How do you effectively pack for the Camino de Santiago so that you are prepared with everything that you need, but you still pack light? Our UltimateCamino Packing List for women and men, also available as a downloadable PDF checklist, is the place to find out. Read on for Camino specific packing recommendations on backpacks, clothing, shoes, foot care, practical gear and more.
A beautiful walk, a memorable journey — one that comes up in conversation over and over again. That is our Camino de Santiago. Lessons learned, a stack of stories in six weeks and 600 miles/960 km, a metaphor for life.
The greatest bit of preparation you can do to influence your comfort on that journey — so that you can focus on what's around you rather than the burden of your backpack — is to know what to pack for the Camino, and why.
Based on our experience — an exceptional one that combined the Caminos del Norte, Primitivo and Frances and Finisterre — we were 95% happy with the packing choices we'd made and learned the other 5% in lessons. In this Camino de Santiago packing guide for men, women and couples, you get the 100% so you can benefit from all our experience.
If you are considering walking the Camino de Santiago, no matter what distance, the short answer: yes. We’ll cover other planning factors for the Camino de Santiago — choosing a route, when to walk, accommodation options, how to eat amazingly well and cheap, and more — in a series of other articles. Before that, however, one of the essential lessons of the Camino de Santiago lands when you realize how little you need to pack and carry.
Update: This article was originally published on 28 June, 2017 and updated on 20 June 2020 with a downloadable Ultimate Camino Packing List for Women and Men and other gear updates.
Camino Packing: Perspective and Philosophy
Having done it ourselves, we realize that researching the Camino de Santiago can be delightful and overwhelming at all at the same time — especially when it comes to how to pack for it. This results in Camino-onset packing and planning paralysis. There are endless forums and websites dedicated to the topic of planning and packing for the Camino, including an underlying machismo competition for the “right” way to do it.
So, we'll stay away from absolutes here. Below is a snapshot of our packing approach based on our personal experience walking the Camino de Santiago for a total of 960km, about 100km more than we had originally expected. The beauty of our packing, however, was it really didn’t matter how many kilometers or days we walked. We were prepared for just about anything.
Our advice: pack what you need to pack. Try to err on the side of “less is more,” but don’t let anyone make you feel bad about your choices. Sure, you'll make some mistakes — maybe you miss something essential, or you overpack. It's not the end of the world, nor your Camino.
Desired weight of your backpack: There's endless discussion and competition on what's the “right” weight of a pack for the Camino. Again, do what makes sense for you and fits your body's needs. For us, we found that carrying around 7-8 kilos/15-18 pounds was a good weight for each of us. Having a quality backpack that is properly fitted to your body will help tremendously in distributing this weight so you don't have aching shoulders, back or hips.
Keep in mind: pilgrims have been walking this route for over 1,200 years without the fancy gear or technology we have today. Think of it…