Ultimate Female Packing List for the Camino de Santiago

Nicolette walking the Camino de Santiago

The following Camino de Santiago packing list has been tried and tested by Nicolette Shearer. See all packing list posts here.

On August 27, 2014, I began a journey that forever changed my life, even though I declared it would not. The Camino de Santiago made me who I am today.

I never planned to walk the Camino de Santiago. What I DID plan to do was backpack Europe with my boyfriend while drinking fabulous wines and beers, eating the best food, seeing fantastic living history, partying it up with Europeans, and not having a care in the world.

Well… most of those things happened except not having a care in the world. It’s hard to live care free while backpacking. Even if you plan everything to a “T,” things happen and plans change. Just like my plan for Europe. The Camino de Santiago just slipped it’s way into the end of our fun trip and as it began, it was nothing like my above mentioned plans.

After hearing about our upcoming trip, a family friend had told my boyfriend to watch the movie “The Way” (I recommend watching it so you have some idea of what you are going to experience). It is all about one man’s pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago. This and days of research inspired my man to take on the pilgrimage as well. I watched the movie and thought, “Well it’s just a bit of walking, if they can do it so can I.”

I was so wrong. It is WAY more than just simple walking.

About the Camino de Santiago

About the Camino

For anyone who has never heard of it, the Camino De Santiago is a 790 km (500 miles) pilgrimage across the country of Spain (including it’s mountains). It has a very rich history and was started by Saints who trekked across the country to reach the buried remains of Saints and then to the Atlantic. They would then collect a shell to prove they made it the whole way and return home. Obviously there is a lot more history to this but then this article would be more about the history than what we are all here for: packing.

With all the research we did, we still were in no way prepared for what laid ahead of us on that first day of the Camino. Each day you wake up before the sun, around 6-7am, and walk and walk and walk for 20-30km each day. Stopping along the way for breaks, food, sightseeing and bathrooms. This repeats itself for over a month.

We finished our pilgrimage in Santiago de Compestella on September 30, 2014. Depending on how you chose to tackle the Camino, the average completion time is about 35 days. There are also people biking and horseback riding the trail. These pilgrims are meant to finish in about half the time of a pied (walking) pilgrim.

The Struggles of the Camino

Each day there will be a new kind of struggle and many people who have to return home from injuries or some other issue. Many of these struggles could have been easily prevented by their packing. Wrong shoes, too large of bags, too heavy of a pack, and more, hindered pilgrims who may have been able to make it to the end.

If someone had created this list for me I would have had a few less days of pain and suffering. So please: learn from our mistakes, but remember you are meant to learn from your mistakes. The mistakes I made, made me a stronger person. So do not beat yourself up when something goes wrong. Learn from it and move on.

So finally…

The Ultimate Camino de Santiago Packing List

Small Backpack with Hip Straps

It's a wise idea to take a tiny backpack on the Camino de Santiago.
It’s a wise idea to take a tiny backpack on the Camino de Santiago.

We started off in Europe with big 65L & 60L backpacks. I lovingly referred to them as “the monsters.” I struggled with mine but we were not doing too much walking and they held all of our camping supplies. We decided right before we started the Camino to downgrade our packs. My boyfriend knew there was no way I could finish the 500 miles with my monster. We went out to a local sports store called Decathlon and bought 22L and 30L bags with hip straps and sent our monsters (with most of our items) home.

The small bag saved the pilgrimage for me. I know I would not have made it the whole way with the huge bag. With just the bare necessities on our backs we were better off.

Hip straps are important. They keep the weight off your shoulders and distribute the weight more efficiently. Look at the Her Packing List article about correct backpack placement.

Sleep Sack

Sleeping bags are too heavy and bulky to carry. A good sleep sack can keep you warm while taking up significantly less space. Most places do not provide a blanket but will have pillows. Ours were a last minute purchase the morning of our first day in St. Jean Piet De Port Camino store. Best last minute purchase of the whole trip.

Trekking Poles

I did not use them, but my boyfriend and almost everyone else did. They made the weight from your bags put less stress on your legs and more onto the poles. If you do use some do your research and look into airport policies on carrying them on. Some airports let us walk on with them while others made us check them. Also, get a pair of gloves to prevent blisters on your hands.

Clothing

We brought two outfits each. We decided early on to not bring many clothes. It is unnecessary and they add weight. No one cares or remembers what you are wearing. It is about the journey, not your outfit. Everyone else wears the same thing repeatedly anyhow. One guy we met had two identical outfits with him so he “didn’t have to think about what to wear.”

What I brought:

Make sure what you choose does not chafe or itch. If not, you will be covering many miles extra uncomfortably.

We started our trek near the end of “Camino season.” The weather started off boiling hot and by the end I was constantly freezing. Check into the weather averages for the time you plan to tackle this.

Jacket/Sweater

You will need a jacket. Something made for exercise but can keep you warm. Once again we went with Smartwool. Near the end, when we were further into September and the mountains, I lived in this thing. The jacket only left my body for showers and the occasional wash.

Rain Jacket & Rain Pants

It rains. It only rained three or four days total for us and we were very lucky. Being wet was not fun. A good lightweight rain jacket can make those rainy days a bit better. Make sure it packs small! We both had The North Face rain jackets that worked wonderful.

Good quality WATERPROOF Hiking Shoes

Waterproof hiking shoes that have been worn in prior to Camino de Santiago is a must-have.
Waterproof hiking shoes that have been worn in prior to Camino de Santiago is a must-have.

