My Camino de Santiago packing list: what worked, what didn’t

I’ve talked about my love/obsession with packing lists in the past and planning for the Camino is no exception. I worked on my packing list for months, diligently researching, reading the forums, learning from the successes and mistakes of others. While the starting point for this list was the one I’ve been using for years, it was enhanced and improved by the steady stream of packing information that flows through the Camino forums, the many knowledgeable people I’ve met in real life and through social media folks who are pilgrims, outdoorspeople, and packing enthusiasts.

Backpack in Hospital de Orbigo

I also tried to approach this list by identifying the needs that would have to be met during my journey. I walked the Camino from mid- to late September, so I knew my clothing would need to cover me from warmth and sunshine (if lucky) to cold and rain (a near certainty). The result: my packing pyramid of Camino needs: Camino de santiago packing pyramid what to pack spain camino frances

The end result of all of this research, analysis, testing, and actually walking the Camino is the packing list before you, as well as my post-Camino thoughts on how much I used a particular item and whether I’d take it again next time.

And one last piece of packing advice: don’t try to plan or pack for everything. Part of joy of the Camino de Santiago is learning how little you need to get the most of the experience. After the Camino, most peregrinos agree you need less than you think you do and most of the things that got thrown into a pack “just in case” went unused or were discarded. For what it’s worth, this was the information I found the most useful in my own planning – reflections after about items that were the most useful and what could have been left behind.

Download this annotated packing list as an Excel spreadsheet, open in Google Drive, or head over to Pinterest for my visual packing list!

Pinterest packing list

Financial and other essentials

Item Post-Camino Notes
Passport For what should be obvious reasons, I more or less used everything in this subject group as expected. Luckily, I didn’t need my health insurance or travel insurance, but I was happy to have them.
Pilgrim credencial + Ziploc Bag
Health insurance cards and contacts
Travel insurance docs and contact
Flight confirmation and lounge access
Pre-Camino hostel confirmations
Train confirmation
Currency, bank cards, credit cards I used a two-pronged approach to carrying my money. I’d keep a day’s worth of money (usually €30), plus coins, on-hand in an easily accessible pocket. The remainder of my cash and all of my credit and debit cards I always wore around my waist in my Arc’teyrx Maka 2 waistpack. Had no problems at all. Read more about my Camino budget & expenses.


Item Post-Camino Notes
MEC Aria 40 women’s backpack short/standard (green): 1.27kg Great weight, easy to pack, easy to carry, size and limited available space (38L) kept me from acquiring a lot of items on the way. For my next Camino, I’d still use a backpack in the 35L range, but will look at other manufacturers. MEC discontinued this pack in 2015. 
MEC Backpack silicone rain cover 25-40L (~100g) Regular use, I kept it handy for the frequent rain showers I encountered in Castile and Leon.
MEC Pack Liner 20-40L (88g) Essential. I kept my bedroll and my clothes inside of the pack liner at all times and this worked out well for two reasons: 1) when it did rain, no water got through to my things, even if my pack did get damp; and, 2) when my shampoo tube exploded, it only got on my pack liner and not all of the stuff. Read more about how I kept my gear dry.
MEC Travel Light Daypack: daypack in BCN, evening pack 255g Useful in Barcelona, but for most of my Camino, it sat in the bottom of my backpack. Wouldn’t take again.
Arc’teyrx Maka 2 waistpack/crossbody bag: adjustable straps and product design helps bag easily convert to a small purse. (~200g) Essential. As a last-minute purchase, I’m now surprised I considered not taking a waist bag. I wore this every single day of my trip for carrying my essentials: passport and money, credential, phone and camera, tissues, lip balm, sun screen, guidebook. It converted to a cross-body bag for evening use. It was the hardest worker on the trip, after my boots and poles.
Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock trekking poles (women’s): 534g (extra duct tape wrapped around segments) Top-notch gear. Helped me scale mountains, cushion the impact of declines, and speed up on flat surfaces. Small enough that I could break them down and ship them home in my backpack. The duct tape got used for all kinds of things, small repair jobs and the eventual shipping of my trekking poles. Read more about how I packed my poles for flying.
Petzl Tikka 2 Headlamp (85g) Daily use. The sun didn’t rise until 8:00-8:30 and I was usually on the Camino between 6:00-7:00. The headlamp kept my hands free for using my hiking poles and would light the trail for myself and those around me. Highly recommended. I only used one set of AAA batteries over my 15 days of walking, but would have needed replacements for a longer trip.
Mini 2-LED Hand-Crank Dynamo Flashlight (26g) Regular use. It was handy for finding things in my pack in the dark and lighting the trail occasionally.


