After completing the Camino Frances in 2012, I put together a list of the “10 Most Important Gear Items to Bring On Camino De Santiago“. That post has turned out to be one of the most popular gear lists that I’ve published on Trail to Peak. As much as readers seem to love that post, I get a lot of follow-up questions about what my complete Camino gear list looks like. I just completed a hike of the Camino Portuguese this summer, and decided the time was right to answer those questions with a comprehensive look at all the gear I brought along with me.
The key theme to think about when putting together your Camino kit is “lightweight and functional”. I recommend aiming for a base-weight that is less than 10% of your body weight. ‘Base-weight’ is the total weight of your gear, minus worn items and consumables like food and water. It has been reported that every 1% of your body weight that you carry in your pack will make you six seconds slower on each mile. That adds up quickly!
Don’t bring along anything that you don’t really need for your trip, but don’t leave behind necessities just to cut ounces. You’ll want to start with a lightweight backpack, and then fill it with the essentials only. I’m going to break down the things I find to be essentials below, and will start with a category table to help you organize things.
Packing List Overview:
|Backpack||Backpack, rain cover, dry bags||2.45 lbs|
|Footwear||Shoes and socks||2.02 lbs|
|Worn Clothing||Tops, bottoms, hats, sunglasses, etc.||2.59 lbs|
|Packed Clothing||Jacket and evening wear||2.98 lbs|
|Sleep System||Sleep sack and pillow||1.73 lbs|
|Camera Gear||Camera, lens, batteries, etc.||5.16 lbs|
|Electronics||Chargers, cables, and apps||1.03 lbs|
|Miscellaneous Items||Clothes pins, toiletries, and more||2.01 lbs|
Backpack and Stuff Sacks:
For the Camino Portuguese this summer, I hiked with the Osprey Levity 45L (My Review). This pack comes in at an ultralight 1lb 12oz and pretty much disappears when it’s on my back.
You’ll see in the list below that I also brought along a waterproof pack cover to keep my bag dry in the rain. I also brought waterproof stuff sacks for organization and a second layer of water protection. Trash bags work well, too! Finally, you’ll see I have a fanny pack for walking around Camino towns after a long day along The Way. This is a safe way to store cash, cards, and passports while leaving my pack in the albergue.
|Osprey Levity 45L (My Review)||1.75 lbs||REI|
|Osprey Ultralight Dry Sacks 30L, 20L, 12L||0.29 lbs||REI | Amazon|
|Osprey Ultralight Pack Raincover||0.19 lbs||REI | Amazon|
|Patagonia Travel Hip Pack||0.22 lbs||REI | Patagonia|
Your choice of backpack will be one of the most important gear decisions you make when putting together your Camino kit. Keep in mind that you’ll be living out of this bag for a few weeks and will be required to carry it, and all of your belongings, for 10+ miles each day. Here are four key things to focus on when purchasing a pack:
- Weight: Find a pack that is lightweight. Try not to exceed 3lbs for a backpack.
- Volume: You probably won’t need more than a 35L pack for the Camino, but it can be nice to have a larger pack if you plan on using it for backpacking trips once you return home. There are a lot of really like ~45L packs on the market right now, but don’t get more space than you need, you might be tempted to fill it!
- Comfort: This is the most important factor when buying a backpack. Only buy a pack if it fits YOU. Make sure to take a month before the Camino to test things out and get everything dialed in.
- Features: Lightweight packs tend to have fewer features than heavy packs. Make sure your bag has enough pockets, adjustment points, and storage options to fit your needs.
I wore the Salomon SLAB Ultra (My Review) for the Camino Portuguese and paired them with Smartwool and Darn Tough Merino wool socks. The SLAB Ultra comes in at a little over 12oz per shoe, provides phenomenal comfort and protection, and has outsoles that will stick to anything.
|Salomon SLAB Ultra (My Review)||1.55 lbs||Zappos | Amazon|
|Smartwool PhD Socks x2||0.32 lbs||REI | Amazon|
|Darn Tough Socks x1||0.15 lbs||REI | Amazon|
When picking a shoe, keep in mind that one pound on your feet is equal to five pounds on your back. That extra pound will result in a 5% increase in energy expended. Your choice of footwear will be the most important gear decision you make. Just like tires, your shoes are the only piece of gear that will always be in contact with the trail.
Here are seven key things to focus on when purchasing a pack:
- Lightweight: try to stay under 14 oz. per shoe
- Breathable: must let feet breathe in hot weather, then drain and dry quickly when wet
- Forefoot Protection: The Camino has a lot of rocky trail and cobblestone. Make sure your shoes have enough underfoot protection.
- Fit: I prefer shoes with an anatomically foot shaped toe box. Also look for a precise fit in the midfoot and heel. Any mild slipping can turn into big blisters.
- 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. If it causes you issues in the store or on short hikes, it will be much worse on The Way.
- Stable: Not necessarily with inserts or built in support, but you’ll want shoes that can handle a pack
Daily Worn Clothing:
For my daily clothing, I always try to focus on breathable and light materials that provide maximum sun protection. Keep in mind that you only need one or two of each item, as you can wash your clothes each day to be ready for you in the morning. This is another reason to get light and breathable items, as they will dry faster. I’m a big fan of Patagonia, as their clothes fit me well, always perform well, and have a lifetime warranty.
