Camino Gear List for Firsttimers

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Packing for the Camino de Santiago is pretty easy. As a simple approach, pack everything you think you need, then start throwing things out until you’re at about seven kilograms. Alternatively, pack nothing and hope for the Camino to provide, which works about 90 percent of the time. The lightest packing I’ve seen was a man from Australia who brought his cellphone, charger, a light blanket (which doubled as his roll), an extra set of underpants, socks, shorts, and T-Shirt, and a poncho and water bladder. Add a credit card and you’re all set.

In case you’re less into the super-minimalist approach, here are some pointers:

Backpack. Personally, I am a fan of Osprey, as seem to be about seventy percent of all pilgrims I’ve ran into. The Exos 38 was almost too big for my needs, the 48 made for an amazing allrounder when needing to carry a tent and food in the alps. All this at or under a kilo for the backpack itself, it’s just what St. James ordered. Additionally, they’re some of the most comfortable backpacks on the market.

Blanket. Get a fleece sleeping bag liner, that’s more than enough. If anything, you’ll be struggling for some cold, not trying to get warm. A fleece liner (e.g. the one made by Cocoon) is thicker than one of the satin variety and can be used as a nice picnic blanket or to spend an evening under the stars as well. Get a square one, so you can use it as a blanket.

Socks. One extra pair, two pairs total. I swear by Wrightsocks, those double layer socks that prevent blisters. Haven’t had a single blister since I’ve started using them.

Underwear. Your choice. Make it comfy. Get one extra.

Shorts. Comfy sport shorts that can double as swim trunks and are worn when you’re at the albergue or in town. Wash your pants every other day, wear the trunks to bed, then wash them in the morning and let them dry in your outer net while on the Camino.

Shoes. Trailrunners, all the way. No one needs alpine hiking boots on the Camino. Get a light pair, I recommend checking out the New Balance Vazee Summit v2, the New Balance Leadville v3, or the Merrell All Out Crush Tough Mudder. A kilo on your feet is three on your back, or so, so don’t overdo it.

Sandals. Flipflops are more than sufficient. Something light you can stick in your backpack and wear in albergues (no shoes allowed inside). Get cheap ones, you’ll lose them anyways.

T-Shirts. Two extra, total of three. Something light. Nike Breathe Miler Cool are pretty decent, get two grey ones for your days and a black or dark blue one for the evenings. Wash the grey ones in the evening and wear them alternatingly, wash the black one in the morning every two or three days and dry it in your mesh while walking.

Water Bladder. There are so many bars, restaurants, cafes, and water fountains on the way, you don’t need much. I walked with two Powerade bottles (0.5l each) and that was more than enough between stops, even the dreaded 17 kilometer Meseta stretch during the hottest day on record since 1920 was no problem, there’s a fountain in the middle of the slog.

So, there, you’re done.

Now add cellphone and charger, whatever medication you need, one or two Duffs for your head, maybe a hat, and everything else is luxury. Basic hygiene can be done in much less than you assume, a small tube of toothpaste (there’s a store to replenish that every day, no worries), toothbrush, and all-purpose-soap to wash clothes with and for your own body… you’re luxuriously set.

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