Item Post-Camino Notes
MEC Equatorial Sleeping Bag: 661g (regular, I have short) (treated with permethrin) This bag is sleeping bag on one side, sheet on the other. I mostly slept in my sleep sheet inside the sleeping bag, which I kept open. Mostly used with the sleeping bag-size down for extra puffiness on albergue mattresses. Would definitely use again. Unfortunately, this model was discontinued at MEC, but I’ve seen other bags around with a 15C-20C rating that would be suitable for the albergues. This bag was discontinued by MEC, a new model is available that is a sheet on one side, quilted bag on the other.
Silk Sleep Sheet (treated with permethrin) Daily use, it was treated with permethrin and I was bedbug-free for the entirety of my trip.
Zippered Pillowcase (treated with permethrin) Daily use, even though North American pillow cases are a completely different size from super-long Spanish pillows. Still, it was an extra layer of protection between me and whoever slept on the pillow the previous night.
Sleep mask and earplugs Essential. The sleep mask blocks out the light when some albergue guests turn the overhead lights on late at night and the earplugs block out some of the snoring.
Outdoor Research Ultralight Dry Sack 5L Daily use. My first task in the morning was rolling all of the above items into a bedroll and stuffing them in the sack, squishing out the air, and then chucking in the sleep mask and earplugs before closing it up. I liked knowing all of my sleeping things were always in the same place.

General Stuff

Item Post-Camino Notes
Camera + charger cord (198g Panasonic DMC ZS30 with spare battery and 32GB SD card) Daily use. I took about 4,000 pictures. So, yeah, this got a lot of use.
Phone + charger cord (Samsung Galaxy SIII) Daily use. I had a phone plan with Spanish talk time, Canadian and European texting, and data and I used all of it. Great for staying in touch with others along the way, and making albergue reservations as you get to the Sarria-Santiago corridor.
Spanish phone, charger & card I borrowed this from a friend at home and it was useful for connecting with another friend who could only text European numbers. However, I ran out of money on it about half-way through and didn’t hit another shop until Santiago. I’d take it again, but refill it at an earlier opportunity (like I should have).
Western Europe plug adapter The Spanish phone I had with me had a European plug with a USB plug-in, so this didn’t get as much use as in previous trips. However, it was nice to have for those rare occasions when I could charge two things at once, or if someone else needed it.
Charging stick 5000mAh Regular use. One of my camera batteries borked a few days into the trip and I discovered I could still charge it if I used the charging stick instead of plugging it into the wall. Also, on a couple of occasions, there was not a free plug to be found in the albergue, so I used the stick to charge my phone. The 5000 mAh capacity is about two phone charges or 3-4 camera charges and was well worth it.
Journal and pens Essential. I took tons of notes and recollections and I’ll read them for the rest of my life. I took a small Moleskine softcover with small pens that fit inside. Compact, and everything was always together.
John Brierley Camino guide The maps are okay – some are definitely better than others. This is the Camino bible for a lot of English-speaking pilgrims, but I don’t think it’s essential. I also don’t think it’s the best guide out there. On the Camino Francès, the trail is very well-marked and the steady stream of people ensures there’s always someone around to get you on the right path. I had the Camino Adventures route maps and elevations on my phone, and I would have done just fine if I only had those.Brierley did have some nice information about noteworthy stops along the way, but I also found many of the same things in my own internet research. I saw a lot of people using Brierley as a prescription, not a guide, and putting some very challenging days in when they didn’t have to. Your mileage may vary, but I wouldn’t use his guide in the future if I did the Camino Francès again.
Lonely Planet Fast Talk Spanish Didn’t use at all. I had a great Google Translate app that let me download offline dictionaries for Spanish, Catalan and Gallego, all of which I used. Based on the iPhone users around me, I believe only the Android version will let you download dictionaries.
Water bottles: 2 x 500mL flat plastic bottles Daily use. One of the bottles had a tear and died on the second-last day, so I bought a regular 500 mL water bottle to supplement until I got to Santiago.
Swiss Army Knife multitool Regular use. However, I’m planning to upgrade to a model which has scissors. The knife wasn’t great for its primary use, cutting first aid tape, but I made do and/or borrowed scissors.
Spork Occasional use. I really thought I would use this more, especially to eat yogourt, but it was just impractical to transport it and store dairy, so the spork ended up at the bottom of my bag. I can imagine using it more if I had fewer restaurant meals.
Large safety pins, needle and thread Occasional use. The safety pins were used for hanging my socks outside of my pack to dry when walking. The needle and thread was lent out for someone else’s repair, as I only had one tiny blister the whole way (#pilgrimbrag)
Bunch of Ziploc bags Regular use. Take a bunch in different sizes.
Desiccant packs Regular use. You know those little packs of desiccant silica gel  that you get with random items? I took a small pile of them and threw them in my pack liner, packing cubes, everywhere. My bag never got particularly damp, but it was a nice little bit of insurance since they were free to me and weighed nothing.


