The ultimate Camino de Santiago packing list

 

I don’t like tooting my own horn here, but in this case, I’ll make the exception. My packing skills for the Camino de Santiago were excellent. I’m a notorious over-packer. To be frank, I’m shit at packing. I never think things through properly. I always end up with a bag half full of things I never wear.

But with the Camino, I was far more concerned with weight than anything else. I used Dave’s packing list as a guide, and he nailed it.

Ideally, your bag should be 7 kg or less. I didn’t have a set of scales to weigh mine, but it was light as balls. My backpack never once gave me issue while on the trail.

taking photos on the camino

(I love this photo. Yoinked from Elizabeth Cornelius.)

Investing in good gear is the most valuable thing you can do. I screwed up a few times this way. I hadn’t planned on walking the Camino until after moving to Germany, and so I had left most of my good gear back in Canada and didn’t want to spend a fortune buying new stuff.

Here’s what I brought.

The Heavy-Duty Gear

The boots: I loved these. Affordable, and super comfy. When I first started out, I lamented the fact that I had boots with lots of ankle protection because they’re not really necessary. The trail is easy; it’s not like you’re clamouring over a lot of loose rock. However, on those rainy days when the trail is nothing but mud, I worshipped my boots. With the exception of one day, my feet stayed dry and clean.

My blisters were also very limited. It’s absolutely necessary to break in your boots before you start walking. Uncomfortable boots could cost you your trip.

Waterproofing your shoes is a MUST, at least in the spring and winter. Since I walked in late March and early April, there were a lot of rainy days. Same goes for the rain coat, but you might prefer a poncho.

The backpack: I was looking for something with a lot of hip support, and with tons of airflow. This backpack NAILED IT. I have never even heard of this brand, but my local outdoors shop raved about Lowe Alpine. It was absolutely perfect. You MUST HAVE A RAIN COVER for your backpack. My backpack had one built in. But you can also find ponchos that cover backpacks.

The sleeping bag: You have to have a sleeping bag on this trip. Most accommodations only hand you disposable sheets. In the summer months, you can probably get away with a sleeping bag liner, but nights were super cold in March and April.

The Clothes

  • Two pairs of tall wool socks
  • Three pairs of underwear
  • One pair of ankle socks for lounging
  • Pair of light canvas shoes
  • One pair of cotton leggings (Clever Travel Companion – with zippered pockets)
  • One regular t-shirt
  • One sports bra
  • One regular bra
  • Two pairs of athletic pants
  • Two athletic shirts
  • One fleece sweater
  • Cotton gloves
  • Sunglasses
  • Wool hat

Less is more. Two walking outfits are ideal; nearly all accommodations offer hand-washing basins and clotheslines. So you can wash one outfit each day. However, since temperatures were often cold or rainy in April,  sometimes my clothes didn’t dry overnight. I usually just sought out a friend to share the washer and dryer with. It doesn’t make sense to use the laundry when it’s just you washing clothes, but doubling up is worthwhile. Loads are usually about 3 to 4 EUR each, and detergent is almost always included.

Pinstokill leggings

(I LOVED my Pinstokill leggings. They dry super quick too.)

I ditched the light walking shoes early on. They were a silly choice – they got wet easily, and were smelly. A Camino friend gave me a pair of flip-flops early on in the walk, and those were perfect.

When possible, do NOT PACK COTTON CLOTHES for walking. They will reek. Like, everyone will hate you. And you’ll hate yourself.

The exception is for lounge clothes in the evening. I love, love, love my Clever Travel Companion leggings with zippered pockets! Especially since I wasn’t travelling with a purse. The pockets are deep enough for cash and your cell phone.

If you can get athletic underwear, I recommend that as well. I had cotton. Did I mention the butt chafing?

What I wish I had packed: better quality gloves (waterproof), and long underwear. Or at least another sweater. It got really, really cold sometimes, and I was completely unprepared for that. I spent many chilled nights wrapped up like a baby in my sleeping bag.

Electronics + Other Hardware

  • Samsung Galaxy S6
  • One external battery charger
  • Kindle Paperwhite
  • Headlamp
  • Notebook and pen from Nununco
  • A padlock and key (which I never used)

I know, shocking! I didn’t travel with my laptop or camera!

If I had my time back, I’d probably bring my laptop…if it were a MacBook Air. I was still freelancing on the walk (not an option otherwise, unfortunately) and finding computers was often a struggle.

I didn’t want to lug around a camera. My Samsung Galaxy S6 takes perfect images, anyway.

The Kindle Paperwhite was very valuable to me, as was the headlamp. I used that headlamp a LOT.

The notebook is also vital, in my opinion. I tried to write in it daily.

The battery charger, however, was a needless addition. My phone only died maybe twice on the walk, and there are plenty of opportunities for charging. I didn’t need an adapter as I have a European phone charger.

