Packing for the Camino – Revisited

I had several comments on my previous Camino packing video, asking for a review once I had completed the Camino as to what worked and what didn’t work – and what would I take with me next time. So I have made a new video with this review in mind. My original pack was way too heavy – starting out at around 10kg. My new packing regime in light of my experience on the Camino has brought that weight down to just 6.35kg, which is far more manageable.

I’ll include my packing list below. But in the meantime, here is the video.

Lighten the clothes

I found that I had packed too many clothes last time, and didn’t account for the clothes I was wearing – I think it’s important to be able to go one full day without a clothes wash, as sometimes the weather won’t allow it to dry, or in some cases there aren’t the washing facilities to enable a full clothes wash.

Lighten the tech

I carried way too much tech on the Camino – the iPad, the travel hard drive and the camera all needed charging along with my phone. In the end, I found it was sufficient just to use the phone – oh and my camera. Next time I will leave the iPad and the travel hard drive at home, for a saving of 1.5kg. There are some who want to leave the phone behind too, but I like to have it for emergencies, and to book accommodation ahead where necessary. It is also a good way to stay in touch with family back home, who would worry about us on the road. The key thing is not be enslaved to the technology, but rather to have it available for use when needed. You can have peace of mind through having contact with others, as long as you are not glued to the screen when there are fellow pilgrims to meet and relate to.

Lighten the medical pack

I over-packed on blister care. You only need enough to last for a couple of days on the Camino as most larger towns have Farmacias (pharmacies or chemist shops), and many of the smaller places have automatic vending machines for blister care products, such as tape, band-aids, antiseptics, ibuprofen and paracetamol.

Lighten the ablutions

I found a solid bar shampoo – which washed my hair, my body and my clothes. Similarly, a pack of solid toothpaste tablets was much lighter than a tube of toothpaste – and lasted the whole Camino. You can be minimalist and still be hygienic 🙂

Little things that help

Safety pins – for hanging washing. The clothes won’t blow off the line, and if they’re still damp in the morning you can pin them to your pack to dry while you walk. And safety pins are lighter and less bulky than clothes pegs.

Fly-net – It was hard enough walking up the hills without choking on a fly determined to get some of your moisture. A fly-net over your hat can make walking much more comfortable!

Reflective tape – wrap it around your poles and on your pack to make yourself more visible to traffic in the dark – especially those early mornings. Several pilgrims have been killed because traffic did not see them.

elastic bands – keep your charging cables tidy, use them to keep bags rolled and clothes rolled within them. There are many uses for elastic bands!

spare zip-loc bags – to keep things waterproof (especially your credential and passport).

Camino pack

Camino pack

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Packing List

Your mileage may differ, but here is what I have settled on for my (revised) packing list. I’m happy for you to leave you constructive comments on anything I might have missed, or anything that you think was particularly worthwhile.

Backpack – Osprey 40-50 ltr, plus rain cover (medium)

Bum-bag – Active Leisure with two bottle pouches

Sleeping

  • padded sleeping bag liner (500g)
  • silk sleeping bag liner
  • blow up travel pillow (optional)

Clothes

  • one pair long trekking pants (and one to wear)
  • two merino base layers – long sleeve (and one to wear)
  • two pairs of hiking socks (and one to wear)
  • two pairs of sock liners (and one to wear)
  • one fleecy top long sleeve
  • one Goretex rain jacket
  • one pair waterproof overtrousers (optional)
  • one rain poncho (optional)
  • two pairs of mesh boxer shorts/underwear (and one to wear)
  • one sun hat
  • one merino beanie hat
  • one pair of gloves/cyclist fingerless gloves – for use with poles and/or for cold weather
  • one pair of ‘crocs’ sandals for evening wear
  • one pair of boots or trail runners – two sizes larger than your normal shoes

Trekking poles

  • one pair of poles – with rubber tips (NB: they are very cheap in most major towns along the Camino)

Water

  • your choice of water bottle, bladder or bottled water (the fountains are safe to drink from unless marked ‘agua non-potable’.)

Ablutions

Medicinals

  • tape and/or band-aids for blister care
  • antiseptic buds
  • sewing kit – needle and thread (for draining blisters)
  • ibuprofen (one card) painkillers
  • Imodium (one card) for upset stomach
  • vaseline
  • nail clippers
  • tweezers (in case of splinters or bee stings)
  • pocket pack of tissues
  • small sunblock lotion
  • hand sanitizer/wipes

Lavatory

  • one lightweight trowel (to bury one’s business)
  • some toilet tissue (in case of being caught short, or where toilet paper may be absent)
  • plastic bag – to dispose of used toilet tissue if used between formal toilets (don’t just leave it to blow around – bury it or carry it)

Tech (a personal choice)

  • phone with charging cable and plug (with Trek-Rite and Wise Pilgrim apps) and local SIM card or good roaming plan.
  • camera with charger and spare battery and SD cards
  • plug adapter
  • earphones
  • Headlamp (recommend 200 lumens)

Documents

  • Pilgrim credential
  • national passport
  • list of albergues with contact details and route/elevation chart (available at SJPdP)
  • visa card/wallet with some cash (ATMS not always available)

Utensils

  • lightweight knife and spork
  • corkscrew
  • 12 safety pins

Miscellaneous

  • Rock from home (for Cruz de Ferro)
  • notebook and pen (to exchange emails, make notes, record ideas etc)

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And that’s about it! Buen Camino 🙂

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If you’d like to read more about our Camino Frances in 2016, visit the index page here for all my Camino posts
or click on the link above 🙂

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20 Replies to “Packing for the Camino – Revisited”

  1. Suzanne Haberfield

    Fabulous.. thank you so much Jerry for putting the time & effort in for your followers!

