The Camino de Santiago: the Packing List

By |2018-05-29T04:20:54+00:00February 5, 2018|Categories: Camino de Santiago, Europe, Packing Tips, Spain|3 Comments
Camino de Santiago packing list petzl headlamp

Believe me, you’re going to want to pack a headlamp on the Camino de Santiago.

To see all of our posts on tips for the Camino de Santiago, click here: Camino de Santiago.

Probably the question we get asked the most is, please give me your Camino de Santiago packing list. It will take more than one post to do that. (See all the links at the bottom of this post.) But, here’s a stab at most the essentials, other than the backpack and shoes, which deserve their own posts.

So, here’s a complete Camino de Santiago packing list of all of (ok, most of) the gear you’ll want on the Camino.

The Guidebook

The Bible of guidebooks for the Camino de Santiago is John Brierly’s A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago: St. Jean-Roncesvalles-Santiago. It’s the most comprehensive of all the guidebooks we saw, by far. And, the new version is printed on lighter weight paper than the one we carried. That’s a good thing. This is the version for the Camino Frances, btw, which is the most traveled route. There are other books for the myriad other routes. Make sure you get the one for your route.

The useful part of the book is divided into daily stages. You certainly don’t have to follow his daily recommendations. Some days we did. Others we didn’t. But, Brierly includes great info on all the intermediate stops along the way, so if you can’t make it the 30 or so kilometers he sets out for a day, you can always stop short, and he’ll have the lodging info you need to do just that.

Beware though, John Brierly is a bit of a zealot, and there’s a lot of stuff in the book about his own spirituality that, to my mind, is excess baggage. For example, the entire section in the front of the book about the history, etc. of the Camino doesn’t really need to be carried all the way across Spain. Do what I did. Read it. Appreciate it. Then take out your knife and cut those pages out of the book and throw them away.

One of our fellow walkers who carried Brierly’s book did that before she started, then as she arrived at each night’s stop, tore out that day’s page that she didn’t need any more and tossed it. So, when she arrived in Santiago, she only had the cover left. That’s efficiency.

Headlamp

You will need one of these for getting around the albergues after lights out and before lights on. Also, if you’re one of those who starts walking before the sun is up, you’ll need one as soon as you get out of the light of the town. Petzl Tikka 2 Plus is pretty much like the one I had. Petzl makes a great line of headlamps with various features. Mine had a three way switch with high and low intensity beams and a strobe effect. I never used the strobe, but it would come in handy if you’re walking along the road at dusk, I suppose. Kris’s lamp had a red light, which she used around the albergue so she could see, but the red would make minimum disturbance to the peregrinos who were already asleep. Check them out in the store and pick the features you want.

Laundry kit

An essential item of your Camino de Santiago packing list is a laundry kit. That’s a clothes line, clothes pins (probably about six), a flat sink stopper, and laundry soap. The clothes line is rarely necessary, as most albergues have clothes lines, but if you stay in a hostel or a hotel occasionally, you’ll need it.

About three meters (10 feet) of plastic cord is great. Don’t buy the one in the travel store. It’s stretchy, which you’ll find you actually don’t want, and it costs about $8. The plastic cord will be about $2 at the hardware store, and you can tie your own knots instead of using the sticky plastic things on the end of the expensive clothesline that don’t work anyway. You may not be able to buy only the length you’ll need, but just cut off what you do need from the 50-foot package. Be sure to melt the cut end with a match so it won’t unravel.

The same purchasing advice goes for the flat sink stopper. You can get one of those in the travel store for about $5, or in a hardware store for about $2. Travel Sink Plug for Laundry at Amazon for about $3. (Watch out for the shipping charge, though.)

As for clothes pins, plastic are lighter than wood, although, believe it or not, I went to three stores looking for them before I finally gave up and settled for wood. You can buy highly concentrated liquid laundry detergent in the outdoor or travel store, too, and I did. However, you’ll run out about half way through the Camino. The better solution is to buy laundry bar soap. Two normal bars will be plenty, and if you run out, they’re easy to find in shops along the way. They’re also a lot cheaper than the liquid. Again, you can often find this in the hardware store.

Earplugs

The thing on your Camino de Santiago packing list you’ll be especially glad you carried are earplugs. Many options are available, up to and including custom fitted ones that cost a couple of hundred dollars. Or you can buy a box of a hundred disposable foam ones at the hardware store. I did the latter, and handed them out in pairs to other pilgrims along the way. The only alternative to earplugs would to be to strangle the snorers in your albergue, but that’s frowned upon.

Sleeping bag

Leave this off your Camino packing list. You don’t need a sleeping bag. Instead, buy a very light and washable Sea to Summit Adaptor CoolMax Sleeping Bag Liner, which is great for the albergues. When you’re cold, you can more than likely get a blanket from the albergue. Or put your clothes back on.

