what to pack for the camino

Embarking on the Camino de Santiago requires careful preparation, and one of the most important aspects of this preparation is deciding what to pack. Here’s a comprehensive guide on what to include in your pilgrim’s backpack for the Camino de Santiago.

Essential Gear for the Camino de Santiago

Comfortable Backpack

The backpack is a pilgrim’s constant companion on the Camino de Santiago, carrying all the essentials needed for the journey. Therefore, selecting a comfortable backpack is crucial to ensure a positive experience on the Camino. This brings us to the question, what to pack for the Camino when it comes to choosing a backpack?

Importance of a Lightweight and Sturdy Backpack

A backpack for the Camino de Santiago should be lightweight yet sturdy. A heavy backpack can strain your back and shoulders, making the walk more challenging. On the other hand, a backpack that is not sturdy enough may not withstand the rigors of the journey. Ideally, the backpack should have a capacity of 35-50 liters, providing enough space for all your essentials without encouraging overpacking.

Ensuring Good Shoulder and Hip Support

Good support is a key feature to look for in a backpack. The weight of the backpack should be distributed evenly across your body to avoid straining any particular area. Look for a backpack with padded shoulder straps and a strong hip belt. The shoulder straps will help distribute the weight across your shoulders, while the hip belt will transfer some of the load from your back to your hips, which can bear weight more effectively.

Additional Features to Consider

In addition to being lightweight, sturdy, and supportive, there are several other features to consider when choosing a backpack for the Camino de Santiago. These include:

  • Ventilation: Look for a backpack with good ventilation to prevent your back from getting too sweaty during the walk.
  • Waterproof or water-resistant material: While it’s essential to carry a rain cover for your backpack, having a backpack made of waterproof or water-resistant material provides an additional layer of protection for your belongings.
  • Multiple compartments: Having different compartments in your backpack can help you organize your items and access them easily when needed.
  • Adjustability: Everyone’s body is different, so look for a backpack with adjustable straps that can be customized to fit your body shape and size.

In conclusion, a comfortable backpack is a critical piece of gear for the Camino de Santiago. By choosing a lightweight, sturdy backpack with good support and the right features, you can ensure that your backpack contributes to a positive Camino experience rather than detracting from it.

Good Quality Footwear

When preparing for the Camino de Santiago, selecting good quality footwear is of utmost importance. Your feet will carry you hundreds of kilometers, so ensuring they are well-supported and comfortable is crucial. This brings us to the question, what to pack for the Camino when it comes to footwear?

Choosing Between Trail Runners and Hiking Shoes

The choice between trail runners and hiking shoes largely depends on personal preference and the type of terrain you’ll be walking on. Trail runners are typically lighter and more breathable, making them a good choice for those who prefer a lighter shoe or will be walking in warmer weather. Hiking shoes, on the other hand, offer more support and durability, which can be beneficial for those with weaker ankles or for routes with rougher terrain.

Importance of Comfort and Fit

Regardless of the type of shoe you choose, comfort should be your top priority. Look for shoes that fit well and provide good support. Remember that your feet will likely swell after long days of walking, so it’s a good idea to choose shoes that provide some extra room. Try on shoes with the socks you plan to wear on the Camino, and walk around in them to ensure they feel comfortable.

Waterproof Features

Waterproof or water-resistant shoes can be beneficial on the Camino, as they can keep your feet dry in wet conditions. However, keep in mind that waterproof shoes are often less breathable, which could lead to increased foot sweat in hot weather. Some pilgrims opt for non-waterproof shoes and carry lightweight waterproof slipovers for rainy days.

Importance of Breaking In Your Shoes

Never bring brand new shoes on the Camino. Make sure to break in your shoes before you start your journey to avoid blisters and discomfort. Start by wearing your shoes on short walks and gradually increase the distance.

Don’t Forget Breathable Walking Socks

Socks are just as important as shoes when it comes to foot comfort on the Camino. Invest in good quality, breathable walking socks. These will help to prevent blisters by reducing friction and wicking away sweat. It’s a good idea to bring several pairs so you can change into fresh socks during the day if needed.

In conclusion, good quality footwear is arguably the most important item to pack for the Camino de Santiago. By choosing comfortable, well-fitted shoes and pairing them with breathable socks, you can keep your feet happy and enjoy your journey along this historic route.

Clothing for the Camino de Santiago

Layered Clothing

When packing clothes for the Camino, think layers. This allows you to adjust to changing weather conditions. Include breathable t-shirts, a long-sleeved shirt for sun protection, and a fleece jacket for cooler weather.

Shorts and Leggings

Depending on your preference, pack shorts or gym leggings for walking. They should be lightweight and quick-drying.


Pack enough underwear for several days. Opt for quick-drying and breathable materials.

Additional Essentials

Rain Gear

Even in summer, rain is possible on the Camino. A lightweight rain jacket or poncho can be invaluable when showers hit. It’s also a good idea to pack a waterproof cover for your backpack to keep your belongings dry.

First Aid Kit

A basic first aid kit is a must on the Camino. This should include band-aids for blisters, pain relief medication, any personal medication you may need, and rehydration salts in case of heat exhaustion.

Water Bottle

Staying hydrated is crucial on the Camino. Carry a reusable water bottle that you can refill along the way. Some pilgrims also find a hydration bladder useful, as it allows you to drink without having to stop and remove your water bottle from your pack.

Packing for the Camino de Santiago is all about balancing comfort and weight. The key is to pack light, but make sure you have the essentials to stay safe and comfortable on your journey. Remember, the Camino is not a race, but a journey to be enjoyed. With the right preparation and knowing what to pack for the camino, you can focus on the experience and enjoy every step of the way.