I’ve been asked by quite a few people on YouTube to put together a packing list for Camino de Santiago. Table based packing lists can be a bit tedious, so I’ll instead focus on the 10 most important gear items to consider. My experience with the Camino began with my walk of the 500-mile Frances route back in 2012. Since then, I’ve hiked the 104-mile Tour du Mont Blanc, the 221-mile John Muir Trail, the Salkantay and Ausangate treks of Peru, and recently returned from walking the Camino Portuguese.
The most important gear list theme or idea I want to stress is that you need to go lightweight. Take the essentials and leave the rest at home. Many will suggest a base weight of no more than 10% of your bodyweight, which is something I tend to agree with. A very reasonable target for all pilgrims should be in the 12-20lbs window.
Keep in mind that the Camino is not a backcountry experience, and as such, gear items like tents, camp kitchens, cold weather sleeping bags, and high capacity backpacks are not necessary. The gear you’ll find in this post is structured on the gear foundations of long distance day hikers and thru-hikers.
*The recommendations were last updated January of 2020.
Your choice of footwear will be the most important gear decision you make. This decision will be a part of every step you take. Here are three key things to look for:
- Comfort and Fit– In my opinion comfort is the key factor. What works for one foot, may not work for another. If you have a pair of shoes/boots that have worked for you in the past, stick with it. I prefer to have a thumb width of space at the front of my shoes to allow for foot swelling and down hill movement. In the heel, make sure to have a secure fit. If your foot is moving in the rear, you are guaranteed to have blisters at some point on the Camino. Many shoe specialty stores (I like REI) will help you with all of this. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
- Versatility– Many come in with the idea that the Camino is walked exclusively on trails, this is not the case. A great deal of your miles will be spent on concrete and asphalt. On the trail, there are no sections that would be considered technical, with few fitting the description of overly rocky. No real shale or talus to be found. That being said, there is quite a bit of hill walking in certain areas that could be a risk for slips without proper traction. It really depends on the time of year. I walked in the summer, and never came across any dangerous areas. I’m sure had I walked in winter/early spring, my opinions would be different. My opinion is the same on Gore Tex (GTX), it really depends on the time of year and the conditions you’ll be walking in. For summer, I would strongly recommend you not wear a Gore Tex option. You should also look for a shoe with a rockplate or shank as this will dissipate the abuse of stones over the long haul. Many wearing running shoes seemed to do just fine as well, as the added cushion adsorbed the blows.
- Experience– As I listed earlier, go with the footwear that works for YOU. If you don’t have a shoe you like, make sure to get ample experience walking in the shoe you have chosen for the Camino. I came across far too many pilgrim in agony because they neglected this point.
It’s often said that 1-pound on your feet is equal to 5-pounds on your back. For this reason and many others, I would suggest going with trail running shoes as opposed to heavy boots. Here are a few things I look for:
- Lightweight: under 14 oz.
- Breathable: must let feet breathe and dry quickly
- Forefoot Protection: Must protect my feet from the rocky trail with a rockplate and/or ample cushion
- Fit: I prefer shoes with a foot shaped toe box and no slop in the heel or midfoot
- My Foot: My foot is not your foot! Try on multiple shoes and go with the one that fits your foot shape.
- Durable: Shoe must be able to handle 500+ miles per pair or more
- Comfortable: No hot spots or rubbing points, with a nearly seamless interior upper
- Stable: Not necessarily with inserts or built in support, but I’m not a fan of narrow or flimsy shoes with a pack on
- Drainage: With rain and puddle crossings, I need the shoes to drain and dry quickly
Recommended Camino Footwear:
I was getting so many questions and comments on Camino footwear recommendations I decided to put together a post laying out all of the options. In my “10 Best Trail Shoes For Pilgrims” you’ll read about trail conditions and how to pick footwear based on your needs.
Getting the right pack for the Camino is critical, especially for those with little backpacking/hiking experience. An uncomfortable or heavy pack can lead to very long days and a very sore body. Many recommend a pack in the range of 30-40 liters, and even that is more space than you may need. If you have a large pack that you like, go with it! There’s no need to change, just know, you might be tempted to fill it with snacks and treats along The Way. Go for a pack with hip straps to ensure the load of your weight does not solely rest on your shoulders. Comfortable shoulder straps are also a must. Many pack manufacturers have gender specific packs these days, to ensure that the shoulder straps fit your body more comfortably. If you tend to pack heavy, you’ll probably want a pack with a frame, to ensure an even and supportive weight distribution. If you know you’ll be able to go super light, you should be able to get away with a frameless pack. Just like with my section on Camino footwear, go with what works for you and if you don’t know what works, go to a store like REI or Cotswalds to have one of their staff members assist you. One major thing to look for in a Camino pack is storage options. My pack has nice pockets on the hip belt and on the shoulder straps. This allows me to access money, chapstick, camera/phone, etc without removing my pack and opening the main compartment. Saving that time and energy is important when spending a few weeks on the trail.