This is the most important thing for this trip. Your shoes can make or break you completing the pilgrimage or not. We went with The North Face Hedgehog sneakers. (They have male & female versions.) They were perfect for us. If you do any research for this trip, make sure to do your research for your shoes.

When you do buy a pair, wear them in! Blisters are a big problem on the Camino. You will notice everyone at the end of the day tending to their poor feet. We saw some things that can never be unseen and most of them included the worst blisters ever.

Your shoes definitely need to also be waterproof, it can rain for a few hours to days in the summer in Spain. If your feet get wet in any way it’s game over.

Many people brought second shoes for when they needed a break from one pair. Tieks were a very popular second shoe, but I like having my toes covered while walking.

Good Quality Socks

My recommendation is Smartwool. They were thick, kept sweat away and protected my toes and heels.

Do not go cheap in this department. I did initially. By day three I was covered in blisters. Luckily my Man had thought ahead and brought an extra set of Smartwool socks which ended up saving my feet’s lives. The cheap socks will fall apart and will not protect your heels and toes from the impacts from the hike. Just go big (spend the money) so you don’t have to go home (early)!

Camino de Santiago packing list - checkpoint

Light Flip Flops for showers

Your feet go through enough. Do not add athletes foot to their laundry list of pain. Small lightweight shoes will save you.

Undergarments

A no brainier you will need these, but make sure you bring only a few pairs and they are made for lots of movement. Avoiding chaffing in this department is key. Find pairs that can dry fast!

Sports bras are key. Someone grabbed mine off the drying rack and I was stuck with a nasty thin one from the nearest store I could find. Bring two good ones!

Buff

I saw the article on Her Packing List about the many uses for a Buff. Thank goodness I did see it. I lived with my buff on. It provided me warmth for neck and ears, a headband, an eye mask, light towel for my damp hair and so much more.

Quick dry towel

Again. Fast drying helps. These towels are thin and light enough that you maximize on space and drying. Tip: Write your name on it somewhere because everyone has one!

Scrubba

You have to do your own laundry almost every day, and there is rarely a washing machine available in the Albergues. Usually they will provide buckets for you to wash your items in. The Scrubba was our savior. You fill the bag with your few items. Fill with water and scrub the clothes on the bumps on the inside of the bag, which act like a wash board. After a few rinses and extra scrubbing, wring your clothes well and they are then ready to be air dried. Our clothes were always the first one the line and dry, and always clean. This bag is amazing.

>> Grab a Scrubba on Amazon.

Small light/headlamp

I had a small keychain light for those bathroom moments after lights out or when you just need to find something in the morning and cannot see in the dark to save your life. My boyfriend had a headlamp for our early morning walks when the sun wasn’t up yet but we were. Both are very helpful.

>> Check out the Dyno Torch for an option that doesn’t require batteries.

Dorm room along Camino de Santiago.
Dorm room along Camino de Santiago.

Health Kit

  • Compeed – I had never heard of these until a fellow pilgrim saw me hobbling and assumed I had a blister. He handed me his last Compeed and told me how to use it. I had never been so thankful before. It is basically a hardcore bandaid that protects while sticking to your skin until your blister has healed. Look into these (on Amazon).
  • Medication – Having something to soothe those achy muscles is necessary. Any other medication you need, bring it. Allergies, heartburn, headaches, stomach issues, interrupted sleep can all pop up. Having the medication on you can save you a bad day or night.
  • Moisturizing sunscreen – Your face is very exposed to the elements. Protect it from burns and drying out.
  • Chap stick – You will need this. Throw a tube in your bag.
  • Ear plugs (2+ sets) – Some nights you will be in a room with five people. Four of which are in a harmony of snores. Our second night we shared a room with 120+ people. Save yourself the suffering and bring a good set of high grade ear plugs.
  • Small Sewing Kit – For when you need to fix those pants that are falling apart or to speed up the healing of a blister. Just make sure you sanitize the needle first!
  • Eye Mask – For those who want to sleep before lights out at 10pm. Or use your Buff!
  • Hair Items – I brought a small elastic headband when it was too warm for my buff so my fly always were not in my face. Get your hair up and out of your face (braiding was my savior). Bring a few elastics. I became one girls BFF when I gave her one of my extras.
  • Shower Items – I had a small bag that held all my shower items. Mainly anything this site recommends for traveling with shower items I did. Do NOT carry a huge bottle of shampoo or conditioner. The weight is not worth the couple of bucks you will save.Or check out the best toiletries for hand luggage here.
  • Sunglasses – You are outside all day. You need to protect your eyes. Enough said.
  • 1 L Water BottleHydration is very important. You will not know you are thirsty until it is too late, so fill it every morning before you get going.
  • Water Sanitizing Pills – These pills are usually made for 1 liter bottles making a 1 liter bottle a good investment. Sometimes you will not find sanitary water for a while, so having these can save you from dehydration and a sick stomach.

    >> Or look into a water purifier.
Drink water frequently on the Camino de Santiago.
Drink water frequently on the Camino de Santiago.

Technology (with headphones)

Sometimes you just need to jam out. PS. Some fellow pilgrims do not like when you jam out loud (I learned the hard way). Take tons of photos; the scenery is beautiful. Entertainment for when you are winding down at the end of the day is also a bonus.

Organization

  • 1 medium bag for clothes
  • I used a packing cube to keep my bag always organized.
  • 1 small bag for toiletries – I used the bag that came with my pack towel.

Correct Map or Guidebook

We did not have a guidebook. We went off the piece of paper they gave us on day one. Turns out it was not 100% accurate. Having a simple, small guidebook helps. They include distances, altitudes, nearest Albergues, grocery stores and more. We found one that someone had dropped near the last 80 km and we were obsessed with the plethora of information it provided us. Don’t struggle like we did, unless you want to be surprised the whole way (that’s how we sold it to ourselves).

