My Ultimate ultralight Camino Packing List
Perhaps your most expensive purchase will be your bag for the hike. Take your time when choosing your bag, as this could really make or break your Camino. It might not be good enough to take your old worn out walking bag that’s been sat in the cupboard for 20 years.
Here’s what a good Camino bag will offer:
- Plenty of space. 20-30 litres is my recommended backpack size for the Camino. I saw people with 40+ litre bags. I have no idea why, God only knows what they were carrying!
- Well-padded shoulder straps. You will be wearing this bag for up to 10 hours a day.
- A solid waist strap. This helps by offloading the weight from your shoulders and is essential for long-distance hiking
- Outside compartments. My bag had a mesh holder on either side. Perfect for storing yoru water bottles
- A waterproof cover. Many bags come with these, or you can pick them up seperately.
Based on what I saw other people carrying, and after having examined the spec, this could perhaps be the best Camino backpack.
And possibly the best women's backpack for the Camino de Santiago as well.
If you are choosing to send your bag between hostels each day, then you will, of course, only need a much much smaller bag. Here’s a good camino daypack.
OK, so here is my take on footwear for the Camino trail. I wish I knew what I’m about to tell you before I left! So listen up young grasshopper …
If you're heading walking the Camino in May till September, DO NOT take hiking boots. These are what I wore and I suffered for it almost the entire way. Mostly because I was too stubborn to throw them out and buy trainers haha.
Instead, you want some well-cushioned trainers. Most of the Camino is hard, dry ground and you will be in a lot of pain if you’re stuck wearing solid, less forgiving hiking boots for 10+ hours a day.
The only issue with trainers is that, on days when it is wet or you have to go through mud, they will get wet and dirty. Most people just got on and suffered through this, as only perhaps 2% of the walk is like that.
Or maybe the best option is to buy a pair of shoes that are sort of half trainer/half hiking boot. I’m talking about something like the below … Ultimately, it’s a very personal choice. But I do recommend looking around before you leave to find a pair that is right for you.
Clothing for your Camino de Santiago packing list
Of course, I’m a guy so this might differ slightly for you ladies. However, I firmly believe this is all of the clothing you will need in your Camino de Santiago packing list.
Many people had more than this, but it’s just overkill. Remember, you should get in every day and clean the clothes that you wore that day and hang them out to dry.
Then, simply put on clothes for the next day. You don’t need anything fancy, you’re not on the Camino to impress!
- Waterproof jacket. I opted for waterproof jacket and trousers. Some people chose the other option which is to take a poncho. It’s up to you, but I think this is the better choice, as the jacket doubles as an extra layer of clothing when it’s cold.
- Waterproof trousers. I only needed these once. However, if you're travelling outside of the summer, then you’ll need them most days.
- Poncho. If you’re there in the heart of summer, then a light poncho will probably be all you need. If you’re walking the Camino de santiago in winter, then you’ll need something more robust.
- 3 x breathable walking socks. Invest in some good quality socks. Ideally ones that are double layered, as this can help to prevent blisters. Personally, I wore two layers of socks each day, thin ankle socks surrounded by thicker walking ones.
- Cap. You can pick up a cheap foldable hat from most outdoor activity stores.
- 2 x shorts. Get thin shorts that can dry quickly in the evening sun.
- 2 x t -shirts. Again, thin t-shirts are easiest to dry in the evenings.
- 1 x long-sleeved t-shirt. This is useful to wear over your other t-shirt in the early mornings and then evenings to keep the cold out. Contrary to popular belief, staying warm is more about wearing more layers as opposed to one large, bulky jumper.
- 1 x thin jacket. The only jacket I had was my waterproof one, and that was fine for me. But if you’re visiting outside the winter months, then take a thin fleece as well.
- Flip-flops. In the evenings, you’ll need a pair of flip flops to slip on. Again, cheap ones is all you need. However, you should also check out Reef, which I take everywhere I go!
