Updated on March 17, 2019 by Asher Fergusson
What do I really need to pack for the Camino de Santiago?
The Camino is a journey like no other, and its deeply-entrenched spiritual history is remarkable. Many pilgrims follow the Camino each year hoping to deepen their own religious or spiritual connections.
Because this is usually a trip that involves backpacking, it can be quite hard to know how to pack if you’ve never done it before. I’ve put together a guide to help you decide what to wear on the Camino de Santiago, what NOT to bring, and many other FAQs to make your pilgrimage safe and enjoyable.
1) Comfortable and Durable Clothes – There aren’t any fashion police en route to Santiago so you can pack sensible, practical garments without worrying that you’ll stand out from the crowd.If you can get by with only a couple of outfits that’s great. Most sources recommend taking along two outfits so that you can swap them out. But if the thought of wearing just two outfits every day for weeks drives you crazy, you might want to pack a few extra options. In terms of underwear, look for items that dry quickly and won’t chafe. Just keep in mind that you want to pack undies made from synthetic fabricsinstead of those made from cotton ones. This is because cotton can take quite a while to dry and that isn’t an ideal scenario when you’re doing laundry every other day.
4) Emergency Supplies – Walking for miles each day can naturally lead to bumps, bruises, and the occasional blister or two. It’s best to be prepared with the usual assortment of medical supplies such as antiseptic cream, anti-itch medicine, bandages, and some sort of pain killer. You definitely don’t want to forget anything that you’ll need for dealing with the blisters (like Moleskin or Compeed) and the chafed skin (like Vaseline or Body Glide) that you’ll certainly face on the road to Santiago. You’ll may also want to include items such as heat or ice packs and elastic wraps for injured limbs in your first aid kit. Other emergency supplies that solo travelers might find useful include compasses, matches, whistles, and silver emergency blankets.Of course, you can always buy prepackaged kits or you can easily create your own from supplies that you already have on hand. Just don’t leave home without it.
11) Sun Protection – This could be in the form of sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, bandanas/buffs, lightweight scarves, or some combination of those things.You’re going to be out in all weathers so you definitely want to protect yourself from the damaging effects of the sun.
17) Credencial – This pilgrim’s passport lets you stay in traveler’s hotels on your way. Once it’s completely stamped, this document also allows you to get your certificate of completion for the journey.
Other Things You Might Need
Reusable lightweight bag
Quick Drying Travel Towel
What to wear on the Camino de Santiago
1) Sturdy, practical clothes that work good in all weathers and will stand up to repeated washings. They get bonus points for being rainproof or at least water resistant.
2) Even in the summer months, bringing along some cold weather items is a good idea because the temperature can drop suddenly and unexpectedly in mountainous regions.
3) Something that perks up your appearance the evenings so that you’re not stuck wearing grungy hiking gear the entire trip. This item could be earrings, lipstick, a second pair of shoes, or even a fresh shirt.
4) You’ll obviously want to pack warmer clothes when the forecast calls for cold weather and lighter garments in hot weather. Good winter options may also include thick scarves, fleece hats, and gloves.
What NOT to take on the Camino de Santiago
1) Extra Items of Any Kind – Jettison anything you aren’t going to use on a regular basis. After all you have to carry almost everything that plan on taking with you and it’s a long walk.
2) Valuables – You really don’t need them and they’ll probably get lost or stolen en route so it’s best to leave them at home.
3) Uncomfortable Footwear – You’ll be doing a lot of walking so leave any uncomfortable footwear behind. It should go without saying that this caveat also covers high heels because they’re certainly not suitable for all the hiking you’ll be doing along the way.
4) Large Electronic Devices – Items like computers or overly large cameras that aren’t worth the additional weight they add to your pack. You can instead use your phone to take pictures and to post humble-brag Facebook status if you feel you must.
FAQs about Hiking the Camino
1) How long is Camino de Santiago and how difficult is it to hike?
As Santiago has been a popular pilgrimage site for centuries there are many different routes to the town’s cathedral. The most popular route is called the French Way, which goes over the border from France into Spain. It lasts 790 kilometers (about 500 miles). For the most part, the trail is of average difficulty but it’s still doable for active people that are in good health. There are also some routes that are more strenuous than others so be sure to research more carefully the path you plan on taking before setting out. It’s also a good idea to build up your strength by taking long walks that increase in duration for a while before you leave for your trip.
2) How long will I need to complete the route?
The French Way takes a little over a monthto complete if you are on foot. Other methods of conquering the trail might involve bicycles, horses, and possibly hopping on a busfor a bit. Any of these tactics caneasily reduce the time it will take to get from point A to point B. Other routes may take longer or shorter amounts of time to complete. Just keep in mind that you must do the last portion of the path either on foot for 100 kilometers (62.14 miles) or by bicycle for 200 kilometers (124.28 miles) in order to receive your completion certificate.
3) What’s a good basic daily budget for hiking the Camino de Santiago?
$40 to $60 per person is a good base rate for this trip. However, this estimate does depend on where you plan on spending the night and how much you typically need for food on a daily basis. While donation-based accommodation can be found in some spots, pilgrim’s hostels(calledalbergues or refugios)normally charge around €8 ($9.55 USD) per night. Meanwhile, staying in a private hostel or hotel could easily cost you anywhere from $30 to $60 or more on a daily basis. Your trip cost calculations should also include the price of transport from your home to your starting point as well as any additional activities or services that you plan on using. For instance, you can pay to have your bags transported from point to point on a daily basis so you don’t have to carry them around
4) When is the best time of year to hike the trail?
As is the case with many European destinations, the Camino de Santiago can be quite crowded and warm during the summer months. It can also be icy cold and totally devoid of people in the wintertime. Therefore, the months of May, June, September, and October are generally considered the best time to go for milder weather and fewer crowds.
5) What pack size is best?
For this trek, the recommended average is under 20 pounds for men and under 15 pounds for women. However, the amount you are able to successfully carry might end up being more or less than that. Just keep in mind that the less you pack, the less you’ll end up carrying and the road is long.
6) What are some space saving tips for hikers?
Use items that have dual functionality. If your phone has a camera and a book reader feature on it, you may want to simply use them to avoid taking along extra items. Likewise, it’s a good idea to bring things like sarongs that can double as a shower cover-up, towels, dresses, picnic blankets, privacy curtains, and so on. The more purpose that your gear serves, the less ultimately you have to bring with you. Leave behind anything you don’t need. Your back and feet will thank you.
7) Are there any additional safety issues that need to be addressed?
Not aside from the usual ones that go along with hiking and staying in hostels. Just be cautious and you should be perfectly fine.