You’ll also want to pack a rain jacket for backpacking poncho. It rained on our first three days, and I was very happy to have adequate rain protection. I hiked in the summer and didn’t need warm pants. If you’re doing a winter Camino, warmer pants and/or rain pants are something you’ll want to consider.
|Nike Golf Hat||0.12 lbs||Amazon|
|Julbo Aero Sunglasses (My Review)||0.06 lbs||Backcountry | Amazon|
|Patagonia Capilene Lightweight LS||0.14 lbs||REI | Patagonia|
|Patagonia Nine Trails Shorts||0.60 lbs||REI | Patagonia|
|ExOfficio Give-n-Go Sport Brief x 3||0.47 lbs||REI | Amazon|
|My Trail Co Storm UL Rain Jacket (My Review)||0.63 lbs||My Trail Co.|
|Salomon S-LAB Light Jacket||0.21 lbs||Amazon|
|Garmin Fenix 5X||0.22 lbs||REI | Amazon|
|Outdoor Research Chroma Sun Gloves||0.06 lbs||Amazon|
|BUFF Scarf||0.08 lbs||REI | Amazon|
Daily Packed Clothing:
After washing my daily worn clothing in the evening, I like to have a pair of semi-clean dry clothes that I can wear to dinner, around town, and to bed. I also like to have a light weight jacket for the nights it gets cold. Keep in mind that most albergues are not heated in the summer months. I also like to have a pair of sandals or camp shoes to wear around town and to dinner. This allows my trail shoes to dry out and my feet to breathe. I wore my Vivobarefoot Ultra 3 on the Camino Portuguese, and can’t recommend them highly enough.
|Patagonia Nine Trail T Shirt||0.25 lbs||REI | Patagonia|
|Patagonia Terrabone Jogger Pants||0.38 lbs||REI|
|Patagonia Technical Stretch Shorts||0.41 lbs||Patagonia|
|Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody||0.94 lbs||REI | Patagonia|
|Vivobarefoot Ultra 3 Camp Shoes (My Review)||1.00 lbs||Zappos | Amazon|
This is one of the most variable gear sections on this post. For the Camino Portuguese this summer, I hiked with my wife and son, which meant we had private rooms with blankets every night. For this reason, I brought along a lightweight sleep sack and a small pillow. Had we been hiking in colder months and/or staying in larger albergues, I would have considered bringing one of my lightweight sleeping quilts. My Enlightened Equipment quilt is the one I would recommend for all pilgrims.
|Envelope Sleeping Sack||1.60 lbs||Amazon|
|Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow||0.13 lbs||REI | Amazon|
This is the gear section that blows my weight budget, and tends to be heavier than most pilgrims. As a blogger and photographer, I bring a lot more gear than the average person. Still, my gear is optimized and light for what it is. I have a mirrorless full frame camera, and limit myself to one lens. My two pound gimbal was a new gear item for me this year, but worthwhile, as I was able to shoot much more cinematic video.
For the casual pilgrim, your smartphone will be good enough. If you’re a little more serious, an APS-C camera like the Sony a6300/a6500 would be a worthwhile purchase. You can pair that camera with the lightweight Sony 10-18mm lens for some incredible photo and video. If you want profession photos in a lightweight camera, you’ll want to go full frame. I recommend the new Sony a7riii or a7iii.
|Sony A7rii||1.38 lbs||BH Photo | Amazon|
|Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8||0.73 lbs||BH Photo | Amazon|
|Extra Battery x2||0.20 lbs||Amazon|
|64GB SDHC Cards x2||0.02 lbs||Amazon|
|Zhiyun-Tech Crane v2 Gimbal||2.01 lbs||Amazon|
|Camera bag w/ Cleaning Kit||0.82 lbs||Amazon|
For my electronics, I try to go light. I have one multi-outlet power adapter, and all of the cables to charge my phone and camera. I also downloaded the Wise Pilgrim app this summer to help with choosing places to eat and rest. The app needs a lot of technical work as it crashes and freezes often. When it works though, it is very valuable.
|iPhone 7 w/ case||0.42|
|Wise Pilgrim App||0.00||Download|
Rounding out my pack are a list of miscellaneous items. The only noteworthy additions most people don’t bring are the clothes pins and sink plug. Some albergues have these, but not all will. I like to have these to ensure I can wash my clothes in the sink and hang them to dry each night.
|Sunscreen Stick||0.09 lbs||Amazon|
|Arnica Salve||0.16 lbs||Amazon|
|Clothes Pins||0.18 lbs||Amazon|
|Burts Bees Chapstick||0.02 lbs||Amazon|
|Brierley Guide Book||0.35 lbs||Amazon|
|Microfiber Towel||0.25 lbs||Amazon|
|Black Diamond Storm Headlamp||0.24 lbs||REI | Amazon|
|Sink Plug||0.08 lbs||Amazon|
|Ear Plugs||0.01 lbs||Amazon|
Food and Hydration:
Food and hydration aren’t counted in your base weight since consumables disappear with consumption. I like to buy things from markets along The Way, but start with a few items for day 1.
|Honey Stinger Waffles x6||0.50||Amazon|
|GU Electrolyte Tabs x1||0.15||Amazon|
One item I will recommend that I don’t use on the Camino is trekking poles. I don’t find trekking poles necessary for flat trails like the Camino, but other find them very useful. I only bring mine along for mountains and backpacking trips. For a lighweight pair on a budget, try the Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock poles (My Review). These lightweight poles can be purchased on Amazon for around $45.00!
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