I’d say 90% of the people on the Camino carry a sleeping bag. And I would firmly say that those 90% are wrong. They're really don’t serve a purpose in a Camino packing list in Summer. Even thin ones are heavy and take up lots of room in your bag. Instead, a silk sleeping bag liner is all you need. It will keep out any bed bugs (not very common these days) and provide enough warmth on cooler evenings.
Also, all but 1 of the Albergues I stayed in along the Camino had blankets. So, simply climb into your liner every night and then use the blanket for any warmth. And to be honest, the blanket is usually too much anyway.
A thin sports towel is great, simply because it is so fast to dry and easy to clean.
It can get very hot in northern Spain and the sun will be high in the sky almost all day. You can pick up a cheap pair of sunglasses that still offer good protection for less than £10. Definitely better than those knock of Ray Bon’s you got on the beach in Majorca.
Simply put, you will get blisters. I have never suffered from blisters before, but on the Camino, I got more than my fair share. Here’s what you’ll need.
- Compeeds. Many people swear by Compeeds as the best way to prevent blisters. You can get these form every pharmacy in Spain, but they are expensive. So it’s worth picking them up before you head out. And yes I’d say they serve their purpose, but not once a blister has already appeared. Instead, I’d say you should get ...
- Moleskin tape. I only discovered this once someone recommended it on the Camino. This stuff is great as it is so sticky that it doesn't come off very easy and can actually help to treat blisters before and after they’ve come up.
- Needles and thread. The best way to treat a blister is to pierce it through with a needle and thread and then leave the thread in there. That stops it from refilling.
- Hand sanitizer. This is useful in the day before you eat. But it also doubles as an easy way to sanitise your needle before using it.
- Plasters. Plasters are handy as they are a quick and simple way to patch up minor cuts or tiny blisters. But for more serious problems, I’d opt for mole skin or compeeds.
- Small bottle of talcum powder. There will be days when your shoes get soaked through and this is bad as they create tonnes of friction which then leads to more blisters. I recommend taking talcum powder and then putting it in your shoes in the evening if they're wet. That way, they should be almost completely dry when you put them on the next day.
- Vaseline. This is useful for rubbing over problem areas of your feet each morning before putting your socks on.
- Small scissors. I mention this below as a part of the first aid kit. But they are useful for cutting plasters and shaping moleskine.
Pretty self-explanatory, but an essential item to include in your Camino de Santiago packing list.
- Antiseptic cream
- Hand sanitizer
- Small scissors
- Hayfever tablets (or any other medication you might need)
- Bug spray (for Summer months) ← I didn’t use it at all in June
- Travel toothbrush
- Small shaving cream
- Lush shampoo. I read about taking this on a forum online and it was definitely a great buy! These are great as they are so small and light and last for ages. I met a few people on the Camino doing the same thing, and one person was even on their second Camino and still using their first bar! Just be sure to let it dry out fully after every use or else it dissolves far more quickly.
- Soap for washing clothes. Originally, I used my Lush bar, but found that this wore it down faster. So, I picked up a basic bar of soap and used that.
- 100ml sunscreen. Sunscreen is a vital item, because you have a lot of open stretches every day where you are under the beating sun. I picked up a cheap kid’s rollable sunscreen from Boots (100ml, Factor 50+) and it lasted me the whole trip.
- Phone. I Took my Galaxy S8 with me, and I used it excessively along the whole route. And no, it’s not because I’m obsessed with Facebook! Instead, it was used as a Camera, music player, book reader and way for me to listen to audiobooks.
- Camera. The camera on my phone is so good that I didn't really need to take another camera. However, if you really do like your photography, then you would definitely get some awesome shots with a DSLR.
- 1 x EU adaptor
- Phone charger
- Earphones - take good ones!
- Portable charger. The best portable chargers I saw were ones that have a solar panel charging pack attached to them. Like this one here. Mine on the other hand still did the job and cost me about €10 from Decathlon.
