.

I often opt for a money belt or bum bag to hold my cash, cards and pilgrim passport so you don’t have to go digging through your bag when you stop off for a coffee and to get a stamp.

What are your top tips for other Camino de Santiago hikers?

When on the Camino, you realise just how little you need to survive. There is no reason why you should have more than three sets of clothes (depending on weather). Walking clothes, evening clothes and one spare. That’s it! You often see hikers with 10 outfits, makeup bags, five books and three pairs of shoes, trying to lug their backpack around Spain. There is no need for this. Most albergues/hostels will have facilities to wash clothes, and a good tip is the safety pin the wet clothes to your backpack as you walk and they will be dry in no time.

If you’ve ever thought about walking the Camino, but were daunted by the length of the trail or about your fitness level, just start small! Why not take on the final 100KM to begin with?

Or you could use a Camino tour operator like Follow the Camino to help you plan your itinerary, book you private rooms and transfer your luggage from stop to stop.

There is no right or wrong way to do the Camino, find what feels right for you and take the first step. You won’t regret it.

Visit Jane Casey’s website

Yaz Rooney
I’m from the UK, although I’ve lived and worked in a quite a number of different countries around the world. In 2013, I technically ‘became’ a hiker when I walked the Camino de Santiago. I hiked from St. Jean de Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela, and the bug never left me! Although, I’ve never done the same distance again, my husband and I do a lot of hiking in the UK, since we live in Sussex. We regularly walk long stretches of the rolling South Downs, as well as other parts of rural England.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Camino de Santiago hikers bring?

For me, the top three things I travelled with were travel-sized deodorant, soap and shampoo. At the end of a long day of walking, I always needed to feel fresh and clean. That fresh showered feeling was something to look forward to, and kept me going on those hot days in the sun. I started the journey with a whole ton of full-sized toiletries; shampoos, hair conditioners, body lotions, mouthwashes, lots of changes of clothes…you name it, it was in my backpack. That was until I reached Pamplona in tears of frustration for the heavy weight I was carrying. I realized that most of the things I thought I needed, I could do without.

In the Pamplona hostel that I stayed in, I gave away my jacket, toiletries and many clothes, and kept only the essentials. I learned to travel with tiny travel-sized toiletries, and wear ALL my clothing in layers if I got cold.

The most ridiculous thing I saw on the Camino was an American woman who had packed three backpacks, two of which had to be carried by her two sons. She couldn’t dump anything because she’s brought along her designer clothes! She ended up having to pay a lot of money to send most of it ahead.

How do you bring things with you?

On the Camino, and in other hiking holidays, I only ever carry the backpack with two changes of clothes. After using a cheap backpack on the Camino, I now prefer the Northface brand of backpack because of their strength, and the support structure at the back. The backpack sits neatly on the hips and is carried by the frames. The best way to pack is to roll everything up tightly. It saves on ironing (things don’t look so creased) and somehow, you can fit more into your backpack (not that you’d want to pack over a certain weight).

What are your top tips for other Camino de Santiago hikers?

Top tips for Camino hikers is to travel with the barest minimum. If you’re travelling between Spring and Autumn, bring the lightest clothing, as walking makes you pretty hot, no matter if the weather is cooler. Always make sure you have fleece and a walking jacket for the colder temperatures. Carry a spare pair of open hiker’s sandals, and a pair of cheap flip-flops for the showers. Pack for your OWN weight; don’t follow standard guidelines. Bigger guys can carry much more than much smaller women, for example.

As for advice about when to do the Camino; the time chooses you, you don’t choose it. Ask anyone who has a deep sense of spirituality on that road. I wanted to do it in 2000, but 2013 found me instead. The road opens up something in each person, and the time has to be right to do it. So hold the intention and the road will beckon when the time is right. You won’t have to ‘make time’. It will all come together of its own accord.

Visit Yaz Rooney’s website

Steve & Julie
We are both from the UK originally but now call New Zealand home. We are currently on Vancouver Is, Canada as part of our 38 road trip through north-west USA, southern Alaska, British Columbia and Alberta.

We have been travelling for the last 3.5 years, outdoors, wildlife and natural wonders are the key elements to our travel plans. Living in New Zealand, it’s easy to get sucked into the great outdoors and hiking. Hiking shorts are the 40+-year-old version of active wear.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Camino de Santiago hikers bring?

The key to surviving the Camino is taking care of your feet. Three key ways to do this, 1. Vaseline, put this on your feet every morning before you set out and maybe again 3-4 hours into your walk. 2. Squash ball, at the end of a hard day, walking, running your feet over the ball gives you a gentle massage, for a firmer touch take a golf ball. 3. Moisturizer, at the end of the day, give your feet a loving dose of non-nonsense moisturizer. Hopefully, these tips will reduce the number of blisters and keep your feet in great condition.

We know people who lost toenails in the first few days, people who had trouble walking because of blisters, etc. Your feet really are the key.

Huge makeup bags are not needed on the Camino, some were half the size of a backpack. We also saw one hiker who would turn up for dinner in a full-length dress. get with the programme and travel lightly.

How do you bring things with you?

Steve (6’3′) – Ferrino Alta Via 55 Backpack, Red, came complete with rain cover.

Julie (5’6″) – Osprey Tempest 30L Backpack

We always use packing cubes for clothing, dirty washing, cables and chargers etc.

Julie’s bag was full to bursting, Steve’s had more room and he carried medical supplies, snacks etc. Overall, the bags were the perfect size for the two of us.

What are your top tips for other Camino de Santiago hikers?

Lay everything out on the bed and then justify every item. If you are travelling with a partner or friend, get them to go through what you are planning to take.

Less is more on the Camino. Carrying less equals a more enjoyable Camino. You really only need two sets of clothing, one for walking and one for the evenings. During the late afternoon, you will wash your day clothes and they will be nice and dry for the next day,

What you pack will depend on the time of your Camino. We started our Camino mid-Sept, the early morning and evenings were chilly, so we needed gloves and beanies. During the day it was t-shirt and shorts weather. Good layers are key, merino wool based clothes are great for keeping you warm and also they tend to wick away body odour.