Here is a list of my recommended Camino Backpacks:
Osprey Levity 45 (My Review) – A brand new lightweight pack from Osprey that comes in at 1.75 lbs! This was my pack for the Camino Portuguese and I loved it!
Osprey Exos 48 – A very light framed pack perfect for the Camino. I wore the Exos 58 on the John Muir Trail with no complaints.
Buy at REI
Hyperlight Mountain Gear Packs – These are the best lightweight backpacks on the market if you’re looking to go super light and aren’t on a tight budget. For the Camino, I recommend the 2400 Southwest at 1.83lbs.
Buy at Hyperlite Mountain Gear
Gregory Optic 48 – The is a new 2.5lbs pack from Gregory that still packs in a lot of comfort and features.
Buy at REI
ULA Camino 2 – A pack named after the Camino! Very light and comfortable. What makes this pack special is that it has a zipper compartment on the pack body so users don’t have to undo the roll-top closure.
Buy at ULA
Gossamer Gear Gorilla 40 – A very lightweight 40L pack option. Gossamer Gear is a brand made well know by the many PCT, CDT, and AT thru-hikers that use them each year.
Buy at Gossamer Gear
Again, just like the shoes, get a lot of training in with your pack and make sure it will work for you. You will be living out of this decision for a month! I went with the REI Crestrail 48L, which was larger than I needed for the Camino, but I backpacked through Europe for a month before I began in St Jean. It was much more space than I needed after I shipped all of my backpacking clothes home.
This might be a controversial pick for some, but it’s an item I know I can’t live without. I love photography, and I love sharing my experiences through photography. If you’re not one of these people, feel free to leave the camera behind, a great deal of your experiences will be impossible to capture through this medium anyway. At the very least, bring a journal. I brought my iPhone, which doubled as a computer, journal, camera, video camera, and a means of communication. Overall, I am very happy with this decision, but the low light images leave a little something to be desired, as I can’t print anything larger than 12×18 without noticing a lack in quality. For web use, phone cameras are just about perfect, and you can’t beat their weight and portability. For the John Muir Trail and Tour du Mont Blanc, I brought a Sony mirrorless camera with an APS-C sensor. I’ve been really impressed with the Sony mirrorless series and their E-Mount lenses. Whatever you decide, make sure to bring something along that can snap a quick photo. The landscapes, people, and architecture of The Way will stick with me forever, and I am very happy that I brought a camera to take these memories home.
Here Is A List Of My Recommended Camino Cameras:
Smart Phones: If you’re only planning on sharing photos with friends and family on social media, you’ll probably be happy taking pictures on your smart phone. This will provide a lightweight and simple solution for photos and video. If you’re looking for higher quality photos and videos with levels of creative control, you’ll want something a little more capable.
As far as lightweight cameras go you have two choices: point and shoot and mirrorless.
Most point and shoot cameras have all but disappeared from the market due to the emergence of smartphones, but a few top notch choices still remain.
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VII: This is probably the best point and shoot camera on the market and is priced accordingly at $999.
Buy on Amazon
If you’re looking for something a little more powerful than a point and shoot camera, you’ll want to look at mirrorless cameras. The best mirrorless cameras in the world right now are made by Sony. I’ve travelled all over the world with a cropped sensor Sony a6000 and recently upgraded to a full frame Sony a7rii. Both are incredible cameras. I highly recommend the new Sony A6600/a6400 and the new Sony a7iii if you’re just getting into the mirrorless system.
Buy Sony mirrorless at Amazon
If you go with a mirrorless camera, you’ll want to make sure you have the right lenses. I’d highly recommend a wide angle lens if you only plan on bringing one. For the a6100/a6400/a6600 I’d recommend the Sony 10-18mm. For the full frame Sony A7 series, I recommend the Zeiss Batis 18mm, Sony 16-35mm f/4, and Sony 28mm f/2.
During the Spanish summer, the sun is bright. Don’t forget, you’ll be walking from East to West each day, so there is no avoiding it. I’m big into eye protection as I spend a lot of time in the sun. Find a pair with quality lenses, you won’t regret it.
