If you are thinking of walking one of the many Caminos de Santiago this year, now would be a good time to get your kit and bits and pieces in check. As Roy Keane once said “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail” and I would agree with him to a extent. Even I, after my many Caminos, am continuously looking to improve my kit.
Last week, Camino Society Ireland hosted it’s annual Information event in Dublin (You can read about it here). Lots of information was provided about the specific routes, the background, and the history of the Camino however there was good practical information provided on what to bring and what not to bring in your pack. What you bring is your own personal choice but the rule of thumb is you will be looking after your kit for the length of your Camino so try to keep it to a minimum.
So in this post, I am just going to go through my kit for my upcoming Kerry Camino in May and my Portuguese Camino in September and if you have any questions, please feel free to comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Backpack – Lowe Alpine 35 litre Trail
I have used this for a number of Caminos. Lowe Alpine backpacks have served me well but that doesn’t mean that this will be the best fit for you. 35 litres is plenty of space for me and it gives me a rain cover. That said, there are many different brands out there – Osprey being the most popular. The right thing to do is to speak to someone in an outdoor store and get fitted. Never buy online!
Shoes – Salomon X Ultra GTX / Crocs Men’s Swiftwater River Sandal
Probably the second most important box to tick, in my opinion. We will get to the sandals in a second. I have walked with Salomon for 4 years now and love them. Some pilgrims like mid-ankle shoes, some pilgrims like sandals, some pilgrims prefer to walk with no shoes! Whatever your inclination, make sure you have a comfortable shoe before you go or else you will not enjoy yourself. Ensure that water doesn’t get into them or stones for that matter. The sandals are to wear after walking and to let your feet rest. You might not want to spend a whole lot of money on them. It might also be an idea to have waterproof sandals to bring into the shower.
Rain Gear – Helly Hansen Rain Jacket / Columbia Rain Trousers
I could count on one hand the number of days I have encountered rain during my 10 Caminos. It won’t stop me from bringing rain gear, however. Every time I enter Galicia, I have an irrational fear that the skies will burst open, even if the sun is out. But it is not only Galicia. You may also encounter rain, hail, or snow in April/May or Sept/October in most parts of Northern Spain. So it is worthwhile bringing along some kind of rain protection. Then we have the poncho v rain jacket debate…which I won’t get into. I wore a poncho in 2012 and the wind blew it off me. That was the end of that. The great thing about the rain jacket is you can wear it for everyday use during the year also.
- Craghoppers NosiLife Zip off Trousers – perfect when it gets warm or when it gets cold.
- Craghoppers NosiLife Long-Sleeved Shirt
- Colombia Short Sleeve T-shirt
- RAB Micro Fleece – good to have a fleece to have an extra bit of protection in the morning or in the evenings.
- 2 pairs of Under Armour boxers & 2 pair of Bridgedale Sock – lightweight, quick dry – having 2 pairs means I will be washing each night.
- Jack Wolfskin Baseball cap – to keep the rays from the head!
Water Bottle – Contigo 720ml bottle
There are tonnes of ways to carry your water on the Camino. You can buy your water in stores as you walk thereby helping the local economy, you could carry a platypus, there are many pilgrims carrying nothing but 500ml bottles and refilling them in the fuentes. Now, I am not saying any of these are the right way but be sure you have enough water with you at all times. For me, I carry the above bottle, and it just about works. On the French Way, there are plenty of fountains and places to refill and on the Portuguese Way, the same applies.
Sleeping Bag – Sea to Summit Silk Stretch Liner – Mummy
Again, when it comes to sleeping bags, there are so many options. Your choice of sleeping bag will depend on the time of year. If you are walking in the summer months, a liner will be fine, however if you are walking in the winter months, a sleeping bag might be needed. Don’t forget, some private albergues will provide blankets if it is cold, some at an extra cost.
Wash kit – Microfibre Travel Towel / All Purpose Soap
The towel is 130cm x 70cm and is really light and fast drying. You hang it on the end of your bunk when you are done in the shower and in a few hours it will be dry. I used to use Dr. Bronner’s soap but I found it really messy. So I changed to Lifeventure. This soap covers all the bases – hair, clothes, body and you can bring it on the plane.
Others – anything I have left out
- Several safety pins for hanging laundry – you can even hang the safety pins on your back
- Earplugs – for the albergue
- Cream for feet – I was recommended Gehwol by a Podiatrist and I haven’t looked back since.
- Blister kit
- Mobile phone, plug and charging cable
- Fitbit and charging cable
- Credencial from Camino Society Ireland
- I carry a small over-the-shoulder bag which includes my credencial, passport, a small amount of money, debit card and phone.
- In my backpack, I have a clear plastic pocket envelope which contains the important things – copy of a prescription, boarding pass, contact details if my phone is lost/stolen