El Camino Frances: Pack your Bag

During the Camino, you will most likely develop a love hate relationship with your bag. One the one hand, it holds the only elements of homeliness and comfort you’ll have access to, as you embrace the nomadic way, but on the other hand, it does have to go on your back. 

There’s a reason it’s recommended to carry no more than 10% of your body weight, it gets heavy! Not to mention, you’ll also be lugging around a couple litters of water on top of it all. On the whole, it’s really not the time or the place to be high maintenance or stubborn about how strong you think you are, your back won’t thank you for it!

Before getting started, as a reminder (you can read my introductory Camino post here), I was walking in September so although the days were uncomfortably hot, temperatures did drop quite a bit at night. With this in mind, the selected items bellow will cater to those circumstances. 

  • Shorts .1
  • Pants . 1
  • T-shirts . 2
  • Socs . 2
  • Underwear . x
  • Sweater . 1
  • Rain jacket . 1
  • Waking shoes . 1
  • Alternate walking shoes . 1
  • Flipflops . 1

First and foremost, as a rule, the more synthetic the better when it comes to clothes. Cotton won’t be your friend on this journey. You want plastic, man made, quick drying, sweat repelling stuff!

Because there are washing facilities of some kind in 99% of hostels, there is no need to over do it with the quantities. Rest assured, you will have the opportunity to wash the stink out of your clothes before long. My top tip would be to get together with other pilgrims and put on a communal wash. Oh, and wear underwear you don’t mind putting on display ;). 

When it comes to footwear, having two pairs of walking shoes does seem a little excessive (not to forget the suggested third pair of flip flops/shower shoes). However, it will give you that much needed pressure relief on your blisters. Because they never really have the chance to heal before heading off again, by alternating between the two pairs, you’ll reduce the possibilities of rubbing the same spots day after day.

  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Deodorant
  • Moisturizer
  • Towel
  • (Blister) plasters
  • Sunscreen
  • Needle and thread
  • Disinfectant
  • Disinfectant
  • Cotton balls/rounds
  • Nail File

Personal hygiene is unsurprisingly ‘personal’ so I just included the basics. If you want to add in a little pamper item, by all means have fun carrying it. As long as no one can smell you from the next town over you’ll be fine. 

Regarding the right column, unless you’re some abnormal specimen who, for some baffling reason, doesn’t get blisters, you will most likely want to pack these things. A bit gross perhaps, but the needle and thread draining method worked wonders. 

  • Hat
  • Pocket knife
  • Journal + pen
  • Handkerchief
  • Headlamp
  • Comfies
  • Water Bottle . 2
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Day Bag
  • Swimsuit

Now on to the fun stuff! Since I checked my bag, I was able to bring a little pocket knife that came in handy when picnicking on the side of the road etc. If you can’t bring your own, there are tones of little shops along the way where you can buy one. The same goes for nail cutters and any other missing or forgotten “necessity”.

Next, a wide brimmed hat is essential. In some areas trees are few and far between and the sun is absolutely relentless. You’ll probably want to start your day before it does so you reach your next destination before the afternoon blaze hits. In which case, provided you don’t always have someone else’s lamp to rely on, packing a headlamp or other type of light will be a great idea for those early mornings.

Regarding the swimsuit suggestion, it’s completely optional as is the pair of comfy clothes. It’s just nice to have the option of wearing something at the end of the day that isn’t made of polyamide. Also, in some (mostly private) alberges there are swimming pools! 

Another optional item is the sleeping bag. Personally, I didn’t end up taking mine opting instead for a towel. It seemed like a good decision at first but near the end of September, I was going to bed wearing most of my clothes. The next Camino, I’ll go for a lightweight blanket. 

Finally, do a favour to your fellow pilgrims and don’t use plastic bags if possible, or at lease don’t use them to store the items you’ll be susceptible to need at a quarter to five in the morning. Don’t rob them of those last few tender moments of rest for the love of God! 

And there we have it! The most minimal packing list I’ll probably ever make. The only things that remains is a open mind, a smile, and a stone for Cruz de Ferro. I hope this was helpful, and thank you for stopping by.  

¡ Buen Camino!