Visit Steve & Julie’s website

Bistra and Nace
Hi, we’re Bistra and Nace – a wine-loving couple with a passion for dance and a willingness to empathize with everyone we meet. We run the blog The Magic of traveling – it helps people take the most out of their travels – from short vacations to long-term trips, from being active outdoors to exploring cultural heritage, on a tight budget or luxuriously. We lead a semi-nomadic lifestyle which means we’re on the road for half of the time, and we also have a base in Sofia, Bulgaria. We tell stories in Bulgarian and English and share photos and videos from our most memorable moments on the road. We love giving some advice on our readers’ journeys!

Hiking is one of our favorite things to do ever since we started traveling actively. A friend of ours was so excited about the Camino de Santiago so we decided to do it too. Some days before we dropped from it but here we are – three Caminos later…

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Camino de Santiago hikers bring?

Our top 3 Camino essentials are walking sandals, body bag/small purse for daily essentials, Magnesium pills.

While lots of people do bring sandals or flip-flops with them to enjoy afternoon walks and relax time, we do use sandals for walking the Camino. We realized those are the most comfortable means of walking the whole day so we stick to them. But always wear socks – you might be claimed a victim of fashion, but it’s so comfortable and prevents calluses and stuff. Small purse or body bag we need to put all the essentials we need quick access to – like passports, credentials, money, wipes, etc. Magnesium is what saves us from cramps and pains every time we hit the Camino – we start taking it two weeks before we start the Camino and then take 300mg a day to help our bodies keep going.

We’ve seen people carry things such as ducktape – in case they need to fix a broken pipe or do Camino art. It might be useful but we prefer not to carry stuff just because there’s a tiny chance we might need them.

How do you bring things with you?

We walk the Camino with 35-40 liter backpacks. We bought them from Decathlon some time ago. We organize different types of baggage in smaller plastic or cloth bags. We carry clothing enough to keep us dressed for 4 days and we try to do the laundry every 3 days on the road. The size of the backpacks is just perfect for us.

What are your top tips for other Camino de Santiago hikers?

The key to packing light is to pack no heavier than 10% of your own weight. We’ve managed to do the Camino with backpacks from 5.5 to 7 kilos (that includes your water bottle full and some food you might carry through the day) and never had back or lower back pain. The backpack should be as light as possible so you can walk 30K with it.

We have a special article with some questions to answer to know if you’re ready for the Camino now. Here it is. And if you are, don’t let this opportunity go away. Camino will be a highlight, maybe even one of the trips of your lifetime. We promise!

Visit Bistra and Nace’s website

My name is Angela, a Midwesterner hailing from Chicago, Illinois. My husband and I travel about 6-8 months out of the year and recently turned our minivan into a campervan. Our next big adventure starts soon as we will spend a few months exploring New England during the fall season.

I discovered a love for nature, which morphed into a love of hiking during my first national park experience at Denali in Alaska. Hiking is a fantastic way to connect with yourself and the world on simple terms; it’s therapeutic in so many ways.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Camino de Santiago hikers bring?

The top uncommon things to bring on the Camino de Santiago are duct tape, a trash compactor bag and a string bag.

We wrapped a few layers of duct tape around a pen to have on hand and used it ourselves countless times plus shared with other hikers on the trail. You never know when a bag might tear, a shoe might need to get patched up or a hot spot on your foot might need to get covered. Do not underestimate the value of duct tape! The trash compactor bag is a cheap but extremely durable liner for your backpack. Keeping the contents inside your pack dry is important and most packs are not waterproof. Some come with a rain cover, but they can leak at the seam and/or do not fit properly. We had multiple days of mist and a few downpours and nothing inside our bag became wet. The one bag lasted the entire trip with no wear and tear. And the string bag is a nice addition because it is lightweight when empty and great for walking around the cities without your big pack once your settled in for the night. We used it for holding groceries and personal belongings while wandering around.

The key to hiking a long trek like the Camino is weight; weight is everything! The common goal is to only carry 10% of your body weight. I would consider anything you do not use constantly, a useless item. We met many people that spent extra money to ship items home or ahead to their final destination. Once you decide on the items you are bringing, pack it all up and go for a walk to see if you need to rethink your packing list.

How do you bring things with you?

After many hours of research, I chose the Osprey Exos Ultralight Backpack for my hike on the Camino. Originally, I was planning on buying a smaller backpack, but then decided a larger one would be more beneficial for future trips. So I landed in the middle with a 48-liter Osprey bag. It weighs only 2.23 pounds and has a removable top lid to make the pack smaller. I took the lid off for this particular hike and it worked well. It has a sewn-in cushioned hipbelt with zippered pockets on each side for extra storage and quick access and a peripheral frame made out of aluminum alloy which is light, comfortable and breathable. I have established quite a love affair with this backpack; it is wonderful!

What are your top tips for other Camino de Santiago hikers?

My top tips for other Camino de Santiago hikers is to remember weight is everything as far as packing goes, the second you feel any friction on your body whether it’s something rubbing on your foot or shoulder, stop to address it immediately, and to go at your own pace even if you find yourself walking with a group or another hiker.

Hiking the Camino is a life-changing experience and if you have dreams of one day doing it, my advice is to start planning. Even if you aren’t sure when it’ll happen, start the planning phase: What time of year would you like to go, join forums so you can see all the questions and answers already discussed, and start walking at home so you are prepared once that day finally arrives.

Visit Angela’s website

Candice Walsh
I’m Candice Walsh, a travel and arts blogger/journalist living in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador (Canada). Newfoundland is a rugged, stunning place — hiking is a lifestyle on this island, and I’ve grown up with it. I live next to the East Coast Trail, which is an unbelievably beautiful coastal route stretching for hundreds of kilometres on the island’s east coast. My apartment is downtown in the capital city, but I’m still within easy reach to many trails. I’m at my happiest and most creative when I’m outside, enjoying nature. Plus, the summers are fleeting! We Newfoundlanders get outdoors and make the most of it.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Camino de Santiago hikers bring?

