Camino de Santiago Packing List: The Do’s and the Don’ts

This Camino de Santiago packing list may just be the best one around. Bold statement, I know. But when you get really familiar with what you should not pack on a 500-mile pilgrimage across Spain, you can speak with confidence about what you should pack.

camino de santiago packing list feature image
Camino de Santiago packing list opt-in form
For women or for anyone who needs smaller sizes, sports bras, and squats to pee

And let me tell you, I made some serious mistakes when I first packed my backpack.

Camino de Santiago packing list opt-in form
For men or anyone who needs larger sizes or hiking pants with space in strategic places

Let’s just say that I learned the hard way so that you don’t have to!

When I set out to walk across Spain, I was completely unprepared. Comically so. But my walking partner, Lizz, was very prepared, and then we joined up with another woman who was, perhaps, overly prepared (if that’s possible), and yet another woman who was less prepared than even me (if that’s possible).

The end result of our combined experiences is one seriously awesome Camino de Santiago packing list.

When you live in a backpack for 35 days you better pack well!

Let’s dive in!

Disclosure Language

Camino de Santiago backpacks: the do’s and don’ts

a sign to santiago on the camino

Let’s start with one of the most important packing decisions you can make on the Camino: your choice of backpack.

View on the Camino de Santiago
  • Do go to an outdoor store and get your backpack fitted to your body. Whether you are using an old backpack or getting a new backpack specifically for the Camino, get it fitted. If you’re in the states, I highly recommend visiting an REI and meeting with a pack-fit expert. In much of the world, the outdoor store Decathlon is a good bet because these are the stores that you will stop in as you are walking across Spain!
  • Do try on different types of bags, even if you think you’re going to use an old bag. You might be pleasantly surprised at how some of the trekking bags fit on your body. Do your research!
  • Don’t just wing it and throw a pack on your back as I did (I borrowed my dad’s pack!) When I got a full-body massage at the end of my pilgrimage in Santiago de Compostela, the masseuse spent the majority of the hour on my left shoulder where, he said, “a family of knots had taken up residence”. Ouch.
    • I felt that knot family every step of the way during our last two weeks of walking and for months afterward. The problem was that my bag rode too low on my back and had very little hip support. It was- and is – a great bag for day and even overnight hikes. But not for a 35-day trek.
  • Don’t carry a backpack that is just too large. I think anything larger than 40 liters (during non-winter months) is just going to weigh you down, literally. Plus, you’ll be searching for lost things swimming inside that bag all of the time. Keep it light.
    • In terms of weight, the general backpack rule is that the contents of your bag should not exceed 10 percent of your body weight.
  • Do get a backpack with either a built-in water system or a bag that is hydration-system compatible. It’s a pain in the ass to reach for a water bottle. Our over-prepared hiking buddy had plenty of water in a bottle in a side pocket of her bag. Problem was, she couldn’t reach it unless she took off her bag or asked one of us to hand it to her. Not a big deal when you’re going short distances but, on the Camino, taking off your pack is something you won’t want to do unless you’re taking a rest break.
  • Don’t skip the waterproof rain cover. Our underprepared hiking buddy didn’t have a rain cover and she really regretted that the day the skies opened up. Her bag was still wet when she walked into Santiago. (I’m serious.)
A kind stranger gave me an umbrella the day that it poured. But my bag was protected by its rain cover.

Our Camino de Santiago backpack winner…

We saw all kinds of bags on the Camino and Lizz and I both absolutely love the bags that we each lived out of for 35 days. But, hands down, we are awarding the bag that Lizz walked with the blue ribbon when walking the Camino de Santiago. (More on her bag below.)

Lizz and me with our backpacks on the Camino. You get so attached to your bag!
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I walked with the CamelBak H.A.W.G Hydration Pack with 100oz (3.0L) Mil-Spec Crux Reservoir.

Me and my backpack walking on the Camino

Here’s what I loved and hated about my backpack:

  • Loved: At just over 20 cargo liters, my bag was one of the smallest bags on The Way. This was a good thing in terms of weight but a bad thing in terms of finding anything in my bag.
  • Hated: My bag was jammed so tight with stuff that I had to open it up and pull everything out if I wanted just one item. I also had no room for extras. Even throwing an orange into my bag was an ordeal!
  • Hated: While this is a GREAT bag for day trips, there just isn’t enough hip support for seriously long distances. I needed padded hip support (bonus if those pads also contain pockets on the outside like Lizz’s bag does).
  • Pros & Cons: The built-in water supply was seriously easy to manage once I got the hang of it. But because the bag was so full, it was hard to get to when I needed to refill.
  • Hated: The bag zips vertically so that easy access just isn’t a thing. A top zip bag is the way to go on the Camino.
  • Hated: The bag built out rather than up my back. This made weight distribution more of a challenge. (This may be why I had a family of knots in my back!)
  • Hated: There are no side pockets.
  • Loved: All the places to hang and tuck things from the bag. It was always drying my clothes for me!
backpack on the camino de santiago
My bag acting as a clothesline