Cosmetics/Hygiene/Miscellaneous

  • Small tube of sunscreen
  • Small tube of moisturizer
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Shampoo/conditioner combo (condensed bottle – lasted whole trip)
  • Mascara + tiny pot of eyeshadow
  • Hairbrush
  • Painkillers + Immodium
  • Nail clipper
  • Lip balm
  • Ear plugs
  • Large travel towel (quick drying)
  • Alcohol swabs/gel for cleaning wounds
  • Deodorant

What on earth am I doing with make-up, you ask? Good question. Certainly a needless addition. However, after awhile I grew sick of looking at my blonde eyelashes all the time. Mascara was nice. I’d do it again.

My skin was agony on the Camino. Something about the air caused my skin to be dry the whole time, and my lips. Urg.

You might notice that I didn’t include any first aid items here, which was certainly an oversight on my part. It was absolutely no problem to find Band-Aids and plasters, because fellow pilgrims readily offered them when necessary. But I wouldn’t exactly rely on others for your blister needs. Plasters do wonders, by the way.

Menstrual stuff: I almost exclusively use a Diva Cup these days, but forgot to pack mine for this trip. It actually ended up being a good thing because most bathrooms in the albergues aren’t exactly private, and so it wouldn’t have been possible to clean the cup after use. Tampons or sanitary napkins are (unfortunately) your best bet.

I also just used my shampoo and conditioner as body wash. I made the mistake of buying a large rather than extra large travel towel, however. It’s barely enough to cover an arse cheek.

Guidebooks and Walking Poles

I never really felt the need for walking poles, but some people swore by them. If you have any knee or hip issues, it comes recommended.

Guidebooks: ye gods, the options! I don’t think I met a single person who was satisfied with their guidebook. The one used by most Americans was riddled with mistakes. I had a Kindle book, Camino Frances 2016 by Leslie Gilmour. It was informative and detailed, but I ended up mostly ignoring the route Gilmour proposed. The altitude guide you can pick up for free at pilgrim offices was a far better daily guide, IMO.

I downloaded the Wise Pilgrims app, which I used mostly for looking up details about albergues and whether or not they had WiFi and a kitchen. The Camino Pilgrim app was useful for distances, but was inaccurate quite often. So yeah, I was excessive with the guides. Haha.

Here’s an Unconventional Packing Tip

You know why I was grateful for having more space in my bag? Later in the walk, I started carrying food. And if there’s one thing I’d recommend for walkers, it’s save a little space for food.

To be blunt, the food on the France Way is utter shit. I was excited by the prospect of pilgrim menus (usually 9 EUR for a three-course meal) but quickly realised it was all awful. I’m not even a picky eater, but half of this stuff was inedible. I’d rather spend 10 EUR for one good course than 9 EUR for dry French fries, half-cooked meat, and flan from a can.

By the time I started walking with regulars, we were cooking together in the evenings. So we’d each carry a little something – a packet of salt, a small bottle of olive oil, etc. Cooking together in the evenings really brought us together. And we ended up eating delicious food, sometimes at only 5 EUR each.

happy Camino walkers

(I loved cooking and walking with these people. And I love this photo, after a gruelling day walking through a blizzard.)

Bread and cheese is a good staple just to stick in your pack for when you want to pause and eat on the walk, especially if you’re on a budget. All those pauses for café con leche can add up.

The Revised Packing List

So here’s a complete list of items I recommend packing for the Camino, including the things I wish I HAD brought with me, and without the things I shouldn’t have brought.

Hardware

  • Lowe Alpine Airzone Backpack (33 L, expandable)
  • CMP hiking boots (high rise)
  • PrAna light rain jacket
  • Lamina 45 sleeping bag
  • Water bottle

Clothing

  • Two pairs of tall wool socks
  • Three pairs of athletic underwear
  • One pair of ankle socks for lounging
  • Pair of flip-flops
  • One pair of lounge pants (Clever Travel Companion – with pockets)
  • One regular t-shirt
  • One sports bra
  • One regular bra
  • Two pairs of athletic pants
  • Two athletic shirts
  • One fleece sweater
  • Waterproof gloves
  • Sunglasses
  • Wool hat

Hygiene

  • Small tube of sunscreen
  • Small tube of moisturizer
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Alcohol swabs/gel for cleaning wounds
  • Shampoo/conditioner combo (condensed bottle – lasted whole trip)
  • Hairbrush
  • Painkillers + Immodium
  • Nail clipper
  • Needle and thread for popping blisters
  • Plasters
  • Tampons
  • Ear plugs
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Razor
  • Deodorant
  • Extra-large travel towel (quick-drying)

Electronics /Miscellaneous

  • Samsung Galaxy S6
  • Kindle Paperwhite
  • Headlamp
  • Notebook and pen
  • Plastic Ziploc bag

*Some of these links are affiliate links, meaning I earn a small commission for any purchases made (at no extra expense to you).