  • Mascara and a small pot of eyeshadow. I’m eye-rolling at myself as I’m writing this, because it’s SO unnecessary. But when you’re feeling a little bit “blah” and rundown, putting on a fresh face really helps pick you up. Or at least it did for me.
  • Halfway through the Camino, I had established a Camino “family” and we enjoyed cooking together in the evenings (well, they cooked — I cleaned). We eventually started carrying a few spices here and there in our backpacks, which really kicked up those dinners a notch. Salt, spices, and oils added a little bit of extra weight, but really made our meals more enjoyable! If you’re not eating out all the time, things get pretty bland after awhile. We literally used pasta from a vending machine one night.

That’s honestly it. I packed insanely light — just two changes of active wear, and some casual wear for the evenings. My backpack’s weight never bothered me. It was under 8kg. My friends were envious. For the first time I ever, I actually packed like a pro.

I saw a few girls with hairdryers and flat irons. I was actually stunned. SO much unnecessary weight! Also, laptops. There’s no need. I intended to work from my smartphone while on the Camino, but after a few days I surrendered to the sheer bliss of life on the trail.

How do you bring things with you?

I bought a really fantastic Lowe Alpine Airzone Backpack 33L expandable specifically for this trip. The hip support and airflow design of the backpack really kept the pack off my back, and I never once had a problem using it on the trail. There wasn’t a real need to organize all the things in my bag, because I had so few things. Normally I travel with packing cubes, but they weren’t necessary in this case. I had about three changes of clothes and some other essentials, and that was more than enough!

The only thing I was really lacking was a pocketknife (for cutting up chorizo while on the trail, especially!) — but that was impossible to bring carry-on. I also should have been better prepared with plaster casts for blisters.

What are your top tips for other Camino de Santiago hikers?

The weight of your pack is so, so, so important. A few of the people I hiked with really suffered from the weight of their pack. You do not need many changes of clothes — there are laundry facilities at most albergues. You do not need a laptop, or a hairdryer, or a flat iron. If you find yourself missing something, it’ll be within easy reach on the trail. There are plenty of places to shop along the way.

I didn’t really know anything about the Camino before my friend Michelle in Berlin started telling me about her experiences. We were supposed to do it again, together, but at the last minute she had to jump ship. I did it alone, and I was totally fine. In fact, there’s a certain liberation in being alone on the trail — and I assure you, you won’t be alone for long. I’m bit of a mess when it comes to travelling (I almost always get lost), but the Camino de Santiago is a well-trodden route that’s ALMOST idiot proof. Just do it. I promise you that you can.

Visit Candice Walsh’s website

Dacia Reinhold
My name is Dacia Reinhold, an avid hiker, runner, mountain biker, and general adventurer living in the Pacific Northwest outside of Seattle.

My love of hiking skyrocketed when I moved to the PNW in 2014. This mecca of diverse natural landscapes, mountain ranges, and national parks provide endless inspiration and adventure. I simply must experience it all. But my first wilderness backpacking experience was to Isle Royal when I was 19 and my urban backpacking kicked-off at 23 when I lived in Spain and explored Western Europe.

The town I lived in, Burgos, was on el Camino de Santiago and daily I passed pilgrims on their way through. The seed was planted. Along with my husband, on October 1st, 2016 I embarked on the Camino from St. Jean Pied Du Port and had the experience of a lifetime.

Having the right gear can make or break your pilgrimage and I love to geek out about all the brilliant options available. The goal is to have the right gear (and not too much gear) that makes you so comfortable that you never have to think about your gear. This rad gear allows you to be fully present in your surroundings rather than focus on your suffering. After-all, this is a Pilgrimage! Do you want to spend it wishing you had different gear? I think not.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Camino de Santiago hikers bring?

I couldn’t decide on just three! So here are five. 🙂

  • Carbon-fiber trekking poles – DISTANCE FLZ TREKKING POLES
  • – Some pilgrims didn’t bring poles, some bought wooden poles on the way, others were super heavy, and most wouldn’t fold. These carbon poles are totally worth the extra cost in every way.

    – The folding feature allows you place them in your pack upon arrival to albergues. Most albergues don’t allow poles beyond the vestibule due and instead ask you to leave them in the bin provided. Many poles go missing this way.

    – Walking hundreds of miles you become distinctly aware of the weight of everything you carry, your poles are no exception Go light!

  • 4-port USB charger with European adapter
  • – These days, your phone is everything: Camera, map, reservation agent, translation app, travel guide, kindle app, etc., make sure you can charge it.

    – Outlets are minimal in many albergues. By carrying this four-port charger, you and three of your newest friends can all get what you need. It’s truly a gift to share with others.

  • Headlamp with the red lamp for night vision – BLACK DIAMON SPOT HEADLAMP
  • – This hands-free, non-disruptive red lamp for night vision will help you maintain your relationship with all your new friends. Bathroom breaks in the middle of the night, packing up early in the morning…offer this kindness to your bunk mates. When you finally drift off to sweet slumber, but someone shines their bright flashlight in your face…well, you simply don’t feel so friendly.

    – You can get around hands free – climb down from your bunk, pack your stuff.

  • Yoga Therapy Ball
  • – Be a hero and pack this. Not only can you ease your sore muscles and plantar fasciitis, but you can share it with all your traveling companions daily as well. It is extra weight, but totally worth it. Spread some Camino magic, karma is real.

  • Foldable plastic water pouch
  • – I carried this for extra water on the few long, hot stretches. But ultimately, I mostly I used it for the wine leftover from dinner. Which was awesome. Why waste it!

Unnecessary items I saw pilgrims carry:

  • Brand new hiking boots – that weren’t broken in or didn’t fit well. Your feet are you number one tool for walking, so take care of them first. Be obsessed with finding the most comfortable pair of hiking shoes or boots months before you go;
  • Extra clothing – like, lots of it. You just need one outfit for hiking and sweating in, and one for the evenings (this also doubled for my sleeping gear);
  • Cotton clothing – just don’t. Invest in Merino wool shirts and socks – you can sweat all day, every day and won’t smell – seriously. You don’t need to wash them each day (washers can be hard to come by), and they dry quickly. Oh, and last forever. Worth the investment;
  • Tablet or kindle – unnecessary extra weight. Just use your phone with the Kindle app.

