The Ultimate Camino de Santiago Packing List

When planning out my Camino de Santiago packing list, I researched dozens of packing lists. I wanted to get it right – after all, the Camino takes around 36 days and crosses nearly 500 miles.

Because the Camino is so long, it’s extremely important to pack the right gear. Here, I will share exactly what I packed for the Camino to hopefully help other pilgrims plan out their packing lists.

In my guide on what to pack for the Camino de Santiago, I’ve included recommendations on the best backpack, footwear, clothing, and more. I’ve also included what didn’t work for me, so you’ll know what not to pack.

The Ultimate Camino de Santiago Packing List

It’s also worth noting I walked the Camino Frances, The French Way. The French Way is the most popular of the ancient pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. I started in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France, which is 500 miles from Santiago Compostela.

This meant that my ultralight packing list not only had to be light, but it also had versatile, keeping me comfortable me in tons of climates: the steep Pyrenees, the hot plains of the Meseta, and freezing rain of Galicia.

This post is divided into several sections, so if you’re only interested in a particular part, you can jump straight to it.

I hope you’ll find it helpful. Buen camino!

Camino packing list:

Backpack

The Ultimate Camino de Santiago Packing List

I highly recommend investing in a high-quality backpack for the Camino. After all, you’ll be walking hundreds of miles with it — a cheap bag will hurt you in the long run.

It’s fine to order your bag online, but get your bag fitted by a professional in REI or a similar store. Having a professional adjust your bag is crucial for longterm comfort. Also having a backpack with hip straps is a must – they alleviate pressure from your shoulders and help distribute the weight evenly.

  • Osprey Tempest 40L Backpack – The best backpack size for the Camino depends on the time of year. In the summer, when you won’t need a sleeping bag, a 20-30L bag should be fine. In spring, fall, or winter, a 40L backpack is probably ideal. Originally I bought a 33L backpack but later returned it because it didn’t fit my sleeping bag. The best backpack for the Camino is Osprey, in my opinion. I recommend Osprey because they have a lifetime warranty and their bags are of excellent quality.
  • Rain cover – If your bag doesn’t come with a rain cover, make sure to buy one. Ensure your rain cover fits your bag before beginning the Camino – mine didn’t fully fit, so sometimes my bag got wet.
  • Permethrin spray – Before the Camino, spray your bag, clothing, and sleeping bag with permethrin in order to prevent bed bugs. Don’t bother bringing the permethrin with you, as one spray should last the whole Camino anyway.
  • 2-3 carabiners  Clip a few carabiners to your bag so you can clip your clothes to your bag and dry them in the sun as you walk.

An important rule of thumb for packing light for the Camino

As a rule of thumb, your fully loaded backpack should weigh no more than 10% of your body weight. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, make sure your bag weighs 15 pounds or less.

Footwear

The Ultimate Camino de Santiago Packing List

Proper footwear is essential on the Camino – nothing will send you home faster than ill-fitting shoes.

Like your backpack, I recommend going to REI and getting your shoes fitted by a professional. Additionally, it’s important to break in your shoes before your Camino.

Wearing Hiking Sandals on the Camino: Do or Don’t?

Controversial opinion – I highly recommend walking in hiking sandals. They’re lightweight, comfortable, and the least likely to give you blisters. While other pilgrims felt like their feet were falling off by 3 p.m., I was still comfortable and blister-free.

Whatever you do, don’t pack hiking boots. Almost every pilgrim I met wearing hiking boots got shin splints or terrible blisters.

There is a lot of road walking on the Camino, which is why I advise using hiking sandals or shoes instead of hiking boots.

Here’s what you need:

  • Hiking sandals – The ones I bought were similar to the Keen Whisper sandals, which are popular on the Camino. Did my feet get wet? No, because I wore them with thick merino socks.
  • 3 pairs of merino wool socks – Merino wool is excellent for hiking because it’s comfortable in any temperature and naturally resists odor. Plus, it doesn’t itch like traditional wool. Bring three pairs of socks in varying thickness – that way you will be ready for any weather. Here are some thinner socks and thicker socks.
  • Flip flops – After walking all day, it was so nice to be able to change into a pair of flip flops. They’re also great for the communal showers in the albergues (pilgrim hostels).

