My Packing List for the Camino de Santiago

In October and November of 2015, I walked the Camino Francés, one of the traditional pilgrimage routes to the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela. It was a deeply emotional journey, with far-reaching implications for my life, and I’m slowly but surely capturing the memories and musings here on my blog. Read the entire series at Anna’s Camino.

This is more for my benefit next time I hit the trail, but if you’re reading and would like to know what any of these items are, or what specific brands I used, please leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to get you the information.

What I brought (14.4 lbs.):

  • Backpack – Jack Wolfskin 35L
  • Pants – Running tights (2) & pajama pants (1)
  • Shirts – T-shirts (2), tank top (1), long sleeved thermal top (1)
  • Underwear – 2 pairs
  • Socks – WrightSocks (2 pairs) & compression socks (1 pair)
  • Fleece jacket
  • Buff/headband
  • Sleeping bag (ultralight)
  • Camp pillow (inflatable, ultralight)
  • Sleeping mask
  • Ear plugs (custom, molded to my ears)
  • Ultralight towel
  • Body wash (doubled as clothes detergent), shampoo, face wash, razor, face lotion, nail brush, eyeliner, travel mascara, tinted chapstick, Compeed, moleskin, Neosporin, toe tubes, Alba un-petroleum jelly, tweezers, nail clippers, 2 prescription medications, toothbrush & toothpaste)
  • Cell phone
  • iPad w/ keyboard case
  • Mifi personal satellite wireless connection device
  • Teva Tirras
  • New Balance Leadville trail runners
  • Ziplock travel space bag (compressed clothing a great deal)
  • Passport, credit card, photo ID, travel documents, pilgrim’s credencial

What I bought/was given:

  • Packable rain coat
  • Walking poles
  • New gloves (3 pairs, because I’m wasteful and kept finding new ones that I liked better)
  • Hat (promptly gave it away to someone who liked it more)
  • Scarf (my friend Natalie gave me one of hers and I wore it every day)
  • New coat (warm and waterproof, replacing both the fleece and the rain coat)
  • New trail runners (after the uppers on mine started to tear due to improper newspaper stuffing)
  • Health stuff (EpaPlus melatonin pills (a lifesaver), cold medicine, Ibuprofen, cream for my severely chapped lips, Voltarin for muscle pain, tampons, sunblock, alcohol & Q-tips, ice pack, heat pack, ACE bandage, compression sleeve for calf, Vaseline, homemade beeswax salve from Foncebadon)
  • 1 large rock, 2 smallish rocks, 1 piece of china, 1 pair of wooden earrings, 2 wooden necklaces
  • Clothespins!!! (I was really excited to find these in a store, and shared half the packet with Natalie.)
  • Flip flops
  • A new pilgrim’s credencial after the first filled up near Burgos

What I got rid of along the way:

  • Gloves (2 pairs)
  • Hat
  • Fleece jacket
  • Rain coat
  • Sleeping pills, cold medicine, and all of my other medicines were taken and/or passed out to people who needed them. All blister packaging and boxes was discarded immediately following purchase.
  • ACE bandage, mascara, clothespins, and 2 smallish rocks left behind on a picnic table
  • Vaseline was left behind in a donation box at Foncebadon, never opened (I decided to try the beeswax instead).
  • All paperwork, tickets, etc from every church and attraction was discarded, save for a few special pieces, like a prayer sheet from the nuns at Zabaldika.

