Packing List: My Recommended Gear for Walking the Camino de Santiago
In the summer of 2019, I set out on my first Camino de Santiago pilgrimage along the ancient route from Portugal into Spain to Santiago de Compostela. As an experienced hiker, I spent a lot of time researching my backpack and clothes to ensure I had the right packing list for the Camino. Since returning from Spain, friends and fellow pilgrims have asked for my recommendations. I’m sharing my own packing list for anyone planning a supported distance hike – where you have shelter and meals provided – such as the Camino de Santiago or any one-bag backpacking trek.
For backpacking and camping gear lists, please see my Packing Lists.
MY THREE RULES FOR CAMINO DE SANTIAGO PACKING
RULE #1: Only pack carry-on luggage.
RULE #2: Pack for three travel days, regardless of trip duration.
RULE #3: Always carry $100 USD, regardless of destination.
If you follow these simple rules, you can feel fairly confident that your rucksack will never be lost in transit and you won’t be tempted to overpack. And while $100 may not go far, it goes a lot further if things go badly than any other currency worldwide.
Note: The majority of my trekking travel is for solo hiking. If you are traveling in a group, you may be able to split gear among several people and travel even lighter.
MY CAMINO DE SANTIAGO PACKING LIST
BACKPACK SIZE: 34L
TOTAL BASE GEAR WEIGHT: 4.1KG
BACKPACK: Osprey Manta 34L
I chose this highly-adjustable, great fitting backpack for a number of reasons:
- Meets cabin-baggage carry-on requirements for nearly all airlines worldwide
- Great accessible pockets (internal and external) for easily organizing gear
- Well-ventilated suspension transfers weight to the hips and allows airflow to keep your back cool
- Mesh exterior pockets for storing wet items separate from my clothes and gear
- Integrated rain cover and compression straps help to reduce total pack size
- Includes a water reservoir, which is my preferred way to stay hydrated and drink continually while walking
- Best-in-class Osprey lifetime warranty (a.k.a. “All Mighty Guarantee”)
I’ve used Osprey packs for years on the Florida Trail, Appalachian Trail and for other local hikes. While they are not the cheapest option, I know that I won’t be dealing with a broken pack harness or strap at the least opportune time.
Hiking shoes are very much a personal preference item, perhaps more so than any other piece of gear a hiker may have. I prefer trail running shoes over hiking boots as they tend to be more ventilated, offer greater traction both on-road and off, and tend to give more cushioning support for the bottom of my feet, which helps me feel refreshed day after day. After a lot of trial and error (mostly errors!), I have found that I also really prefer the feel of a zero-drop or low-degree drop show, as this puts my foot in a more natural position. my current shoe of choice is the Altra Olympus 3.5. This is a max-cushioning shoe with a foot-shape toe box (perfect for those with wide feet) and zero-drop, which work together to allow your feet to work the way nature intended. Offering great ventilation, flexible midsole and exceptional grip, these shoes are ideal for a distance walk across different terrains such as the Camino de Santiago or Via Francigena. Because I have wide feet, I find that I tend to wear a half to full size larger in Altra brand shoes.
Recommended: Altra Olympus 3.5
Alternate: Hoke One One Challenger ATR
Trekking clothes should be made from highly breathable fabrics that layer well and dry quickly. For the majority of my kit, I prefer merino wool and dry-weave polyester. Merino wool clothing retains its warmth (even when wet) and resists odor; perfect for a hiker!
2x merino wool polo shirts (long/short sleeve depending on the season)
Recommended: WoolX Summit Merino Polo
Recommended: Minus33 Kearsarge Merino Wool Polo
Alternate: Champion Double Dry Performance L/S
Alternate: Columbia Silver Ridge Lite Shirt L/S
Second Layer for wind / mornings / evenings
Recommended: WoolX Merino Wool Mid-weight 1/4 Zip
Recommended: REI Merino Wool 1/2 Zip
Recommended: Icebreaker Merino Wool 200 Oasis Zip
1x 100-weight long sleeve fleece shirt (seasonal)
Recommended: Arc’teryx Delta Grid Fleece Zip
Recommended: North Face TKA100 Fleece Zip
1x down/synthetic mid-layer vest (seasonal)
Recommended: North Face Thermoball Insulated Vest
Recommended: REI Down 650 Fill Vest
Recommended: Eddie Bauer Microtherm 2.0 Down Vest
2x lightweight nylon pants (pants/convertible pants/shorts depending on season)
2x merino wool light cushion hiking socks
Recommended: Darn Tough Micro Crew Cushion Socks
3x polyester wicking liner socks (wicking socks reduce moisture and friction, reducing your chances of blisters!)
