2023 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, I’ve since walked the Via Francigena, California Missions Trail, England’s Pilgrims’ Way, Way of St. Cuthbert, and other supported pilgrimage walks. 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 additional backpacking and camping gear recommendations, 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
RECOMMENDED CAMINO BACKPACK: Osprey Manta 34L
I’ve carried the 34L Osprey Manta on pilgrimage trips across Europe and North America for years. I love the ventilation for hot days, the forward-facing water bottle pockets, and the size fits cabin baggage requirements worldwide. In my opinion, this is truly the best backpack for the Camino de Santiago, Pilgrims’ Way, California Missions Trail, or the Via Francigena. This pack is also available in a women’s specific version: the Osprey Mira 32L.
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
- Ventilated suspension transfers weight to the hips and allows airflow to keep your back cool
- Mesh exterior pockets for storing wet items separate from clothes and gear
- Forward-facing water bottle pockets for easy access without removing pack
- Sold with an included water reservoir and integrated rain cover, saving you $50
- Best-in-class Osprey lifetime warranty (a.k.a. “All Mighty Guarantee”)
As of May 2019, the Osprey Manta 34L and women’s specific Mira 32L can be purchased online for $180. As of 2023, this has not changed, but you can often find this pack on sale for $150. While not inexpensive, the Osprey Manta and Mira packs represent a great overall value, as well. Both the men’s and women’s versions include a 2.5L water reservoir and an integrated rain cover, saving you upwards of $50. Quite honestly, the pack is overbuilt with 210-denier nylon and 500-denier nylon packcloth versus the flimsy silnylon of many daypack-sized packs, meaning these packs means that they will hold up for years to come in all circumstances. If anything were to happen to this Camino backpack, Osprey offers its lifetime warranty for any damage or defect. Both the men’s and women’s packs are also available in a smaller capacity.
I’ve used Osprey backpacks for years on the Camino de Santiago, California Missions Trail, Pilgrims’ Way, Via Francigena, 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. After a lot of trial and error (mostly errors!), I have found that I *greatly* 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.
For the Camino de Santiago, I recommend non-waterproof trail running shoes over boots. The Camino is not a technically challenging footpath; however, you may encounter some muddy tracks that may cause your feet to slip laterally. I recommend a shoe with lugs to give you lateral traction and underfoot protection. While you will (likely) encounter standing water along the trail in a few locations, shoes with greater ventilation allow your trainers to dry out quickly and reduce perspiration throughout the day.
My current shoe of choice is the Altra Olympus. This is a max-cushioning, zero-drop trail runner with a foot-shape toe box is available online both men’s and women’s specific models. The cushioning is really important for anyone who has metatarsal pain or discomfort from walking on long stretches of paved routes. I find the shape really works well for wide feet (2E width – 4E width). Offering great ventilation, flexible midsole, and good grip, these shoes are ideal for a distance walk across different terrains such as the Via Francigena or even the Appalachian Trail. 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
Alternate: Hoke One One Challenger ATR
One game-changer for me is a quality insole. While my Altra Olympus shoes are extremely comfortable, I’ve found the Superfeet Adapt Run insoles allow me to walk further and recover faster than any other insole. Pairing this insole with my Altras has been the best of both worlds.
Trekking clothes should be made from highly breathable fabrics that layer well and dry quickly. Be mindful of church and cathedral visits, ensuring that shirts cover your shoulders and the length of shorts/skirts are appropriate for the culture. In the hottest summer months, I have begun wearing ultra-breathable Outdoor Research Echo shirts. These sheer shirts are made for the hot days, weighing next to nothing. For the balance of my gear, I prefer merino wool and dry-weave polyester. Merino wool clothing retains its warmth (even when wet) and resists odor; perfect for a hiker!
My goal for clothing is to have the flexibility to layer for changing conditions. Ideally, layers will have zippers further allowing me to simply vent heat with a zipper or to add/remove a light layer on the go. The most important piece in my clothing system is my WIND SHELL, a one-piece that serves several purposes. Following a similar approach will allow you to pack lighter layers that take less space in your pack, compared to heavier jackets.
2x merino wool polo shirts (long/short sleeve by season / wear one, pack one)
Spring/Fall: WoolX Summit Merino Polo
Spring/Fall: Minus33 Kearsarge Merino Wool Polo
Alternate: Meriwool Lightweight Merino Wool Polo
Alternate: Columbia Silver Ridge Lite Shirt L/S
1 Wind Shell
Recommended: Mountain Hardwear Kor Preshell Zip Hoody SELECTED
Alternate: Patagonia Airshed Jacket
1x 75-100-weight MIDLAYER light 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: Patagonia Down Sweater Vest
Alternate: Eddie Bauer Microtherm 2.0 Down Vest
2x lightweight nylon pants (convertible pants/shorts; wear one, pack one)
2x merino wool light cushion hiking socks (wear one, pack one)
Recommended: Darn Tough Micro Crew Cushion Socks
3x polyester wicking liner socks (to reduce friction/blisters; wear one, pack two)
Recommended: Fox River Coolmax Wicking Socks
3x merino or polyester wicking boxer briefs (wear one, pack two)
Recommended: ExOfficio Give-n-Go Boxer Briefs
Pilgrims: Please be mindful of cultural expectations and dress respectfully when visiting places of worship and shrines. Be mindful of church and cathedral visits, ensuring that shirts cover your shoulders and the length of shorts/skirts are appropriate for the culture.
To help you understand how my clothing system layers, here’s an example for a cooler morning:
BASE LAYER: Merino Polo +
MID LAYER: Delta LT Fleece Jacket (or midlayer piece) +
WIND SHELL: Mountain Hardwear Kor Preshell (or wind layer piece)
In the above example, I would vent with a zipper or remove layers as the day got warmer. For colder days, I may wear a down/synthetic vest under my wind layer. Again, the wind shell is the most important piece!
