Things to Consider
Whether your Camino will be long or short, whether you opt for our Luggage Transfer add-on or not – what to pack and what to bring along is among the most crucial considerations in planning for the Camino. In April or October, nights and early mornings can get quite frosty, so your intended time of travel will bring its own correctives into what to pack. However, whether – and especially if – you plan to carry your backpack or walk light, it pays off to take the essential pilgrim’s advice to heart: less is more! A light backpack not only makes you (and, if your transfer – your luggage porter) happy, it also follows the idea of practicing how to live with less.
Omnia mea mecum porto. – All that is mine I carry with me.
PILGINO Packing List Recommendations
The list of things to take with you on the Way of St James given here is merely a suggestion, and it still needs to be supplemented with private items and clothing for the time before and after the pilgrimage. If you have any questions, concerns, or would like further information – please do not hesitate to ask us!
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When it comes to your backpack, quality is essential! Depending on whether you make use of the luggage transfer add-on or not:
Option 1 – if you plan to carry your backpack: the size should be around 40 – 50 L. The backpack must fit your body size and be comfortable. It is best to go to a sports shop and try a few on – best with some weight in them. Choose a backpack that fits, is adjustable, has chest and hip straps, and enough pockets, which are easy to reach.
Option 2 – if you do plan to opt for the luggage transfer option: bigger backpacks are not necessary and often more hindrance than help, and a light and easy-to-transport suitcase may be a better option. A smaller backpack for the things you need during the day along the way is sufficient. The size should be between 10+ and 25+ L., and it should also be light, easy to carry, preferably with straps and useful and reachable pockets (e.g., for water, sunscreen etc.) In addition, the carrying system of the backpack should be adjustable for clothes of different thicknesses.
Your feet are best protected by hiking boots that cover the ankle, and those are highly recommended particularly for the months when it’s cooler, rainier and muddier. Lighter models of below-ankle trekking shoes have become very popular, as they mostly come with a breathable but waterproof membrane. Those could be a great option in the hot summer months.
If you do not already own suitable shoes, visit a sports shop which provides good counseling and try on different models. It is recommended to wear your hiking boots as often as possible before your trip, i.e. to ‘wear them in’. This allows your feet to get used to the shoe and build callus where needed. You should wear your shoes with the hiking socks that you will bring with you.
In addition, it is highly recommended to bring a pair of hiking sandals with a thick, durable out-sole – those can be worn both in the evenings as well as during the day if walking through towns or other stretches of dry, flat and easy-walking road. Switching between boots / shoes and sandals gives your feet pleasant breaks, and sandals allow for great ventilation and can prevent blisters. Try them out to find out if they are the right choice for you.
You need at least two pairs of hiking socks for pilgrimage. You should also buy these from a specialist shop. Good hiking socks are not necessarily cheap, but they are excellent protection against blisters and other problems during the pilgrimage. Unless you are hiking in the winter, the socks should be made entirely of synthetic fibre without wool. (Cotton is not suitable for sporting activities.) Hiking socks also have extra padding in important places and are made without bulky seams. Please wash them at least once before going on a pilgrimage!
Option 1: Waterproof jacket and rain protection for legs and backpack. As water could still enter your backpack, it might be necessary to additionally protect electronic devices. Some pilgrims carry an umbrella, but this makes walking harder and might not be sufficient when windy.
Option 2: A rain poncho covers both the upper body and the backpack. This guarantees protection of all valuables and allows for good ventilation from underneath. One disadvantage of a poncho is that it is quite bulky and makes hiking harder when it is windy. Short pants will usually be protected by the poncho. If there is heavier rain or you are wearing long trousers, it pays off to wear rain-trousers in combination with the poncho.
Next to a raincoat or a poncho you should bring a light jacket. Windbreakers are very popular and can be combined with a fleece jacket during the colder months. Fleece jackets have proven very useful due to their light weight. If you can, purchase one that is windproof.
T-Shirts and Shirts
It is best to bring T-shirts and shirts without cotton (functional clothing). 2 t-shirts and 1 long sleeve shirt should be sufficient. Special outdoor wear is usually made from synthetic fibers and has the advantage of drying faster, being breathable and light.
Sports underwear should also be without cotton content, which keeps the skin dry.
It is best to bring one or two pairs of walking trousers, also made from synthetic fibres. Zip-off trousers are popular with many pilgrims, as they allow to quickly adapt to changing temperatures.
Hat or Cap
Especially in the hot months, a hat or cap is essential to be protected from the sun.
Scarf, Beanie, Gloves
For the early morning hours on the Way of St. James, these can come in handy especially in higher altitudes in the months of April and October, when it can get quite chilly at night.