Other useful items for your Camino Packing list
- Stone! In case you didn’t know, it is customary to carry with you a stone from back home for your whole Camino. You then drop it off about a week before the end at Cruz de Ferro. This is a large cross placed at a high point on the Camino near to the end. It’s nice to find a stone that means something to you. Need some inspiration? This forum post should help.
- Shell. Don't worry, you haven't got to buy this at home. You can pick one up from souvenir shops all along the Camino. I got mine from St jean Pied de Port. The shell is a classic sign of the Camino.
- Camino passport. It is possible to buy this online. However, I recommend just picking it up at St Jean Pied de Port if this is where you start. Here is a website where you can buy one ahead of time if you need.
- Passport! You will need this every day of your Camino when you check into your Albergue.
- 4 x clothes pegs (or pins). Most Albergues won't have enough pegs to go around, so you're best off taking your own. You can also then use these to attach your clothes to your bag the next day, if they hadn't dried the night before.
- Ear plugs. If you are a light sleeper, then you WILL NEED EAR PLUGS! Those albergues get noisy with the sounds of snoring and farting, so heed my warning now.
- Small ziplock bag for Camino papers and passport. These are great for keeping all of your important documents dry, notably your passports. I recommend you pick up 4 or 5 of the clear liquid bags from airport security when you fly out. They really do come in handy.
- Bum bag. I have always ridiculed people with bum bags in the past for how they make you look. But, I have to admit I have now changed my ways. I picked one up from Decathlon for €4 and it is literally the most convenient thing I have ever purchased! I kept all of my valuables in it, as well as my map and list of Albergues.
- 3 x 500ml drink bottles. So many people seem to take out large, heavy metal water bottles with them, but I really don't see the point. They are more awkward to carry and are unnecessary weight. Instead, I bought three x 500ml plastic water bottles at the start and used them for basically the whole thing. If they get worn out, then buy new ones. They are lighter, easier to take out and put back in your bag. You don't need any more than 1.5 litres of water at any time as there are free water fountains in almost every town along the way.
- Dry bag. I have one big dry bag that fills my entire bag, and then I put everything inside of this. Some even have multiple smaller dry bags which they then use to divide everything up.
Additional things I took with me
- Laptop & charger. I would not recommend taking a laptop with you. However, this is the one weighty exception I had to make, as I needed to work whilst travelling along the Camino. Other than work, I didn't use it for anything else. It’s worthwhile pointing out that I had one of the smallest bags out of anyone I saw along the Camino, and I carried a laptop! How is that even possible?! I dread to think what people were carrying for 800km!
- 3 x shorter cotton ankle socks. My initial plan was to wear 2 x layers of socks every day, and I did this most of the way. But taking 1 pair of socks should be okay, especially if you are just wearing trainers. Instead, pick up thin, double layered socks like these ones.
- 30 multivitamin tablets. I took these so as to ensure I was getting a nice varied amount of vitamins every day. Did they help? I really don’t know.
- Hair gel. Gotta keep up that slick do.
- Hairbrush. Refer to the above
What I Wish I’d Taken
- A Pilgrim's Guide to the Camino de Santiago.
- Thin fleece jacket. Despite it being 30+ degrees celsius most days, it did get chilly in the evenings on many days. A thin fleece jacket would have been nice here and I would say it warrants the space.
- A bigger towel. A small towel does the job but I do miss a larger towel! I would probably take one like this next time.
- Better footwear. My bulky hiking shoes were not cut out for the job. Instead, I’d probably opt for well-cushioned trainers instead. This is by far my biggest regret.
- A solar panelled portable charger. As mentioned above, my cheap one from Decathlon did the job, but a solar paneled, rechargable one would have been much more handy.
- Massage ball. I have only recently found out about these, and bought them just a few days ago. They are very cheap, and you only need to take the smallest one with you. They are great for easing out cramps and pains all over your body. I saw one girl carrying a foam roller on the Camino! Instead, this is a much more compact alternative.