Got any packing questions for me? Ask away!

  • May 03 2016

    THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.

    I am so appreciative of you putting this out there so soon after your trip. I am walking the Camino in a couple of weeks and, although I have read many a guides, this one is EXACTLY he type I have been looking for. I love that you shared what worked and what didn’t and why. I bought a Diva Cup specifically for this trip but it’s good to know now that tampons are actually the better option. Are there places to buy them along the way? I don’t think I’ll need them until late into my walk and I don’t want to carry them the first few weeks. Also, one thing I really want to know. We’re there any hostels you recommend staying away from? And any that you highly highly recommend?
    Kaitlyn recently posted…Solo to Santiago // Here are the FAQ’s

    • May 04 2016
      Candice

      YAY, so glad you found this useful!! There are plenty of places to buy tampons along the way, although when you suspect you’re about to start your period I’d buy them beforehand, or whenever you get the opportunity. (Sometimes in the smaller places there are no pharmacies or supermarkets…)

      Generally I stayed in the municipal albergues. They were always the cleanest, and most sociable. There were a few in Galicia I wasn’t crazy about, including the one in Portomarin. I’ll dig around my notebook to find some other noteworthy ones to include in a guide! My absolute favourite was the Santa Maria albergue in Carrion de los Condes. It’s run by a bunch of sisters in training, and they’re the dearest people. They even gather everyone for a sing-along!

    • May 05 2016
      Genah

      Hey Kaitlyn! I just want to second what Candice said about there being options for buying tampons, etc. along the way. However, don’t underestimate the power of the Spanish siesta and frequent holiday schedule, as I was desperate for days to find something (anything!) open to buy what I needed, and nothing was open. I kept striking out bigtime. (The first time I walked was in October, 2006, second was in April/May 2012). I was so desperate I asked an 80 year old nun in my broken Spanish and she had some! Carry a few emergency tampons to tide you over for sure as an emergency backup. P.s.- all the other peregrinas I asked didn’t have any, so at the very least, you might bail out someone else! p.p.s.- my favorite albergue is the one in Granon in the church tower. they serve a communal meal and the true spirit of the camino is alive and well there. Buen Camino!

      • May 06 2016
        Candice

        Yikes on the tampon issue! But yes, good call. It’s nice to be able to share.

  • May 04 2016

    Great packing list! I like the idea of a 33L pack. I took a 40L MEC pack, which was great, but I think I can go smaller next time, since I took the same amount of stuff as you. Planning another one?
    Krista recently posted…The Packing List #8 – May 1, 2016 – The Youths With Their Snapchats

    • May 06 2016
      Candice

      Mine was expandable to 40! But I didn’t use the expansion much. I’ll definitely be doing another route again, hopefully sooner rather than later.

  • May 04 2016

    Thank you for providing an honest list! This is very useful for me to prepare for my Camino in Sept :) thanks.

    • May 06 2016
      Candice

      You’re welcome, I’m glad you enjoyed!

  • May 04 2016

    Okay so wool underwear is amazing! It sounds frightening and itchy, scratchy awfulness, but the Icebreaker Hipkinis are amazing if you can get your hands on a pair. They are expensive, but super comfy, non-chafing, quick-drying, and stench-resistant. I won’t even tell you how long I wore a pair without washing… eek!
    Amiee recently posted…Running is a Gift, Never Take it For Granted!

    • May 04 2016

      Oh and I forgot to mention – you are amazing and I want to CAMINO!!!
      Amiee recently posted…Running is a Gift, Never Take it For Granted!

    • May 06 2016
      Candice

      Hahaha, I will DEFINITELY purchase some the next time I do this! Also, I trust you. I love Icebreaker.

      And thank you! You ought to do this, I feel like you’d love it!

  • May 04 2016

    I’d recommend moleskin and some type of Vaseline or other super emollient cream for your feet. Those 2 preventative items saved my feet. And let’s face it, protecting your feet is vital.

    I actually thought the food was fine. While I did cook on 2 occasions I stuck to the pilgrim offerings otherwise.

    Bring a couple of bunches of tissues in your pack each day (toilet tissue from Auberge will suffice) . Never know when a bathroom emergency or otherwise will happen. No joke, a case of cramps and no bathroom in sight is terrifying!

    • May 06 2016
      Candice

      Yes, good call on the tissue! Some of the cafes didn’t have toilet paper either.

      I loved my plasters. I think they’re the same as moleskin, or second skin? Way better than Band-Aids.

  • May 09 2016
    Pike M

    Those shoes look neat, no product placement?

    I just wanted to throw in my sixpence about menstrual cups: for those who would prefer them to tampons, I think having a small bottle of water to hand and rinsing them over the toilet bowl would solve the problem of shared toilets.