Water Bottle / Hydration Pack
Many pilgrims prefer a hydration pack to bottles, as it allows them to drink without stopping to take out the bottle. There are many different options for these packs as well as a variety of bottles, some of which can be folded to save space or be attached to your belt. Find out what suits you best. Alternatively, bottled water can be bought along the Camino.
Personal Hygiene Items
Tooth brush, tooth paste, shampoo, deodorant etc., preferably in compact, travel sizes (you can always re-stock on any of these items during the Camino).
For protection from the sun. (Don’t forget a protective case and a cloth to clean your glasses).
With a high protection factor for longer pilgrimages in the sun.
Foot Cream / Deer Tallow
To rub your feet with before and possibly during the walking day: it helps prevent blisters!
Walking Poles / Stick
Simple walking sticks made from wood can be purchased almost anywhere on the Camino and are very useful. For anybody who experiences problems with their knees or feet, trekking poles are a great relief. They should be adjustable in length.
If you take a hiking pole with you on the trail, they often have a so-called rubber stopper at the end. We recommend that you take these with you in any case (also a spare pair), as they also provide additional cushioning.
Depending on your country of origin and on the duration of stay in Europe, you may consider looking into getting a pre-paid European SIM-card. Also, don’t forget to bring the charger!
Don’t forget to bring the most important documents: photo-ID/passport, driver’s license, credit cards and insurance documents. It is advised to bring essential medical information with you on the trip. This includes your blood-type, telephone numbers of your treating doctor and relevant conditions. It’s also useful to have the most important addresses from friends and family with you, if you want to write postcards.
Travel documents – flight / train / bus bookings – with reference codes and/or reservation numbers.
Medicine and First-Aid-Kit
Prescription medications (if any) and a note with personal medical details (blood group, telephone number of family doctor, special illnesses such as diabetes). If you use prescription medicine, please check with your doctor to discuss your travel plans as well as possible emergency plans – e.g., what to do if your medicine supply becomes misplaced, damaged or lost (how to go about getting replacement supply), etc.
Patches and disinfectant spray are the most important items in your kit. It further makes sense to bring painkillers, ointment against cramps and pain, magnesium for muscle pain and something against bowel complaints. Balm for sore feet can be useful and deer tallow has proven to be especially effective against blisters.
It is always useful to have a small towel with you, just in case.
Optional / Additional Items
- Flashlight – A small flashlight or headlamp can come in handy.
- Earplugs – A proven remedy on the Camino de Santiago against noises at night, if you are a light sleeper or when accommodation is in a busy city or guesthouse has thin walls.
- Safety Pins – Always useful, e.g., they can also be used as clothes pegs.
- Clothesline –Approx. 3-4 meters of sturdy, light cord for drying clothes and for other “improvisations” during the pilgrimage.
- Detergent – In a travel-size pack, approx. 50-100 g. / ml., can come in handy for washing hiking socks, for example. (Laundry can be done in washing machines that are widely available at most lodging locations.)
- Pilgrimage Guide – Travel pilgrimage guide with further / detailed information on the Way of St. James.
- Journal – If you wish to keep a diary of your Way of St. James.
- Writing Utensils – For postcards and / or a diary.
- Glasses – If you wear glasses, you should bring a second pair, just in case.
- Seat – A pad for breaks along the way.
- Tissue / Paper Towels / Wet Wipes – Just in case, also for the inevitable “in-between business.”
- Ziplock Bags / Protective Cover – For documents and for the Pilgrim’s Credencial.
- Pocket Knife – Ideally with an integrated corkscrew. (Do not take with you in your hand luggage when flying!)
- Sewing Kit – A small sewing kit (with strong thread) for minor repairs to clothing and rucksack.
- Photo Camera – Don’t forget spare batteries / charger!
- Emergency Provisions – Non-perishable provisions for emergencies, e.g. muesli bars, dried fruit or dextrose. You can always re-stock along the Camino.
- Stone – (If you walk Camino Francés) Bring a stone from home with you to accompany you on the Way of St. James and/or to leave at the Iron Cross – “Cruz de Ferro” – if your Camino takes you past it.
- Keepsake / Amulet – something dear to your heart, from your home and your loved ones.
- Feel-Good Pants – Light jogging trousers or similar to relax in after hiking.
- Swimwear – If necessary and if your travel takes place in the months when you can also swim outdoors.
- Nylon Stockings – Wearing nylon stocking underneath your socks might be useful to prevent blisters. In case you are prone to blisters, consider bringing some with you.
- Compression Stockings – Especially after a long flight, some pilgrims experience a swelling of the legs due to the concentration of lymph in their legs. If you have had similar issues before, bring some compression stockings that go up to the knee.
- Hairdryer – Occasional accommodations may not have hair dryers.