How do you bring things with you?

Gear weight is critical. For the Camino, a good average to aim for is a pack that weighs no more than 15% of your body weight for max comfort. Limiting your pack size to 35L or less will help you achieve this goal automatically. My 35L pack was the ideal size for the Camino, plenty of room to make packing and unpacking easy, with extra space for trail snacks.

  • Deuter 35L +10 act lite women’s specific
  • – The big debate – should I go ultra lite? Here’s my advice, chose the most comfortable pack, even if it weighs a few ounces more.

    – Through my backpack search, I had narrowed it down by volume, weight, features, and comfort. Before I settled on the Deuter, I decided to try a more ultra-light pack on local trails, https://goo.gl/Ffvb5J. Although it was a pound lighter, the way the weight was distributed on my hips and shoulders left me with back pains for a few days. So I took it back.

    – Get a professional fit from an outdoor retailer, and try your pack out before you go. Bonus if your retailer lets you return it used, like REI. I loved the Deuter, felt like it was molded for my body. It has an adjustable frame so you can find the perfect fit. I saw a number of people whose packs didn’t fit right, too much space on the should straps and in the lumbar spine. They were in a lot of discomfort for too long.

    – The 35L+10 feature on this pack allowed a bonus 10L of space to be added with an extra drawcord which served me well as we continued travels in Italy and Thailand after the Camino – I needed space for all the fabulous souvenirs I found.

  • Osprey Kestrel 38
  • – I also saw a lot of Pilgrims with this pack – my husband used this pack and loved it.

    – The big bonus to this pack is the sling for your trekking poles. You will hike with your poles almost all day every day, and there will be times that you want to store them without taking your pack off. I was super jealous of this feature.

    – It also has really nice sized hip pockets to stash snacks, sunscreen, gloves, etc.

    – Despite the brilliant features of this pack, it just didn’t fit me quite right, and fit must be the overriding factor in choosing the pack that’s right for you.

  • Hip Pack
  • – Purchased this on Amazon for 10 bucks. Hip belts are coming back, they’re all the rage in fashion! True, but they mostly provide easy access to these items without removing your big pack. This is key when stopping in a store, checking into an albergue, or just walking your daily walk.

    – I kept my phone, cash, passport, pilgrim credentials, chapstick, and pain killer within reach at all times (I had a root canal the day before we left the U.S.).

    – Big bonus features of this particular pack are:

    o The hidden pocket on the back of the pack for passport and extra payment options. I didn’t want to be flashing my high value goods each time I opened the main pouch.

    o The wide elastic waistband – it stayed put just below my backpack waist belt and the back didn’t ride up my back to interfere with my pack. Hands free, no rub, no contact points like with a cross-shoulder bag.

  • Ultra Light Packing Cubes
  • – Use ultra light packing cubes to organize your stuff inside your pack. No one in your dorm room will appreciate the sound of rustling plastic bags when they finally fell asleep after being awake all night due to chorus of snoring that even the best earplugs can’t block. These are easy to stuff and are light as a feather.

  • Compression Sack
  • – Stuffed my whole bedroll in this space saving masterpiece: light sleeping bag, silk sleeping sack, pillow case.

  • Nalgene Toilettries Bag
  • – I’ve used this for years – great for flights, leakproof

  • Ultralight pocket grocery bag

– Many evenings we arrived in a town early and wandered around to explore, get dinner, and groceries. I always carried my water bottle and hip-pack, and an extra layer. Having this little bag kept everything gathered and my hands-free.

What are your top tips for other Camino de Santiago hikers?

Fortunately for us, the world is abundant with gear and expertise on which is best. But the most important lesson about this pilgrimage is to do the Camino your way. Find your way! Make some decisions, test your gear, and go for it.

My research gave me a pack and hiking shoes that performed perfectly. I only got one blister hot spot my very last day hiking. Rad success. Yet despite my pre-trip research fervor, I still made some mistakes. I packed my kindle, an extra pair of pants, extra t-shirt, extra socks, and a knee brace (still healing from a torn MCL). Those items were boxed up and shipped home in the first 100km. My idea of packing a hand-size pack towel to save weight was stupid. Being able to wrap myself up in the co-ed shower rooms was crucial. So I bought a full-sized micro fiber pack towel in Burgos and it’s still one of my most prized travel possessions. TSA confiscated my wine key, and the Camino gifted me one…seriously, I found one smack-dab in the middle of the path.

The point is, you may make some decisions that you regret later. No biggie. Get the pack and the boots right, and the rest can be tailored as you go! Most big cities that the Camino passes through have outfitters with the most modern equipment. And every village has a post.

Now…get out the door. Buy your ticket. Show up. Walk. Relish in your freedom. Be present and pay attention. Be generous with yourself and others. Soak up the Camino magic…there is magic in spades. ¡Buen Camino!

Visit Dacia’s Reinhold’s Full Packing List

Kendra Seignoret
Trinidad-born, Canada raised, and inspired to do the Camino during a visit to family in southern France. Travel has always been a huge part of my life and today, I consider myself a cubicle escape artist: Someone who works full time but runs away whenever possible! I am more than happy to go anywhere in this world of ours, be it city, countryside, or mountain top. Especially, if there is a hike involved! Nothing puts a smile on my face like a slightly cool day, bright sunshine, and a breeze rustling the leaves of the forest around me as I hike towards a phenomenal view. And Canada, my home, is a great place for that!

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Camino de Santiago hikers bring?

Packing for the Camino sometimes feels like it should be a Mensa test. Trying to compare other people’s lists and suggestions can be rather frustrating, especially as a first timer. I must have studied at least 10 different lists in preparation; the one key thing I kept in mind was that my bag needed to be 10-15% of my body weight. It was a good guideline on what I can comfortably (ish) carry on my back.