    • May 16 2016
      Candice

      They’re hard to find online — German brand!

      That’s a good idea. I just never felt particularly…clean on the Camino, if that makes sense. I used to have the cup cleaner, but the extra weight wasn’t worth it for me.

  • May 21 2016

    What an amazing experience! I would love to do the camino but I seem to be on the wrong side of the world at the moment. But when I get back over to Europe, I’ll have to check back in here and seriously consider it and all your advice. Congratulations on completing it!
    -Tasha
    Tasha | Turf to Surf recently posted…5 Lessons in Outfitting a New Boat

    • June 01 2016
      Candice

      It’s right up your alley, you’d love it! Thanks so much! I hope to go on a sailing adventure with you some day. :)

  • May 26 2016

    Thanks for the stellar list! It’s funny how much people overpack on trips like these. And I love how small your backpack is – I had a bigger one on the JMT since we were truly backcountry and had to carry a tent, camp stove, propane, etc. I can’t wait to do the Camino because I can carry so much less! I second what Amiee said about wool underwear – it is so awesome and I highly recommend you get a pair for your next trek.
    JoAnna recently posted…The Last Dance

  • June 06 2017

    Hello! Excellent stuff here, please keep us posted.
    precious metals iras recently posted…precious metals iras

  • October 23 2017

    Hi there this is somewhat of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding expertise so I
    wanted to get advice from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
    togel burma recently posted…togel burma

    • October 25 2017
      Candice

      Hi there, I hired someone to do my entire website design for me. It was well worth the money :)

  • August 22 2018

    Hi Candie.
    Thanks so much for putting this list together. I actually referred to it prior to my Camino Frances trip last year in 2017, so you should know that your readers are making good use of your advice. This year, in March, I went back to Spain again to explore the Northern Caminos and made a few adjustments as well to my kit list. Sometimes it was difficult to charge my phone because the albergues were so busy and often had very few outlets, so I brought a battery charger this time, which could charge my phone 7-8 times before I had to charge the battery pack again. It weighs about 500 grams, but was so useful, I wasn’t burdened by the weight. Other ideas – a travelling companion used safety pins to hang wet socks from her pack on sunny days, and they doubled as blister poppers; some people used Vaseline on their feet to help reduce blisters; and I was mighty glad I brought my trusty camping spoon because, like you said, the cuisine wasn’t always the best, so when I stopped at a grocery store, I always bought a tub of yoghurt. And then I would find a bench in the shade and gobble the entire thing down. Loved my spoon.
    Not that I, er, was drinking a lot of wine, but the corkscrew I ended up buying along the route was indispensable. And the foil cutter doubled as a cheese slicer.
    Something that rarely gets mentioned as part of a Camino kit list is a personal talisman. In your Camino narrative posts, you mention how challenging the Camino was for you and, at the beginning, the loneliness. I noticed on the Camino that many people find comfort in carrying something that is intimate and spiritual, what I think of as a talisman, which could be a stuffed toy, a piece of jewellery, a photo, or something else. For myself, I wore for the first time in many years a silver chain that was a gift from a loved one who died a while back. When it rained on me for 19 straight days this year in Galicia, I found comfort in just wearing it.
    Again, thanks for your work on this packing list. I found it quite useful.
    Dave recently posted…How to Thru-Hike the Bruce Trail (Successfully)

    • August 24 2018
      Candice

      Dave, thanks SO much for your comment! How awesome. I absolutely love the corkscrew and safety pins advice, hahaha. I think I’ll have to update my blog post to include it. How was the Northern Route? Was it very different?

      • August 31 2018

        Thanks Candie. Well, the Northern Route is not nearly as busy as the Camino Frances, but it still has the support structure desired by pilgrims, such as regularly-spaced albergues (pilgrim hostels) with decent beds and hot showers, pharmacies, restaurants, and, of course, those awesome Spanish bakeries. The route is a bit longer and hillier, but also more scenic, since most of it hugs the northern coast along the Bay of Biscay, passing through several popular surfing towns. People describe the Northern Route as being more difficult than the Camino Frances, but you get used to the hills so quickly that I can’t say for sure that it’s true. I also carried a much lighter pack this year, so my opinion is skewed. :-) The friends I picked up along the Way had never been on the Camino Frances, so they were quite overwhelmed initially by the sheer number of pilgrims who were on the trail when the Camino del Norte and the Camino Frances met in Arzua. Whew! That’s when everyone started booking albergues ahead to ensure they would have a bed for the night. Thanks for asking about the route. :-)

        • September 04 2018
          Candice

          SOLD! Haha. Thanks for the awesome response. I definitely want to do this route sometime in the future. I’m used to hills! Lol.

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

FREE CANDIE FOR ALL!
SUBSCRIBE TO RECEIVE POSTS DIRECTLY TO YOUR INBOX