Backpack, shoes and equipment

Backpack, shoes and equipment

The essential equipment for the Pilgrim's Way to Santiago includes a backpack, shoes, sleeping bag or sleeping bag sheet and clothing. To decide what else to bring, you need to measure yourself against your personal needs, assessing from time to time whether the item is strictly necessary. Below you will find useful tips on what to put in your rucksack and how to choose your equipment.

The backpack

How to choose a backpack for the Pilgrim's Way

The ideal backpack for the Pilgrim's Way to Santiago must be large enough to hold everything you need, ergonomic but above all light and comfortable. There are many different trekking backpacks, and the following characteristics should be taken into account when choosing:

  • 40 - 50 litre capacity. This size is suitable for both summer and winter use
  • Weight 1 - 2 kg max. To put as little strain on your body as possible while walking, choose a rucksack that is as light as possible.
  • Size suitable for your build. In order to test the real comfort and ergonomics of the rucksack, it is advisable to try it out in the shop, as there are different shapes and sizes that do not always fit all body sizes.
  • Prefer a backpack with separate pockets and compartments to better organize your equipment and distribute the load.
  • To be able to distribute the weight over the whole body and not just overload the shoulders, check for adjustable chest and waist belts.
  • To protect the contents in case of rain, check for a waterproof cover.

How to pack a backpack

When preparing your rucksack, it can be useful to consider a few small precautions: it is always a good idea to divide the contents into separate transparent bags, which make it easier to search and protect from the rain. It is also important to distribute the weight well so that it is evenly distributed over the body. It is also convenient to place in the lower part what you will not need during the stage, but will only be useful when you arrive at the hotel (e.g. the sleeping bag), and to keep within reach what could be very useful along the way (e.g. the poncho or mackintosh). Finding yourself having to unpack your entire rucksack due to sudden rain while walking can be inconvenient.

The rucksack should not weigh more than 9 kg or in any case should not exceed 10% of your body weight. For example, if one's weight is 60 kg, the backpack should not weigh more than 6 kg. These precautions are extremely necessary in order not to overload your back and legs too much and to prevent shoulder pain and foot blisters.

Backpack as hand luggage by air: permitted dimensions

In general, with scheduled flights, a backpack of a maximum size of 55 x 40 x 20 cm and weighing less than 10 kg is allowed as hand luggage. Therefore, a 40-50 litre backpack with equipment for the Pilgrim's Way to Santiago can be carried in the cabin. Usually the hand luggage is included in the ticket price, but be careful, each company has specific rules that we suggest you check before departure.

Ryanair, in particular, has more restrictive travel rules; in fact, it only allows you to take one piece of hand luggage in the cabin free of charge, with a maximum size of 40x20x25. To take a hiking backpack for the Camino de Santiago, you must purchase the additional option "priority with two hand luggage", which allows you to take an additional backpack with maximum dimensions of 55x40x20 cm and weight not exceeding 10 kg.

pellegrini lungo il cammino

What to put in your backpack

As far as equipment is concerned, a lot depends of course on the season in which you will leave. In any case, remember that it is not necessary to carry too many things because along the way you will find pharmacies, supermarkets and all kinds of shops to buy what you need.

As for clothes, for example, you can wash them at the end of each stage, as all hotels have a laundry area and often a washing machine and dryer. Bring technical clothes that dry quickly and are comfortable. Here is a list of what should not be missing in your backpack:

  • hiking shoes (already used)
  • flip-flops comfortable for resting your feet after a day of walking and also useful for showering
  • 2 long trekking trousers, preferably waterproof, to protect you from the rain and a short pair of shorts in case it's summer, alternatively 2 trekking trousers with zips that change into shorts depending on the season
  • 3 cotton or technical T-shirts
  • a jacket or sweatshirt undergarments
  • 3 pairs of hiking socks: take socks without inner seams to avoid chafing and blisters
  • a cape and waterproof trousers or a lightweight goretex jacket
  • scarf, hat and gloves (if winter)
  • sunglasses and hat
  • a quick-drying microfiber towel
  • sleeping bag or sleeping bag sheet depending on the season (not all hotels provide blankets for pilgrims)
  • a small torch
  • a small knife
  • earplugs
  • a power strip
  • a pillowcase
  • a safety pin and a pair of clothes pegs
  • sunscreen
  • a bar of Marseille soap, handy both for washing and for washing clothes
equipment for Cammino ways