5.) Microfiber Towel:
To me, this is a must. I brought a micro fiber towel and washcloth on the Camino. They were usually dry before I went to bed, and certainly dry by morning. Things would have been much different with a damp terrycloth towel, especially for the algbergues without hot water! Don’t go without one, trust me on this.
Recommended Microfiber Towels:
6.) Quality Socks:
This may be another purchase that might seem unnecessary at first, much like the microfiber towel. It will be worth every penny you spend. I prefer the brand Darn Tough, as I have worn these on thousands of hiking and running miles now and won’t use anything else. They use a merino wool blend that lats forever.
- Darn Tough Socks – Best Merino Wool sock. Stink free, lifetime guarantee. My John Muir Trail sock.
7.) Technical Shirts and Underwear:
This isn’t mandatory, but definitely recommended. I know some who still wear cotton, but I just cant manage it. I need quick drying clothing. This is especially important on the Camino as you need to wash your gear at night and have it dry as soon as possible. This cuts down on the amount of gear you need to bring. I like Salomon shirts and shorts, but anything you like will do. I really like ExOfficio underwear. They dry very quickly and are comfortable in all conditions.
The Patagonia Capilene Daily is my favorite shirt for hot weather.
The Arc’Teryx Motus is my second favorite hiking shirt and the one I use for long days with lots of sun exposure.
8.) Warm Clothes:
This will depend on the time of year you are walking. For summer, a pair of longpants, a jacket, and a fleece will do. The first nights in St Jean and Roncesvalles were a little chilly, then it was fairly warm. It cooled down quite a bit once I reached Galicia towards the end. Much like California, warm days usually give way to fairly cool nights with little humidity. I wouldn’t describe any of the nights as “cold”, but I definitely wouldn’t want to be left unprepared in the event of a shift in weather.
I only needed mine for one day, but I consider myself lucky. It can get quite wet in Galicia especially, so come prepared! Many on the Camino forum recommend the Altus Poncho, as it will cover you and your pack. The last thing on earth you want is a pile of wet gear and clothes.
10.) Hat and Buff:
- This could have been grouped with sunglasses, but head protection is just as important as protection. To me, the perfect combination is a hat and a Buff. The sun can be brutal on the Camino, especially on the Meseta in the Summer. Having a hat combined with a buff around my neck saves me from getting sunburn and heat stroke. These are items you will want to hike with before you start the Camino, as comfort is key.
- Buff Headwear
**Additional gear items to consider/bring:
- Sleepingbag/sack: This was a mandatory item for me, but not for all. The Camino can be done with just a light sack in the summer and use of the Albergue blankets on cold nights. I brought +40F sleeping bag which I used almost every night as well as a very thin liner.
- Trekking Poles: I only use trekking poles with a heavy pack or on difficult terrain, so they were a non factor for me on the Camino. I understand that some have bad knees, so this would be an essential item. I just cant stand the sound of them on hard surfaces so please bring rubber caps! Also, if you bring them know how to use them. I saw way too many pilgrims with no clue on this, which defeats the purpose.
- Spanish/(Your Language) Translation Book: This wasn’t something I needed having lived in Argentina, but is something you may want to consider. Fluency is not required, but be able to ask and understand basic words and phrases. —English Spanish Dictionary—
- Hydration Bladder/Water Bottle: I mentioned this with my backpack recommendation earlier, but thought I would add a little more. I used a 3L Camelbak hydration bladder, but have since switched over to Platypus for all of my adventures as the Camelbak bladders leak too much. Hydration packs are not necessary on the Camino, but much more suited to my preferences. I saw many getting by with Nalgene bottles and others with generic store bought plastic bottles. Why do I prefer a hydration bladder? 1.) Your body will better handle a balanced and centered pack load, having the water (which is heavy) centered and placed in my pack is much better for a month of walking. 2.) I tend to drink more when the spout is right by my face. This ease also means you don’t have to take off your pack or fidget around with it every time you need a drink. 3.) With a larger reservoir I had to stop much less. Potable water is readily available all over the Frances, but there are a few days (Roman Road) were there is a lot of space between water stops. Whatever you choose, make sure to stay hydrated. Water will help you muscles recover, prevent heat stroke, prevent blisters, and benefit your overall health.
- Bed Sheet: Some places will hand out disposable bed sheets, but many do not. Bringing this item will depend on your feelings towards laying on an uncovered mattress. It really depends on you. I treated mine with permethrin, as I was highly paranoid of the dreaded bed bugs before walking. It seemed to work well, or fate worked in my favor, as I never got bitten.