Eating Utensils

Sometimes there will be “like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife” (Thank you Alanis Morissette). We bought a utility knife type that had a fork, spoon, knife and bottle opener on it, we called it a “forkspoonknife” (creative, I know). Despite the creativity in the name, they were so useful. If you can bring a small pocket knife with a can opener it will make snacking along the way easier as well. Also if you find one with a wine key, that’s gold. Most of the wine is made locally and it is amazing and cheap. “No vino, no Camino” became a very popular saying amongst our group.

Converter/ Adapter

Our adapter had a spot for two USB’s and an outlet. Sometimes we had a few people piggy backing off of us. Everyone needs to charge their gadgets so make sure you make good use of your power time and then allow someone else access to the outlet. FYI there will be no American style outlets.

Plastic ziplock bags

For food, wet clothes, keeping your documents dry and more. Very useful.

Toilet Paper

When I asked my boyfriend what I was missing on this list the first thing he said was: toilet paper. Every morning he would grab a large wad of it and had it folded neatly in his pocket for the inevitable runny nose or emergency bathroom trip. Sometimes you are 30 minutes away from the next place of civilization. When you gotta go, you gotta go.

Bedbug Spray

We did not do this but regret not doing so. Pre-spraying your items before you leave can save you a whole lot of scratching later. Hint: before you even take off your backpack check under the four corners of the bed sheets and check for any bugs or “dust.” We endured bedbugs twice and it is not fun getting rid of them.

If you do get bedbugs: wash and dry all your cloth items on high heat. Multiple times. I sat in my rain gear two nights while we handled this task. The bites are not fun.

Rock

This is not necessary but it is a big part of the Camino. Near the last 150 km you will pass the Cruz de Hierro and it tradition to leave a rock that you carried with you the whole way here. Do some research but long story short it is meant to pardon you from your sins and/or worries for walking this far.

The Cruz de Hierro (Iron Cross) on the Camino de Santiago.
The Cruz de Hierro (Iron Cross) on the Camino de Santiago.

PS: If you just need to bring more and worry you cannot handle the pack on your day treks, they do have a service that will pick up your bags and deliver them to your next destination for a small fee. Just make sure to keep your important items on you (passport, money, medication).

The happy couple on the Camino de Santiago.
The happy couple on the Camino de Santiago.

Everyone’s experience will be different. It’s your way. We met many people who started in a different city. People who planned to take full rest days and explore the cities. There were the people who walked two days worth of walking in one day to make it to the end faster. People who walked alone. People who walked in large groups. Couples. Siblings. Best friends. Everyone has their own way. Enjoy your way.

That is my one regret. I was too busy complaining about the pain I was in to appreciate everything around me. To enjoy my way.

Looking back I fully appreciate the experiences I had, the good and bad. Even the breaking down after 10kms in the shadeless desert and demanding my boyfriend to leave me to die (his favorite laughable moment… now).

You will probably have an “ah-ha” moment. A moment that makes you see the world differently. I had this moment happen, even when I said I wouldn’t. Basically, everything I declared I would not do at the beginning of the Camino, I ended up doing by the end. The Camino does that to you.

I wish you luck on your pilgrimage and envy you for being able to experience it for the first time. It is truly life changing.

Take it a day at a time. It’s the journey, not the destination.

Buen Camino!

If you have any must-haves suggestions please comment below! Sharing is caring! 🙂

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About the Author: Nicolette graduated college and immediately got into the corporate world. After a year of paper-pushing she jumped ship with her boyfriend and backpacked throughout Europe for four months. Hoping to inspire others to get out of their comfort zones and experience the World, Nicolette created a blog to document her travels. She hopes to get back out there and experience all the World has to offer!

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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

Comments

    • Nicolette says

      Hi Michelle!
      We got 22L & 30L Quechua’s (which was apparently a very popular brand in Europe).
      I’m not sure how much they weighed but mine was definitely under 15lbs, but it also depended on how much food we carried that day. My boyfriend took on most of this weight though! 🙂

        • Nicolette says

          Yeah it was a store just like REI. I of course can’t remember the name right now but your local outdoor store should have some perfect bags. Just make sure to keep it lightweight and get the hip straps. It will make a huge difference! Buen camino!

          • Kate says

            The name of the Store is Decathlon, you can find them everywhere in Europe and Quechua is their store brand for Hiking gear.

      • Jan Courtney says

        Nicollette, thank you so much for your suggestions. Your article was fascinating and so well written. My son just called me and asked if I would walk “the Way” with him this summer. I have wanted to do this for several years but am retiring from teaching in June and, well, I’m 69. I figure that now is the time while I am healthy and able. Did you see others my age on the route and how did they fair?

        • Patty says

          Jan, my husband and I just got back from a short trek on the Camino (not retired yet so time was short). We plan to go back and do the entire French Way. I am 61 and he is 62. We saw some folks older than us and many younger of all ages. Our feet and joints appeared to fare as well as any. If you are in good health and prepare for it, you will do fine and it is well worth the prep. Renee, your list and suggestions are spot on! Thanks!