Tip – Size up your shoes. My hiking sandals were a full size too big, which ended up being perfect, as your feet tend to swell throughout the day, especially when it’s hot.

Sleeping

You will need a sleeping bag on the Camino. Most albergues don’t provide sheets or provide flimsy disposable sheets, so you’ll need a sleeping bag to stay warm at night.

Note: If you’re walking in summer, you’ll probably just need a silk liner, not a sleeping bag.

  • Eye mask and earplugs – As you’ll be often be sleeping in dormitories with up to 300 beds, an eye mask and earplugs are essential. 

A word on the Camino de Santiago bed bugs

Many pilgrims get bed bugs on the Camino. Unfortunately, I did, as did several people in my Camino “family”. Here are a few tips on how to handle them:

  1. Spray all your gear with Permethrin spray before you leave.
  2. Sleep with a silk liner in your sleeping bag; it helps prevents bed bugs. This is a good one.
  3. Buy a cheaper sleeping bag so you can throw it out if necessary after the Camino. I was very grateful I didn’t have to throw out my more expensive sleeping bag. This one cost $35 and worked great.

Clothing

The Ultimate Camino de Santiago Packing List

You don’t need to pack a lot of clothes for the Camino. You only need two outfits. I also recommend bringing a third outfit — a t-shirt and pair of shorts — to wear while you’re washing your clothes. They can also double as pajamas.

Here’s a list of clothing you’ll need:

  • 1 Arc’teryx Zeta SL Rain Jacket – My biggest gear investment for the Camino was an Arc’teryx rain jacket. I ended up loving it; it blocks the wind but is still breathable, and it looks cute (I get lots of compliments wearing it!). Check current prices on Amazon and REI.
  • 1 pair of athletic shorts
  • 1 cotton t-shirt (for sleeping)
  • 2 sports bras
  • 1 regular bra
  • Baseball cap
  • Sunglasses with UV protection
  • Wool beanie*

Tip – Whatever you do, DO NOT PACK COTTON. It takes forever to dry and stinks to high heaven.

*You may not need if you’re walking the Camino in summer.

Toiletries

These are the toiletries I packed for the Camino. When I ran out of products, I went to the pharmacy to pick up more. Spanish pharmacies will have everything you will need, so there’s no need to overpack.

  • Travel-size shampoo
  • Travel-size conditioner
  • Travel-size face wash
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Tweezers
  • Deodorant
  • Razor with extra blade
  • Body sunscreen
  • Elta MD Sunscreen SPF 46 – the best sunscreen I’ve ever used. It’s a solid sunscreen (meaning it contains zinc oxide), which is essential when you’re walking the sun all day.

Medical Supplies

I tried to keep my first-aid kit to a minimum as I knew I could buy things along the way. Here are the bare essentials:

  • 1 small tub of Vaseline – To prevent blisters, liberally coat your feet in Vaseline every morning. While you’re walking, stop and take your socks off every few hours for at least ten minutes to dry out your feet, and then apply even more Vaseline. Once I started doing this, I never got blisters again.
  • Medical tape
  • 1 small pair of scissors
  • Band-aids
  • Chapstick
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Ibuprofen
  • Toenail clippers
  • OB tampons
  • Anti-inflammatory cream – massage your calves with this every night after walking. It will save you from experiencing muscle pain down the road.

Food and Water

I highly recommend carrying food in your pack, as sometimes restaurants are closed and you can go hours without food. And by bringing a Camelbak and water bottle, I spent $0 on water the whole Camino!

  • RX Chocolate Sea Salt Energy Bars – So delicious!

Technology

You don’t need much in terms of technology on the Camino, but here’s what I brought:

  • 1 European plug adapter  Bonus – buy a plug adapter with two USB ports so you can share with other pilgrims.
  • Wise Pilgrims App – I used the Wise Pilgrims app religiously. It tells you which towns have pharmacies and post offices, and how far it is to the next town or fountain.

