How to prepare your backpack

One of the first questions that arise when we took the step forward and decide to walk El Camino de Santiago is usually what to carry? How much weight can or should I carry? What do I really need? What is the best backpack? What kind of shoes should I wear?...
Today we will talk about the basic equipment that we should carry.

Packing is a very personal thing, but for the Camino de Santiago, we have to remember that less is more. In this little tip, we are going to give you a suggestion on what we consider is the more logical approach to what a pilgrim that is going to do a full Camino needs.

camino de santiago backpack

Credit @otcamino

The basics

Footwear: It is the most delicate point. It is essential to wear appropriate footwear. In the sports shops, you can find trekking, running, boots or the most suitable shoes for you. It should be worn for a couple of months before starting the trip. Those who wear new footwear or make the Way with inappropriate footwear may end up leaving because of discomfort. In my humble opinion, trecking or hiking sneakers are the best option.

Hiking pants: It is important that they are worn. Practical and comfortable. They will be used for walking every day. It may be a good idea to wear a raincoat for your trousers in case rain makes an appearance.

Shorts: In summer you can use them to sleep, to walk during the hottest days and even to take a dip in any of the pools or rivers that abound along the Camino de Santiago. (recommended 2)

Sweatshirt or jersey: Comfortable, lightweight. It will provide good service on the coldest days, but it should not be forgotten that it will have to be carried on the hottest days.

T-shirts: It is recommended that they are synthetic/technical as they are easier to dry, weigh less and are fresher to walk. (recommended 3)

Seamless socks: really important to avoid any kind of blisters and discomfort while walking. (recommended 3)

Three or four cloth pins to dry the clothes: They can be very useful.

Underwear: this is another personal item, in my case I wear always running shorts so there was no need for underwear. For the common people I suggest 3 pairs. As we will be washing it every day, one for each day and an extra one.

Slippers: Essential to use in the showers of the shelters and to rest the feet of the long walks.

Toiletries: look for the small size bottles, you can always refill them during your Camino or buy new ones.

Water bottle: a camel bag or a 1’5 litre water bottle is recommendable.

Soap-bar: to wash your clothes at the end of the day.

Vaseline: Applying a small amount of Vaseline to your feet before each day will help prevent the appearance of the always uncomfortable blisters.

Sunscreen: Essential.

Documentation: DNI, insurance card (in the case of foreign pilgrims, the European health card) and credit card. It is also advisable to always carry some cash with you.

Raincoat: Indispensable so that it does not surprise a shower of unforeseen.

Mobile phone and charger: Carrying a mobile phone can be an advantage or a burden. There are walkers who dedicate themselves to look for the screen of their telephone instead of to the landscapes that surround them. However, walking with a mobile phone can be of great help in the event that someone finds themselves immersed in an emergency.

Credential: The document that accredits the person as a pilgrim.

Backpack: It is recommended to look for a backpack that is comfortable for you. If possible, it should be adjustable and should not move while walking to avoid scratches. We will never exceed 40 litres.

Sleeping bag: depending on the time of the year be aware of the temperatures. Some albergues can be cold and have blankets but others don’t. In this case, the correct election will depend on your comfort temperature. Always try to carry the lightest one.

Hat: for the rain or for the sun it is always a great ally.


Recommended items

It is also recommendable but not essential to carry the following items.

  • Headlamp
  • First aid kit
  • Waterproof bag
  • Hiking poles (some people like it some others don’t)
  • Raincover for your backpack
  • Knife
first aid kit
Packing for El Camino de Santiago depends a lot on the time of the year, your physical health and the distance that you are going to walk. The number one rule is you should never carry more than 10% of your weight. Approx.

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