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Packing for the Camino

Hikers on the trail spend a lot of time thinking about what they packed. Almost everyone packs too much, and usually much too much. It is not uncommon for hikers to mail home as much as half of their pack.

I was fortunate that my sister had already hiked part of the trail (thank you, Linda!) because she was able to prepare me for what I would need.

A good packing goal: 10-15 pounds (4.5 - 6.5 kg) not including food or water.

About the trail:

And finally: We noticed that long pants (especially jeans) topped the list of items most likely to be left on the trail by hikers wishing to reduce weight.

Absolute Minimum Packing (~ 8 lb = 3.6 kg total weight)

  • 2 pairs of short pants (wear one, pack one), OR one pair of shorts and one pair of long pants (long pants for evenings only)
  • 2 pairs of short-sleeve shirts (wear one)
  • 2 pairs of underwear (wear one)
  • 3 pairs of socks (wear one)
  • 1 long sleeve lightweight fleece shirt / jacket
  • 1 pair of shoes (which you wear while hiking)
  • Rain poncho: make sure that it can cover both you and your pack
  • Sun hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Flip flops or sandals - These are good for wearing around the albergue, especially to and from the showers. If you take sturdier sandals (such Teva sandals) then you can wear them for restaurants and shopping as well, to give your hiking shoes a rest.
  • Small, lightweight blanket (fleece) OR a lightweight sleeping bag. Remember that albergues are heated, so you will not need cold-weather sleeping gear at any time.
  • Suntan lotion
  • Antiseptic cream (e.g. Neosporin or similar)
  • Lip balm (e.g. Chapstick or similar)
  • Cloth tape for blisters (also good to use before the blister forms, for prevention)
  • Band-aids, again primarily for blisters
  • Sterile gauze bandages for emergencies
  • Underarm deodorant (travel size)
  • Soap (many hikers cut a standard bar in half) - used to wash body, hair, and clothes
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste (travel-size)
  • Floss (sample-size)
  • Wash cloth - use to wash with, and then, after the shower, use it to sponge off excess water from your body (wringing it out as necessary)
  • Lightweight dish rag - after sponging off most of the water from your body with the wash cloth, use the dish rag to get yourself fully dry.
  • Two packs of tissues (travel-sized) - these are also used for emergency toilet paper since many bathrooms on the trail have no toilet paper.
  • Comb
  • Passport
  • Pilgrims credentials - obtain these at the albergue or church where you start the trail
  • Credit card (1)
  • ATM card
  • Your pack: Either
    1. Make sure the pack is lined so that if you sweat the contents are protected, or
    2. Use plastic bags to protect the contents.
    Note 1: Remember that packs themselves can be pretty heavy. Do not purchase a pack which is more than you need.
    Note 2: If you use plastic bags, be especially careful to *not* rustle the plastic when others are sleeping (this is the number 1 complaint on the trail). If you need to rustle plastic, carry your pack outside the dormitories.
  • Thin, nylon clothesline, about 8-feet (2.5m) long - useful for hanging wet clothes inside in case it is raining outside
  • Water bottle - most pilgrims simply purchase and use a 1.5 liter bottle from a store in Spain (available everywhere), and then will refill it from taps or fountains which they find alongside the trail.
  • Safety pins - For hanging things on clotheslines or your pack, for draining blisters, and for emergency clothes repairs.
  • Pen knife with scissors

Highly Recommended (~ 2 lb = 1 kg of additional weight)

Recommended Luxuries (~ 2 lb = 1 kg of additional weight)

Probably Not Worth It

My philosophy is that, as long as your pack is fairly light (i.e. less than 15 pounds = 6.5 kg), then you can bring whatever you want. However, as we were hiking along the trail we heard many of the following items mentioned as examples of poor packing. Some things which I started with and which I abandoned or didn't really need: