My Camino de Santiago packing list (2017): what worked, what didn’t

My 2014 Camino Francès packing list is the most popular post on this website, and it’s because, generally, travelers are keenly interested in what other travelers pack. When it comes to the Camino de Santiago, travelers are OBSESSED with what other travelers pack – me included.

Camino Santiago Portugues packing listWhen considering what to take for my 2017 Caminho Portugues, I used the 2014 list as a starting point, but soon diverged, and, like the Camino experience itself, and took on a life of its own. For this Camino, I substantially changed my packing approach, mostly due to getting a new backpack, the Osprey Sirrus 36 – a Camino favourite. My previous one opened widely and I could easily rummage around in it. Not the case with this Osprey pack. That’s neither a good or bad thing, it just required thinking differently about organizing my bag.

Like the last time, I’ve taken the experience of research, analysis, testing, and actually walking the Camino to consider everything I took, and pull together my post-Camino thoughts on how much I used a particular item and whether I’d take it again next time.

My last piece of packing advice is the same as 2014: aim to meet your basic needs, 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 out of the experience. After the Camino, most peregrinos agree you need less than you think you do and most of the things that get thrown into a pack “just in case” go unused and just become dead weight.

Camino Clothing

MEC Hydrofoil Jacket – Women’s I had mostly terrific weather, with moderate temperatures and very little rain. I also had almost no rain while I was actually walking (I KNOW), so while my rain jacket got very little wear, I’d definitely take it again.
Outdoor Research Swift Cap UPF50 I preferred this baseball-style hat over the one I wore the last time. It was light, provided great sun protection, and the mesh let my head breathe. Would definitely take again.
Salomon X Ultra 2 GTX Women’s hiking boots The Portuguese route doesn’t have the mountain climbs of other Caminos, but the terrain is rough. Portugal has a lot of small paving stones, like walking on little wobbleboards, and was tough on my feet and ankles. I’m really glad I had the extra support of a hiking boot, and would take again. The Salomon boot laces, however, are the absolute worst, and must be tightened and retied several times during the day.
Teva Original Universal sandals I took these in 2014 and, for me, they’re great for puttering around after a day of walking.
LL Bean Vista Trekking shorts  This is the exact same pair shorts I wore in 2014, and they’re indestructible. Comfortable, long enough they don’t ride up, wash easily, and dry quickly. I’ll keep wearing them until they give up.
Patagonia Quandary hiking shorts All shorts had 5″ inseams this year, which was very disappointing, but I got these on sale and a size larger than I normally wear, so there were okay. Very light and dry fast. I didn’t walk in them, just wore them after walking on warmer days. They were fine, but I’d look for a better alternative next time.
LL Bean Vista Camp pants  These pants are light, comfortable, and terrific for wearing on flights and post-walking on cooler days. Would definitely take again.
Shirts (5): 1 red MEC merino t-shirt; 1 orange Lululemon Swiftly Tech t-shirt, 1 merino tank, 1 long-sleeved Under Armour Sport shirt, 1 maroon MEC merino half-zip long-sleeve I kept the tank and the UA long-sleeved shirt for wearing after walking. Everything else was in the mix daily. My backpack wore a hole in the sleeve of the long-sleeve merino, but it was old anyway. The other t-shirts I chose specifically because they were older and would wash and dry fast.
Bras: 2; Brooks/Moving Comfort Fiona; Lululemon yoga-type bra The Fiona bra is simply the best.
Socks: 4 pair Icebreaker Women’s Hike+ merino I took one more pair of socks than last time and I preferred it. This time, I had way more trouble getting the ankle bands to dry overnight, so I alternated two pairs of socks each day.Icebreaker socks have really declined in quality in recent years, I wouldn’t take them again.
4x underwear, ExOfficio Give-n-Go quick dry These are simply the best travel and sport underwear I’ve encountered. They’re very difficult to come by – they don’t ship to Canada – so I’ve had to do a fair bit of detective work to find more online. Would still take again.

Backpack & organization

Osprey Sirrus 36 (with built-in rain cover) I give this pack a solid 4/5. It’s a nice, compact size, with a sturdy frame, and a nice amount of padding on the shoulder and hip belt. However, it has a trekking pole loop and some rough material on the left shoulder strap that wears on left sleeve seams – it’s really rough material will abrade any open-weave fabric. So far, it’s been okay on a rain jacket, but tore a hole in a merino shirt. Your mileage may vary, but this pack is so close to being perfect, and so very disappointing in that one way.
MEC Nano 3D dry bag 20L The new backpack has different opening than the previous one, and this method for keeping my clothes dry worked better overall than the 20-40L pack liner I used the last time. Worked great and would use again.
MEC Nano 3D Dry Bag 3L I used this smaller dry bag for all of my sleep gear. Worked great and would use again.
Arc’teyrx Maka 2 waist pack/crossbody bag This is the same bag I used in 2014 and would use again. It’s compact, with adjustable straps so the bag easily convert to a small crossbody purse. I kept everything important in here: passport, cash, credit cards, credencial, camera, phone, notebook. It never left my sight, even in the shower.
Eagle Creek Pack-it Specter ultralight cube I used this packing cube to keep track of smaller clothing items. These are the best packing cubes in the world and would use them again.
OnSight mesh organizer sack The Osprey Sirrus has a large front zipper pocket and this mesh sack was perfect for keeping the things I needed during the walking day handy – or at least close to the outside of the pack. Would use again.
MEC 5L drawstring mesh bag I almost always use this as a toiletries bag when I travel, ideal size and can hang from the hook you usually find in albergue showers. Would use again.
MEC 3L drawstring mesh bag This bag was for keeping all of my footcare and first aid things together and organized. Would use again.
MEC 3L  stuff sack This bag was for keeping all of my charger cords, plugs, and electronics stuff organized together. Would use again.
Packable Shopping bag This bag was mostly for air travel as my purse/personal item. It was light and packed down super-small. Would take again.
Bunch of Ziploc bags Just throw them in – you will use them!
Hiking poles One thing I did NOT take on this Camino was hiking poles. It started as a matter of convenience. Checking poles for flights is a huge, manageable pain. The poles wouldn’t fit in my backpack and would create a new issue at the end of my Camino. Finally, the terrain for the CP is quite different, with fewer long, steep ascents and descents. That said, there were a couple of days where I could have used them.

Sleep gear in 3L dry bag

Sea to Summit Premium Silk Travel Liner (standard, berry). Treated with permethrin I upgraded my sleep liner for this Camino, and this one was worth the extra money. It has elastic panels on the sides for a more comfortable sleep. I’d definitely take again. This time, I didn’t take a sleeping bag, and, for the most part, I was warm enough in the albergues at night. One night was wickedly cold, and should have gotten up and put more clothes on. Alas, I did not.
Zippered pillowcase This is the same pillowcase I took in 2014 and I’d take it again next time. I just like the idea of something between me and the pillow hundreds or thousands of strangers have slept on before.
Sleep mask and ear plugs Absolutely essential. If you’re in albergues, you’re dealing with people who snore (at a minimum), get up in the night, make noise in the morning, or don’t turn their phones off. Earplugs block the worst of the noise, sleep mask blocks the worst of the light.
Glasses case This may not make sense, but it does to me. On arrival, I usually take my sleep kit out first. Glasses are the last thing off at night, and I’ll always know where they are if I keep them with this kit.

Electronics in 3L stuff sack

I carry way too much electronics stuff. This was the second-heaviest component of my pack.

Panasonic DMC ZS30 with spare battery, charging cord, 32GB SD card, spare 16GB SD card The camera was always in my waist bag, but all of the related stuff was here. Didn’t need the 16GB card.
Samsung Galaxy S7; charging cord; plug The phone was always in my waist bag, all of the cords and plugs were here.
Western Europe plug adapter I ended up buying an actual Western Europe USB plug and it made a world of difference. Will use again, and can use for other trips.
Charging bank 5200 mAh + cord A backup battery is a good idea, but I was pretty lucky with the combination of a new phone with great battery life, plus plug access so I didn’t really need it too much.

Waist pack

In addition to all of my critical paperwork and money, I kept things I needed right in front of me at all times in my waistpack.

Passport (valid until 2025) Albergues require an original passport for check in, and most have signs posted they will not accept photocopies.
Pilgrim credencial + carrying case For this Camino, I used the the credencial issued by the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.
Health insurance cards and contact info I have travel health insurance coverage with my employer and the credit card I used to book my flight. I took contact information for both. Luckily, I didn’t need health care while walking.
Travel insurance docs and contact info I have travel insurance with the credit card I used to book the trip, providing coverage for trip delay, interruption, and baggage loss. Luckily, I didn’t need to access it while traveling.
Flight confirmation I flew Azores Airlines and can recommend, it’s not luxury, but gets the job done!
Pre-Camino hostel confirmations I stayed in Porto 2 nights before walking, the first night because we arrived in Porto at 9pm after traveling all day, and the second night to give us a day to get on Portuguese time.
Currency, bank cards, credit cards I took more currency than the last time, because there were no partner banks for my bank in Portugal. Keep your cash and cards on or near you at all times.
SPF lip balm and solid sunscreen Handy! Would take again.
Moleskine Ruled Soft Cover Pocket Reporter notebook Plus pens! I bought a different style of notebook originally, but this one was a better size and weight for my needs. Would take again.
MEC Notus Sunglasses These are the same sunglasses I took in 2014, which have since been discontinued. Worked fine and would take again.
Earphones and cord-wrapper I kept these handy in case I needed motivational music or other distraction, but didn’t use them while walking and barely used them otherwise. Would still take again.

Zippered Mesh Bag – front pocket of backpack

Water bottles: 1 x 750mL bottle with clip; 1 x 500 mL flat plastic bottle I kept the larger water bottle clipped on my pack, and the smaller one stuffed in the water bottle side pocket. This was a great way to organize my water supply and I’d take both of these bottles again.
Packtowl ultralight facecloth I also had a full-sized towel, but used the smaller one for washing up in the morning. I’d attach it to the outside of my pack and it would dry while I was walking to the next place. Would take again.
Extra boot laces Same ones I took in 2014; I used them for makeshift clotheslines. Would take again.
Pearl Izumi SPF50 Sun sleeves I took sun sleeves as extra sun protection and they were terrific. These also had some kind of magical cooling effect, welcomed on a couple of the hotter walking days. Would take again.
Buff High UV Camino credencial print A Buff is always handy for keeping the sun off of your head, or keeping your neck warm on a cool day. Would definitely take again.
Neutrogena Sunscreen stick SPF50 (solid) Solid sunscreen is an absolute delight for travel and this one is truly excellent. Goes on light, provides solid protection. Would use again.
Dermatone silicone lip balm SPF 23 Between 2014 and now, I’ve become allergic to this product. I had to toss it while I was travelling and pick up another lip balm in the Boston airport.
Kleenex My nose runs constantly when trekking and I burned through a ton of Kleenex.
Small roll of toilet roll in snack-sized Ziploc bag Didn’t need it, nice to have it just in case.
Smartwool lightweight merino gloves I took these in 2014 and would take again. The perfect weight against early morning chill.
Petzl Tikka XP Headlamp Takes 3 AAA batteries. I put fresh batteries in right before I left. One set was fine the last time, but I realized after a few days that this was a more powerful model and may use more battery power. I bought some more batteries for €1, and ended up not needing them. Would take again.
Mini 2-LED Hand-Crank Dynamo Flashlight (26g) This died the first time I used it! I chucked it and just used my headlamp when I needed a flashlight.
Reflective strap I attached this to the back of my pack, so drivers could see me when approaching. There was more road walking on the Portugues and I would do this again.
Caribiners I had a variety of sizes, but mostly used this large locking one on the outside of my bag for carrying my sandals while walking.
MEC Turtle LED lights I hang these small LED lights on my backpack shoulder straps, so I am visible to oncoming traffic. These are on my bag all of the time, so it made sense to keep them for the Camino. Would take again.

Footcare and first aid – 3L mesh bag

I kept this bag in the “brain” (top lid) of my backpack, since it was usually the last thing I’d use before starting to walk for the day.

Hikers wool Hikers Wool is AMAZING. After the first day, I had a blister under one of my toes from some sock-bunching (a total bummer). From Day 2 onward, I wrapped Hikers Wool among my toes and it kept them dry, separate, and cushioned. I’m buying more. BIG FAN OF HIKER’S WOOL. Will definitely take again. (Disclosure: I won a bag of Hikers Wool from these folks, but I’m buying more.)
Nexcare Foam tape (1 roll) I used this tape instead of moleskin on hotspots, or places my boots were rubbing my feet. Can be cut to size, very lightweight, sticks well. Accept no substitutes!
Scissors I made my own scissor case from duct tape and a Starbucks straw. This is not essential information, just bragging. Would take scissors again.
Bandaid (5) Various sizes. Didn’t use, nice to have.
Compeed (8) Various sizes. I only had one small one Compeed, which was the only size I needed. I bought more after a frustrating couple of days of cutting larger ones down. Would take again.
Alcohol swab (1) Needed more than one, would take more next time.

Toiletries, liquids, other health items

This is definitely a lot of stuff, but I did use most of it. Next time, I need to simplify further – somehow!

