May 1, 2012 - Posted by Erin in Spain, Travel, Travels in Europe, Travels in Spain

Sure most of you may not be hitting the Camino trail any time soon, but you never know when you might want to grab your backpack and start hiking. With that in mind, I thought I’d share with you my Camino packing list and all its 7 kilos of glory.

1. Full sleeping bag – I heard horror stories about bed bugs in the albergues (hostels), so it was recommended to bring a sleeping bag that extended to the head. Also, most of the albergues are reasonably warm (if not hot), so don’t bother bringing anything too heavy-duty.
2. Expandable shopping bag to carry valuable items, such as your camera and wallet, should you want to leave the albergue during the evenings. Think of it as a collapsible purse (or murse, for you gentlemen).
3. Swiss Army knife for important Spanish tasks like chopping chorizo and uncorking a bottle of wine.
4. Ear plugs because you will inevitably be sleeping in the vicinity of one extremely loud snorer every single night of your journey.
5. Essential documents like your passport and Camino credential (which you can get at most larger albergues when you start the trek).

The pilgrim credential, which you get stamped along the way. Eventually, you present it in Santiago to demonstrate where your Camino began.

6. Plastic zip-lock bag to store your documents (including those mentioned above, but eventually also your certificate) so that they are protected, especially if it rains. You might even want one that can go around your neck, like Ana below, as you will want easy access to your Camino credential at all stops along the way (albergues, bars, churches, etc).
7. Three pairs of socks so that you always have at least one clean, DRY, pair. Even better, if you can find yourself some quick-dry socks that don’t take at least two days to dry like mine did (in which case, just hang them on your backpack and hope for the best).
8. Two sets of clothes – one for day and one for night. My advice is to ideally have interchangeable day and night outfits on the off chance that your day outfit is too wet or dirty to wear (as was the case for me in the picture below). For hiking, I brought a dry-fit t-shirt, hoody and pair of pants. Then, for the evenings I had a cotton tee and extra-light Zara pants, which were totally wearable on the trail as well.
9. An extra layer depending on the time of year. I brought an additional cotton hoody (with pockets!) and am so glad I did. It was small enough to pack away, but provided extra warmth both during the day and at night.

10. A scarf because it’s fashionable and functional. Enough said.
11. Trail shoes, but there is some debate about which kind. Given the uncertainty, I decided I was too cheap to invest in a possibly unnecessary pair of shoes, and instead opted to use my sneakers. The sneaker benefit: they’re light, dry quickly, and I didn’t need to break them in. The downside: they didn’t provide much support in the toe area, thus the blisters and other issues. I also heard that proper hiking boots aren’t appropriate as they are too stiff. It sounds like the ideal shoe is something in between, which provides support, but doesn’t go overboard.
12. Flip flops for showering, and because at the end of the day you’ll want to wear anything but your day shoes.
13. Quick-dry towel for the very necessary end-of-day shower.
14. Crummy-weather gear such as gloves, a rain poncho and pants, a backpack rain cover (very important!) and even a hat. I sported a dry-fit baseball cap, which was great at keeping the rain out of my face, and also drying quickly.

Me rocking my rain gear while West Coast representing. And yes, I randomly came across that garage tag in the middle of nowhere. California love, yo.


15. Thread, iodine and a sterile sewing needle – and this is where things get gnarly. If you get blisters, word on the Camino is that you should thread a needle, then puncture the blister, leaving the thread running through the blister and cut at both ends. Finish it by dousing it in a little iodine. Supposedly this keeps the blister from getting any larger. After attempts on a few of my seven blisters, I’m still uncertain whether it worked, but desperate times called for desperate measures, so why not?
16. Travel-sized clothing detergent – I might have been a touch neurotic about washing my clothes, but somehow knowing that I had clean gear waiting for me in the morning made waking up and hitting the trail a whole lot easier.
17. Other first aid items such as band aids, ibuprofen and even an ace bandage (that is, if you start with an already messed-up ankle like I did).
18. Other obvious items: toothbrush, shampoo, pijamas, camera, sunscreen, a few pairs of underwear, phone and chargers (assuming you want to stay connected like I did).

The certificate I received in Santiago de Compostela, verifying that I completed the Camino.

Finally, I’m including the trailer to the movie The Way. It’s not an especially stellar film, but it does an exceptionally good job at capturing the sentiment behind the experience. Anyone remotely interested (or not so remotely) will surely become more motivated to do so after seeing the flick.

*Check back next week as I will be posting a video from the trail, and hopefully some pictures on Facebook to go along with it.