  1. Renee says

    Having walked the Camino via the Frances route (there’s more than one Camino route) in October 2014, I would agree that the above is a very reasonable packing list – since the temperature was colder when I went, I had two pairs of quick dry pants (no shorts), and the addition of one long sleeve merino wool top, gloves and a Permaloft filled jacket. One very important item was left out and that is the credential (pilgrim’s passport) which allows you to stay in the albergues (hostels for pilgrims) and able to receive the Compostella in Santiago. In the end, my pack weighed 13 pounds (in my opinion, women should aim for 15’ish pounds; men should aim for 20’ish pounds) without food or water (this varied based on the days agenda, adding1-3 pounds more) and I never once wished i had brought something and used every single item I packed. In my opinion, there is no need for water purification tablets on the Frances route. There are fountains all over the route with water in Spain being very good quality/safe, and signs when the water was not potable (which was rare) but they weigh almost nothing, so if it makes the pilgrim feel better/safer…. I never ran out of water by making sure I topped up at every fountain and had no issues with quality. I didn’t get any blisters (I second the importance of proper fitting shoes and good socks) and you might want to consider adding an anti-chafing product like Body Glide or NOK cream (i brought NOK cream an used every day, i think this help me not get blisters and helped when I did chafe in other areas). Two other things I brought that is not listed above that I used every day was a sarong: scarf, out of the shower covering, extra blanket, shawl, etc. and a wide brim hat (mine was a Tiley and loved it in rain and shine). Oh… and hand sanitizer…. Buen Camino! Can’t wait to go back and try another route 🙂

    • Nicolette says

      That’s fantastic Renee! We did the Camino Frances as well! I have heard that the Camino Norte is even more beautiful if you are looking for another route!
      We somehow missed most of the sanitary water fountains (maybe due to our lack of guidebook), but we did read that most did not bring purification tablets. We just had them from our travels through Europe and thought “might as well bring them along!”
      Hand sanitizer is also a must! I can’t believe I left that out. It saved us plenty of times!
      Good luck on your next pilgrimage!

  2. Abby says

    Oh my GOSH, the PL I have been waiting for! The Husb and I are walking in 2016. Thank you thank you thank you for sharing not only your list but your Way as well!

  3. Sharon D says

    This is one the best packing list submissions I’ve read in awhile on this website. Great job!!! It makes me want to try the Camino one day. Keep exploring!!

  4. Kerri says

    I am leaving for the el Camino this June. I will be a single female travelling alone. Right now I am most concerned about wear/how to stash my cash. I do not like the neck wallets. Planning on wearing a cuff and a belt, both will hold cash. Any thoughts? What did you use?

    Also, GREAT list. Thanks!

    • Liz says

      Kerri you should consider wearing a Flip Belt you can find them on Amazon. Its a great, slick way of keeping your valuables safe. You can wear it under your clothes and I’ve tried it with my backpack and it hasn’t bothered me.

    • Nicolette says

      Hi Kerri!
      My boyfriend and I each ended up with normal wallets during the Camino.
      He kept his in his gigantic man shorts’ pockets and mine was deep in my bag. I found a thin wallet that could also hold onto my passport and kept it in a safe spot in my backpack.
      Neck wallets can be unnecessary (we each brought one and ditched them halfway), but if having one makes you feel just a bit more secure then it may be perfect for you.
      The neck wallets made us feel more sweaty and the strap hurt my neck, so small wallet it was!
      The only time there is a concern of being robbed is when you leave your bag unattended in the albergues alone and not locked up.
      Just make sure you are aware of your surroundings and always know where your important items are.
      Remember.. lightweight is key!

      Buen Camino!

    • Catherine says

      Kerri, when are you beginning your Camino? I too am traveling the Camino Frances plan to begin late June 2015 or early July 2015.

      • andrea says

        Hi Catherine, My son ad I are also doing the Camino for the first time( only 3 weeks of it this time) on June 30- July 17th.

      • thomas says

        when are you starting your walk? I should be there the end of june and just looking for groups to walk with

      • Kari LaBello says

        I too am a Kari…and I will be starting my camino on June 20th, 2016. I will be a solo hiker. My only concern is finding lodging each night, as the pope has declared this a holy year and many will be traversing this path.

    • Lindsey says

      Hey Kerri! I am planning on leaving for the camino in June 2016. Any tips on traveling as a single female? Which route did you take? Thanks : )

    • Sydney says

      For solo travel I bought a bra stash, eagle creek makes one which i got (silk because i felt the other materials wouldnt deal with sweat well enough). Though its not big enough for a passport, something I would consider changing next time – it made me feel infinitely safer. I found that attaching it to the center part of my bra in the middle of my chest didnt work, way too much sweat and it was visible. But the strap under my armpit worked well (2nd best to the following, but probably most used and seemingly safest). And on days I wore sports bras with super wide straps (or while sleeping with no bra) I chose to attach it to the side of my underwear – which ultimately became my preferred way of wearing it. the outside of my leg/hip area was definitly the least sweaty. the only issue with that was that it hard on days with a lot of sitting (ei transit days in train or plane or car – not a problem for Camino) because when you bend up it could poke you a little; other wise it stayed perfectly flat. Other option on sports bra/transit combo days was just stick it inside the sports bra, it wouldnt move much. overall it did get sweaty, and kind of grimey and a little stinky, but honestly it was significantly less gross that what i would have expected for something worn nearly 24/7 against your skin in the heat of summer (104 degrees in Prague). And I sink washed it a few times over the course of 2 months, when i had a good safe locker, or just kept my stuff on me all day. Dried pretty quick.

      Like I said I kept it under arm area most often, and being my over cautious self regularly check that it was still there by patting my side. This became such a habit I continued to do it for a few weeks once returning home and packing it away. But it was so nice to be able to really sleep on in train stations or parks or sketchy hostels without worrying about my money because it was literally attached to me.