- Buff/Head gaiter. I’ve seen people travelling with these all over the world and think they're pretty cool. You can use them as a scarf, head wrap, a dust protector and blindfold when trying to sleep. Basically, a whole bunch of things. Anyway, I picked one up in Santiago, what do you think? Pretty cool huh ...Or not …
What You Should NOT Take to the El Camino de santiago
- A stupidly big bag. This just encourages you to take more stuff. I recommend lining up everything you’ll need and then buying a bag that fits that stuff and has a bit of spare room.
- Too many clothes. Narrow it down to just 2 days worth of basics, and 3 days worth of underwear.
- A laptop. Bit of a hypocrite here, but mine was purely for work. Yes, you can get it out in the evening, but you’re better of socialising! Anyways, a lightweight tablet or smartphone can do almost everything a laptop can.
- Books. Yes it’s wonderful having a book to read, but they can be bulky and heavy. Instead, I recommend downloading some books to your phone. Alternatively, take a Kindle. You can get loads of books here.
- A huge rock! Some people really go overkill with the rock they take to leave at the Cruz de Ferro. Unless the rock holds real significance, take something small.
- Metal water bottles. These really don't make much sense on the Camino. They are oversized and just unnecessary weight. Simply buy plastic bottles of water out there and keep refilling them.
- Evening clothes. No one on the Camino is there for fashion purposes. Simply wear your next day’s clothes each evening. You’ll blend in perfectly.
Camino de Santiago Packing List Common FAQ
“What do I do if I forget to buy any of this stuff before departure?”
Just start panicking. It’s all over and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Ok, that's a joke. Don’t worry, you can pick up absolutely anything you might need along the way. There are pharmacies in almost every town, as well as sporting stores.
If you’re a cyclist, you will also find cycle repair shops all along the Camino. The only thing I would say is many of the things above are more expensive in the small independant Spanish stores.
I’ve provided lots of links through to Amazon products, and these are generally much cheaper than buying them in Spain. Alternatively, head to large, sporting stores like Decathlon if the town you are in has one.
“Is it expensive to buy supplies on the Camino?”
Yes, most of the time. Instead, buy everything ahead of time. That will help you to stay in budget and leave you more Euros for Spanish wine.
“What’s the cheapest place to buy hiking supplies in Spain?”
“What do I do about food and water?”
You will probably find the local Spanish food different to what you are used to. To keep things cheap, I often picked up a baguette (€1) and pack of meat (€2) each night, and made rolls for the next day.
You can pick up cheap snacks and food along the way (maybe €4-5 for lunch). And for dinner, I recommend getting the Pilgrim menu each night. For €7-12 you always get roughly the same thing: A starter, main, dessert and wine.
Don’t worry, you can buy all of your food in Spain. And water is free at fountains located all along your route. On one day, you even come across a free wine tap!
Well, that’s about it! This ridiculously long and detailed Camino packing list is all you should need! Hopefully you should now have a much better idea of how to pack for the Camino de Santiago. Here’s a few final tips to bear in mind:
- The overall Camino backpack weight should be no more than 10% of your own bodyweight. If you follow the list above, it will probably come in closer to 5%, depending on your weight of course.
- Buy everything at least a few weeks before you leave, and then pack it into your bag and make sure it all fits. If not, your first point of call should be to take stuff out … don’t buy a bigger bag!
- Go for practice walks carrying everything above, so as to ensure you are ok with the weight.
- Wear your shoes in for at least 2-3 weeks before you leave, so as to help avoid blisters.
- Be strict on weight. This is crucial when packing light for the Camino. Carrying just one extra kilo of unnecessary weight will feel like a lot more when you have it on your shoulders for 20+km each and every day.
If you have any more questions, than just let me know below. I would love to help where possible!
Oh, and have a great time! The Camino really is a wonderful experience!