Beside the common stuff all Camino pilgrims carry, there are three things I was really happy I had with me:

  • I refuse to travel without my camera. Photography is how I remember and capture both macro and micro elements of all my journeys. Some people say, “just use a smartphone” but I can’t. A proper camera allows me to capture all the details be they landscapes or the close up of a beautiful pattern. It also allows me to print my photos in various sizes if I so choose. Along the Camino, I used a BlackRapid sling strap so my camera hung sideways off my body, making it easy access but hands free when not in use. By the end of my Camino, I had taken over 4500 photos!
  • Shoes excluding my hiking shoes: Teva sandals and cheap flip flops. The Tevas were for wandering around the towns and villages at the end of a day. The flip-flops were for the shower and nightly bathroom trips. It was great to have separate shoes after a long day’s walk. Every afternoon when I stopped for the day, I would have a shower (flip flops) and then explore the town or village in which I was staying (Tevas) – if it was cold outside, the Tevas allowed me to wear socks (I dubbed the look “Pilgrim Chic”). By the next morning, the flip flops were dry and my feet were ready to wear hiking shoes again!
  • A thin cotton scarf was a last nanosecond addition to my Camino gear. It ended up being something I used every single day: I used it for extra warmth, to cover my head when it was drizzling and I didn’t want to pull out the poncho, and for a general dab of style as I explored the Spanish towns and villages.

The only thing I wished I had that I didn’t bring was a small umbrella. I didn’t exactly want to wear my poncho when exploring a new town. So if you’re an explorer like me, you may want to consider a small umbrella for those wet sightseeing afternoons!

One of the funny things about the Camino is seeing all the things people bring along. Some things are cute like a favourite small teddy bear. Other things are hilarious like curling irons. I even saw very impractical things such as heavy glass wine bottles. It should come as no surprise, then, that albergues all along the Camino are absolutely full of stuff people leave behind! But not all things people brought were cute and amusing as some were just annoying and thoughtless. I’m talking about the lowly plastic grocery bag. It is the bane of a sleeping pilgrim’s existence: Nothing is more annoying than people rustling those bags at the crack of dawn!

How do you bring things with you?

Second only to your shoes, a backpack is a very important piece of gear you’ll need for the Camino. My main backpack was a Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) pack and I found 36L was perfect for me. It was large enough to hold everything I needed but small enough to ensure I wasn’t tempted to carry extra stuff!

My pack was primarily organized by packing cubes. I highly recommend putting most things into cubes for organization purposes. Invest in a few different sizes – a small one for your electronics, medium ones for your underclothes and socks, and large ones for your clothes. I also recommend you choose packing cubes that allow you to see inside without opening them. I also think it is important to choose cubes that are water resistant for those rainy days. The brand I used was Innate. I also recommend that you use a small one to store your documents such as your passport and the pilgrim’s passport.

My last bag recommendation is a daypack. But choose one that folds down to the size of a tennis ball so it can fit into your main pack. Mine was indispensable for when I wanted to explore a town once I’ve stopped walking for the day. I also used mine a lot when grocery shopping at the end of a day. Check out Sea to Summit for this kind of bag.

What are your top tips for other Camino de Santiago hikers?

DO remember that while the Camino is far more urban than one would think for a “hike”, it is still a challenge in its own right. Walking 20+ kilometers day after day can be exhausting. Also, more often than not, you are walking on some sort of hard surface (roads, sidewalks, the senda, etc) or a rocky surface such as the ancient Roman road. Dirt or grass walking is relatively rare. This is very hard on the body, especially feet and back, if you don’t take proper precautions – good footwear, bag weight, rest times, daily distance, etc. The other challenge is exposure to the elements. Rarely is there a tree under which you can escape the sun or rain – but if you do find a tree, remember to check for ants before sitting! And that’s the other thing – pay attention! I saw two people’s Camino end because they fell and broke something. I also heard of someone dying just before I started my Camino and another during my Camino. And if you forget to pay attention to your health and surroundings, the not uncommon Pilgrim Memorial (marking places where pilgrims died over the years) will remind you. But don’t let this scare you – just let it be a reminder to respect the Camino!

DO take the time to veer off the main Camino Frances trail to check out some amazing sights such as the 12th century octagonal church in Eunate and the 6th century monastery in Samos.

DO consider packing ear plugs and an eye mask if you actually want to be able to sleep. But if using them, also consider using a vibrating alarm (i.e. cell phone) under your pillow to ensure you wake up on time in the morning.

DO check for bedbugs not just on your mattress but also storage areas, (some places give you a drawer under the bed or a little locker by the bed). If storage area is made of wood, don’t use it. Trust me.

DO be patient with the hospitalero/a at the albergues! Smile! Say hi! Say THANK YOU! If the albergue is donativo, please give at least a few euros. They need the money to keep the place running and to keep it at a good clean standard.

DO remember that the Camino, especially the Camino Frances, is not a solitary experience for the most part. It is very social. The upside is that there is always someone interesting with whom you could chat from all sorts of places in the world. The severity of the downside, the lack of solitude, depends on where you fit on the extrovert-introvert line. I am very much an introvert so I had to come up with solutions to manage the social Camino Frances. My solutions ranged from spending a night in a hotel rather than an albergue, picking the little private albergue over the large public one, practically running past large groups, having lunch/dinner at odd times at restaurants, and sleeping in to avoid chatty people.

DO remember the Camino is not a race and just take every day as a chance to explore and be in the moment. One of my favourite memories was being in the middle of the countryside on a beautifully sunny day and realizing that in that exact moment, no one on this planet knew where I was! Every introvert’s dream!

DO remember that the Frances is not the only Camino trail available. Do some research, find one that suits you, and just go!

Visit Kendra Seignoret’s website

Samantha Anthony
I’m originally from NY, USA. Currently I am a full time traveler, traveling via house/pet sitting. For the past few years though, I lived full time in Madrid, Spain. I always knew I wanted to do the Camino de Santiago, since I’d heard so much about it from my Spanish teachers and practically everyone I met in Spain. After my first year teaching English in Madrid, I was feeling a bit lost in life, so it felt like the right time to do the journey. I’d never been much of a hiker before that, I just jumped right in! Now I love hiking and the outdoors.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Camino de Santiago hikers bring?