Recommended: Fox River Coolmax Wicking Socks
3x merino or polyester wicking boxer briefs
Recommended: ExOfficio Give-n-Go Boxer Briefs
Pilgrims: Please be mindful of cultural expectations and dress respectfully when visiting places of worship and shrines. In North America and Europe, men should consider wearing long pants and collared shirts. Men may be asked to wear head coverings in some areas. Women should consider wearing dresses or tops with sleeves past the shoulder; skirt lengths should be to the knee. Women may be asked to wear head coverings in some areas.
PACKING CLOTHES: Space Saver Travel Bags
Keep your clothes organized and conserve space in your pack with vacuum-style space saver bags. The RoomierLife brand bags have outstanding reviews and served me well during the Camino de Santiago. I prefer to keep clean / dirty clothes separate in two different bags.
HIKING POLES / TREKKING POLES:
Trekking poles enhance your overall stability and provide support regardless of the terrain. As I wrote in my detailed review (The Best Hiking Poles for the Camino de Santiago), I prefer hiking poles that are foldable so that they store easily in my backpack pocket, feature cork grips to dampen vibration, and offer lever locks to ensure they do not collapse or break along the way.
RECOMMENDED: Paria Tri-Fold Carbon Cork Hiking Poles
ALTERNATIVE: Black Diamond Ultralight Distance Carbon AR
New to hiking poles? Click here to read how to size, select, and use hiking poles for your next hiking trip.
FOOT CARE / FIRST AID:
Having a good shoe system will largely prevent blisters but foot care is essential. My homemade kit goes into a ziplock bag and includes:
BodyGlide Foot Anti Blister Balm – Glide works to reduce friction, lowering the risk of blisters
Alcohol wipes & individual Neosporin antibiotic ointment packets
Metatarsal pads & bandages – these are essential for me, as I often suffer from sore footpads on concrete
Needle and thread to lance blisters
36″ of KT tape – remove from a larger roll and rewrap around drinking staw; snip straw to 1″ wider than tape
As I make most of my hikes alone, I also wear a RoadID bracelet to ensure that my vital information is available at a glance in any emergency
Opinions vary but I prefer a hydration reservoir over carrying bottles of water because I drink more and stay hydrated when I don’t have to stop for water breaks. I also have greater peace of mind knowing that I have 2L of water in my pack versus needing to find places to refill. I’m not sure I’m in the majority but it works for me. HYOH
Katadyn Micropur Purification Tablets (Backup Purification)
TIP: I wrote this gear-hack on how to quickly refill a water reservoir from water bottles or water filters so that you never have to remove the water bladder from your backpack.
I prefer to keep my devices fully charged when traveling to reduce the size of (heavy) portable batteries. I keep all of my cables and charger in a small bag inside my pack. Remember A-B-C: always be charging!
Apple iPhone with Gaia GPS mapping app and trail specific apps
Apple iWatch with GPS (Gaia GPS mapping app)
SHOWER SHOES: ALeader Mesh Slip On Water Shoes or WUTANGCUN Mens Womens Water Shoes
I pack a pair of lightweight water shoes to wear in showers, along the shore or at the pool, and even as slippers. The ALeader brand are generally offered as slip-on; the Wutangcun are generally offered with an elastic lace to adjust compression. Both styles dry quickly, have a soft rubber sole with good underfoot protection, and weigh virtually nothing. These (generally) end up in the side pocket of my pack when wet or the interior side when dry.
TRAVEL TOWEL: Sea to Summit Tek Towel
You definitely want to take your own towels for bathing along the Camino. After trying far too many microfiber towels, I’ve come to believe the StS Tek Towel is the best travel towel one can buy. Fast drying, highly absorbent, and incredibly soft, the StS Tek Towel is made of a knitted microfiber that nearly mirrors the feel of cotton terry. I fold it in the bottom of my pack rather than use the molded carry case.