  5. Maria says

    Hi Nicolette, a quick question – did you have to bring your backpacks with you each night when you left the hostels (to go exploring, for a drink, meal), or was there somewhere safe to store it in the hostels?

    • Nicolette says

      Hi Maria! No we actually never took our bags when we went out from the albergues/hostels. We only experienced one person get something stolen from their bags and it was her stuff sacks. So not a terrible loss.
      Sometimes I would bring my wallet with me when we left just in case. And I always had my phone on me (just in case we found wifi). Some of the places had lockers for your items as well.

      Good luck on your camino!

  6. Alex says

    Ps. Bedbugs are my number one fear. I appreciate your honesty in how you explained your experiences. I’ll use your advice and hope for the best.

    • andrea says

      my biggest fear as well!!! I am pretreating my sleeping bag and backpack. I am also getting a prescription cream from my doctor to bring just in case I do get bites.

  7. Lori says

    Thank you for your useful packing blog. I’m making my list from it as I will be walking the Camino Frances alone at the end of this month.

    I was wondering where you purchased food for breakfast and lunch before reaching the albergues. Are stores open early in the morning or do you have to wait unitl mid-morning to eat?

    Also, would a hot-water immersion heater and a light weight mug for tea or coffee be a good item to bring?

  8. Jamie says

    Hubby and I walked the Camino de France in June/July 2012. I still remember it like it was this year. It was a wonderful experience! I like the packing list above, what I had for shampoo was a solid shampoo bar from Lush that both of us used that worked great. I had a relatively small backpack the Gregory Jade 38 and a small purse from PacSafe (Metrosafe 100 GII) We would leave our packs by our beds and I ALWAYS carried my purse with my id, phone and wallets in it where ever we went. It worked well even with a backpack on. I would even put it in the bottom of my sleep sack when taking a nap or sleeping.

    One thing that I didn’t notice on the list was a lightweight reusable bag for grocery shopping. I would keep our food in it during the day so that it was separate from my clothes and then have it available for shopping when we found a store.

    I think that shoes that fit and your backpack weight is the key to a successful trip! Mine weighed 16-18 lbs and hubby’s was 19-21 lbs. (He carried the extra water, hahahaha)

    I wrote a blog about our trip and if you are interested it is at cedarhollow03.blogspot.com On the right is the Blog Archives that starts in June 2012 with our thoughts/dreams and packing lists.

    Buen Camino and Ultreya e Suseya (Good Path and Onward and Upward) Jamie

  9. ehfulham says

    I walked the last 200 miles of the Camino in 2011 and the only things that I would add would be sock liners (silk?) to wear underneath wool socks to prevent chafing and blisters and a bag with a camelbak/hydration pack. After doing 150 miles on the Camino in France, I got tired of water bottles constantly poking me in the back and drinking less because I didn’t want to go to the hassle of getting them out of my bag. Switching to a bag with a hydration pack and hose was magical, especially as there was a heat wave that Sept. The water stayed cool and fresh and I could drink whenever I needed it. The bladder was 3L, so I usually only had to fill up during the middle of the day if at all. Others in our group ran out on the walk from Cruz Ferro to Molina Seca and drank from my pack!

  10. Cec says

    Thank you for the pl, i plan on going in Sept 2016, only doing the last 100+miles…cant get off work for month. Cant wait

    • Mary Cunningham says

      Perhaps we will meet up. My 5 friends and I are walking the last 100…… leaving Sept. 3rd. Mary

  11. Jackie says

    Thank you so much for your comments. I am going at the end of june , and really it is a big help reading your comments. I was wondering how much cash to take. I will be doing the camino frances, and not sure where I could find ATM machines on the route,
    Thanks again, as this is my first time ever doing a walk, your advises helps a lot.

  12. Anja Marien says

    Hi, I am walking the Camino from tui to Santiago. It is my first long walk and being 59 years old, so want to start with a short one. I am starting the 24th of may ,2016. I am soo excited and very happy I found you’re blog.I am walking the Camino alone and would appreciate any other tips you have for me

    • Anne says

      Hi Anja, you are brave going alone..let us know how it goes. I am not fit and hope to walk last 100kms from Sarria…How far is Tui. I havent heard of it? Enjoy your Camino! Not sure about going alone. I may join a group.

      • trish says

        You are making a great start from Sarria to Santiago. I did this section in 2013 with someone who had all the wrong equipment and not in great shape and she did great. My dad always said right shoes right socks, dry feet, no problem. (he hiked most of the Appalachian trail) I will be going it alone the first three weeks then meeting my husband who is cycling half of it. Have fun there are many people on this part of the trek and you should have no problem getting help if you need it.

    • Loretta Schwalm says

      Anja, I am a 58 year old woman planning to walk for the first time this September and I will be traveling alone. Any safety concerns or tips?

      • lydia Sharane says

        hi Loretta, did you do your walk? I’m hoping to do the Camino de Santiago in May. Any words of wisdom are welcome.’

  13. Filomena says

    Hello ladies! Thank you for the useful tips. I am departing alone on Monday 11/4 and I am so excited! I am 15w pregnant and want to do the Camino before getting married in June. When I come back we’ll be able to see if it is baby boy or baby girl and I hope I’ll be spiritually prepared for everything ☺️

  14. trish says

    which smartwool socks did you buy? i need the ball heel cushion but not super heavy as I will be hiking from May to the end of June

  15. Francisco Rios says

    I don’t know if there is anything more to add. I did the Camino twice already (first time, 100km of the Camino Sanabrés; second time 790km of the Camino Francés). You managed to basically sum everything up. Great text.