- Headlamp: This is critical if you plan on leaving a little early from the albergues. I brought my Petzl which has a few white light modes and the all important red night vision mode, perfect for searching through my pack while other pilgrims were sleeping. It also came in handy on the few morning I wanted to start while it was still dark out. This item was a “must bring” for me, but might not be for you. —Petzl TIKKA Plus —Black Diamond Storm—
- Safety pins/Line: At the end of each day you’ll want to wash your clothes by hand, unless you want to pay the 3-10euro(depending on location) for a machine wash and dry. Some places have clothes line, others do not. It makes things easier when you can set up your own drying line after a wash. The safety pins will ensure your things stay on the line with the afternoon gusts of wind.
- Sink Stopper: This goes along with the clothes line, and makes it easier to wash your gear at the end of the day. It saves water, too.
- Ear Plugs: I sure am glad I brought mine along! One thing is for certain, if you stay in the albergues you are sure to hear some serious snoring!
- Night Pack: I liked leaving my sweaty day pack to dry at the albergue, but wanted to take my valuables with me. The REI Flash 18 packed worked perfect for me.
- Needle and Thread: This is a must for any small repairs along the way.
- Chapstick/Sunblock: Don’t start walking without it. Get small bottles as you can pick up extras along the way.
- Guidebook/Maps: You can easily walk the Camino without either, but it makes things much easier if you bring a guidebook along. This becomes especially important in the last 100KM from Sarria as accommodations tend to fill up quite early in the day. I used my guidebook to call ahead and book rooms a day in advance for this portion. Stay off the recommended stages though, especially for John Brierley if you want to avoid large crowds and full albergues. —John Brierley Guide Book—Anna Dintaman Guide Book—
- Sandals/Crocs: Make sure to bring sandals to wear in the shower and around to town to let your feet recover.
- Pack Cover: If your pack is not waterproof and/or does not come with a built in cover, you may want to purchase on of these.
- Plastic Bags: These will help you organize things withing your pack and double as a waterproof barrier
- Extension Cord and Adapter: I really like this as it allowed me to charge my iPhone under my pillow at night. It also had a three plug option which allowed me to take one plug and give the two extras to fellow pilgrims.
- Watch: The Camino is a place where you don’t need a watch, but it’s an item I always like to have on me.
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93 thoughts on “10 Most Important Gear Items to Bring On Camino De Santiago”
Thanks for sharing…very useful. I really enjoyed your youtube video. Buen camino!
Thanks Stephanie! Good luck learning Spanish, it will help quite a bit for your walk. Buen Camino!
Ahh…this was a great documentary. I have taken notes as to what to bring on my trip. I have had this on the bucket list since the movie..The Way. Not a hiker, but know I can “get in the rhythm” and do this. Buen Camino 🙂 (I’m taking Spanish classes now to prepare :))
Thank you, Connie. Luckily, you don’t need to be a hiker to enjoy the Camino, but being in great physical condition is a good place to start. Make sure to do a lot of really long walks with all of your gear in the months preceding your walk and you’ll be good to go. Best of luck with the Spanish classes!
Thanks man, great info! I’m planning to walk the french way, just as you did, in august this year. Your documentary was really inspiring. Just a couple things I missed… about how long did it take you from star to finish? And about how much money (eruo) do you think I should take for the camino?
Thomas, it took me 22 days to get to Santiago from St Jean and 25 total to Finisterre, but I’m a fast walker. I trained with regular 20+ mile runs in the mountains. Do what you can comfortably train for. You also have to decide what this pilgrimage means to you. For me, I wanted it to feel like a pilgrimage. I wanted to feel the pain and fatigue of long days and really push myself mentally and physically. Others prefer to take a more leisurely walk, meeting lots of people, and enjoying the tapas and beer at every stop. As for cost, it varies depending on your preferences. I spent 20-30 Euro a day. I met some getting by on 10 and others living large with a daily expenditure above 100 Euro. Many albergues are donativo, so a 3-5 euro donation is fine. The private albergues are usually no more than 10 euro a night, I stayed in quite a few of these as I got into towns late in the day due to my longer walks. You can get bread and coffee for breakfast at around 2-3 euro, lunch will run 5-7 euro (bocadillos), and you can make your own dinner on the cheap or order off the pilgrims menu in restaurants which is usually no more than 10 euro. So my average day was 2-3 Euro for breakfast, 5-7 Euro for lunch, 10 Euro for dinner, and 10 Euro for a bed. You can save the most by staying in donativos and preparing your own meals. Buen Camino!
I’m taking these tips into account for my next Camino 😉
I’m glad I could help, Sara! Buen Camino!
Excellent Camino documentary! Thank you for listing the important gear items too.
I’m planning to start at Roncesvalles to Santiago…however, after watching your video. ..I’m thinking to begin at St. JPDP instead.
