Walking 500 some miles is not an easy feat, especially when you have to carry everything you need on your back. It really keeps you grounded and makes you realize exactly what is and what isn’t important in your life. And if you end up packing too much, you will literally become “grounded” and collapse in a pile of mushy flab. Ok, bad puns over. There’s also the whole metaphor that the burden on your back represents the stress, worries, and sin you carry throughout your life… and even if it’s just a metaphor, it’s nice to have a light load.
|Look! I packed so light all my stuff fit in one picture!
With all of this in mind, I had to pack very carefully when I started on my journey. It is hard to know exactly what to take on the Camino de Santiago. I tried to cut away anything superfluous and unnecessary. I don’t think I am a vain or superficial person, so this wasn’t too hard for me. I immediately put aside indulgences such as makeup, added comforts, and extra changes of clothing. My backpack did not have room for such things, and I knew I would not want to bother with the beautification process after walking 30 kilometers a day.
In the end, I think I packed pretty well. I used almost everything I carried with me, except perhaps the headlamp and the sleeping mat. These items weren’t very helpful. I brought the headlamp because I thought it could be cool and I could have a light without holding it, but the truth is the batteries kept falling out and getting lost in my bag so I just let it sit there. As for my sleeping mat, I just didn’t need it. I used it at first because I was so wary of the beds, but then I got used to them and also got too lazy – it’s a lot of work rolling that thing back up every day! I was anticipating sleeping outside which is why I brought it; however, that opportunity never arose.
I’d also probably leave the garbage bags behind. I brought them to protect my gear from bed bugs. If I ever felt an area was a bit unclean or threatening, I put my pack in a bag and sealed it up, then surrounded it in a circle of permethrin powder. However, most of the places I went were fine, and I only ended up using these bags a couple of times (both times were just me being paranoid).
Everything else was pretty much essential. I wore the same clothes every day and washed them in bathroom sinks with soap. Spain doesn’t actually have soap in the bathroom very often, so that is really one thing I should have brought more of – soap.It is also important to keep in mind that I began my journey in June and concluded in July. Because of this, I didn’t need a lot of cold weather gear (though there were several mornings I could see my breath!). That’s great, because that extra stuff is heavy and would have made my back even more sore!
Anyway, here is my complete list of supplies for you to peruse. It might seem like a lot, but for three weeks of hiking, it really wasn’t. In fact, it was just enough.
Two pairs of shorts
One pair of pants
Two tank tops
Two walking sticks
Permethrin bug powder
Small plastic bags
Camera and charger