Lisbon to Santiago de Compostela
What to pack (or more importantly, what NOT to pack) for 5 weeks in your backpack on the Portuguese Camino … that can be a daunting task!
However, I must admit, it was not that difficult this time to make decisions, as we had last year’s Camino Frances as reference … and we knew now what worked, what needed to be changed and what had to stay at home!
This is once again not the perfect packing list, but an indication on what worked for us …
The main thing to remember: LESS IS MORE!
Trango Salinon backpacks (35+5L)
We’ve decided after last year’s Camino to invest in smaller backpacks – for two reasons: To have a lighter load and also for our backpacks to fit as carry-on luggage.
We did not find a suitable backpack at our normal outdoor/adventure shops and eventually we’ve ended up at a shop here in Cape Town that supplies rock climbing equipment where we’ve bought our backpacks.
- Conclusion: It’s a definite KEEPER! We were restricted in how much we could take, but this way we’ve made sure to only take the bare minimum!
My backpack weighed 4kg and Berto’s backpack weighed 4.5kg.
This is just a comparison between this year’s backpacks (in the middle) and last year’s backpacks (on the outside) … it was absolutely worth it going smaller and more compact
Berto’s clothes (left) and Corna’s clothes (right)
Once again, we’ve only taken 2 sets of hiking clothes and 1 set of casual/sleep wear.
- Conclusion: Keep! We’ve used the same clothes as on last year’s Camino Frances – it is light and quick drying. We did add new hiking gear, namely:
- Berto bought a new rain jacket (North Face Stratos Jacket), which he gave a thorough test on the Portuguese Camino. We’ve came to the conclusion that, in torrential rain, no jacket is really water proof! But it did help to keep him (most of the time) dry in light rain.
- And I’ve invested in new hiking socks, namely 1000Mile-Breeze socks – according to the label, it would help to prevent blisters. Unfortunately, I was not that lucky … but I will keep on searching for the perfect blister-free socks and shoes!
Our toiletry bags – Corna (left) and Berto (right)
Yes, I’ve learned from my previous Camino! This time, I’ve kept mine simple and to the minimum.
- Conclusion: Keep! I bought a much smaller toiletry bag than last year’s one, so no unnecessary stuff was packed. Berto might want to ditch the razor next time 😋.
Another comparison between my toiletry bag from last year (bottom) and this year (top) … in the end, those extra grams add up, so make a wise decision!
Our tiny washing line and washing powder
We have used these quite a couple of times on our Portuguese Camino. The tiny washing line came in very handy when we’ve overnight in places with no washing lines.
- Conclusion: Keep! These does not take up much space and is worth going with on our trips.
Probably the most important stuff on a pilgrim’s packing list! Our medical kit – which consisted mostly of plasters …
Four items we will never leave at home when going on a hiking trip: Fisiocrem (Arnica gel for painful muscles), Bactroban ointment (to treat skin infections), Merthiolate (the very important blister “medicine”) and Vaseline (prevents friction)
We have taken less in our medical kit than last year. We’ve bought pain tablets (and plasters) when we’ve needed more in Portugal and Spain – there are no shortages on pharmacies there!
- Conclusion: Keep! We are still of the opinion that Leukotape P plaster and Merthiolate are very important to have in our medical kit!
Our travel towels
This time, we’ve actually cut our travel towels even smaller! It was now just a big face cloth 😅… but we could still dry ourselves!
- Conclusion: Keep! The small (and now, even smaller) travel towels are very light and quick drying. Maybe we should also count ourselves lucky that we’ve received big, soft bath towels in most of the hostels – that was a bonus!
First Ascent’s Hiker Air Pillows
These pillows are great! Once folded up, they were a little bit bigger than a golf ball!
- Conclusion: Keep! This is a big improvement from last year’s pillows. It’s light weight, fills a small hole in your backpack and with only 2 blows, you’ve got a proper pillow to sleep on!
Our pillows (in small bags) and K-Way Extreme lite 500 down sleeping bags
These sleeping bags are one of our best buys thus far! We’ve bought them before last year’s Camino and after using them now on 2 Camino’s, it’s still a winner!
