The Camino de Santiago pilgrimage is a dream for many of us. So it’s no wonder that when our plans start to take shape, we want to be as prepared as possible for the journey. The question then arises: “What to put in a backpack?”. The following guide comes from a guide written by an experienced pilgrim. Here is a comprehensive list of things every pilgrim should have with them.
The general rule for packing a backpack is: as little as possible, only the most necessary things and probably no more than 10%. ballast body. You must remember that the weight of about 1 liter of water and small provisions must be added to the weight of the backpack packed at home. In total, this represents about 2 extra kilos.
Full list of things to pack on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela:
Depending on the season and our needs, we should take:
- Backpack with a good and comfortable carrying system with a capacity of 30-55 liters. If we travel by plane with hand luggage only, we must respect the rules of dimensions and weight applicable to each airline. In winter, the backpack will be slightly larger, in summer it can be smaller (and possibly with a carrying system that ventilates the back well).
- Sleeping bag – preferably light and small after packaging. In summer it can be thin, in winter it should be quite warm. It is also worth taking a silk or cotton sleeping bag liner, preferably soaked in insect repellent. In July and August, when the nights are really hot, you can take the risk of bringing only the sleeping bag sheet.
- Boots – it is important that they are of good quality and not new. They should be separated a bit. In winter we should take high hiking shoes. It is also worth taking impregnation and shoe care on the road. You can also bring light sports shoes for a change – for sightseeing, in case the high shoes get completely wet. For a hike in the transition period, I also recommend high trekking shoes. In addition, you can take sandals for hot days, which, however, may turn out to be completely unnecessary. In summer, low trekking shoes or good sandals with a solid sole are enough (opinions on this subject are very divided among pilgrims, but if someone likes it, in summer he can walk the whole Camino only with sandals).
- Flip flops to shower and rest after a long day on the road. For hygienic reasons, I would not risk going barefoot in the shower. Plus, flip flops will come in handy on hot days and give your feet a break.
- Socks are extremely important. Good trekking socks will help eliminate imperfections in shoes, well-chosen ones will cushion the foot and reduce the formation of blisters and corns. In summer, thinner socks, for example with Coolmax fiber, are sufficient, and in winter and in transition they are better with merino wool (they are also good in summer, although for some they may turn out to be too hot). You need 2-3 pairs of socks on the Camino.
- Underwear – 3 games are enough. Better it is specialized, bought in a tourist shop. In winter, you should pack an extra set of thermoactive underwear.
- hiking sticks are not necessary, but very useful (I recommend those who have the system shockproof). On longer walks, they noticeably relieve the knees, force the walking pace, increase safety on descents and reduce the effects of injuries. Unfortunately, they cannot be put in hand luggage, which generates additional costs. Some pilgrims buy poles on the spot or prepare a wooden stick themselves.
- Pocket knife with a good blade and a corkscrew. Useful, but also not to be carried in hand luggage.
- Plastic cutlery – preferably “three in one” – and cup – it can be made of plastic, steel is heavier, but you can boil water in it (there are rarely electric kettles in albergues).
- Something rainproof. In July and August, the simplest plastic cape is sufficient, as there will be little or no rain (mainly in Galicia). In spring and autumn, it is better to take a professional, long and covering backpack cape, which is heavier than plastic, but protects better during prolonged rains. In winter and early spring, in addition to a professional coat, it is worth taking rain pants and gaiters (shoe covers), as we may encounter snow, mud and heavy rain . You can also bring an umbrella, which is useful as an extra protection against the rain, but when the wind blows it disturbs and slows down the walk.
- Clothes – its selection depends on the season of the year during which one makes the pilgrimage.
In winter, strong trekking pants, light rain pants and possibly light trekking pants for sunny days, plus a light fleece, 2-3 T-shirts (preferably thermo-active/technical long sleeves or merino wool ), a nightgown, hat, gloves, multifunctional scarf, for example of the chamois type (or a scarf) and a warm and light jacket (down / primaloft). During the transition period, you should bring sturdy trekking pants, light rain pants and short trekking shorts for sunny days, plus a light fleece, 2-3 T-shirts (preferably thermo-active / technical to long and short sleeves or merino wool), a sleeping T-shirt, possibly a hat, gloves and a chamois (scarf/scarf). If we start the pilgrimage at the end of April or end in the last days of October, it is better to take a sun hat instead of a hat and you do not need to take gloves. In addition, you should think about a light windproof jacket.