Miscellaneous

A few more items I brought and enjoyed:

  • 1 small crossbody purse – I walked with a small, cross-body bag to store my phone, money, and chapstick. Obviously not a necessity, but I enjoyed having it. It was also useful when we went out in the cities.
  • 1 Extra-large travel towel – Honestly, I freaking hate quick-drying travel towels. But you need one on the Camino as very few albergues provide towels.
  • 3 large Ziploc bags – I used these to store my things: one for toiletries, one for medical supplies, and one for food.
  • Notebook and pen

The Best Things I Brought

The Ultimate Camino de Santiago Packing List
  • Ultra-lightweight Black Diamond hiking poles I absolutely loved having hiking poles. Hiking poles are helpful for several reasons:
    • They let you walk faster by propelling you forward
    • They take the pressure off your back by better distributing the weight of your backpack
    • They support you going downhill
    • They’re helpful when you’re injured (you can use them as crutches, basically)
  • 3L Camelbak water reservoirMy Camelbak was by far one of the best things I packed, but something very few other pilgrims had. It’s SO nice having a water reservoir because you can take a drink whenever you want. In the morning, I filled up it halfway in one many fountains along the Camino. For longer stretches without fountains (like the Meseta), I filled it up all the way.

The Things I Didn’t Need

I didn’t end up needing any of these items, so I shipped all of these items ahead to Santiago de Compostela (instructions on how to do that here).

  • Poncho – I brought both a rain jacket and a rain cover for my bag, rendering my poncho useless. Some pilgrims prefer having a poncho. Your choice.
  • Toiletry caddy – I kept all my toiletries in a large Ziploc bag and that worked fine.
  • Lock – I didn’t end up using a lock because I kept my only valuable item (my iPhone) on me at all times.
  • Imodium – I didn’t end up needing these. Plus, you can buy it at the pharmacy.
  • Power bank – I was so glad I didn’t bring my power bank to charge my phone. I wouldn’t have used it enough to warrant the weight.
  • Digital camera – My iPhone worked fine for taking pictures.
  • Headlamp – If you need a light in the dorm, just use your phone. But if you’re hiking in summer, you should probably bring a headlamp as pilgrims tend to start walking when it’s still dark out (it gets much hotter during the day, so it’s better to get an early start).

What I Wish I Had Packed

The Ultimate Camino de Santiago Packing List
  • Kindle – I usually read using the Kindle app on my phone, which was kind of annoying. It would’ve been great to have a digital reading device.
  • Waterproof gloves – The last week of the Camino was very rainy, and I would’ve killed for waterproof gloves. Learn from my mistake!
  • 1 regular bra – Is having a regular bra essential? No. But wearing a sports bra for 36 days was a little much for me. Plus, you can wear your regular bra while your sports bras are in the wash.
  • 1 loofah glove – I never felt fully clean on the Camino – my legs were often covered in vaseline, and the water pressure was usually poor in the albergue showers. I would’ve killed for a loofah glove.

Revised Camino de Santiago Packing List

A list of everything I recommend including in your Camino packing list, including what I wish I had brought, and without the things, I didn’t need.

Backpack

Footwear

Sleeping

Clothing

Toiletries

Medical Supplies

  • 1 small tub of Vaseline
  • Needle and thread
  • Medical tape
  • 1 small pair of scissors
  • Band-aids
  • Chapstick
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Ibuprofen
  • Toenail clippers
  • OB tampons
  • Anti-inflammatory cream 

Food and Water

Technology

Miscellaneous

Have you ever done the Camino? What was the best thing you packed?

More posts:

How Much Does it Cost to Walk the Camino de Santiago? A Detailed Budget Breakdown

The 15 Things That Surprised Me Most About the Camino de Santiago

The 9 Life Lessons I Learned on the Camino de Santiago.

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

11 thoughts on “The Ultimate Camino de Santiago Packing List”

  1. As a big hiker and backpacker, I’m really perplexed and disappointed in your recommendations for footwear and foot care. Hiking boots are MADE for hiking! If you get shin splints or blisters, then you have badly fitting (probably too small) boots! Sure, sport sandals or trail runners are viable options, but most people I know would never dream of backpacking in anything but well fitting hiking boots! Also, the idea of slathering your feet in vaseline all the time is kind of insane! That says to me that your sport sandals weren’t a great option if they were rubbing and giving blisters (I know my Keens shift around my foot more than hiking boots or sneakers do), but even in that case then thin sock liners would be a better solution.

    • The thing is that the camino isn’t a hike — it’s a long-distance walk. I agree that it would probably be insane to use sport sandals on a backpacking trip — but this is not a backpacking trip. The majority of the path is flat, and there’s a lot of road walking when you’re on asphalt or concrete.

      Also, using Vaseline as a humectant (to keep the skin from getting moist, thus preventing friction) is something a lot of long-distance walkers do. It can be really hot on the camino (more than 100 degrees), which is why I applied it so often. As I said, it completely prevented me from getting any blisters. When I was lazy about applying it, I ended up getting blisters, whether I was in trail runners or sport sandals.

    • Ashley-

      My most essential item was probably John Brierleys guidebook to the Camino, even though I didn’t follow it to the letter so much as use it for reference. It is full of great information.

      And I totally agree with your statement the the Camino is a walk, not a hike and as such one doesn’t require hiking boots. I do both- a yearly hike or two in the mountains, and I walked the Camino back in ’16. I used some old Merrill hiking shoes (here’s an excellent article from REI about how to choose hiking shoes/boots). https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/hiking-boots.html

      In addition to walking the Camino, I blogged about it every night I was there. If you’d like to take a look: http://allroadsleadhometheblog.com/.

      Thanks for the excellent list. I’ll probably go back to the Camino at some point, and your list is a great resource.

      Buen Camino!

    • I have heard such great things about John Brierley’s guidebook — it’s something I’ll consider packing for my next Camino. That’s awesome you can often fit in both hiking in the mountains and the Camino – I love both, too! And glad you found the list useful! :)

  2. That’s such a bummer you got bed bugs! Did you end up having to buy a new sleeping bag partway through? Or just suffer until the end? Or just ditch it altogether and sleep without one?! Sorry I’m so nosy, but I’m considering doing something similar (I really want to do Kungsleden in Sweden!!), and I know you can sleep in dorm housing (I think mountain huts are dorms?) there, too. Also this looks so beautiful! Looks so pretty in the winter.

    • I got bedbugs towards the end (I don’t think I noticed until the day after the camino) so I threw my sleeping bag out right when I was finished. Also I just googled Kungsleden – it looks AMAZING! I want to do it too now, haha.

  3. I did the camino in 2012 and I’d agree that hiking boots aren’t needed. There were only two days in which I’d consider the camino needed boots versus other footwear – the Pyrenees day (day one from St Jean to Roncesvalle) and the Cruz De Ferro Day. I wound up getting a hole in one of my boots and a gorgeous zapoterro replaced both soles on both boots for me for 5 euros. It was a moment. When I left Australia, I wasn’t intending to do the Camino and I took so much extra weight on my Camino as I wasn’t sure what I would do after it either (wound up travelling through Europe and Africa for another 18 months afterward). Hoping to return back to do another Camino – the Via De Le Plata in 2020.

    • That’s badass! Via de la Plata looks amazing — I love southern Spain. I actually ended up crossing the Pyrenees in Tevas because my blisters were terrible, haha. I slipped once but honestly it was okay!

  4. ‘Love the list Ashley!

    I’ve not yet done the Camino de Santiago, but I’d like to do some version of it as 36 days would probably be too much.

    I’d probably find a bench under a tree, sit down on the grass, start reading, and get left behind!

  5. Thank you for a detailed list. I am going to do the Camino de Santiago this summer, and will be using your list. I have read about half of those 1 million lists from google, and yours was the best by far!

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