Thanks for inspiring all of us!
Thank you, Gilberto! I’d suggest starting in St. Jean, it was an incredible first day. The climb isn’t as bad as some make it sound 🙂
I’ve been told a hiking stick is much needed. What would you say ? I’m 22 and in good physical condition, I wonder if it’s really needed in my case … ? I’m walking El Camino this summer. 🙂
It really depends on your preferences. I did not use a walking stick on the Camino, but I do use trekking poles when hiking in the mountains. Maybe try your practice hikes without a hiking stick and see if you need it afterwards.
Ok, thank you !
I don’t care for them because they add to my shoulder tension, but they help the knees with down hills if you are prone to that sort of thing. They can’t be taken on carry on and are often forgotten at the last coffee shop you went to. To each their own.
Hiking poles will absorb your knee and leg strain. Plus it gives a good upper body workout. I used mi e 100% of the time. I highly recommend them.
insightful, interesting and informative…..just like you! Thanks Drewbot!
During the Camino di Santiago you always walk from east to west. Apart this, great tips and correct informations. Buen Camino
Angelo, thanks for catching that typo! I’ll fix it now. Buen Camino!
Did you bring more than one pair of shoes? Does each town have places to stay other than albergues?
I only brought one pair of shoes and a pair of light sandals for showering and letting my feet air out. Almost every town has a place to stay other than albergues. There are many private options for accommodation.
Very detailed info. Thanks a lot. I’ll walk in May from SJPDP to Santiago and I don’t know how to get from Biarritz (airport) to SJPDP. I can’t find a solution 🙁 , taxi is way too expensive. I’ve bought the Keen Gypsum boots , never tried the salomon , but might have been a better idea , I’m not sure 🙁
Great to hear you’ll be walking the Camino in May! I’m not sure if it’s the same as when I walked in 2012, but you can get to St Jean from Biarritz by train via Bayonne. Hopefully you can avoid the taxi. I was in a similar situation arriving from Pamplona, but was luckily able to find a bus.
Did you come across any dangerous animals at any point on the trail? Could you? Are there warnings about this type of thing in any of the guide books? Also, did you complete this in 21 days? I noticed the dates on your pilgrim book. Did you ever camp out “under the stars” or in a tent between cities?
Great blog/video/photos about The Way! Thanks for all of your info. My friend and I…we’ve known each other for 30 years…are starting el Camino de Santiago on March 27th and doing approximately 100 miles every other year for ten years. Should be quite a journey. Can’t wait to start!
I too am big about photography and taking quality photos/videos of the experience. You recommend a Sony NEX camera but do you have any thoughts about using a GoPro instead? I have never used one before…I have a Nikon 5100 but don’t want to lug that thing around. That’s why I thought it might be good to have a GoPro for this trip but after reading your blog, I’m now leaning towards a Sony NEX.
Thanks in advance for your help.
Thanks for the comment, Marc. That sounds like a great plan. Doing 5 sections in 10 years will really allow you to absorb all the Camino has to offer. The GoPro is a great device for what it’s made for, action video. It’s also very lightweight, easy handling, and very durable. It definitely has it’s uses, but for me, the stills are not good enough. If you’re only going to be taking video and using the stills for web use, I think it’s a great choice. If you want to view your stills in a larger format online, or print them later, it’s just not good enough yet. For me, an APS-C sensor is as small as I’m willing to go for my photos, but like you, am always tempted by a smaller and lighter option. Maybe in a few years with an advanced model I’ll consider it, but for now, the Sony mirrorless cameras are a great fit for my needs.
Thanks for the quick reply! I’m going to go for a Sony mirrorless camera because I do plan on printing pics from our journey online at some point and want the video portions I do to look rad as well.
Marc, that’s a good decision! Have fun!
Hey Drew – this is awesome.
Similar to you I also have 22 days and I want to do the whole camino. I’m relatively fit, run/bike/swim regularly but have not done this much walking daily over weeks.
Can you share where you stopped each night (if you can remember)?
If one were to cut down the distance a little to make it more manageable, where would you recommend starting instead of St. Jean?
Thanks so much, looking forward to it!
Hello, Joy! You can see my day-to-day itinerary by clicking the Camino De Santiago link in the menu of my blog. This has each day of walking and the toal distance. If you need to cut it down a bit, starting in Pamplona or Logrono could work well. It all depends on how much you want to walk each day.