    My only advice for future pilgrims: enjoy each and every moment. You will regret of that photo you didn’t get, of that person you didn’t talk to, of that memory you didn’t make. The Camino is unique!

    Cheers!

  16. Lizabeth says

    thanks for all the great information. I’ll be walking the Portuguese Way starting in Porto in July (hottest time but can’t be helped). I’m a woman in my early 60’s and will be walking alone. I’ve started buying all my supplies and appreciate the tips on how to keep my pack light. One of the best lists I’ve seen.

  17. Melissa says

    Great list! I immediately got on Amazon and purchased most things ?. I will be walking el Camino from Porto, Portugal on June 9th. Anyone else walking around that time? I was thinking of walking with groups but most of the ones I’ve found online are between 800-1500 euros…

    • Lisa says

      Hi Melissa, I realize this post was awhile ago. I’m leaving July for Porto and walking Porto to Santiago. What were your challenges and what would you change. This is my first Camino, and I am a fit 56 year old. Finances are not an issue and wondering if I should use Santiagoways or Mac Adventures as I am traveling alone. Having rooms pre-booked sounds great but maybe to constricting. What are your thoughts, Lisa

  18. Patty Kogut says

    My daughter and I are heading to the Camino Frances in 7 days and I am in the midst of paring down my pack contents. We are going with smallish 20L packs and are double checking our lists against yours!!! Thanks for you help!
    Patty Kogut

  19. Andrew Manale says

    The only section where I had a problem (2013 camino season) with not enough water was the twenty something kilometers to Villafranca in Spain. Much of the route is on pavement, it can be hot out in the open, and there are no drinking water fountains along the road. For this section I would recommend more than just a liter of water to be safe. I was dehydrating a bit–perhaps more than just a bit. Fortunately, I was, at that time, with others who shared water with me. That, of course, is part of the spirit of the camino. However, one should not expect it.

    • Irene says

      For vacations or long distance hiking trips I’d just stop my period altogether. In fact, I kept doing that after my trek through the Himalayas. I don’t bother with periods now. Just let myself get them 2 or 4 times a year. How you ask. Continuous birth control. It’s safe since you don;’t actually need to be having a period unless you are actively trying to get pregnant. If it interests you, check with your gynecologist. Some women aren’t good candidates because they have other medical issues that don’t make them good candidates for birth control.

  20. Jackie says

    I can’t thank you enough for having the compassion to write and share this! You are an awesome person! Can’t wait for my camino! 🙂

  21. Carlos says

    Thanks for your awesome guide. My son and I walked “El Camino del Norte” in 2015 and your tips were very helpful.

    Richmond, VA

    • nicolette says

      That’s great to hear Carlos! We constantly look back on our time on the Camino. Somehow we actually still miss it, even when I declared I never would! So happy you were able to experience it as well!

  22. Laurynas says

    Hi Collette
    I’m going to do North way from September 1st with my mom. We’ll start in Biarritz(France).
    Thank you so much for this list. I really enjoyed going through it. It helped me to rethink again what should i take with me for the camino.
    Greetings from Ireland 😉

  23. julie says

    Thanks for the PL and all the other useful info. I’m planning to do the Camino on the Via de Plata (Sevilla to Santiago) for my 50th bd in late spring/early summer 2017. Any idea how long that might take? I’m guessing 6 to 8 weeks. Do you think I could still get away with only 2 changes of clothes?

  24. Shauna says

    Thank you so much for this list, it was very helpful!

    Question: How much cash did you bring with you as I can’t imagine there are very many ATMs along the route! Myself and my best friend are starting from Sarria on the 16th September and we’re very excited!

  25. Anne says

    This may have already been answered but I didn’t read ALL of the comments. I noticed you didn’t wear a hat – was there a reason for this?

    • Linda says

      Just a thought about hats – you are always walking west and the sun is at your back… so it t hit your doesn’t hit your face often.

  26. Andrea Wissing says

    Im going tomorrow by myself…wish me luck…and thanks for the tips…for sure will follow up here my experience 🙂

  27. Dawn says

    Nicolette this is absolutely the best packing article I’ve read to date. Thank you, thank you! My daughter and I head out to the Camino de Santiago Frances in less than two weeks for the first time. You have made me rethink taking two pair of trail shoes. I’m doing it, no need to suffer through wet shoes.

    Have a fantastic fall!

  28. Tara says

    Hi! Thank you for this great post! You mentioned your encounters with bed bugs. Is there a pretreatment that you can do to prevent them? I googled it but nothing really useful came up. Thanks!

  29. Karen says

    All I have read is such great informayion. Thank you everyone. MY husband and I (both 62) will be doing the Camino de Santiago from France starting the first of May 2027. (so ecxited). There is a great book out (paperback) that covers all you need to know to make it through. It is called Camino de Santiago by Sergio Ramis. It breaks the trip down by day, with food, water and shelter locations and oricing. Invaluable information.