You might also consider Sea to Summit Coolmax Adaptor Liner with Insect Shield, which is insect repellent. There will be at least one night on the Camino de Santiago where that will come it handy.

Miscellaneous other stuff

Knife/Multitool

You’ll want one. There are a million of them available, so go to REI and pick one. Or get this one, which is what I’m carrying these days. It’s the Swiss Army knife that is actually carried by Swiss soldiers. It’s substantial. It’s a bit heavy, but I love it.

Soap

I bought a nice bar of olive oil soap at Target that worked as both body soap and shampoo. Not sure if a woman would go along with that.

Washcloth and a microfiber towel

I used the Sea to Summit DryLite Towel. It’s light, and it really dries you fast. And when you hang it up with your clothes, it dries very fast in the Spanish sun.

Spork

or lightweight camp silverware. Along with your multi-tool, all you need to eat on the road.

Duct tape

About two meters (six feet) wrapped around a pencil for emergency repairs. No need for a whole roll.

Insect repellent

I like the 100 percent DEET stuff. Why mess around?

Fanny pack

A fanny pack that you’ll wear on the front is optional, and not necessary if your backpack has pockets on its waist band. And it should.

Glasses case

A light hard one is good. You want it for storing your sunglasses (or regular glasses) at night.

Toilet paper

At least once along the Camino, you’ll be glad you have this as you duck behind a tree.

Electronics

Cell phone, and/or tablet such as an iPad or Kindle for reading and emailing. Don’t forget an adapter if you’re going to carry electronics. I carried this Universal World Wide Travel Charger Adapter Plug, which has a built in surge protector. Beware, however, it does not convert voltage from 220 to 110. Most chargers can work with both voltages, but make sure yours can or buy an adaptor with a built in voltage converter. Beware, outlets in the albergues are precious, and everyone will be trying to charge their phones, so you might consider carrying something like a multi outlet plug, with universal plugs and USB ports so your European companions can use it, too. If you do carry one, you’ll be a hero to a lot of people.

The Camera

Finally, in in some ways the essential item for your Camino de Santiago packing list is a camera. A light one, but a good one. I made the mistake of carrying my big DSLR, and couldn’t be bothered to stop and get it out of my pack every time I wanted to take a picture. Here’s the one I would recommend: the Sony RX100-III. It’s small, light, and an excellent camera. You’re probably only going to do the Camino once. Make sure you get the best pictures. And lots of them.

You can read more about all my camera equipment here.

Read Kris’s post on what it’s actually like to walk the Camino de Santiago.

To see all of our posts on tips for the Camino de Santiago, look here:

The right clothes
Your first aid kit
Walking sticks
The low down on socks
Shoes or boots?
The best way to carry water
The backpack

This is an update of a post originally published in 2013.

We love traveling–with the right gear. You can check out a lot of the stuff we use to make all our travel much more pleasant and efficient all on one page. Click here to see it. If you purchase something from this page, Travel Past 50 will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Thanks.

3 Comments

  1. Irene July 7, 2016 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    Did you take your DSLR on the Camino? I’m looking at doing 3 weeks or so next year and I can’t imagine going without a real camera that shoots RAW. But the weight of my D7100 is making me think twice.

    • Tom Bartel July 7, 2016 at 6:35 pm - Reply

      Irene, I carried my D7000 in my pack. It’s a pain to carry outside the pack and have it bouncing along at every step. I also found because it was in the pack, I didn’t stop to pull it out as much as I would have done if it had been easier to get to. Consequently, I missed a lot of shots I’d have otherwise done. There are a lot of small cameras that shoot raw and would easily clip on to your pack strap. I’m carrying a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III nowadays. It’s super light and has a great Zeiss lens. And its sensor is probably as good as better as the 7100’s. It’s not cheap, and you can’t change lenses. The lens it comes with is the equivalent of a 24-70 mm on a full frame camera. I’ve been using it for a couple of months and am very impressed with it. To the point that I’m not lugging my D800E as much any more unless I specifically need the versatility of being able to change lenses. Buen Camino!

      P.S. Here’s a link to that camera if you want to have a look: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1049537-REG/sony_dscrx100m3_b_cyber_shot_dsc_rx100_iii_digital.html/BI/19362/KBID/11420/kw/SODSCRX100M3/DFF/d10-v2-t1-xSODSCRX100M3

      • Irene July 10, 2016 at 10:08 pm - Reply

        Thanks for the reply Tom. I can’t spend more money on camera gear at this point. I already have 2 DSLRs and several lenses that hall totaled have cost me several thousand dollars. Gear acquisition syndrome 🙂
        I have plenty of time to decide whether or not to pack my camera. I will probably make that decision in the last week.
        Thanks again and safe travels.

        Irene

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