Leave the clothes pins at home and use safety pins instead: much lighter and not as bulky
Loved your videos of the Camino and Peru. My wife and I did the Camino in 2013 and leave for Peru in two weeks. Like you, I put together a video of our Camino experience (it’s not nearly as good as yours, though) and plan to do the same for Peru. One question: did you do shoot all of the Camino/Peru video and stills on an iPhone? Did you use a “selfie” stick or some type of tripod? I was thinking of getting a GoPro but may just stick with my iPhone and point-and-shoot camera.
Thanks, Mark! So great to hear you’ve walked the Camino and will be heading to Peru! I shot all of the Camino video and photos on my iPhone, but used my Canon T3i in Peru. I’m using a Sony a6000 now. I used the Sony on Tour du Mont Blanc and will use it again for John Muir Trail this summer. I’ve looked at getting a GoPro, but the still photos are pretty bad, and the super wide angle view for videos doesn’t lend itself to much footage outside of action. I think an iPhone should work pretty well for you.
Awesome list and website. I plan to walk the Camino next year, so this info is very helpful. Gonna bring my ENO hammock along.
Thanks, Regan! Good luck with your Camino next year!
Thanks for sharing. Can I suggest you add safety pins as an alternative to clothes pegs. They take up less room and work really well. I take a variety of sizes and never take clothes pegs.
Thank you! You’re definitely right about that. I’ll make the change.
Wow! Amazingly helpful…thank you Drew. I am hoping to walk next September so have 1 year to get fit enough!! I will be nearly 68 by then…so don’t want to delay it any longer. Has been on my “to do” list for many years, but the time hasn’t been right until now. Thank you for such detailed and easy to follow information…much appreciated.
Thank you! I’m glad to hear you’ll be able to walk the Camino next year!
Thanks so much for the info.
My Wife and I are hoping to do the Camino in 2017 starting from SJP. Not sure on which month. Any suggestions?
Also, for a couple who used to be quite active but, not so much these days, any suggestions on how far we should be able to hike to prepare? We’re doing day hikes now around 2 hours at least once a week with our packs and plan to do some overnighters (hike, camp, hike) for about 5 hours each day.
What are your thoughts?
That’s great to hear, John. Choosing a time to walk the Camino comes down to personal preference and what you’re used to. I live in an area that is dry and hot most of the year, so I chose to walk in July. Some don’t like the heat, but I prefer it to rain and cold. As for training, try to get in as much as possible. I did a lot of running during the weeks leading up, with big hikes on the weekend. I went for big days, though. For a slower pace, just try to build up your endurance and log miles with your estimated pack weight. You plan sounds like a good one. Try to get walks in on the weekdays, too, as that will prepare your body for the daily walks of the Camino.
Thank you for your quick response Drew.
I think the key thing is to respect the distance. I know that there will be no exact training for what we’re about to undertake (unless we take a month off :)) so this is the best we can do.
I do have two other questions, if I can be so bold. I talked to a Priest who just did the Camino this past Summer and he suggested that instead of taking 30 days to do the Camino, which would require for me to go without pay for 1 week, we should skip over the less scenic (and sometimes dangerous) parts of Camino Frances and instead elect to stay for parts of the festivals in Pamplona and Santiago de Compestela etc. If you were to suggest some of these less scenic day walks, which would you suggest?
The second question I had was how did you leave Santiago de Compestela? I know that Madrid airport is an option which may allow for a side trip to Lourdes and maybe Fatima. Do you have any suggestions?
Thank you again for sharing your experiences.
John and Theresa Austin
Your first line couldn’t be more true. It is very important to respect the distance and the overall challenges that a month long trek will present.
Going without pay for a week is tough, and I understand the issue of time constraints. That was the main reason I finished my Camino in 25 days and made it to Santiago in 22. I love hiking, and I especially love long days on the trail, so it worked for me. It’s not for everyone though. I personally don’t see anything wrong with skipping ahead if that is what works with your schedule. I met a lot of people that took buses from town to town over the Meseta portion of the Camino to save time as you’ve mentioned. There are many sections that aren’t considered very scenic. You could also try skipping the 10-15km leading into big towns, as you’re really not getting much of a Camino experience in these sections. I personally loved the Meseta, so I wouldn’t skip it, but I know most people don’t share my views 🙂 You could also just start closer to Santiago. There are a lot of pilgrims who start in Burgos or Leon when they have limited time. As long as you don’t start further west than Sarria, you’ll be able to receive a Compostella.
I had a few extra days before flying out of Madrid when I left Santiago, so I took a train to Vigo, and then on to Porto and Lisbon. There is an overnight train and bus that will take you to Barajas in Madrid. The prices are pretty reasonable, and a few of my friends said that the overnight train was actually pretty nice. My uncle just finished the Camino Portuguese and made the side trips to Fatima and Lourdes. He was on a tight schedule and was able to take both trip without burning too much time.