What I plan to carry next time (assuming Oct/Nov trip):

  • Backpack – Jack Wolfskin 35L
  • Pants – Quick-drying running tights (2), preferably with compression
  • Shirts – Quick-drying t-shirts (2), Quick-drying long sleeved shirt (1)
  • Short, comfy dress that can be worn to bed as well as over tights for a night out
  • Underwear – 3 pairs
  • Socks – WrightSocks (2 pairs) & compression socks (1 pair)
  • Teva hiking sandals
  • New Balance trail runners
  • TOMS or similar lightweight casual shoes that pack flat
  • Flip flops
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Scarf
  • Buff/headband
  • Warm, waterproof jacket
  • Smaller ultralight towel (hand towel sized)
  • Silk sleep sack
  • Ultralight travel blanket
  • Camp pillow (inflatable, ultralight)
  • Sleeping mask
  • Ear plugs
  • Travel utensils + a good sharp knife for meat/cheese
  • Cell phone
  • iPad (no keyboard)
  • Lightweight camera
  • Toiletries/Meds – Combo bodywash/shampoo, face wash, razor, toothbrush & toothpaste, nail brush, tweezers, nail clippers, moleskin, tiny scissors, tampons, hand sanitizer, Alba un-petroleum jelly, Q-tips, compression sleeve for calf, heat pack, any prescription meds necessary. All over-the-counter meds to be purchased in Spain.
  • Passport, photo ID, credit cards, travel documents (I’ll buy my credencial in St. Jean Pied de Port, since it has more space than the APOC version)

My favorite items on this trip were things that other people might look at as needless frivolities. My nails were getting dirty, so I bought a nail brush in Puente la Reina and it saw a lot of use between there and Santiago de Compostela. My custom ear plugs and sleep mask made it so much easier to sleep at night, as did my travel pillow, which packed down teeny tiny and could be inflated/deflated to make the perfect complement to existing pillows. I also loved my pajama pants, and found that they really made life a lot easier once we got into the albergue at night. I’d take a shower, put on PJs, and then go out to dinner, etc. Even so, I always admired the ladies who’d had the forethought to bring something they could feel a little prettier in, hence my decision to bring a simple dress along next time. My other favorite item was my pair of compression socks, which I wore every night and would now never, ever go without on a physically strenuous trip like this. They really helped my feet and legs recover from all the hard work, and especially came in handy when I had shin splints and needed extra compression in my left shin.

On the other hand, I grew to despise my sleeping bag. I bought it cheap on Amazon and it did its duty, but in the end I left it behind in Santiago de Compostela (with a lot of other things – I needed room for souvenirs for my friends and family). It was just a tad bit too short, and it made too much noise when I needed to get out of it in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. By midway through the trip, I’d started using it as a blanket instead of a cocoon, negating its purpose in keeping me warm AND safe from bedbugs (which I managed to avoid anyway). Next time I’ll save room by bringing a warm silk sleep sack, and supplement with an ultralight blanket.

I also found that though my t-shirts and running tights were perfectly adequate, and held up well on the journey, there was still room for improvement when it came to drying time. On the nights that I made it into town a little late and still had to do laundry, I often found myself wearing slightly damp clothing the next morning. Also, I’ve heard that smartwool doesn’t hold body odor, so if I can find some shirts that I can wear a couple of times before washing, that would be really nice. We’ll see. Washing clothes wasn’t really that difficult, just time consuming and potentially a bit expensive.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Donna says:

    Hello Anna, I’m very much enjoying your Camino reflections after finding your blog in a Google search researching for my Camino this Oct/Nov (yippee!) Thank you SO much for this wonderful post, it’s very helpful. Can I ask why you would replace your fleece/raincoat combo for one warmer jacket? Is it cool enough to warrant that? I’ve been thinking of going for layering but your experience makes me think. Thanks again, hope you’re also planning your next adventure 🙂

    1. Anna says:

      Hey Donna, temperatures ranged from the 30s in the morning into the 60s later in the day. No matter what, after walking for the first couple of hours, any jacket was coming off and getting stowed. For me, one jacket that covered keeping me warm AND keeping me waterproof was a much smarter use of weight. That way when I took it off, I was only carrying one extra jacket, not two. Layering is also a great idea. Most mornings I would put on a long sleeve t, a t-shirt, a coat, gloves, and hat. Later in the day I would take off one of the shirts, and I could generally get warm enough walking to take off the gloves and hat about an hour in. That first hour was BRUTAL, though. Buen Camino!

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