  30. Penny says

    Hi,
    This is a great packing list. A friend and I completed the Camino Frances this September.
    I agree with many of your items however found that Compeed created new or bigger blisters and instead found breathable white medical tape (used under the physio strapping) and Trekkers wool to be a much more effective way of preventing, padding and fixing blisters. I went through about 75grams of wool. The wool worked alongside the (very expensive) technical wicking toes socks (prevents blisters between the toes). Get socks that come up higher than your ankles to prevent small stones and grit from getting into your socks (as these create blisters).
    The weight of one’s backpack is also key. Ours weighed about 6kg each in total – before adding the weight of a bottle or two of water.
    We carried snacks and light food items as we rarely required more as with two to three exceptions we were always 10km or a 2 hour walk from food. Carrying water was more essential.
    I would also pack and wear a hat – preventing sunburn and even keeping light rain off.
    We also decided where possible to stay in the hostal (pension) type accommodation with private bathrooms because, between the two of us, it was cost effective and meant we did not need to carry expensive lightweight sleeping bags or even sleeping liners or towels.
    Probably the single biggest piece of advice I would offer to anyone planning the Camino in advance is to schedule back to back 20km per day walks – 2 hours in the am and 2 hours at night. This way you will go through your blister pain at home…and also work out if your pack is too heavy.
    I found my original pack – although only 35L was too heavy once packed due to the fabric it was made from and the way it was constructed and I needed to loose 2kg of weight from my pack to make it do-able. With few packing items able to be deleted from the bag to the total weight, I found a lighter weight backpack (with the hip straps). I only knew this from having worn it on 4 days of walking more than 20km near my home. I am so pleased I did the prep as it changed my entire experience. I will be doing another Camino in 2017 🙂
    To anyone out there planning to do the Camino…enjoy the journey, including the journey of preparation.
    x

    • Kathryn says

      I would love to hear what bag you bought… I I have a bag that weighs 3.3 US pounds, which is about about 1.5 kilos. I am also still feeling so torn about bringing a sleeping bag or bringing a liner. I would LOVE to ditch the weight of 20 ounces (2/3 kilo) of weight of the bag, BUT I hate being cold. I’m going May to mid June. Would love to hear thoughts. Thank you!

  31. Loukitt says

    My wife and i are planning to do the Camino in June 2017. Time is not a factor as we will have just retired and plan to explore other parts of Spain and Europe. Great packing list! Thanks to all of you for the tips.we plan on flying into Barcelona and taking the French way. what would be the best way to get from Barcelona to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port? Or would it be better to fly into another part of Spain. We are flying in from San Francisco,CA.

    • Marcie says

      Hi Loukitt!

      Any tips you can share for booking your flights out of SFO? My husband and I are planning our Camino for late spring early summer.

      Buen Camino!

      Marcie

    • Maria says

      I also am flying into barcelona (my first Camino), arriving Aug. 28, 2017. After much consideration I decided to take the train to Pamplona and then taxi to St. Jean Pied de Port. The taxi is about $100, but costs can be shared with other pilgrims. Buen Camino 🙂

  32. Maike says

    Oh my God.. I needed this. Thank you so, so much for just typing everything out for me. I decided to be relaxed about things and just let things happen but I cannot just let my outfit and all the other things I need to bring ‘happen’. I need to think about it and make wise decisions, I’m sure I will thank myself later on the way. And I’m sure I’ll make mistakes, but that’s ok. Thank you again! This helps alot!

  33. Marcie says

    Thank you for this great post Nicolette! and special thanks to everyone who continues to post updates. My husband and I are starting our planning to walk el Camino in 2017 and this list will save us TONS of time.

    Curious to know if anyone from the Bay Area can share the flight route they found worked best leaving from SFO.

    Buen Camino to everyone!

  34. Jeanine says

    Check out Ivar’s blog regarding the Camino. You can search items and there is a wealth of information.

    I, too, am going from SFO to the Camino this summer but we are going to London first. I got a one-way ticket on Norweigen for $300. Then we will fly from London to Biarritz then short bus to Bayonne then to St. Jean. I haven’t explored other ways but I thought the price was very good.

    Buen Camino.

  35. Sheila says

    This is awesome, thank you for sharing your tips and list Nicolette! I’m planning to trek part of the Camino alone in May. While I’d love to journey the entire way, better to do some now, than none. Looking forward to what lie ahead!

  36. Valentino Assenza says

    I have dreamed of doing this pretty well all of my life. I have also been overweight all of my life, and have not had much confidence in myself. Over the last year, I have started long distance walking every day. I am planning to do the camino in 2019. i thank you so much for this article, and congratulations on completing such a wonderful feat. Thank you for your article. Peace.

  37. Shirley says

    This is a good help.. My 14-year-old daughter and I are planning to walk the camino in early June. This will be our first time and we are not experienced hikers… We have already booked the flights from SFO to Paris, and will figure out the rest transportations. Too many things to study and prepare. 🙂

  38. Gazelle says

    Enjoy reading all the comments. My husband and I are preparing for the journey from Leon to Santiago from mid September 2017. We decided to get light weight, compact sleeping bags. I am also interested to hear what other woman have worn for sleep.

  39. Lisa says

    I have only 9 days off work. I am doing the last 100 k and hope to go back in years to come to do the whole thing. Think to get away even if only for the last 100k will be beautiful?

  40. Katie says

    I am hiking part of the Camino with a friend and her church group this July. We are starting in Porto, Portugal. I am nervous as I am not an experienced hiker, but also scared/excited about the journey itself.

    Thank you for this packing list as I am basing my own off of this list and all the comments!

