Well, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. I leave on Monday for an adventure that I have been anticipating for a year and a half. This is what happens when friends and I go out for dinner and open a bottle of wine. We throw ideas out at each other and then off we go.
And here we are. T-2 days to take off. I’ll be flying into Málaga, Spain on Tuesday morning with Patricia. Then we will head off to Madrid and the next day meet Jodi. The following day, we take the train to Burgos. And finally, on Friday, we start walking.
I have often thought of writing a post about my thoughts on the connection between nature, walking and creativity. Or why I decided to do this crazy adventure. Or why I love walking or my worries of walking such a long distance and the toll it may take on my body, my emotions and my friendships. But I couldn’t really get the words into a coherent whole so I’m going to start by posting a packing list first.
To keep myself organized, I’ve sorted my belongings into groups: Walking, At the Albergues, Tech, Toiletries and First Aid. When I return from the Camino, I will go over this list and add any other information about each piece – whether I needed it, used it, love it, etc.
Many experienced pilgrims say that you should only take about 10% of your body weight so for me, that formula would be 15 lbs (7kg). I ended up with a pack that weighed 20 lbs (about 9kg) but I was comfortable with that. I often winter hike with a pack about the same weight so it didn’t seem heavy to me. I know that it might start to after 25 km but I also know that if you know and love your gear and it’s broken in, sometimes it just starts to feel like a part of you.
Packing for an adventure like this doesn’t have to be expensive. I didn’t have to buy many new things since I already had a lot of clothing and gear for backpacking, hiking and Search and Rescue (I used to be on a SAR team) so that was a bonus. That being said, I made a few excuses to buy new gear just because it’s super fun.
Let’s start with the waist pack:
- Mountainsmith Vibe Lumbar waist pack. A waist pack is good to have your essentials closeby so you don’t have to take your pack off every time you want to buy a coffee or write something down. My walking partners have larger waist packs but I felt really uncomfortable with a larger one so I found this to be a good one. Also, if you want to leave your pack somewhere and take only the important stuff, it’s good to have a separate bag/pack/pouch.
In the waistpack:
- My Midori Traveller’s Notebook and pen.
- A protein bar or snack of some sort for times of low blood sugar.
- Travel wallet with debit cards, visa cards, health insurance, Euros, personal identification as well as ICE info. Held closed with a hair elastic. (You’ll notice a recurring theme of hair elastics. I’m really consistent at losing them.)
- Passport. Missing from the photo as I didn’t have one at the time of the photo. Six days before leaving, I discovered that my passport had expired. Yep. It’s all good now!
- Phone. Missing from photo because I was taking the picture with it.
Now, onto the big pack:
- MEC Aria 40L pack (no longer available). This is my tried and true, the pack that I’ve take on almost all my hikes in the Adirondacks, including winter ones. I know its ins and outs, it fits me perfectly and I love every frayed edge and mud stain on it. This is not an endorsement of this particular pack for everyone on this walk but more of a strong recommendation to find a pack you have tested and LOVE. The Aria and I are old friends and I know she’s got my back. (Couldn’t resist a little play on words!)
- 3L Camelbak water bladder
- A buff. Good for wiping sweat, holding hair back, keeping your neck warm or as an eye mask.
- A cap. To keep the sun off my head and out of my eyes.
- A Gerber multi-tool. Keep this in your checked luggage. Or face the wrath of over-zealous airport security like I did in Israel.
- A small Eat’N Tool and hair elastic on a carabiner.
- A tiny sewing kit.
- An additional journal.
- A neck band to cool off. (I decided to leave this at home.)
- A MEC pack rain cover.
- A small screwdriver for glasses or headlamp.
- AAA batteries for headlamp.
- Paracord. Certainly not a necessity; this is just one of those things that I have a hard time leaving behind. I blame it on all my back-woods experience. You can use it for laces, tying stuff on your pack, lots of things that you may not even realize until you need it.
- Protein bars. I have food allergies so there is the possibility that I will end up somewhere where I can’t find anything I can eat. This is half a pound of weight that will diminish over time.
- A hard glasses case. I have prescription glasses that cost quite a bit. I have no intention of buying new ones.
- The Camino de Santiago guidebook by John Brierley.
- Trekking poles, which I decided not to bring. If need be, I’ll get poles there.
- Hiking boots. (Listed below.)
At the Albergues:
Here is what I brought for all those times that I’m NOT walking:
- A Scrubba Wash Bag. I debated about this one. I was told it was not needed. I read on one blog that it was incredibly useful. I decided that since it weighs nothing, it could easily just sit in the bottom of my pack or act like a dry sac if I don’t use it.
- EVA Birkenstocks. The perfect combination of comfortable walking sandal and shower shoes.
- MEC summer weight sleeping bag.
- Quick dry towel.
- Keen Targhee II Mid hiking boots. I have orthotics and Keen’s have a nice wide toe box which allows for the extra insert.
- 3 pairs of underwear
- 3 pairs of socks
- 2 bras
- a wicking tank top
- a wicking T-shirt
- my galgo activist T-shirt (“I am a voice for the galgo.”) This shirt is cotton and would normally never be packed for any kind of active adventure. But the plight of these beautiful, loving and gentle dogs is horrific and needs to stop. We adopted a galga from Spain and I will wear this shirt to build awareness and perhaps I will inspire someone else to adopt one. For more information, please visit www.diadelgalgo.com or visit 112 Carlota Galgos to see some dogs that are looking for forevers. (This is where we got our girl from.) Ok, stepping off my soap box now.
- A SPF long-sleeve overshirt. (It’s actually not pictured above because I swapped out a Merino long-sleeve as I thought it would be too warm.)
- A rain jacket.
- A light jacket.
- Reebok CrossFit shorts (I wanted some little shorts that I could wear to walk, wear to bed, or wear in the water.)
- Columbia Anytime Long shorts
- Columbia Saturday Trail convertible pant
- A stuff sack and compression sack.
- A small backpack that folds into its own pocket. This will be my carry-on.
It sounds like a lot but I can’t think of anything that would significantly lessen the weight of my pack. I can always get rid of stuff on the way if I find there is something really unnecessary.
This is the part that is really personal. You need to make decisions about the amount of tech you want to bring with you. There are purists who completely disconnect. But don’t let anyone pressure you into thinking you need to do that for the true experience – no music, no phone, no whatever. That being said, keep in mind that tech can be heavy.
- Phone/camera (for obvious reasons). Not pictured.
- iPro lenses for my camera. If you are an avid photographer (amateur or pro), not bringing a DSLR is a big step. But these lenses are fantastic! I have a macro, a 2x telephoto and a superwide that attach to my phone case. You can see some of my experimental photos here. The lenses come in the black, cylindrical case.
- A gorilla mini-tripod.
- Leef iBridge Mobile Memory stick. If you don’t have iCloud storage or regular connectivity, you can get that annoying message saying that you are out of memory on your Apple device. But this little gadget allows you to transfer photos from your phone to a memory card.
- Battery pack. This is pretty heavy but can hold three full charges.
- Chargers for phone and battery pack.
- Extra headphones.
- And finally, a contraption from Lee Valley that rests over your adapter/charger in the outlet and allows you to rest your phone or battery under the outlet and not on the floor or if there is nowhere to sit your phone.
Pretty standard stuff:
These will go in my hip pockets:
- Anti-blister stick
- SPF15 lip balm
These will go in my shower kit:
- EcoTrail soap good for washing laundry, body, hair and dishes (not that I will be doing dishes). This should be enough for the whole trip as I don’t wash my hair very often.
- A brush. I considered not bringing a brush and going au naturel but, oh, the knots.
- Travel toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Silicone swimming earplugs. If they can keep water out, they should keep noise out.
- Hand sanitizer
- Face sunscreen
- Moist towelettes for my glasses.
- Nail file
- Lots of mini hair elastics
- Eye drops
- Travel deodorant
- Not shown: medication (I’m also bringing a copy of my prescription, just in case.)
When packing first aid, I always consider packing for others as well. You may be someone’s angel if they are in distress and you can help.
- I’m not going to go into great detail about what kind of blister protection I’m bringing but I’m bringing lots. Some people use the needle and thread option. I never have but I did bring a tiny sewing kit. My boots are very comfortable but I haven’t put them to any test that would compare to the walking I’m going to be doing.
- Waterproof bandaids (hopefully, they are sweatproof too).
- KT Tape
- Alcohol swabs
- Aquatabs water purification tablets
- Latex gloves and a tiny CPR kit (not shown because it’s hooked into my pack).
And that is everything in my pack. I’m satisfied with everything I’ve decided to bring and in my experience (while not Camino experience), I’ve never regretted bringing anything listed above.
Off we go!