- Conclusion: A definite KEEPER! We love our K-Way sleeping bags! With a weight of only 470g per sleeping bag, this is worth spending the money! And yes, the pillows will also not stay behind next time.
Tissue paper and Camino shells
The tissue paper was new to our packing list. It is environmental friendly and we’ve realised it’s always good to have these close by. The Camino shells are non-negotiable – that is the most iconic symbol of the Camino and comes on your backpack (or on your hat or around your neck – just as you wish).
- Conclusion: Keep! Yes, for peace of mind, have your own small tissue paper roll in your backpack. We’ve bought our Camino shells in South Africa in Langebaan, a beautiful beach town. We’ve searched for the smallest scallop shells possible to take with us on our trip.
The miscellaneous “department”: Headlamps, shoe laces, s-hooks, small day pack, sun screen, Camino purse, Camera & camera charger, salt & pepper, ear plugs and bottle opener
We’ve taken less cutlery items as with our last Camino. We could not take a knife (our luggage was carry-on) and we’ve missed this sometimes while having lunch somewhere on the road … but we’ve always managed.
- Conclusion: Keep! There is not much we will change here. Our LED lenser SE05 headlamps came in handy a couple of times. The rest we’ve used (except for the shoe laces, but as we’ve said on a previous post, it’s good to have spare shoe laces and it does not take up any space and is weightless). The ear plugs are great to block out the heavy snorers. The Twistick bottle opener is probably the smallest bottle opener ever, but we’ve used it enough times to open those wonderful bottles of red wine and will definitely pack these in next time 😁.
Sea to Summit Dry Sacks (5L)
The sacks that kept our clothes dry!
- Conclusion: A definite KEEPER! We’ve used these dry bags on many hiking trips and they do work great! We were extremely grateful for these bags on those rainy days in Portugal – everything was wet, but the items that were in the dry bags, were dry to the bone!
Our trusted John Brierley Camino Portugues guide book, “Credencial del Peregrino” as well as a notebook and pen
Many pilgrims use a Camino app on their cell phones as a guide, but we’ve used John Brierley’s guide book on both the Camino Frances and Camino Portuguese … maybe it’s “old school” to have a book, but it’s detailed with plenty of information … you can’t go wrong!
- Conclusion: Keep! For us, John Brierley’s guide book is synonym with the Camino. The Pilgrims’ Credentials is your passport on the Camino in which you receive all your stamps at the different albergues/hostels. And a notebook and pen is great when you want to write down all those wonderful memories (I’ve said we’re old school!)
Shoes! Berto (left) and Corna (right) … though, Corna’s shoes changed as she took her hiking sandals out just before we’ve left (much to her regret)
Shoes are a wonderful topic on the Camino! Hiking boots, sandals, crocs, trail runners … the list is endless!
Berto is fortunate that his Salomon boots are like a second skin to his feet! He has now walked 2 Camino’s with the same boots (close to 1400km) and it is only now that the stitching on top are started to come loose. The soles still looks as good as new and he will not easily part from them!
But for me (Corna), hiking shoes are a challenge! I’ve tried boots, trail runners and sandals … and it seems from these three, sandals are the most comfortable … but I’m still not without blisters!
- Conclusion: Some keep and others an open question! Flip flops are great – we’ve used them to shower and to rest our feet after a long day of walking (and they work great with toe socks when it’s cold)! Berto will continue with his Salomon boots (he’ll probably has to start searching for new ones now), but I am still looking for the ultimate long distance hiking shoe …
Just a side note: We’ve recently bought Bedrock Sandals (Cairn PRO Adventure Sandals) Bedrock Cairn Pro Adventure Sandals and we are in the next phase as to see how well these will perform on long hikes … we’ll keep you posted 😉
And that was our Packing list for the Portuguese Camino. In hind sight, we are quite happy with what we’ve taken and what stayed behind. We will probably fiddle with this list a bit on the next long distance hiking trip, but for us, this is a great guideline!
Let us know what you have packed and what worked for you … it’s great to learn from each other!