Saturday, February 9, 2013

What to bring to the Camino? A Packing List for the Camino de Santiago

Please also see my updated packing list: Pinay Pilgrim's Camino de Santiago Packing List.  I updated this list after my Camino pilgrimage.


I have researched quite a bit on what I should bring to the Camino for a late March to April hike.  I checked yearly weather conditions and generally, during these months, temperatures range from between about 6 to 18 degrees Celsius -- not exactly warm.  Weather is also reported to be unpredictable, with possibly, rain, wind, even snow.

I also read that one should bring just 10% of one's body weight to have a reasonably comfortable hike.  This means that I can only bring about 5.2 kilos, and need to carefully consider the weight of each piece of equipment and determine the function to weight ratio for each.

I spent quite a bit of time agonizing on what footwear to bring. I considered using my old hiking shoes, but they were a bit clunky, and with bottoms a bit worn.  I read that most of the Camino would be on asphalt roads, and not really trails, so I also thought about using trail running shoes or lightweight hikers, such as Salomons.  After much research and time trying out shoes at different outdoor stores, I settled for a pair of Jack Wolfskin Texapore hiking boots***. Okay, they were on sale, but they also gave the proper support for my ankles where I always encounter problems.  I am still breaking them in and testing them out.

Another thing I am spending a lot of time thinking about is whether to bring a sleeping bag or a silk liner.  It is necessary to bring one or the other as one will sleep in albergues/hostels.  Since I read that some hostels might not have enough heating, I will bring a sleeping bag even though it is much heavier. I had previously even considered bringing a down bag, but I think a lightweight sleeping bag rated to +10 degrees and wearing my wool thermals if it gets really cold should be enough.

I was planning to bring my Swiss knife but since I will be getting on a flight with only carry-on luggage allowed, I bought a folding Opinel knife with a 6 cm blade (per some suggestions I read on camino forums).  According to EU regulations on hand luggage, a knife with a blade of more than 6 cms is not allowed as hand luggage on air flights.  I could try to bring the knife as a handcarry and technically, it should be okay, but as it was less than 7 euros, I could also just leave it after the hike.

I looked at a lot of packing lists suggested on the web and came up with my own list.

Here then is my packing list:

Backpack with 2 liter water bladder and rain cover (28 liter Deuter)
Ortlieb drybag with compression valve (12 liters)*
Hiking boots with ankle support***
Small Opinel folding knife
Spork (spoon/fork)
Folding mug
500 ml Nalgene bottle
Lightweight travel towel (Drylite Sea to Summit)
Lightweight sleeping bag (+10 degrees rating at least in cold weather)
Lightweight headlamp
Tying Rope (for making a clothesline)
Small tweezers (from Swiss knife)

Clothes (all lightweight wool/synthetic material and quick drying):
Hiking pants (with belt)
Extra lightweight pair of pants
1-2 long sleeve tops for hiking
2 short sleeve tops
1 set of wool thermals, top and bottom, for sleeping**
2 sports bras
4 underpants
3 hiking socks
1 Teva sandals, for showering and changing into at the hostels
Fleece sweater
Lightweight polypropylene gloves
Lightweight polypropylene cap
Hiking hat (for sun/rain)
Light windbreaker
Reading glasses and small screwdriver

Important Stuff:
Money belt
Passport/residence card (and photocopies)
Health insurance card
Cash/credit card
Cellphone and charger
Journal (write emergency numbers/contacts)
Travel Documents (booking certificates/train and flight tickets)
Guide to Camino (itinerary, distances, hike profile, list of albergues)
Pilgrim Passport
Pilgrim shell

Toiletries (all in a Toiletries organizer, bring only small packs of maybe 100 ml of the disposables -- you can resupply along the way):
Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Soap (in a soap case, or if liquid, in a 100 ml refillable plastic bottle)
Shampoo (in a 100 ml refillable plastic bottle)
Nail clipper
Toilet paper (half a roll, usually there is ample supply in the hostels)
Sanitary Napkins
Disposable razor
Hand Tissues
Laundry soap (liquid soap is easier to use)

Medical Kit:
Blister tape
Blister stick/Foot ointments (Compeed blister stick, Voltaren gel, Hirschtalg/Milchfett)
Ibuprofen (Alvedon, Voltaren)
Paracetamol (Biogesic, Tylenol, Advil)
Antihistamine (Anti-allergy medicine)
Anti-diarrhea medicine
Katinko/Anti-itch cream

Miscellaneous Items:
Waterproof bag
Sewing Kit
Safety pins (to pin wet clothes onto backpack to dry)
Earplugs (important to get a good nights sleep)
Extra Ziploc bags

Food to carry (just buy along the way):
Bread and cheese
Dried fruits and nuts
Energy bar

*This was one thing that was not in my original packing list but added at the last minute -- I found it to be very useful in my camino.  It was an Ortlieb drybag (12 liters) with a compression valve.  This allowed me to just stuff all my clothes and compress them so that it fit into my small pack.  It was also great to have a toiletries bag so all of my toiletries were in one place.

**wool thermals for cold weather, but shorts and a shirt for sleeping would be great in warmer weather.

**I did not use the Jack Wolfskin boots as they felt a bit thin-soled and uncomfortable after a few days of testing.  I finally used a pair of Lowe Renegade Goretex boots which were quite good (after a few days to a week of breaking in).  I appreciated the ankle support it gave.  I also saw a lot of others using Salomon Goretex trail runners XA Pro 3d Ultra2 -- I think this might be my choice if I were to walk the Camino again, but will look for some with more ankle support. It is a good idea to invest in a good pair of shoes, and break them in well!

Note: Updated after my camino, these were the things that I had and needed during the walk. I think it is better to have a lightweight sleeping bag, whether in cold or warm weather. Remember to choose equipment with lightest weight and maximum utility.

Note 2: I rewrote the above packing list into a tabular form for easier reading. Refer to: Pinay Pilgrim's Camino de Santiago Packing List


  1. Nice list. I have always taken a lightweight dark colored poly-cotton embroidered Mexican dress to sleep in and wear in the evenings, even to dinner. It is great to put on after taking a shower. If it is cold, I layer it with long-sleeved shirt, pants, jacket -- may not look fabulous that way, but keeps out the weather.

    1. Great idea, Linnea! Thanks for the tip. Will try that out next time.