12 Responses to “Camino packing list”

  1. Cassandra Says:

    This is helpful, I’m bookmarking it for one day when I actually get around to hiking the camino!

    PS. #s 3 and 10 made me giggle.

    PPS. Congrats on your camino accomplishment!!

  2. Erin Says:

    Girrrl, you have no idea how much I tried/wanted to look somewhat fashionable on the trek, but apart from that darn scarf, it was totally a lost cause. Oh yeah, and after about five minutes of hiking I plain didn’t care anymore. Still glad I had that scarf, though!

    Looking forward to reading about your Camino one of these days!

  3. Rebe Says:

    Thanks! Hopefully I’ll need this info in the future; the Camino is on my “Spain bucket list,” but I don’t know if it’ll happen this trip. Where did you buy the travel-sized clothing detergent?

  4. Erin Says:

    How you can make it happen!

    I found the detergent at El Corte Inglés. This is the stuff:

  5. Kristen - Anywhere There's An Airport Says:

    Excellent List. One day… one day when I do this, you will have to give me a refresher course. 🙂 You make it look fun! 🙂

  6. Jeremy Branham Says:

    A few years ago, I visited Santiago de Compostela. Unfortunately for me, I was there at night and didn’t get to see the city during the day. I’ve read stories about the journey people make on the trail and how it is has changed their lives.

    I’ve never thought about doing it but it’s something I would consider. I really enjoyed my time in Spain and am thankful there are experiences like this that challenge the soul.

  7. Jarmo Says:

    That definitely got me curious about the camino trail, mind you it is quite a long walk 🙂 So this might come in handy 😉

  8. Jules - julesgoesgreen Says:

    What an amazing accomplishment! I love your blog and am planning our dream trip to Spain for 2013. Love all your pictures too and your fairytale romance!

  9. Renee Says:

    Thanks for posting a realistic packing list! Did you wear yoga pants? Trying to avoid convertible pants if possible and not sure what my practical options are. Also, I have mostly running/yoga gear that I’m planning on using…do you think running shoes & chacos would be enough for the trail? Opinions seem to swing from hiking boots are essential to sandals would be ok because it’s more of a walk than hike. Any and All packing tips welcomed! Especially of the modern gal variety. 😉

  10. Erin Says:

    Hi Renee! Regarding my pants, I just brought one set of day clothes, which included the nike dry-fit pants you see above, and then other nike dry-fit gear, like a t-shirt, fleece hoody and sports bra — all because I knew they’d be comfy, breathe well, and dry fast. They worked pretty well – my only beef with the pants was that when it rained, the bottom half just got drenched and dirty. Not sure how to avoid that, though (hope for no rain?).

    As for the shoes, as I mentioned above, I don’t think regular running shoes is a wise choice. I walked for eight days and my feet were DESTROYED (and my (Asics) running shoes were well broken in prior to the Camino). I really think that you do need something with a little more support – not because the terrain is tremendously intense (although there are definitely decent inclines where you’ll be huffing and puffing, like a lot), but because you’re simply walking for such a great distance that your feet just can’t slush around in a relatively support-less shoe for that long. Similarly, I hear that super, ultra hiking books are too stiff. Try to find something in between, and then come prepared with the right socks (I’ve heard wool socks work wonders in terms of keeping things dry….) and proper treatments (there are all sorts of tricks, from those I mentioned above with the needle and thread, to rubbing your feet daily with olive oil (no joke, I know one guy who did it the whole Camino and had no blisters….you can be sure he had nasty socks though!)).

    Hope this helps!

  11. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas Says:

    Erin, not sure if you’ll see this. I’m leaving today for a month in Coruna before hitting the trail, and I’m debating bringing my DSLR. It looks like Candace has one dangling around her neck…but would you suggest it? I’m bringing my GoPro, but hate that it doesn’t have different aperture settings or allow you to view the photos. Let me know if you can, please!

  12. Erin Says:

    Hey Cat! I personally wouldn’t recommend it just because every flippin’ ounce will weigh you down, and because — for me anyway — it was about the experience, not getting the perfect shot. Also, I didn’t want to worry about lugging it around my neck or it possibly getting stolen at an albergue — rather, I just carried my camera and cell in my pocket and went on my merry way. Ultimately, I think it really depends on what your objectives are, though: If it’s really important to you to get that perfect shot, and you don’t mind the extra luggage, then by all means bring it (Candace even brought her laptop!!!). I love taking good shots, but in the end, I found that my Lumix point-and-shoot and my cell phone captured all that I felt I needed to capture.

    Buen camino, my friend! Get ready for the experience of a lifetime! x

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