First aid kit

  • vaseline to apply to feet before each day's walking to prevent blisters from appearing
  • needle, thread, gauze and betadine to treat them
  • painkillers and muscle cream in case of severe pain
  • Do not overload yourself with too many medicines, remember that you can find everything you need in the various pharmacies you will come across along the way.
First aid kit for Cammino ways

Required documents

Identity card (for EU citizens) or passport, health card and pilgrim's credential

How to choose shoes for the Pilgrim's Way to Santiago

Choosing shoes to undertake the Pilgrim's Way to Santiago is extremely important. Our feet will be our first travelling companions, which is why it is essential to take care of them. Here I will outline a series of tricks to take into account when choosing the 'perfect' shoe:

  • It must be comfortable: There is no such thing as the perfect shoe for everyone, but the perfect shoe for your foot, i.e. the one that feels comfortable and fits you well. Get shoes that are sturdy but lightweight. Remember that you will have to wear them for many kilometres a day, so avoid shoes that are too heavy.
  • The size: pay attention to the shoe size you take. It is usually advisable to take half a size larger than you wear, because when you walk a lot your foot tends to swell a little. Also, on a downhill track shoes that are too precise can create problems for your toenails. Shoes that are too big could also create balance and friction problems, causing blisters on the feet. Therefore always pay close attention to the good fit of the shoe.
  • The sole: well suited to any type of terrain, but at the same time not too rigid for the foot. It should therefore be made of Vibram or similar materials in order to always have a good grip on the ground and avoid slipping.
  • Use shoes that have been well broken in: do not start with new, never used shoes, as they risk being uncomfortable, as well as painful, as they have not yet adapted to the foot and could be the first cause of blisters and blisters. If you do have to buy new shoes, take care to use them before setting off on the Camino, to break them in as much as possible to make them adapt well to your foot and not have any nasty surprises along the way.

Waterproof and breathable Gore Tex shoes

Many regions of Spain, such as Asturias and Galicia, are rainy all year round. Always having dry feet is essential to avoid foot blisters. There are various currents on the subject of whether or not to choose Gore Tex shoes. GORE-TEX is a membrane that simultaneously guarantees the waterproofness of the shoe and the breathability of the foot. Undoubtedly during the summer season the foot sweats more with a Gore-Tex shoe, but when it rains it is the safest alternative to keep your feet dry. Evaluate according to your foot. To avoid too hot or the feet sweating too much in summer, a useful suggestion is to combine the hiking shoe with a hiking sandal, so that it can be used during good weather on asphalt and easy trails or when it is too hot, as well as in the evening to give the foot a rest.

shoes for Cammino di Santiago

Which sleeping bag to bring on the Camino de Santiago

The sleeping bag is certainly a necessary and indispensable accessory on the Pilgrim's Way if you decide to walk it staying in pilgrim's hotels or private hostels, both for hygienic reasons and because it protects you from the cold.

Is it better to use a sleeping bag or a sleeping liner on the Camino de Santiago?

This question raises many doubts in those who are about to walk the route. To decide which is the best choice for you, you have to take into account several factors: the time of year you are walking the route and what your personal habits are (whether or not you are cold-sensitive).

You may consider a sleeping liner if you have a good tolerance for the cold and plan to walk the route in the summer, when temperatures are milder, considering that in cases of necessity you can make use of additional blankets, which pilgrim hotels sometimes provide. It remains, however, a risky choice, since, even in summer, the temperature range, especially in the high-altitude stages, is very high and pilgrim hotels do not always have blankets available for everyone.

Outside of the summer period, and taking these variables into account, in our experience, it remains a good option to bring a sleeping bag, as temperatures can be very cold and not all hotels have adequate heating systems.

Characteristics for choosing a good sleeping bag

A good sleeping bag should be light (500-700 g) and compact, to be easily carried in your backpack. The choice of temperature resistance will depend on the season in which you walk the Camino. In winter it is convenient to buy a sleeping bag that guarantees comfort down to zero degrees. In summer, on the other hand, one that has a temperature range of 10 to 20 degrees will be fine.

sleeping bag to bring on the Camino de Santiago