The Ultimate Packing List for the Camino
Packing List – Introduction
In the weeks and months leading up to your Camino, all you can do to prepare is build up your fitness and make sure your packing list is complete. We’ve compiled an extensive list of everything you need for a perfect Camino de Santiago. This list has a lot in common with any packing list for an extended hike so feel free to share with anyone planning an adventure!
- 1 Packing List – Introduction
- 2 Backpack/Rucksack
- 3 Clothes
- 4 Walking Apparatus
- 5 Technical Devices & Communication
- 6 Sun Protection
- 7 Specific to the Camino de Santiago
- 8 Toiletries
- 9 Other
- 10 What you don’t need to pack
You can’t have a packing list without a pack! It is really important to choose the right backpack. Remember, you need to consider:
The size for many packs are given in Liters. For a Summer Camino, you don’t need any more than 30L, and I’ve seen some people with as little as 20L. Taking a pack that is small will force you to pack light, and you’ll thank yourself 3 or 4 days into the Camino. As for shape, watch out for bags that allow air circulation in between your back and the pack itself to prevent you from getting too sweaty. If you are travelling in a cheap intra-euro flight that charges extra for check-in baggage, choose a pack that can squeeze down to fit into cabin and just carry your jacket in your hand. Finally, you want to ensure the straps are a good fit, and will allow you to hold as much of the weight of the backpack as possible on your hips rather than on your shoulders.
- 2 pairs of shorts
- Summer: 1 pair of light trousers or zip-able extension to shorts / Winter: 2 pairs of quick drying hiking trousers
- Fleece. In summer just a light one for the evenings, and in winter again it must be quick drying.
- 2 tshirts
- 2 pairs of walking/hiking socks. You can get special ones that are designed to minimize blisters.
- A rain jacket or waterproof poncho. They may be expensive, but those 2-in-1 rain jackets with attachable fleece are really useful. Together with a fleece this is probably the biggest item in your packing list.
- 2 or 3 changes of underwear
Many people just have a single walking pole, though some go with two. You can buy in advance cheaply from an outdoors shop but also along the way too.
Even more than getting a nicely fitting backpack, your choice of footwear is the most important thing to get right. If your boots don’t fit well, then you’ll risk pain, blisters, and lack of support on rocky hill climbs and descents.
Note that in the more pleasant months you can get away with good sneakers/trainers rather than a walking boot. This is a trade off of comfort against ankle support.
Also, bring sandals/flip-flops to wear in the evenings when you finish walking. Your feet need a rest!
Technical Devices & Communication
You have a choice to make here. Either:
- Go for a smart phone that saves you from needing to carry a camera, music player, allows you to skype/whatsapp home, download walking instructions.
- Go for an old phone that has a battery that lasts 4/5 days and allows you to experience peace and disconnect from the outside world and your Facebook updates!
Either way, you’ll need both the phone and the charger. If your phone charges via a standard USB, then instead of bringing your home countries USB->Power adapter and buying a Spanish power converter, you can just buy a USB->Spanish Power adapter. They are smaller than some countries power adapters anyway (UK!).
They are far from necessary, but they incredibly interesting for those geeks among us to understand your activity during the day. You can read more about the options, and you can also look at some real statistics from my second Camino.
Other Technical Devices
- Torch, or:
- A headlamp/headband with light attached. This frees up your hands to carry the walking pole in one and water bottle or map in another.
- A camera and charger, if your phone is not enough
- A phone charging pack, you can recharge the pack in the night and keep it for emergencies the next day. This is essential if you are using a smartphone for music and photos. You can get a pack that will last you the whole day for around £10-15 ($15-$25)
- MP3/music player
- Ebook reader
- Power converter/adapter
- Sun cream/ Sun screen. Best to be safe with a higher than necessary factor. Even if you don’t plan to walk much during the peak sunshine hours you can’t tell when you’ll get lost of run off plan… It’s not worth the risk of walking with a bad burn the next day!
- Sun hat/cap
- Sunglasses. Don’t buy the cheap fake ones as these often have very poor actual sun protection and are just tinted to look the part.
Specific to the Camino de Santiago
- A shell to adorn your pack
- A rock. You’ll carry it along your way and drop it at the Cruz de Hierro.
- Map/Route guide to the Camino
- Small toothpaste
- Travel toothbrush
- Shower gel/shampoo all-in-one
- Sports/hiking towel – one of those small, light ones that absorb water easily and dry quickly
- Other toiletries
- A sleeping bag in the colder months, or just a silk sleeping bag liner for the warmest summer months.
- Earplugs for the night. A tip for this when searching on Amazon or similar is to check for those that musicians use – these are often the most efficient.
- Book/reading material if you want so alone time, you can exchange this in some places once you finish.
- Wallet, better if waterproof
- EHIC (European Health Insurance) for EU residents or some proof of medical insurance for non-EU
- Spare credit/bank card
- Spare Euros for emergencies
- Soap/detergent for hand washing clothes
- Health/first aid kit
- Blister protection/treatment. Compeed is an amazing brand that works wonders on blisters.
- Bug spray. Bed bugs, mosquitoes and other insects will cause you problems along the way.
- Swimwear, there’s a few chances to use it, if it’s a nice day it’s worth it!
- A small knife/scissors for dealing with blisters or opening things.
- A lock for your pack, for peace of mind as you fall asleep in a crowded dorm
- Money belts are really useful for any travel. The Camino is safe, but for some emergency cash it’s best to be secure. We’ve talked about different types of money belts here.
What you don’t need to pack
- Many packing lists include a water bottle, but it’s not essential. You can just buy bottled water along the way and reuse the bottle.