Wow Drew, you’re a wealth of information.
I’d like to try and accomplish what you did in the same timing (and are training to do so) but, I’d like to factor in some extra days just in case. We did think about the Portuguese Camino and starting closer to Santiago de Compestela on Frances but, are really interested in starting in SJPDP. Thank you for the option however, it’s good to have it in our back pocket.
I’ll look to your suggestion about skipping sections. We’d also like to do the Mesta and suffer for a while so we’ll try to keep that in there.
Thank you for all the info.
John and Theresa Austin
I did the same. When planning, I budgeted extra days for injury, sickness, and inclement weather. I was lucky that I didn’t need to use them, and that afforded me the time to visit Portugal. I think it’s a good idea to start in SJ, it’s an incredible little town full of Camino pageantry.
Thanks again Drew. If you like, we’ll let you know how it goes.
I’d love that. Make sure to keep me updated on the training as well.
Enjoyed your video and gear recommendations. Planning on doing the Camino May 2017.
Thanks! Buen Camino!
Thanks Drew for sharing all this information and a great video! I am planning on walking the camino, starting the 1st of september this year and I’m now training a lot. Since I will be solo walking as a 21 old girl, I was wondering if you have any idea how big chances are that I will meet ‘young’/likewise people everyday? Thanks again! Sarah
Thanks, Sarah! Great to hear you’ll be walking the Camino soon. The majority of pilgrims are older, 40-60. There were quite a few younger walkers when I made my journey though. I’d say the 20-30 age group made up about 30% of the pilgrims I saw from day to day. The chances are very good that you’ll meet a lot of people. Do you speak Spanish? That will increase your chances!
Thanks for your detailed answer! I speak a little bit Spanish, but I am now learning the language. Thanks again, and I am looking forward to meet all those people 🙂
Have fun and Buen Camino!
Thanks Drew for your amazing documentary. I’m still in the dreaming stages but was SO excited to make this a reality after watching this.
Thanks, Lisa. I hope you can make it a reality soon!
What are your thoughts on taking a sleep pad?
I don’t think a sleeping pad is necessary on the Camino. Some people start with them, and almost all leave them behind at some point.
Really great, well done. You captured the experience perfectly.
My US friends visited me in Ireland after they finished and i showed them around Donegal….very like Galicia which is celtic too.
Hello everyone, I’m a 63 years old woman pretty fit for my age as I walk 10 miles daily. I’m planning to walk el Camino by myself, and would prefer to do the northern way, but am hesitant with the possibility of being too alone at my age. If someone has done this route, please give me some much needed advice. Thanks
Thanks so much for taking the time to provide this valuable information!
No problem, Paul!
Hi Drew, a really good read and we loved your film as well. Watched it last night. We start on 31 March and have 30 days to attempt to get to Santiago. Really buzzing for it. Your journey looked hot! Beneficial in one sense for lessening your back pack weight, but more uncomfortable for walking I guess. We probably need a layer or 2 extra as it could be chilly. Watch out for our own film…..coming out in June time. In meantime, if you want to know the personal motivation for why my 2 lads and I are doing this walk, then here’s the story. Buen Camino indeed! Cheers Martin Harry and Jake. The Moorman Family Challenge: Easter 2017. Any support gratefully received
Thanks for the comment, Martin. I walked in July/August and the temps were very warm. I live in a very hot part of Southern California though, so I actually prefer the heat. You guys will have cooler and wetter weather than I had. Buen Camino to you, Harry, and Jake!
Thanks for sharing. Really useful information. I’m sure it will make trip a lot easier.
Thanks! Buen Camino!
Thank u for all your info. Wondering about where to sleep if you don’t make it to the next rest stop? Or worse if there is no room?
No problem. I never ran into that situation, but have read accounts of people sleeping on floors. In the last 100km from Sarria it will be crowded. You need to call and make reservations a day or two in advance.
Hey Drew, thanks for this wonderful page! I am heading out on the Camino Portuues in a few weeks and was hoping to take some Adidas Boost trainers. They are in good shape and I’ve walked a bunch on asphalt/hiking on them. I consider myself in excellent walking shape.. Any downsides to bringing them instead of heavier La Sportiva trail runners?
No problem, Jake! I haven’t walked the Camino Portuguese, but my uncle has. There is a lot of asphalt, so comfort is key. My uncle wore a pair of Adidas Terrex trail runners. Your Boost trainers will probably be fine, as the weather in the summer will probably offer up dry trails. I’d go with trail runners, but do what makes your feet happy.