My top 3 things that aren’t considered “essentials” would be a notebook, a Kindle, and petroleum jelly. I wrote every night in my notebook about the day’s adventures, exactly what town I’d stopped at, and how many kilometers I’d walked that day. That notebook is so precious to me now, because it can be so easy for the days to start to blur together after some time on the trail, but I have it all in writing! I’m so happy I took a Kindle as there was much more down time than I anticipated. I usually arrived at the albergues around 2-3 pm each day, and sometimes you couldn’t get in until later. While I’d also have long conversations with other pilgrims, invariably everyone needs their downtime, and many would retreat to a book after a while. I read several books on the way, and could always get new books if I needed on the Kindle. I also used it for my Camino del Norte guidebook, which was very helpful in less populated areas, especially the Camino Primitivo, when there are rarely supermarkets and advance planning is necessary if you’re cooking your own food. Finally, while petroleum jelly probably sounds strange, someone recommended to put it on my feet every morning before I put on socks, to keep my toes and feet from rubbing together and creating blisters while walking. I put it on every morning and never got a blister!

I’ve definitely seen people bring a lot of useless stuff! One guy arrived off the plane with an entire tent and camping stove! His gear was so heavy that he ditched it in an albergue after the first day. The Camino is not like the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail – you stay in albergues (pilgrim’s hostels) and don’t have to camp unless you want to. I’ve also seen people planning their route via GPS and Google Earth. Again, not necessary! The paths are marked with yellow arrows that you can’t miss. And if you get lost, you can always ask someone where the Camino is. The people who live along the way are very used to foreign hikers and are usually very helpful!

Read my Camino del Norte packing list

How do you bring things with you?

I used a 65L Sierra Designs backpack, mainly because I already had it with me in Spain. It worked absolutely fine, but it was a bit too roomy. If I was going to purchase a bag specifically for the Camino, I would choose a 35-40L bag, which would be more than enough and manageable.

I kept things in plastic bags so that they would be separated and wouldn’t get wet, though I did have a rain cover for my bag, so the inside never actually got wet. A thick plastic bag was essential for carrying all my important documents in – my passport, pilgrim’s passport, and notebook.

What are your top tips for other Camino de Santiago hikers?

No one cares what you’re wearing on the trail. You really only need 2 outfits: one for hiking and one for sleeping. If you like, you can bring a third for hanging out in the evenings, after you shower but before you go to sleep. Another thing a lot of people don’t realize is that most of the time, you’re not in the middle of nowhere. You’ll be passing through small towns and occasionally even cities, so if you do need to purchase something (toiletries, more gear, etc) you can get it along the way. You don’t need to bring an entire bag full of things “just in case”. Also, if you do need something, chances are someone else has it and is willing to give you some. Everyone on the Camino is in the same boat, and helping each other out is the norm.

I see a lot of people (and get a lot of emails) from people on how to prepare for the Camino. They tell me about their GPS mapped routes and how much they’re walking each day around their town in order to get ready. While there’s nothing wrong with that, nothing will prepare you like going out there and getting on the trail! The beauty of the Camino is that you can actually do it with very little preparation. The route is already set (just choose which Camino as there are many), you don’t need to worry where to stay or book in advance, and you don’t need to pack a crazy amount. There is a saying among pilgrims that the Camino provides what you need. And it’s true, both physically, and emotionally. Your Camino will be exactly as you need it to be – so get out there and do it!

Visit Samantha Anthony’s website

Nellie Huang
I’m a Singapore-born travel writer and blogger currently based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Having spent the last 20 years exploring the world, I’ve traveled to over 130 countries on all seven continents. Some of my favorite adventures include expedition cruising in Antarctica, wildlife watching in the Galapagos Islands, seeing lemurs in Madagascar, overland travel along the Silk Road and of course walking the Camino de Santiago. I have a special interest in unconventional experiences and destinations that are under the radar. I document all my travels on my blog WildJunket.com.

I became an avid hiker after moving to London and falling in love with travel. Big, open spaces started to draw me in more than busy cities. I noticed that outdoor adventures became the theme of my travels. Wherever we traveled, we looked for opportunities to hike, kayak or do something active.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Camino de Santiago hikers bring?

  • Massage gel in-soles — I found these really useful as my feet were hurting after just the first few days. They help provide some cushioning for your soles when you walk and reduce tendinitis. These are especially useful for those with plantar fascitiis;
  • Camelbaak water bladder — I loved being able to drink water from the straw in my pack and not having to stop and pull out a bottle from my pack;
  • Sandals — Some people don’t bother bringing sandals or flipflops but I definitely looked forward to removing my shoes every evening when I reached the refugio! On days when my feet hurt a lot, I would even just walk with sandals and socks and they were comfortable enough.

The most useless thing I’ve seen people carry: I was walking with a friend who actually carried his sleep-apnea machine, which is a humongous device with a mask and tubes, etc. that weighed almost 10kg on its own! He was so worried about people judging him for his snoring issue that he carried it with him. Luckily, I convinced him to send that to Santiago halfway through our trip and he was walking with a much lighter pack after that.

How do you bring things with you?

I used a 40L Quechua Forclaz backpack from Decathlon, a European outdoor sports brand. The 40L back has an adjustable, ventilated back, practical storage (many pockets, hydration bag compartment) and rain cover. I honestly don’t have any complains about it.

I’m also a loyal fan of Osprey, my usual travel backpack is an Osprey pack (but it was too big to carry for this trip). Osprey bags tend to be made of high quality, lightweight material and they’re perfectly fitted for your spine.

I usually use Eagle Creek packing cubes to organize things in my backpack.

What are your top tips for other Camino de Santiago hikers?

For the Camino, packing light is essential and it’ll make your life much more enjoyable and pain-free. As you’ll be carrying your pack for more than six hours/day, it’s important to carry as little as possible. Excessive weight will add pressure to your knees and heels and increase the chances of getting injured. All the guides I’ve found say that the optimal weight is 10% of your body weight.