Item Post-Camino Notes
Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket: 346 g (small, I have large) Great for the rain showers. I never encountered worse weather than that.
MEC Galena Fleece Jacket (purple): 316g (small, I have large) Great for the occasional chilly morning. Again, I never encountered worse weather than that.
Outdoor Research Traverse Hat (medium) in Desert Sunrise Occasional use. I had mostly terrific weather, but didn’t wear my hat very much. I was under tree canopy in Galicia and was usually done walking by the time the sun was high and bothersome.
Ecco XPEDITION Lite Lapaz High GTX Women hiking boots: NO WEIGHT Great boots, but a little heavier-duty than what my route and conditions required. Again, I had mostly terrific weather, and could have done with a trail shoe.
Extra boot laces Nice to have, I ended up using them to tie my bedroll and as a makeshift clothesline over my bunk in the albergues.
MEC Notus Sunglasses Regular use. I had mostly terrific weather and usually needed sunglasses by 10am most days.
Teva Original sandals Daily use. I was happy to get out of my boots at the end of the walking day. Some people did stretches of walking in their sandals, but I don’t think these were sturdy enough for the task. Still, super lightweight and easy for travel, would definitely take again.
Smartwool lightweight merino gloves There were a couple of chilly mornings where I was glad to have them, and I would take them again in case I ever ran into cooler weather than I did.
Everything else wear:
LL Bean hiking shorts (grey) If the weather was nice, I wore these after walking for the day.
LL Bean Tropicwear Zip leg pants Almost-daily use. I got into the habit of starting with full pants in the morning and would zip off the legs after first coffee (between 8:00 and 9:00). I had great weather and shorts were a necessity in Galicia because of an unanticipated heat wave. I used the extra pockets for stashing cash as well as the tip protectors for my walking poles.
MEC Amanita pants (green) I wore these after walking if the weather was cooler, and for all of my travel days before and after.
Shirts: 2 t-shirts, 2 tanks, 1 long-sleeved merino All merino was the way to go. I kept one shirt for non-walking/non-sleeping wear and rotated everything else daily. I usually slept in the shirt I was going to wear the next day. It was an odd habit to get out of once I got home!
Bras: 2 bras 1 Moving Comfort Fiona (pink-orange): 120g; 1 Lululemon purple sport bra Rotated daily, each model worked out very well for me.
Socks: 3 pair Icebreaker Washed and rotated daily. If I was walking under 20km, I generally didn’t change my socks. I had three pairs of the same model in different colours and it worked really well for keeping track of the “freshest” pair.
Underwear: 3 pair underwear Washed and rotated daily, each model worked out very well for me.
Buff I had a High UV buff, which proved to be great for two uses, making into a hat when it was chilly in the morning, and wearing as a UV-blocking headband when it was sunny. Not too hot on the head, either, which I why I wore it and not my hat.
Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter ultralight packing cubes. I used three: one for shirts, one for socks and underwear, one for the general stuff. I love these and use them every time I travel, and would definitely use again.