Thank you for such an informative page! I’m walking the Camino with a group from my school starting on July 28. I’m looking into buying a Platypus bladder but I’m not sure what size. How much water does your Platypus hold?
Thanks for reading! I brought a 3L bladder for the Camino.
Hey Drew. Funny enough, I watched your YouTube piece this past weekend and low and behold came across your Pinterest info page tonight. Saw your picture and thought you looked familiar, haha. Anyway, thanks for the info! My husband and I are headed to walk the Camino Sept 2018. It’s a ways away still, but we are training a lot. I wish I could go tomorrow, but it’s not practical with one kid still in school. He graduates in the spring and will be off to college along with his 2 siblings. I figure they can take care of each other for 6 weeks then. Thanks again for the info!
Thanks for the comment and for watching my doc on YouTube. Great that you’ll be able to walk the Camino soon!
At 73 have walked Camlno 2015 & 2016.
Sleep al Fresco 6nights a week giving amazing experiences.
Thank you for all your information.
One drawback in there – NEVER charge your phone under a pillow.carry a power pack some of which will recharge your phone up to 3times.
Can be charged at most cafes/bars free of charge.
Off again in May 2018.
If I were you I would stay away from Osprey rucksacks.
My Osprey farpoint 55 started to fall appart 15 days after buying it. I got it sent to Osprey. They had the rucksack for 30 days and sent it back to me badly sewed. When I complained about the really bad repairement a guy called Harriet Marsh, who apparently was a “guarantee assistand” (whatever that is), told me the problems with the rucksack “did not appear to be the result of a defect”.
I paid 125 euros for a rucksack which started to break 15 days later and got it badly sewed from Osprey…if that is a lifetime guarantee I´m the Che Guevara.
Luckily, the guys at babaik, the company I bought the rucksack from, gave me my money back.
If I were you, I would stay away from Osprey rucksacks and their fake “allmighty guarantee”.
I’m sorry to hear about your bad experience with Osprey customer service. I’ve had a few Osprey packs, and all have been top notch.
Loving reading all these tips as I am starting to get stuff together for my forthcoming Camino. One question though – did you carry a tripod fr your photos? If so, any recommendations for a super lightweight one?
Hi Jen. I didn’t, but I carry one with me now. I have a Manfrotto Pixi Mini and a Pedco UltraPod II.
Did my first Camino in September and returning in June to do the Camino del Norte; any thoughts on different gear to bring compared to the Camino frances? And can I do the Camino Portuguese in reverse?
I’ve read the Norte can get a little more rain, so make sure to have a solid rain coat and pack cover. On the Portuguese route, I’m pretty sure you can walk south, you’ll just be doing it by yourself.
I did the route from Porto to Santiago in March and enjoyed rain and occasional flooding for all but one day. The tradeoff was some days of exquisite solitude. The Atlantic has been providing a lot of moisture so you might want to rethink the Gore-Tex. Despite the weather I fell in love with Portugal. My Portuguese is mediocre but people in the north just thought I was from Brasil. Once in Galicia I switched to Spanish because there was no way to fake Gallego. Bom caminho.
A friend and I walked a portion of the Via Francigena (VF) in Italy last May. VF is the oldest Pilgrimage in Europe. VF goes from Canterbury to Rome and started before Henry VIII broke apart the Church of England from papal authority. It was wonderful and spectacularly beautiful. We used a great company to move our luggage from one pensione to the next (we were travelling prior to the Pilgrimage and after – 2+ months in Europe).
I’ve actually been doing a lot of research on the VF and would like to walk it from Siena. How did you like it?
IMHO, the best Spanish dictionary is the app SpanishDict. Also accessible as spanishdict.com In addition to definitions, it gives examples, full conjugations, and will play the prononuciations.
Thanks for the info, Pedro!
Thanks for the info Drew. Very informative as always trying to catch up on your experiences & recommendations. The caminos are more art than science or both? Getting ready to do my 2nd camino… El portugues! I did el camino del Norte two years ago and that was AMAZING. This one will be short and sweet with family and friends.
Walking the Caminos is an art, but the planning stages is a science. Enjoy the Portuguese! We walked it last year and loved the route.
Loved watching this! So well done. Food for thought. Thank you.
Excellent inspiration! I heard of this miraculous endeavor while traveling in Europe in 1963. I had always thought I would be able to travel that path someday, but now at age 82, and in the midst of the covid challenge, I feel time slipping away. I walk daily and who knows, I may still have the chance to experience another of life’s journeys. Thanks for the wonderful photos.