I thought I’d cut the contents of my Camino pack to the bone – until I climbed the first mountain out of Valcarlos. On my bunk in Roncesvalles, aching and exhausted, I agonised over what to throw into the huge box of rejects at the back door of the monastery.
In Pamplona I sent ahead a box of discards, large and small: the heavy sleeping bag, thick coat and extra undies went onto Santiago.
Next Camino I almost got it right:
- small backpack <32 litres
- light sleeping bag (these two items the heaviest of all so worth concentrating on keeping light)
- sleeping bag liner – great for warm albergues
- two pairs hiking trousers, one that I could convert to shorts
- two T-shirts
- two hiking shirts
- two quick dry knickers
- two bras
- three pairs socks
- rain poncho – worth investing in a good one
- light fleece coat – LIGHT! after a few hundred metres I was overheated in my down coat, even in snow and sleet. The poncho will keep you warm in wet conditions, too
- one pair well-worn-in boots (I walked in late winter/early spring each time, so didn’t wear sandals)
- minimal bathroom gear: shampoo for hair, body and laundry; comb; tooth brush and paste; moisturiser for face and hands, which dry out so quickly when outdoors all day; tissues for bathroom stops and drippy nose; deodorant
- crushable hat. Mine has a reinforced front to keep the rain off my glasses
- light gloves and scarf for cold mornings
- walking sticks
- hiking towel
- my phone holds wallet, camera, map, accommodation info, plane and train tickets, and allows occasional contact with the outside world
- lightweight journal and pen – my most precious cargo!
- passport and Camino credential,
- cash card
- daypack which folds into itself, back to almost nothing
- some nappy pins for the clothesline or to finish drying socks attached to your pack
- minimal first aid kit – both Spain and France have pharmacies! I take one or two pain relief pills, and a few band aids
Of course the most important things to take don’t go in your back pack. A sense of humour, kindness, patience and a positive attitude top every packing list. And if you don’t have self-awareness and a love of solitude, stillness and silence when you start, you will find them by the time you reach Santiago de Compostela!