    Reply
    • Jerry Everard Post author

      Thanks Suzanne – it’s great to get the feedback 🙂 I know that packing is a vexed issue for many – including myself! Cheers – Jerry

      Reply
  2. Susan Morris

    Instead of elastic band Jerry….Hair lackies are way stronger and do not snap as easily. I carried Nappy pins rather than ordinary safetypins. Also, because I am so short, I found a couple os S hooks invaluable for use in the bathrooms for when I could not reach the hooks provided. Just my two cents worth..:)
    .

    Reply
    • Jerry Everard Post author

      Thanks Susan – I can see how an S-hook would be helpful – I think I’ll add that to the list 🙂 Some shower stalls lacked hooks! And yes many people use nappy pins (love the distinctive heads on them too 😀 ) I hadn’t thought of hair elastics – it’s been a while since I’ve had enough hair to warrant using them… but good ideas all 🙂

      Reply
    • Jerry Everard Post author

      Thanks Anneliese – I certainly benefitted from others’ lists and it made sense to do a follow-up based on the lessons of experience 🙂

      Reply
  3. Kathy Colobong

    Hi Jerry, great video! I know that we discussed a bit about what we would change and I was looking forward to your follow-up video on your revised packing list. It was very informative and very well presented (as was your first video). Loved your sense of humor too (ie., “industrial size toe nail”). Thanks so much for sharing.

    Reply
    • Jerry Everard Post author

      Thanks Kathy! I know that videos like this helped my own initial packing, and I noticed very few had posted up follow-up videos of what they learned from their previous packing. It also helped me to think through what I will do differently for next time – which is already in the planning stages for next year. Glad you’re enjoying my sense of humour too! – Cheers – Jerry

      Reply
  4. Willy Littig

    Use your phone-camera to take pictures of important pages(places to stay/maps etc.) Ultreya

    Reply
    • Jerry Everard Post author

      Yes, these days most phone cameras take great photos – especially in good light – and you will save yourself a lot of weight 🙂 There are many ways to record your Camino! Ultreia!

      Reply
  5. Evelyn Foster

    Thanks Jerry, although I am not a traveller I found it most interesting. Looking forward to the next one and appreciate the time and effort you put into keeping us informed as you walk. Love it!

    Reply
    • Jerry Everard Post author

      Thanks for your comment Evelyn 🙂 I’m glad you’re enjoying it – and yes there is much more still to come 🙂

      Reply
  6. Sonja

    Thank you, this was very informative and helpful as I consider what to take. May I ask: why do you recommend boots two sizes larger than usual?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Jerry Everard Post author

      Hi Sonja – thanks for your comment. As for boot size, I found two issues, firstly your feet expand quite a bit as you walk – usually at least one size over your normal shoe size. Secondly, as a (successful) blister prevention strategy I wore two pairs of socks together each day – this also takes up room approximating to one shoe size. So for me, two sizes was about right to allow for feet expansion and for the double sock layers. By using two pairs of woollen socks I also had just a bit extra padding for comfort. The people I spoke to on the Camino were divided between one versus two sizes over normal shoe size, which I think came down to how their own feet behaved and whether or not they went for double socks or single socks with tape on the feet.

      Hope that helps 🙂 Cheers – Jerry

      Reply
      • Sonja Rasmussen

        Thanks so much for the explanation about boot size! One other question: you mentioned taking a “padded sleeping liner.” Searching the Internet, I’ve come across silk sleeping liners, microfiber, some slightly thicker fleece ones, but so far no padded ones. What brand is it? Did you prefer the flexibility this arrangement offers over a single lightweight sleeping bag?
        Thanks again, Sonja

        Reply
        • Jerry Everard Post author

          Hi Sonja – the sleeping bag is listed in some places as a lightweight sleeping bag, though it was described to me by MacPac as a padded sleeping bag liner. It is essentially a summer-weight sleeping bag. It is a MacPac Escapade 150 – https://www.macpac.com.au/escapade-150-standard-sleeping-bag.html

          I like the way it can be opened out for comfort on warm nights, yet still give protection from a mattress of indeterminate hygiene. I found it warm enough for all indoor accommodation on the Camino but it only weighed around 500gms/1.1lbs. I treated it with permethrin before the Camino to give protection from bed bugs (it won’t stop bites but it will kill the insects) – that said, we didn’t encounter bed bugs on our Camino. Hope this helps – Cheers – Jerry

          Reply
          • Sonja Rasmussen

            Thank you, I really appreciate your detailed answers! I am pondering whether to take only a silk sleeping liner (ca 5 ounces weight); or a lightweight sleeping bag (ca 24 oz weight); or two liners, one silk and one (fleece?) coming in at about 22 oz weight. Any thoughts to share about that? I’m Aiming to go meander on parts of the Portuguese camino(s) in very late August and first couple weeks of September. (Wow, that’s the first time I’ve put that down in writing!) And, obviously, aiming to go ALAP (as light as possible).

          • Jerry Everard Post author

            Hi Sonja – always happy to help – At that time of year the weather will still be pretty warm – so I think you should be fine with the silk liner. We walked a little later – after the weather had turned – so by the time we reached O Cebreiro it was getting quite cool at night. But August is still late summer there and you can expect daytime temperatures around 30-35C/85-95F with nights cooling off a bit. And yeah it starts getting real when you set a date for it 🙂 You are certainly thinking the right way by going as light as possible.

          • Jerry Everard Post author

            The one thing to make sure you have with you always is your ‘why’. It doesn’t weigh anything, but it will carry you through the days when you think you can’t do it. If you think through your reasons for doing the Camino (it’s okay to keep them in your head – it’s your Camino), and keep your mind focused on those reasons, they will sustain you more than anything else.

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