Item Post-Camino Notes
2 neon green drawstring mesh bags – toiletries/shower bag and food-carrying Daily use. They took up no weight at all and were a great size for my toiletries (in one bag) and my daily snacks (in the other). The drawstring let me easily hang the toiletry bag in the shower. Would definitely use again.
Packtowl Ultralite XL towel (89g) Daily use. The towel worked great, dried quickly, but admittedly got a little funky by the end of Week 2. If I were doing this again, I’d take a smaller facecloth-sized one as well, to use in the morning, instead of having to use my large one and put it away still damp. Next time!
Shampoo Occasional use. Even though the 100 mL container exploded, I still had way more than I needed. I kept my hair in a ponytail most of the time and only really washed it every 3 or 4 days.
Conditioner (use on ends as well) Same
Comb, hair elastics and bobby pins Regular use. My hair is long enough now that I didn’t need the bobby pins, but I used everything else and didn’t need anything beyond this for (very) basic beautification.
Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss Daily use. I ran out of toothpaste and had a little more trouble than I expected finding more.
Soap Daily use. Took a small bar which lasted quite a while, no problem replacing it.
Body lotion Daily use. Took 100 mL, which was quite enough.
Sunscreen (use as face lotion) (2 x 50 mL) Regular use. Way, way more than I needed, as I was out of the sun early in the day and under a tree canopy for most of the nice weather I encountered. However, I was walking a different route or more of the Camino Frances, I definitely would have used more.
Solid SPF 60 Sunblock stick (2) Same as above, I used quite a bit of one, but had no need for a second.
Lip balm Daily use. I had a great one with a high SPF and lots of protective lip goo. Would definitely use again.
Razor Occasional use. Honestly, I stopped caring for most of the trip, but would clean up every now and then when I felt the need to be presentable, and once my walk was over.
Vaseline (also use as hand lotion) Daily use. I put Vaseline on my feet in the morning and when I changed socks. Not only did my feet finish in pretty good condition, I only had one little blister.
Kleenex Regular use. I got sick along the way, having some Kleenex was handy.
Small roll of toilet roll in snack-sized Ziploc bag Occasional use, but when it was required at the occasional toilet that was TP-free, it was appreciated.

First Aid

Item Post-Camino Notes
Bandaid Used 1 of 10 I brought.
Compeed Used 2 of 5 I brought. It was good to have different sized ones to choose from, as I had a hot spot on a baby toe, but only one real blister on the bottom of my foot (and a small one at that).
Moleskin Used about 3/4 of a sheet of the 2 I brought.
Ibuprofen Daily use. I had some tendonitis in my Achilles, and the ibuprofen managed the pain and inflammation while walking.
Rehydration powder I had two small packets and used both, after particularly long walks on hot days.
Immodium Didn’t use any despite throwing everything into my stomach from hot peppers to regional specialties to water from fountains where the potability was questionable. All the same, I had no stomach troubles whatsoever.
Robax Platinum The first couple of days, my leg muscles were quite unsure what was going on, so the Robax calmed them down while I was trying to sleep. Used 2 of 8 or so that I brought.
Things I bought The farmacia suggested different bandages, which were in large sections that you cut to fit, and were, ultimately, completely ineffective. I also bought some antibacterial ointment, as well as first aid tape I used for additional support for my ankle and Achilles. Once I got sick, I bought some cold medicine, but it’s about a fraction of the strength of North American meds. I could have used a pair of scissors as well, but managed without. Long story short, you can buy almost anything from a farmacia.

