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

_____________________________________________________________

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)

_________________________________________________

And that’s about it! Buen Camino 🙂

****************************

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 🙂

****************************

Why not have these posts delivered to your in-box? Just enter your email address and click the ‘subscribe’ button in the left margin, and don’t forget to respond to the confirmation email in your in-box 🙂




Camino training – a lighthearted look

Training for any long walk, including the Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage route across northern Spain, requires some preparation, both physical and mental.

Physical preparation – walking with backpacks

Firstly, physical preparation must include walking on paths analogous to the kinds of track we expect to encounter, with distance and hills and varying terrain. And as departure time approaches it is important to get used to walking with poles – remember a million step walk over 800km (500 miles) requires you to lift those poles a million times. The poles feel light, but you need to build those muscles. And of course, it is vital to practice with packs loaded with everything you intend to carry. Here is a typical day on the track. We are currently covering around 10-12kms (6.2 – 7.5 miles) a day training with packs.

Becoming aware of the bigger picture – taking note of your surroundings

Walking frees the mind and de-stresses the body. The body establishes a natural rhythm and if you keep your eyes open you will see connections that show how the landscape shapes a society, or you will encounter and take note of those services required to maintain a modern society the way the components of a complex organism interact to sustain life all around us. Or maybe I’m just over-thinking it…

Acceptance of setbacks

Life is full of setbacks – some minor, some major – and these serve to make us pause and consider alternative solutions to our problems. It is part of the creative process that enriches our lives. Setbacks can be in our career, our relationships, or losing that fiddly little piece that sprung out of your glasses frame. Whatever it is, there is an analogue in finding a physical barrier to our habitual training route. This time after walking for 4km only to have to turn back and find another route before breakfast.

Making friends with the locals

No matter how isolated your training path may be, no matter how isolated you feel, there are always unexpected encounters. As the saying goes, “there are no strangers, just friends you haven’t met yet”. We are often accompanied on our training walks by a whole range of such friends – be they people out for a ride on a mountain bike, or fellow walkers enjoying the fresh air and bucolic ambience. But quite often there are no people at all – just the local kangaroos or foxes or cockatoos bemused at our antics.

It will be interesting to see how well our training has prepared us for the road ahead. And let me know in the comments about your insights into preparing for a long trek.

 

 
You can have these posts delivered to your in-box by entering your email address and clicking the ‘subscribe button to your left, then respond to the confirmation email in your in-box 🙂




Camino training

Our preparations have begun in earnest for our stroll across northern Spain later in the year. When I say stroll, 800km is probably a bit more than a stroll and so a bit of training is called for.

On a training walk

On a training walk

Living in Canberra’s south-west I have easy access to the Weston Ponds – a storm water sump that has been set up to look nice for the new suburbs being built around them. And this has brought in the water birds – including ibis and blue herons, several species of duck, masked lapwings and many other photogenic birds. So for a while, I have been grabbing the camera at Dawn and going for photo-walks (I never liked the idea of exercise for its own sake).

But with our sights set on Santiago de Compostella it’s time to get serious in order to give ourselves the best chance of completing the walk. So, a while ago we set ourselves the goal of building up to walking to the National Arboretum around 6.5km away and return – 13km round trip.

A few days ago we found the side entrance near the pine forest and today for the first time completed the walk – rewarding ourselves with coffee and croissant at the Arboretum cafe before returning home.

Arboretum sign

Arboretum sign

With walking 5-10km per day, I noticed subtle changes beginning to occur – the walks became easier, I could handle the Summer heat better, and gradually I began losing a bit of the spare tyre around my waist – although my weight hadn’t changed. But I did get a strong sense that walking is what the body is built to do best.

And I had time to take in the sights and sounds around me – the light at Dawn is spectacular with the Sun’s rays streaming through the pine forest.

Pine forest at dawn

Pine forest at dawn

And sometimes there are balloons – indeed the Canberra Balloon Festival is due to start soon, so I will be writing about that when it happens. But the prevailing winds often take the balloons into and over the Arboretum, and this morning we were treated to this sight:

Balloon over the Arboretum

As we climbed the hill toward the Arboretum the view was truly breath-taking – and well worth taking the time to pause and admire the scene. We could see the whole of Canberra’s south side spread out before us.

Canberra from the Arboretum

Canberra from the Arboretum

And this was my reaction at reaching our goal for today 🙂

Reaching the Arboretum

Reaching the Arboretum

So this will now be a regular part of our training – aiming for 2-3 times a week interspersed with a couple of days of shorter (below 5km) walks to enable our bodies to recover and build strength. Eventually, we will be doing this with full packs, rather than just a few litres of water and a camera.

More on our training regime soon!