To decide what to pack in a backpack for a hiking trip for 5 weeks, can be a huge challenge!
Berto has done research for months to find the best possible packing list for our Camino journey. And then, to convince me that I should not pack “for in case”, was another challenge!
The first tip on packing for the Camino that we’ve found on different websites, was that your backpack should not weigh more than 10% in comparison to your body weight. When I’ve heard this, I immediately informed Berto that I will have to gain more weight in order to pack more 😛 … but that is unfortunately not how it works!
You can therefor see that it was a real challenge for me to pack the minimum. The first thing I’ve learned from the Camino was that you should only pack what you will need and not “for in case”.
This is not the ultimate packing list, because in retrospect there are a number of things we would now change. But we will use this, our first long distance hiking trip, to gain knowledge on what you really need … and sometimes you learn the hard way!
We’ve already had these backpacks that we have used on several hiking trips in South Africa. During these trips we sometimes had to carry our tent, cooking sets and food as well, and the Deuter backpacks worked well for these excursions.
- Conclusion: Change! We will definitely invest in smaller backpacks. The smaller packs can then be used as carry-on luggage (to avoid the scenario of us being separated from our backpacks again, as it happend on this Camino). We will then also be forced to pack less – Berto’s backpack weighed 7kg and mine 6kg (mine was definitely too heavy).
Berto’s clothes (left) & Corna’s clothes (right)
We’ve each taken 2 sets of hiking clothes and an extra set as casual wear. We had zipped-off trousers and all our clothes are quick drying and synthetic.
- Conclusion: Keep! Our clothes worked really well. It was a daunting thought to only take 3 sets of clothes for 5 weeks, but in the end it was a good decision. Though we’ve only used our rain jackets 3 or 4 times on this trip, it is an essential item to pack to protect you against rainy conditions.
Although my toiletry bag is much smaller than the one I normally use, this one was still way too big!
- Conclusion: Keep (for Berto), but a definite change for Corna! You really only need shampoo (to use for hair and body wash), toothpaste, toothbrush and a razor. Ear plugs also comes in handy when you sleep in a dorm which you share with 30 other pilgrims 😉. The small spray bottle of sun protection that Berto had, was great. He clipped it onto his backpack and it was sufficient for both of us for the whole trip. But the rest were luxury items which was not really needed on our hiking trip.
This may look like a little pharmacy, but we’ve used everything! One can however buy pain tablets, plasters, etc. in Spain and it was therefor not necessary to take everything from home. It does not matter how small a town is on the Camino route, you will always find a “farmacia”.
- Conclusion: Keep some and change some! Next time we will buy most items in the country we’re going to. But we will ALWAYS make sure to pack the Leukotape P plaster and Merthiolate (for blisters!)
Do not take your big bath towel from home. Invest in a travel towel – it’s light and quick drying.
- Conclusion: Keep! The travel towels worked perfectly and was always dry the next day. The stones were also very small and it was a special moment to leave these at Cruz de Ferro on our way to Santiago.
Tiny washing line and washing powder (left). Headlamps, batteries, s-hooks and shoe laces (right)
Since we’ve only taken 3 sets of clothes, we knew we had to frequently do laundry. We were not sure about the facilities at the albergues and therefor took the washing line and washing powder with. The LED lenser SEO5 headlamps were money well spent!
- Conclusion: Keep some and change other! The tiny washing line worked great when the albergue’s washing lines were full. But we’ve always received washing powder from the albergues and we could probably leave ours home next time. We’ve used our headlamps on numerous occasions – maybe we can only pack in one next time. The batteries we could have bought in Spain. The S-hooks came in handy (we’ve used these to put my hiking boots at the back of Berto’s backpack!) We did not use the shoe laces, but they don’t really take up any space and has no weight – if you need them, it’s nice to find them in your backpack.
We’ve packed and re-pack our cutlery section! And eventually only kept a few items.
- Conclusion: Keep! We’ve used our knife almost every day, as well as our spoons to eat. The two tiny film containers worked well for salt and pepper. And we never go anywhere without our Cederberg bottle opener!
K-Way Extreme lite 500 down sleeping bags and camping pillows
Before we’ve got on the plane to Spain, we’ve sprayed our sleeping bags (actually everything) with Vital protection (internationally known as Permethrin) to protect us against the notorious bed bugs! It worked … not a single bed bug bothered us 😄.
- Conclusion: Keep some and change others! The sleeping bags are great! The K-Way Extreme lite 500 down folded up very small and only has a weight of 470g! This is a definite keeper! The pillows however were too big and we’ve always received pillows at the albergues and hostels. If we do take pillows with on a next trip, we will buy smaller ones.
Berto (left) and Corna (right)
Shoes are a well-discussed topic on any Camino forum! Do you take boots, trail runners or sandals? This was a difficult decision to make (for Corna anyway). Her Salomon boots worked well in South Africa on short hiking trips, but on the 2nd day on the Camino, she changed them for her hiking sandals. Berto, on the other hand, walked with his Salomon boots without any problems – no blisters and later felt like a second skin! Flip flops are great to use in the shower and to wear after a long day’s walking to give your feet a breather.
The other pair of shoes on the photo (blue Crocs for Berto and colourful Rock Spring shoes for Corna) were used to fly with and to wear after the Camino in Santiago and Madrid. We’ve made use of Ivar’s service in Santiago by posting these with other non-essentials to Santiago before we’ve started with our Camino.
- Conclusion: Keep and Change! Berto will definitely keep his boots! For him this is the ideal hiking shoe! He will probably ditch the sandals – only wear them once in Leon. Corna will leave her Salomon boots home next time … but still not sure what to replace it with. The hiking sandal worked well, but after 650km it needed to be replaced with new sandals. This is still a thought in process …
We both like reading. Berto prefers to read his books on the kindle, but I like the feeling of a real book in my hands. But my book added 500g extra to my backpack! Berto used his small Sony Cyber Shot digital camera to take photo’s, while I’ve used my iPhone S (for photo’s and to stay in contact with our family and friends).
- Conclusion: Keep and (unfortunately) change! The small Sony Cyber Shot camera worked well, so did my iPhone for photo’s. The kindle will probably come with on the next hiking trip, but I’m afraid the book will have to stay at home. Though the storyline of the book was perfect for me on a difficult stage of the Camino, it was not worth the extra weight! Maybe time to buy another kindle ..
And this was our packing list for our Camino 2017. A whole lot of keepers, but other items that will not make the list again. With a next long distance hiking trip we will have at least a comparison to make – we now know what works for us and what not.
See updated packing list: PACKING LIST – PORTUGUESE CAMINO