I spent about a month carefully researching my Camino de Santiago packing list. Then I went on my trip and realized I was wrong … I brought way too much stuff!
I ended up leaving behind a lot of items — sometimes expensive or beloved things. In hindsight, here is what I wished I had brought with me instead.
Check what the average temperatures are for when you’re going. I went in May & have a tendency to run cold. If you went in the summer, you’ll need a lot less.
- 1 pair quick dry, light weight hiking pants
- 1 pair quick dry, mid weight leggings
- 1 light weight long sleeve shirts
- 1 mid weight long sleeve shirt
- 1 quick dry T-shirt
- 1 wool dress (with pockets!)
- 1 sports bra
- 2 pairs underwear
- A small waterproof stuff sack
You are going to wash your gross, sweaty hiking clothes every day, so you need two outfits. One for the washing machine (or sink) and one on your body. If you have more than two, you are probably doing it wrong. (Or are having someone carry your stuff for you!)
Not a fan of ponchos — they are flimsy and hot. Also, I ditched my rain pants. You are going to have a hot shower and a dry bed every night. Who cares if you get a little wet?
- Well-ventilated running shoes in a larger size
- Teva sandals (for showers and evenings)
- Two pairs of lightweight socks
Despite my friends’ advice, I brought my trusty lightweight hiking boots and wool socks. I’ve been hiking in this gear for long trips for years. Everything was well broken in. I’ve never had a blister before.
And then I got the largest, grossest blisters in my first few days of my Camino. My feet were so hot, so sweaty, so swollen. So going to try the running shoe route this next time around.
- 1 season sleeping bag treated with Permethrin (for bed bugs)
- Waterproof stuff sack
I saw that a lot of people recommended a silk sleep sheet, which I did bring and really enjoyed on hot nights. I am not sure it’s worth the weight though.
And I ditched my pillow case. Just put your head on the pillow and carry on!
Toiletries & miscellaneous
- Mini toothbrush and toothpaste
- Nail clippers & tweezers
- Mini comb & extra hair ties
- Sunscreen in a tiny bottle
- Sun glasses
- All in one shampoo and conditioner, mini bottle
- Liquid soap for showers & laundry
- Ear plugs! Many!
- Eye mask
- Chapstick (I don’t use this at home, but loved on my trip)
- Quick dry towel
- Head lamp
- Contact solution, glasses, extra contacts
- Pain killers & cold medicine
- Safety pins for laundry and popping blisters
- Skip the useless moleskin and get the magical Compeed in Spain
- Camelback hydration pack
- Journal and pen
- Credential from Canadian Association of Pilgrims
- Credit cards, flight info & printed travel info
- Camino guide
You can also buy a credential when you’re in Spain. But I liked having one different from everyone else… harder to get mixed up!
- 35-40L backpack (with Canadian flag!)
- Small reusable cloth bag for carrying stuff around town
- Very small passport wallet that buckled around my waist to keep passport, cash and cell phone on my person at all times.
I loved bringing my new smart phone with large screen. It was my GPS, my Kindle, my podcast player & one of my cameras.
Camera: To bring a DSLR or not to bring a DSLR …
I brought my very tiny Canon SL1 (the smallest DSLR ever made), two medium sized lenses and the associated accessories.
It was the heaviest thing in my bag by the end and at times I was not happy to see it in there. But I also loved that I had decided to make this sacrifice to create opportunities for me to express myself artistically, have meditative time away from the crowds, and improve myself skills as a photographer.
I used my camera a lot, but it definitely was a conscious and sometimes difficult choice to go use it constantly. Despite this, a lot of my best photos ended up being taken with my cell phone as it fit in my pocket. (It’s a Samsung S6, which I chose for its camera).
Since I was struggling with the physical challenges so much & my cell phone pictures were great, I probably won’t take my DSLR next time.
Don’t bring so much stuff. And don’t bring your favourite things or nice new things, as you may be getting rid of them.