I started out with a pack that weighed 7kg but the added snacks and medical supplies made it slightly heavier along the way. To lighten my load, I threw away my fleece, sunscreen and cap since I wasn’t using them. It took me about three days to find the perfect weight, which was probably around 6kg. I wrote more about this here.

Visit Nellie Huang’s website

Nellie Meunier
Hi! My name is Nellie, I am the owner of Ultreya Tours, a travel agency based in Santiago de Compostela in North Western Spain specialized in organising personalized & luxury walking, cycling and horse-riding tours on the different Caminos to Santiago.

I have been working solely on the Camino since 2012 and have walked and cycled thousands of kilometers on the different trails leading to Santiago. My Camino credentials include the full French Way from Saint Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago (775 km), the Portuguese interior and coastal ways, the Sanabrés Way, the Finisterre Way and parts of the Route du Puy. I try to do at least a couple week long Caminos per year although I would love to be able to go more.

My last trip was mid August from Porto to Santiago and the next will be end of October from Ponferrada to Santiago.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Camino de Santiago hikers bring?

I believe that on the Camino, whatever you do, you must take care of your feet. So items I always travel with include:

  • 1000 mile double layer socks or the Decathlon equivalent – I have always been prone to blisters but I first got these for a marathon in 2012 and have not had a blister since I wear them!
  • Our Pilgrim Ointment – This is a cream we give our clients as part of their pilgrim kits and we received numerous feedback telling us it was miraculous! You can describe it as some sort of Tiger Balm with extra vaseline. It contains Camphor, Arnica, Eucalyptus, Aloe Vera… I like to rub it on my feet in the morning before putting my socks on and again whenever I stop. It helps avoid blisters, soothing mosquito bites and sunburns, relieve muscle aches, unblock your nose…
  • NOK cream – If going on a long distance walk of over a week, I like to rub NOK cream into my feet and hands once a day a week or two before and during the trip to toughen the skin and ensure I avoid blisters. Not a pretty look but very efficient. It particularly helps to avoid getting hurt by the wrist strapes of the walking poles.

As for the most useless things I’ve seen people bring, I would not say it was useless because that pilgrim certainly stood out and he seemed to be having so much fun but twice on the Camino (in different years) I met a gentleman walking with an orange teddy bear and wearing a pink tutu.

How do you bring things with you?

Personnally, when travelling on the Camino I get my luggage transferred from hotel to hotel so in this case the size and shape of my main bag does not matter as long as it stays within the maximum allowed weight of 20kg. I then have a small day pack to carry my camel pack, a poncho, the guidebook, the pilgrim passport (inside a zip bag) my phone and some snacks.

When walking with a bag, I use a Decathlon / Quechua 50L backpack specially fitted for women’s body https://www.decathlon.es/mochila-forclaz-easyfit-50litros-mujer-id_8300840.html. It is lightweight, offers plenty of storage in different places so you can separate your belongings, has a incorporated rain cover and a little pouch at the front to keep cash and the all important pilgrim passport that you need to be able to take out regularly for a new stamp.

I travelled around the world 14 months with this backpack and thought it offered plenty of space for what I needed.

What are your top tips for other Camino de Santiago hikers?

On the Camino, you want to keep the total weight of your backpack under 8 kg + water or 10% of your weight.

To get the lightest pack, I recommend planning what you are going to bring in advance. I would put it everything I plan on bringing with me on the floor or a bed and weight each item individually with a kitchen scale. Make a list of what you are taking and its weight. Leave everything that is not essential or that can be switched to a lighter alternative. After a few days on the trail, you will find several items that you have not used yet, leave them behind or mail them home. But remember to keep some items that make you happy or help you feel like yourself (maybe a nice tee shirt or some make up) it will help you feel better after a tough day.

If you want an easier journey and not have to worry about the weight, arrange for your backpack to be transfered from place to place. You can get this service arranged by your hotel or a private albergue or through us at Ultreya Tours. You will just need to know in advance where you will be staying. Please note, it is not possible to send a luggage to an “Albergue Municipal” or a “Donativo”.

If you want an even more stressfree journey on the Camino de Santiago with quality accommodation, gourmet meals, luggage transfers and 24/7 assistance… go to our website and contact us for a customised quote!

¡Buen Camino!

Visit Nellie Meunier’s website

I live on the West Coast of Canada. I love about climbing, hiking and travelling.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Camino de Santiago hikers bring?

I did not carry a sleeping bag. Instead I picked up a very cheap sleep sheet made from polyester. (Silk ones costs 10 times as much.) This is for hygiene purposes, as albergues don’t usually clean the beds or their blankets every day. It also is very comfy when its really hot out. I also picked up a cheap, small blanket. Mine was wool, but fleece works too. I carried this blanket for times when albergues didn’t provide them.

I also bought a small, bumpy plastic ball from a sports store. The ball is designed to roll out tired and tight muscles. This weighed almost nothing, but helped me stay healthy. Everyone wanted to borrow it!

The one thing that amazed me was that people would bring full-sized shampoo, conditioner, soap and lotion. They were in heavy glass jars sometimes! You walk by well-stocked stores and pharmacies all the time, many of which sell travel sized toiletries.

The other strange thing I saw people carry was a sleeping mat. There is no need to sleep outside. As long as you are a bit flexible, you will always find a bed.

How do you bring things with you?

My bag was the Osprey Tempest 30. My stuff took up about half the space in my bag. I used the rest of the space for snacks and my bottle. But it was never very full. I used a plastic bag for my toiletries, as they could leak. I had an old stuff sack laying around, where I kept my food. That’s all the organizing I did. There were only a few things in there, so it didn’t really need to be organized.

If you plan to carry your bag yourself and it is bigger than 30 or 35 L, you should think hard about what you are bringing.

What are your top tips for other Camino de Santiago hikers?

My number one tip for Camino hikers is not to rush. The first 5 days are the hardest on your body, so just take it slow.