For good measure, I consulted a climate guide, though there is an abundance of information about the weather to expect on the Camino. For what it’s worth, the weather is often unpredictable and can vary wildly, much like my home province of Nova Scotia. Therefore, it was easiest to pack like I do at home and be prepared for everything from heat waves to driving rain and cold.

And there you have it. I’m pretty pleased with the way everything worked out with my packing list and will definitely use it again in the future with more active travel adventures. Your experience will surely be quite different, but if you have any questions about items on this list, please complete the form and I’ll do my best to respond (helpfully)! Buen Camino!

Questions and answers submitted may be retained and used in a future Frequently Asked Questions post. No names, email addresses or other personal information will be used. 

For more posts about my Camino de Santiago, check out my dedicated Camino page. If you enjoyed this post, please take a moment to leave some feedback in the comment section. If you really, really enjoyed this post, you can subscribe to the blog to receive notifications for new content. I share travel news on Twitter at @bitesizedtravel, pictures of travel, food, craft beer, and cats on Instagram, and I hide from Facebook. 



  1. I love this!! Even though I’m fairly certain I will never do the Camino this is super interesting…and even though I’ve always been a fairly decent packer I always love your tips!!

    • Thanks! I tried to do something I had had a hard time finding – what people thought of the things they lugged across Spain, after having lugged them across Spain.

  2. I love looking at people’s packing lists. I think you’re right about the boots. I used boots the first time, shoes the second and sandals this year. they all gave some kind of problem but that’s par for the course and overall i don’t like boots. it’s like lifting bricks.

  3. I also will never do the Camino, but your dedication to packing lists and the thoroughness of your descriptions is awesome. I hope lots of future peregrinos (is that the right word?) find this blog entry!

    I am now realizing how behind I am in my blog reading if this was an Oct 9 entry. Ouf.

  4. Hi. I too am fr. Nova Scotia and am leaving soon to hike the Camino Frances. Thank you for the info. A great help. I am having a problem finding a USB charger for my phone. Any suggestions

    • Hi Anne! Check Winners. I found a double USB plug there. You could also look for one when you get to Europe, with the USB plug in and a Western European plug on the end. Buen Camino!

  5. Great list – I like the way you explained what you’d take the next time. I was wondering, though, where you found the anti-bed-bug spray. I’m in Canada, too, and it doesn’t seem to be locally available. Thanks!

    • Thanks for your comments! Unfortunately, it’s not available in Canada, I was gifted some from a friend who had been to the US. I’m not sure if it can be shipped to Canada from an American retailer, but that might be another option. Good luck!

  6. Excellent list! Although I’m a male currently living in Las Vegas and planning to walk in April, I believe this list will help tremendously. I’m curious, however. Is it better to buy the gear in Europe, or find a favorite outfitter in the US.

  7. Hey there =) I’m so happy I found your post!
    I’m from Brazil and I’ll be walking the Camino on April. Unfortunately, I can’t really find most of your packing list over here, but it helped me to have an idea of the things I should DEFINITELY pack so thank you for that!!!
    I have a few questions…
    What was the weight of your backpack?
    What time of the year did you go?
    Also, you talked about the John Brierley’s Camino guide, what other guide would you recommend?
    I still have some other questions, but I can’t remember them right now hahaha. Thank you so much 🙂

  8. […] Nice seeing you here, it certainly has been a while. I haven’t come around to posting anything since after my trip because I’ve just been too busy with school. But here we are! Posting yet again! As you may remember I did the Camino de Santiago Frances last summer as part of a 3 month long european backpacking trip. I went a little coo coo with gear and not only did I post my entire packing list for the Camino, but also about travel underwear and toiletry kits. Now I’m gearing up for Camino #2 and I’d like to share with you what worked and what didn’t on my last camino, modeled after a post I saw on the blog Bite Sized travel. […]


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s