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Packing for the Camino de Santiago: Camino Packing List
Hiking socks x 2 pairs
Liner socks x 2 pairs
Mid height hiking boots
Hiking sandals (optional)
Zip off pants
Merino wool top
Quick dry towel
Blister care products
Safety pins (to hang wet clothes off your backpack, or secure them on a clothesline)
Ziploc bag (keep your credencial safe)
List with more information
A sleeping bag is very good to have, as it keeps you warm and also many albergues do not have sheets on the beds. Unless you are going when it's very cold, only a light one is needed.
Be sure to get good quality hiking socks to reduce the chance of blisters. Bridgedale is a good brand to get. Wearing two sock layers can reduce your chance of blisters because instead of the sock rubbing against your foot (causing friction) it rubs against the other sock. A good combination is a tk liner sock
Buy two pairs, as wool takes a long time to air dry and putting it in a dryer is very risky.
People wear different kinds of shoes on the Camino- some people just wear normal runners! I've found most people wear mid height hiking boots, which is good because the weather can be rainy and in some parts of the Camino, that means lots of mud. It also gives more ankle support than shoes in a normal runner style. You don't need a full height hiking boot. Salomon and Keen are both good brands. I used Keen's Targhee, which I was very happy with.
Be sure to try the shoes on first. This is the most important item to get right.
Invest in a pair of quick dry, zip off pants. Zip off pants are pants that can have the bottom bit removed, making them shorts. This is good for two reasons: it means that if you get too hot you can easily convert them into shorts, and that if the bottom of your pants gets muddy you can remove the bottom bit and still wear the top bit as shorts whilst you wait for the bottom bit to dry. You should only need one pair.
For wearing in the shower and walking around the albergue.
For walking around towns or albergues, and for wearing hiking if your feet get blisters in your hiking boots (the sandals will rub in different places). Not essential, but could be nice to have.
This is of course possible to buy on the way as needed, but it may be worth the extra 30 grams to bring panadol, anti-diarhhea medicine etc and have peace of mind that if you become unwell you'll already have the medicine- especially if you don't speak Spanish as there is no guarantee the person working at the Farmacia will speak English. I don't know about you, but I personally don't fancy the idea of playing a game of charades to try to make the chemist guess what's wrong- especially with something such as traveler's diarhhea!
Merino wool top
This is your base layer. When it's cool, wear it under your fleece and/or your windproof jacket. When it's hot, wear it by itself. This doesn't need to be merino wool, but merino wool is good because it can go a while without needing a wash.
The most popular Camino book is by far the one by John Brierley. It seems as if every second pilgrim is carrying a copy! A guidebook is not essential, as the route is well marked by a series of signs and markers designed to stop the peregrinos getting lost. However it is good to have, because it includes distances between cities, maps and information about the albergues, such as how many people it has room for and the cost to stay there. It also has information about buildings or other things of significance that you may otherwise pass by. The one by John Brierley is the best one to get. New editions are released yearly, so make sure you get the most up to date one.
Quick dry towel
For showers. Albergues don't provide towels. Get a microfibre material
It is likely it will rain on your journey at some stage. The most important things to keep dry are your pack and your feet (wet feet lead to blisters). You have a few options about what to get. You can get something like an Altus poncho, which is full length and also covers your pack. Or you can get individual items: a rain pack cover, pick a jacket that is waterproof and get either rain pants or gaiters. I personally recommend gaiters, as waterproof pants are not very breathable, which isn't good for hiking and also means you will likely need to get another pair of pants for non-rainy days. Having two pairs will add extra weight to your pack. What I did was get a waterproof jacket, pack cover and a pair of gaiters. My legs got wet when it rained, but that doesn't matter. Especially with quick dry pants.
Posting ahead on the journey
It is possible to post ahead excess baggage along the way, to be waiting for you in the post office of Santiago de Compostela. It is unclear exactly how long they keep the box at the post office before returning it (I was told 30 days, but then assured 34 would be fine.) If you don't feel like taking the risk, the owner of the Camino forum website offers a service where he will keep your things for up to three months for a fee, and you can pick them up when you arrive in Santiago. Click here for more information about this service.