  41. CH says

    Fantastic list, very useful thank you so much. I bought the Osprey Tempest 30l women’s backpack as it’s so light at 1.9lbs (0.86kg)… it’s also built specifically for women, very comfortable on the hips. Enjoy your walks everyone 🙂

  42. Pauline says

    I walked three caminos, two of them alone. No bedbugs, no blisters and no incidents of assaults or stealing. I wrote a book about my first Camino, Camino Frances. It is called Strong Camino Woman. I had guide books for all three walks. I used a Gregory Jade which is about capacity 30 L. By far it is the most comfortable backpack I’ve ever used. I recommend a small lightweight pack to carry your most valued items after you shower and go on a walkabout each day. It can also serve as a shopping bag for bananas, yogourt, nuts, cheese and bread, which I carried at the very top of my backpack for easy accessibility. I bought a SheWee for peeing but found it awkward to use. I would not leave home without Penaten cream(for feet) and a small tube of Vaseline for chafing. I bought safety pins, 10 clothes pins and a 6 foot line for hanging clothes inside. I carried a beach wraparound for getting out of the shower, which also served as a privacy curtain when I was in the bottom bunk, which I used all the time. Just as a precautionary- I carried two pairs of Smartwool socks and two pairs of cotton liners. I stopped every couple of hours to let my feet rest for 15 min. I lambasted my feet with Penaten cream and if my liners were wet, I put on dry liners. I would not leave home without hiking sticks and a second pair of boots/sandals. I used water tablets once. Look around in the albergue before you pay. If the place is dirty, or you wouldn’t sit on the toilet, go find another place to stay. Better to pay money for a pension than to get bug bites. I wore a money belt, neck purse and sewed a pocket in my bra. Other pilgrims were robbed from pants under their beds, or from leaving money in coat pockets. Buen Camino!

  43. Dia says

    Thank you for this post and to all the comments, i have read each and every one and taken notes. So much appreciated. My friend and I doing the northern route middle of September, and i’ve went back to this list several times. Buen Camino 🙂

  44. Hana says

    Hi Nicollette
    Just wondering did you ever do any preparation or training before doing the walk? Or did you jump right in? 😆 thanks

  45. Rebekah Butler says

    Thank you for your list! I’ll be going solo on the Camino Francés beginning in May. Reading these posts makes me super excited. I’ve noticed no one ever mentions toe nail clippers. That seems to be quite important! Gracias por todo!
    Rebekah

  46. Aquiligia says

    I walked about 200 miles of the Camino in 2007.It was one of the best holidays I’ve ever had.
    I recommend rotating your pairs of socks during the day and leaving the used one’s pinned to your backpack to dry as you walk along… It’s a good idea to remove your shoes and socks to let your feet get some fresh air when you stop for lunch or a rest.I used a small camphor spray on my feet and a sprinkle of foot talc at this point. They come in very small containers and take up very little room.in your bag plus your feet feel nice and fresh as you continue your walk.
    A few clothes pegs come in very handy as they have lots of uses and I brought my own pillowcase from home to use at night
    The main things to remember feet,water,food and sunhat😊 Buen Camino!

  47. Holly says

    Hi, we are planning to walk the Camino Frances next year. My question is should I pay a tour company to organise it for me, or do most pilgrims organise their own route/accommodation? I am used to organising my own multi day hikes, but I like to pre-book accommodation (peace of mind) and we will be having our bags transported – osteoarthritis in knees – does not allow carrying heavy packs anymore 🙁

    • Kathy says

      I did the camino last year with my 10 and 13 year old.
      ( I am actually going to do it again at their request this year!!)
      No you do not need to pay a tour company to organize – the few folks we met who did this regretted it as it tied them into a schedule and for the vast majority of people , is totally unnecessary. It is very easy to find accomodation generally. You can use a cell phone to sameday prebook at private hostels very easily if that is what you like. There is something to be said however for the comraderie at the big muniicipal hostels . so mix it up.

  48. JEANETTE says

    I will be doing the casino this May flying into Madrid . What is the best way to get from Madrid to Leon to start my journey? I plan to start my journey from Leon .

  49. Susan says

    Thank you for this information. I see that one of you used a walking stick…can you tell me the brand or type of walking stick that was used?

  50. cathy says

    GREAT LIST, GREAT PHOTOS of what it’s really like. I walked it in 2000, going back next year, different route. Your photos are very informative of day to day real. Buen Camino

  51. Lucy says

    Hi Nicolette,

    I just wanted to say thank you for writing this post about what to pack.

    I planned my Camino with just a few hours notice, booking a flight (from the UK) the night before, and leaving for the airport at 4am, just 8 hours later! A lot of my kit was in storage, so I had to pack from what little I had.

    Your list gave me the confidence to pack super light. I often do pack light, but the detail you give explaining what you do and don’t need, and why, made it really easy to trust you in packing light!

    My bagged weighed about 5.8 kg once packed (without water or poles), so thank you!

    If this helps anyone else reading this, I can confirm that no one cares what you are wearing on the Camino. It is so friendly, and in August, so hot, that it just doesn’t matter. I washed my underwear, socks, shorts and vest top every single day – normal procedure among walkers. They dried quickly in the heat, but I had a spare change of clothes just in case.

    I worse really light, thin shorts and vest every day, and a very comfy pair of trainers. I took no sleeping bag – just a liner. I took a medium sized travel towel. And for the summer, no rain trousers – just a waterproof jacket, which I wore for about 2 hours the whole time, for rain on the first dy crossing the Pyrenees from France.

    To emphasize what Nicolette says, you can pack light! There are shops regularly, there are 24 hour pharmacy dispensing machines all along the route for first aid kit and blister stuff. And there are Decathlons (bargain outdoor chain of shop) in the bigger cities along the route, and near the airport in Biarritz, if you want to buy stuff there.

    Pack light. You won’t need half the stuff you carry otherwise.

    Hope this helps, and thanks again for the packing list Nicolette!

  52. Laura says

    My husband and I are going from Sarria to the end (117km). I’m thinking that I can just wear good tennis shoes for this section as there isn’t a ton of elevation change. Can someone out there let me know if this is/is not a good idea?

  53. Raz says

    Great list! Amazon should recognize you 😂
    I’m going in June .. from Sarria.
    What happened when you collapsed after the first 10km? How did you gain your energy back?

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