The other bit of advice is to figure out what is most important to you about your Camino. Some people want to walk every step of the way, carrying their own bag, without taking a bus or taxi. This is a fine goal, but it’s not the only way to walk a pilgrimage. Your goal could be to focus on your spiritual growth. Or to take care of other people in need that you find along the way. Or end the walk in better shape (emotionally and physically) than you started it.

Visit Jes’ website

Tom Cooks
I was born in Italy, then moved around Europe chasing job opportunities as a designer and developer; this allowed me to get in touch with different cultures and lifestyles, but as my career improved so did overworking and burnouts. I’ve understood how important it is to learn how to separate work and personal life, and how stressful it can be for one’s mind and body to constantly be available and having to deal with critical bugs, 24/7 support and difficult management.

It’s exactly a particularly toxic work Skype call with an unreasonable boss that in 2013 pushed me to send my resignation e-mail, pack a small backpack and catch the first train towards Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, where my 1631km Camino de Santiago began. I began walking on the border between French and Spain and walked the French Way of Saint James to Finisterra; I swam a bit in the ocean and then headed down following the Portuguese Camino and the Camino de Fatima backwards, until I reached Lisbon.

I’m currently preparing the third chapter of my adventure: from Istanbul to Ulaanbaatar, on a vintage scooter – let’s see.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Camino de Santiago hikers bring?

The most valuable possession during my I brought with me was a keffiyeh, a traditional middle-eastern square scarf.

The next important thing for me was the cooking set, this allowed me to save a lot of money and make more friends on the way thanks to the impromptu late night dinners I cooked for other pilgrims

Lastly, I think that one of my most important belongings on the Camino de Santiago were my fisherman cotton pants, which i hand sewn and are still rocking nowadays.

A high quality kefia can help you by providing warmth at night and on chilly the mountain tops you’ll find on the Way: you can wear it as a scarf and as a blanket to cover youself up in case you sleep in the woods; when things get tough because of the excessive heat, especially in the torrid planes of northern Spain where you don’t see a water fountain for miles, a wet kefia wrapped around your temples or neck can cool you down in seconds, and shade your head from the hard sun. Lastly, you can fold it in several different ways and make an impromptu bag out of it, useful for packing your food supplies, carry bottles of wine at those secret parties that happen at night, or extra gear that you’re carrying for someone that got injured while walking.

A cooking set, even a cheap aluminium pot and pan, is a great set of tools to save money. During your daily walk look out for cheap markets (those around the pilgrim hospices tend to be way more expensive) and buy local food; use this opportunity to learn some of the local language and food traditions from locals, especially from friendly seniors. Cooking your own meals helps you appreciate the local culture and, together with some wine, helps you build the network of friends which you will share the Camino with.

Having a very light set of fisherman cotton trousers (look up “thai fisherman trousers” or “kangkeng le”, i’m sure you’ve seen a thousand digital-nomad-douchebags sporting those) allows your lower half to breathe, is as light as a pair of ultralight hiking pants, you can roll them up and down according to the weather, can be made wet and help you cooling down as you walk, can be repaired with a simple needle and thread (which most pilgrim hostels, hospices and monasteries usually are more than happy to share).

Bring a carabiner, one of those sturdy cheap ones you can find at any hardware store; remember to buy only carabiners that can actually sustain your weight, otherwise they’re useless trinkets that will break during emergencies. Attach it to your backpack, you’ll thank me when you’re going to find yourself in a public shower where some idiot has broken off all the hooks, and you’ll be able to attach your belongings to the door handle without them falling down as soon as someone turns the handle on the other side.

Ah, bring condoms!

The most useless things i’ve seen people bring on the camino are guides, camping chairs, tablets, spray cans to pave the way with bad graffiti and bluetooth speakers. Loud, obnoxious millennials need to be shot.

How do you bring things with you?

I usually pick a pack that is way smaller than I need. This forces me to reconsider carrying too much and to travel light; less grams equals more kilometers per day, and it’s only because of my ridiculously small 20lt backpack (my beloved Quechua Arpenaz 20XC , the cheapest backpack I could find) that I managed to do 60+ km stretches on my Camino de Santiago.

I’m not a fan of famous brands, mostly because I cannot afford them, so I’m usually sporting cheap knockoffs or military surplus. The advantages are that they are usually extremely cheap, durable and can be repaired by yourself or any friendly older lady you meet in those tiny godforsaken villages.

When packing I make sure I include the big C’s (cordage, cutting, cleaning, cover, container, combustion), which usually cover most emergencies:

  • a small knife (with non locking blade, to comply with EU regulations)
  • some meters of light cordage (paracord or unscented dental floss if you want to play ultralight retard)
  • a cleaning/medical kit with nature-friendly bar soap (so you avoid polluting), toothbrush (which you can cut in half to play UL and feel hardcore), needles, thread, bandages, a small bottle of antiseptic to cure wounds, gauzes, sunscreen and a bag of baking soda so you can brush your teeth and keep those armpits bearable for the pilgrims around you
  • a tarp to sleep in
  • a thermos or sealable camping aluminium bottle so you can boil water on an open fire and carry it with you
  • the cheapest lighter you can buy/steal, it’s always useful and doesn’t weight anything

On top of that I add a lamp, a cheap yoga mat i cut to the length of my torso, a cheap jacket, my trusty LIDL multitool, an emergency blanket, a bag of sugar or two to help who feels nauseous and fainting, and a dumbphone for emergency calls which i keep off.

What are your top tips for other Camino de Santiago hikers?

I use this well tested method to pack light: put all the gear you need for your Camino de Santiago on the floor, inspect everything you put there and reconsider every piece of gear until you’ve halved the amount of items. Go hike for a weekend, using only the items you’ve isolated; now that you have chosen the right amount of gear shave it in half again, that’s where you find what you _actually_ will need.

Anything else, especially considering that you’ll be walking in the middle of Europe where shops and markets abound (except on Sundays), can be bought/shared/traded as needed. Leave guides and maps at home, playing it by ear will allow you to experience a real pilgrimage.

Bring some more money instead, so that you can buy a meal for a homeless person or an extra bottle of wine when you meet a cute pilgrim to spend the night stargazing with!

Keep track of Tom Cooks’ shenanigans on Instagram

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