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).
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.
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).
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.