JACKET / RAIN JACKET: Outdoor Research Helium II
Exceptionally lightweight, the OR Helium II does double duty as a world-class rain jacket and breathable outer shell for cooler days. With a drawcord hem, elastic cuffs, and sealed seams, this jacket keeps you completely dry. Pertex layers are inherently more breathable and the Helium II adds underarm pit zips to increase breathability. The entire jacket folds and stores into its own pocket making this a very compact option for almost any weather condition. I keep all of my rain gear in an outside pocket of my backpack so it is easy to access quickly.
RAIN PANTS: Outdoor Research Helium Rain Pants
While some skip rain pants in favor of dry weave trousers, I’ve seen DWR wet-out too often putting you at risk of hypothermia at 60F or below. The Outdoor Research Helium rain pants are made of the same lightweight, breathable fabric as the Helium II jacket and perform just as well. These pants pack down small into their pocket and are ideal for clear trails but may be damaged in heavy brush. For an even more lightweight option, consider a silnylon rain kilt, such as the 3F Ultralight Rain Kilt, which is even easier to put on / take off quickly on the trail, weights less, and will comes in nearly five times cheaper than rain pants.
DAYPACK: Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack
A great option for sightseeing or running errands around town. This silnylon, 18L backpack folds down into its own pocket, taking up less room than an apple until you need it. This packable daypack has three exterior packets (including a water bottle pocket) and weighs less than 4 ounces. A second option, while not nearly as lightweight, is the very capable LL Bean Stowayay Daypack. The Stowaway is made of more durable nylon and features a sternum strap and hipbelt for more comfortable carry with bigger loads. It packs down nicely for 22L but at nearly 1 pound is a better option to add to your suitcase.
TRAVEL LAUNDRY KIT:
Packing small invariably means doing laundry during the Camino. I did laundry ever other day during the Camino.
My hand-wash system includes using an Osprey Ultralight Drysack as my wash basin/bag and hand-wash detergent. I fill the bag with hot water and detergent, agitate, rinse and dry on a Sea to Summit Light Line Clothesline. The clothesline is great with built-in clips and packs up very small in its own carry bag. Highly recommended.
It’s critically important to get sufficient rest while on the trail. This can be particularly challenging if you are staying in a communal space like a hostel or albergue. In my experience, a great sleep mask and earplugs are key to getting a good night’s rest.
Equally important – and arguably more so – is keeping yourself and your gear free from bed bugs, especially in hostels and albergues where the daily turn of guests and backs create an ideal environment for bedbugs.
Treated to resist bed bugs, the Traveller Liner with Insect Shield is a rectangular-shaped bed liner (85” length x 36” width) intended as a layer between you and those hostel bed linens. The liner itself is a very lightweight polyester intended only to keep bed bugs away, not as an additional insulating layer. In all my travels … zero bed bugs. It packs up smaller than a solo cup and weighs just 11 ounces.
Also, I’ve written a much more detailed post about How To Sleep Peacefully on the Camino de Santiago which includes some key details about choosing the right albergue and a few other suggestions.
Journal and Fisher Space Pen
Printed Topographic Maps (from Gaia GPS or CalTopo)
Always test your gear to ensure your pack weight and choices will support your needs throughout the trek. In the end, you have to feel comfortable with your gear choices before embarking on any international trek.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO
- HOW TO: Make Your Own Camino Backpack Shell
- PACKING LIST: First-Aid Kit for Blisters and Foot Care
- HOW TO: Five Tips for Urban Hiking
- Packing List: Backpacking First-Aid Kit
- The Top Hiking GPS Apps for iPhone and Android
- Where was “The Way” filmed along the Camino de Santiago?
- Where are the Apostles of Jesus Buried?
- Packing List: My Recommended Gear for Walking the Camino de Santiago
- The Best Hiking Poles for the Camino de Santiago
- How To: Sleep Peacefully on the Camino de Santiago
Buen Camino! Bom Caminho!
NOTE: I purchased all of the gear listed on this site on my own and did not receive any incentive for providing a review. The views expressed regarding this product are mine alone based on my own experience using this backpack. If you purchase an item linked from this site, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you.
Husband. Father. Backpacker. Pilgrim. Author.
My recent treks include the Camino de Santiago through Portugal and Spain as well as section hiking along the Florida Trail and the Appalachian Trail. In 2020 and 2021, I’m walking the California Missions Trail in the United States, as well as England’s ancient Pilgrims’ Way from London to Canterbury. Afterward, I’ll begin the Via Francigena, the historic way in Europe connecting Canterbury to Rome.