For more about layering, please see my post on Layering Ultralight Clothing for Pilgrimage Backpacking.
Again, the most important aspect of your layering system is that you have the flexibility for changing conditions by simply venting your zipper or adding/removing one additional layer while on the go. This will allow you to pack lighter layers that take less space in your pack, compared to heavier jackets.
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
Hiking poles are an area where you can underspend / overspend foolishly. 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
This is probably the one area of my kit that I’ve gone back and forth on more than any other. When I’m backcountry hiking, there’s nothing that beats a hydration reservior and there’s none better than the Platypus Big Zip Evo 3L Reservoir.
For the Camino, I’m now exclusively carrying two 750ML Smartwater sport bottles with flip-up tops and refilling them along the way. These bottles are the best low-weight / high-durability option, and the flip-top bottle makes it easy to drink from these on the move. Once you buy these for approximately $1 each, you’re set for the entire Camino. Do not use heavy, insulated bottles unless you just… must.
There are some sections of the Camino where public fountains are few and far between, so a hydration reservoir may save you a substantial off-path walk into nearby towns. If you choose to take freshwater from streams (not recommended!), please ensure you filter to kill bacteria from farm / city runoff.
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 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
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.
**NOTE** This is an ultralight jacket that will (eventually) wet-out after hours of sustained rain.
A much more robust hiking rain jacket option for extended rains along the Via Francigena is the Arc’teryx Zeta SL, which will keep you absolutely dry for many hours of substantial rain. Rated as waterproof and windproof with watertight zippers and an adjustable storm hood, this jacket will keep you dry in the worst conditions. Weighing in at just 10.9 oz / 309g, the Zeta SL (for super-light) utilizes taped seams and 2L GORE-TEX with PACLITE to keep water out.
Arc’teryx products tend to be high-end and overbuilt for most conditions with the highest quality materials, so it may be wise to buy them on sale or to shop the Arc’teryx Outlet or Rebird Used Products online stores. This is not an inexpensive option, but it might be the best hiking rain jacket you can buy today.
OTHER JACKETS TO CONSIDER:
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 every 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.
Although there are some areas with greater options than others, you should expect to walk the entire Camino de Santiago without a tent/sleeping bag by staying in albergues and pilgrim hostels. That said, it’s critically important to get sufficient rest while on the trail. This can be particularly challenging if you are staying in an unfamiliar space – or worse yet, communal accommodations. 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 places where the regular turn of guests and backpacks 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 accommodations on a distance hike and a few other suggestions that you may consider while walking the Camino.
Journal and Fisher Space Pen
Printed Topographic Maps (from Gaia GPS or CalTopo)
RECOMMENDED ONLINE RETAILERS
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 experiences. If you purchase an item linked from this site, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you.
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
- The Best Hiking Poles for the Camino de Santiago
- 2023 Packing List: My Recommended Gear for Walking the Camino de Santiago
- Online Compostela Requests for the Camino de Santiago
- THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO TRAVEL GUIDE & MUST VISIT PLACES !
- Charging your Phone, Headphones, and Battery on the Camino de Santiago
- Where are the Apostles of Jesus Buried?
- Key Differences Between the Camino de Santiago and Via Francigena
- How Much Does it Cost to Walk the Camino de Santiago?
- How To: Train to Walk the Camino de Santiago
- A Beginner’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago
- CAMINO 101: HOW TO PREVENT BLISTERS HIKING THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO
- CAMINO 101: The Pilgrim Routes on the Camino de Santiago
- Layering Ultralight Clothing for Pilgrimage Backpacking
- CAMINO 101: Five Mobile Phone Apps for Pilgrims Walking the Camino de Santiago
- CAMINO 101: Should you take a sleeping bag on the Camino de Santiago?
- CAMINO 101: The Pilgrim Passport
- CAMINO 101: 3-Month Training Plan for Walking the Camino De Santiago
- CAMINO 101: How many days to walk the Camino de Santiago?
- CAMINO 101: What is an Albergue and Where Do I Sleep on the Camino de Santiago?
- CAMINO 101: How to Sleep Comfortably on the Camino de Santiago
- CAMINO 101: How Much does it Cost to Walk the Camino de Santiago?
- PILGRIM RESOURCES FOR COVID-19
- 2021: Holy Jubilee Year for the Camino de Santiago
- Walking the Last 100KM of the Camino de Santiago
- The Top Hiking GPS Apps for iPhone and Android
- The Best Camino De Santiago Podcasts
- HOW TO: Follow Trail Markers and Trail Blazes in Europe
- Key Differences between the California Missions Trail and Camino de Santiago
- PACKING LIST: Trekking The World
- Review: Osprey Manta 34L Backpack
- PACKING LIST: Backpacking First-Aid Kit
- 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
- Recommended Apps and Maps for Camino de Santiago
- Where was “The Way” filmed along the Camino de Santiago?
- How To: Select a Backpack for the Camino de Santiago
- Why is the Scallop Shell the Symbol of the Camino de Santiago?
- How To: Sleep Peacefully on the Camino de Santiago
- Review: Sea to Summit Coolmax Adaptor Traveller Liner with Insect Shield
Buen Camino! Bom Caminho!
Husband. Father. Backpacker. Pilgrim. Author.
After years of section hiking the Florida Trail and Appalachian Trail, I set out in 2019 to complete the Camino de Santiago through Portugal and Spain. The experience changed the direction of my life and I’ve been walking in pilgrimage ever since. My recent journeys include the California Mission Walk and England’s Pilgrims’ Way from London to Canterbury. I’m currently walking sections of the Via Francigena through Europe to Rome.