5L Mesh bag (wash bag)
Acteon Beach towel This towel is larger than the one I took last time, and I’m much happier with it. The ultralight one I took last time got kind of gamey, which didn’t happen with this one. Dries fast! Would definitely take again.
Comb My Camino hair regime is minimal, the comb is literally the least I can carry.
Night guard Between Caminos, I’ve become a sleep-chomper. It was a pain to carry, but my jaw was happy.
Toothbrush, dental floss I don’t take a full-size toothbrush case, just one that covers the head. I’ve become such a routine flosser that I ran out and had to buy some very expensive Spanish dental floss.
Bar of soap with square, half-size soap holder I cut the ends off of the soap, so it was square and approximately 2/3 the size. This is the only small soap dish in the world and it worked great.Camino de santiago small soap holder
Deodorant Cut a little less than half off, so I had just enough for the trip. Did the job.
Contact lens case
Laundry detergent: Nellie’s All Natural Laundry Soda (1 tbsp/load) 1 oz. Wasn’t enough, but it got me started. After I ran out, I bought one of those lemon-y Spanish laundry bars for €0.59 and split it among my friends.
Hard foam massage ball I was given this ball on my last Camino. I have a lot of muscle and skeletal injuries, so a hard foam ball is great for some impromptu deep-tissue massage. This one is very lightweight, but I didn’t use it at all this time.
Razor Carried it, barely used it, survived
1L Ziploc liquids bag  This was the heaviest component of my bag, but did gradually get lighter over the course of my Camino.
Shampoo Filled most of a 2oz Nalgene bottle. I don’t wash my hair every day. On my last Camino, I stretched it out to every 3-4 days, but this time, I washed it every 2-3 days and it was fine.
Conditioner (use on ends as well) Took 2/3 of a conditioner that came with some hair colour. It’s pretty heavy duty, so I used it for conditioner and anti-frizz on my ends.
Toothpaste I used approximately 1/3 of a 60 mL tube, then took the remaining 40 mL, which was enough for the trip.
Vaseline cocoa butter For feet and hand lotion. Used the same 2oz Nalgene jar I used in 2014.
Body lotion 100 mL. Used the same amount in 2014 and it was the right volume.
Contact lens solution; contact lenses I took a fresh pair of lenses for the walk and 90mL CL solution. I don’t wear my contacts every day, so this worked out to be the right volume for walking and my time in Portugal after.
Antibacterial ointment I had a couple of weird scrapes that benefited from having some antibacterial ointment slathered on.
Rx Skin lotion 1oz. My skin is allergic to everything; particularly new-to-me water, so I always carry this in case a mild allergic reaction (it happens every time)
Small, loose, miscellaneous items in a snap-lock plastic case
Hair elastics (4), bobby pins (5), barrettes (2) My hair is shorter than in 2014, so I can no longer keep it out of my face with a simple ponytail. Or so I thought. I had way too much hair stuff I didn’t use, I could have used more hair elastics.
10 Large safety pins I used safety pins exclusively for hanging socks off of my backpack to dry. Would take again.
Needle and thread (beige, green, black) Always handy, would take again.
Nail clippers and tweezers Handy, but didn’t use. Would take again.
Ibuprofen Didn’t use. Would take less next time.
Robax Platinum muscle relaxant Like last time, I only used these the first couple of nights because my leg muscles go bonkers after that much exercise.
Naproxen Didn’t use, would take less next time.
Rehydration powder (Boots 6-pack) A couple of days, it was hot enough that I was fairly dehydrated. These help quickly replenish fluids and salts, and are the perfect size for a small bottle of water. Would take again.
Immodium Quick Dissolve I’m pretty hard on my stomach because I like to eat everything, particularly when traveling. Every once in a while, my stomach fights back. I only needed this once, but was glad to have it.
Cold medicine I started to get sick, but resisted taking drugs and just fought off the cold with exercise, beer, and orange juice (not together). Would take again.
Anti-nausea medication Didn’t use, would take less next time.
Gaviscon Didn’t use, wouldn’t take again.
Athletic tape for wrapping ankle Didn’t use, wouldn’t take again.

Your experience will vary depending on the time of year you go, and where you plan to walk, but if you have any questions about items on this list, please complete the form and I’ll do my best to respond (helpfully)! Bom Caminho!

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. 

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One comment

  1. […] Krista Spurr, has a lot of invaluable information in her Bite-sized travel blog. In this post in particular, she shares her packing list for her 2017 Camino. She is very thorough and analyses every item she took:… […]


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