Socks are extremely important. Good trekking socks will help eliminate imperfections in shoes, well-chosen ones will cushion the foot and reduce the formation of blisters and corns.
In summer, you should bring light trekking pants, short trekking shorts (there may be two pairs), plus a light fleece, 2-3 T-shirts (preferably thermo-active / technical short-sleeved or merino wool), a sleeping T-shirt, a sun hat, a light jacket and a windbreaker (not compulsory in July and August).
In addition, you must have with you: a flashlight headlamp, string of characters (about 5 m) for drying clothes (often drying places are occupied), 2-3 safety pins6 loops, soap/hand wash detergent, needle and thread, fabrics hygienic (2-3 packs), Sun glassesin summer cream with UV filter (rather taller than smaller, although this depends on skin tone).
- Documents – Identity card / passport, European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), later also credential – during the pilgrimage we keep in a safe and dry place.
- Silver – it is better not to carry too much cash on you, and withdraw money from ATMs if necessary (automatic cajero) on my way. There are not as many as in Poland, but in towns and villages there should be no problem finding them. In many places you can also pay by card (shops, counters) and if our bank does not overcharge us for this service, it can be very convenient. When paying by card, vendors often ask for ID.
- A small, lightweight toiletry bag with basic hygiene utensils. If we only travel with hand luggage, we can only take small packets of liquids.
- Quick-drying towel.
- First aid kitand inside: blister patches (like Compeed), dressings (simple paper dressings work best), disinfectant (e.g. Octenisept), elastic bandage, painkillers and cold tablets, Smecta-like agent and tablets for gastric and intestinal ailments , gel/ointment (Voltaren or Altacet type) for aches and wounds, gel/ointment (Fenistil type) for stings, multivitamin or Rutinoscorbin, sore throat tablets.
- Camera with charger, mobile phone with charger. It is true that we can do without them, but they have advantages. The telephone, in addition to its basic function, will allow us to connect to the Internet. Most bars and albergues have wi-fi access. If we have a phone with the possibility of installing two SIM cards, we can buy a Spanish prepaid card with an Internet tariff (for 10-20 EUR per month) and use the network independently of wi-fi. To buy such a card, you need to go to the point of the operator (Orange, Movistar, Vodafone etc.) and sign a “non-binding” contract / register the number there. The identity card should be enough to buy a SIM card. It is worth remembering that since mid-2017 prices for roaming in the EU have been reduced, and according to the offer of our national operator, you can use the Internet abroad on relatively favorable terms, this which basically means that buying SIM cards in Spain is not such an attractive option as it used to be.
- Earplugs – preferably 2-3 pairs. It is often very noisy at night in Les Albergues. If someone is comfortable with this, they won’t need stopwatches. But if the snoring or rustling of tinfoil in the middle of the night is keeping you up at night, it’s worth having them with you.
We don’t have to, but we can take:
- Floor mattress / self-inflating mattress – sometimes it is practical when there are no free beds in the albergue and you have to sleep on the floor (this sometimes happens in summer when there are crowds of pilgrims).
- A specialized bottle for water – you can replace it with ordinary water bottles bought in Spain.
- light notebook and pen.
- Food from Poland – if we have free space in our luggage and want to save money, you can take something for the first two or three days, but we can also buy everything on the spot.
- Attempted – if we have a very small budget; before setting up a tent, ask the owner if it is possible (camping in public places is generally prohibited and subject to a fine, but setting up for one night, despite the risk, should not be end in inconvenience, although the Guardia Civil can visit us – civil guard – in order to find out who we are). There are few pilgrims with tents and they are an interesting exception.
- Elegant shirt/dress – if we want to better present ourselves in Santiago or visiting other cities.
- Additional travel insurance – if we have an EHIC, it is not necessary, but it is a safety measure in the event of an accident.
Excerpt from the book by Szymon Pilarz: “Camino de Santiago A guide for pilgrims”.
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