Lizz walked with the Deuter Futura 28-liter backpack.

two women hiking the camino de santiago
Lizzie and her backpack on the Camino

Lizz swears by this bag and, after walking 500 miles with Lizz and that backpack, I completely agree. Here’s what she loved:

  • The top unzipped to give her easy access to the entire bag quickly. But she also had front zippers if she needed to access things deeper in her bag.
  • The bag builds up the back instead of out like mine. This is great for weight distribution over long distances.
  • She had a lid pocket, side pockets, and pockets on the hip belt. That hip belt was padded and offered a lot of structure and support.
  • She had extra space so she was never cramming her things inside, and she was often carrying things for me (this part she might not consider a bonus!)
  • She could easily access her hydration reservoir from the top and lift it out of the bag without unzipping the whole bag.

We highly recommend the Deuter Futura 28-liter backpack for women on the Camino.

your camino de santiago packing list depends upon the right backpack selection

Men may want a larger or wider backpack like this Deuter Futura 36-liter backpack:

the right backpack for your camino de santiago packing list is crucial

This helpful post from Viaje Camino de Santiago really dives into choosing the right backpack for you on the Camino depending on the season that you’re walking and your body type.

Again: It’s super important to get fitted for the right backpack! Bring in a printed copy of my Camino de Santiago packing list when you go to look at bags. The packing list includes the key elements to look for when choosing a backpack.

Camino de Santiago packing list pin for pinterest

Do the same when choosing your shoes:

What kind of shoes should make your Camino de Santiago packing list?

what shoes should make your camino de santiago packing list? one pair of lightweight and one pair of waterproof
My hiking sandals strapped to the side of my backpack

Oh, the great shoe debate!

Many meals are spent on the Camino de Santiago debating shoe and foot-care strategies with other pilgrims. By the time we walked into Santiago, we had definite ideas of what shoes would make our Camino de Santiago packing list for our next pilgrimage. (Spoiler alert: They were not the shoes we packed.)

My feet were a particular issue for me. I spend hundreds of dollars at pharmacies along the route:

Ugh. (More on Compeed below in my foot-care and blister must-haves for your Camino de Santiago packing list.)

Also, I plan to write up an entire foot-care post soon (I bet you can’t wait to hear about that needle and thread, yikes!), but the easiest way to avoid needing that foot-care post is to get the right shoes for you.

The shoes we packed on our first Camino pilgrimage (the don’ts):

Lizz did her research and purchased trail runners because the Camino de Santiago often winds through wooded areas, which are perfect conditions for trail shoes. As per usual, I did no research at all but felt pretty confident in my trusty, old waterproof hiking shoes.

the hiking boots that would not make my camino de santiago packing list again!
These shoes would not make my camino de santiago packing list again!

Here’s why we were wrong:

  • Don’t just grab your old hiking books as I did. Unless these are boots that you’ve walked really long distances in, the day hikes you’ve done in the past are not the same as living in a pair of boots for 35 days. Go to an outdoor store for a consultation. Buy new shoes. Trust me. If you don’t, you will pay more at the pharmacy than for those new shoes. My blistered feet ached because my boots just weren’t the right fit for me. Fine for short hikes, sure, but not for walking across a country.
  • Don’t bring only waterproof (read: hot!) boots. Bring something else to give your feet a break. Something lighter weight that allows your feet to breathe. Moisture/sweat was my enemy on the Camino. If I hadn’t switched back and forth between boots and walking sandals, my feet would have been (even more) miserable.
  • Don’t bring only trail runners if your route will cross onto the pavement a lot. The route that we took was the Camino del Norte and it had a shocking amount of paved roads. Poor Lizz was suffering because her arches just weren’t supported in her trail runners when we had to walk on the pavement. She was also pretty miserable on the day when it poured so hard that the roads flooded because her kicks weren’t waterproof.
  • Don’t forget separate shower shoes. I thought my walking sandals could double as shower shoes, but that was a mistake. They took too long to dry once wet, and I ended up buying throw-away flip-flops at a Decathlon along the route.
boots on a wall near santiago on the camino de santiago
A home on the Camino route near Santiago. Pilgrims just start ditching their shoes near the end. (I did as well!)

The shoes we will pack on our next Camino pilgrimage (the do’s) 

If we set out on the Camino again (dare I say, when we set out on the Camino again?!), these are the shoes that will make our Camino de Santiago packing list. (Note: Every foot has a different need. It’s super important to test your shoes!)

Trust me on this one. I didn’t do this important step and I really regreted it. Check it out:

A quick 10-second video to illustrate how important the right shoes are on the Camino

Do pack one pair of waterproof boots:

I left my old boots in Santiago and immediately went in search of new kicks when I got home. At REI, I tested a number of different shoes before deciding on the Oboz Sapphire Mid BDry Hiking Boots.

The Oboz hiking boots will be on my next Camino de Santiago packing list

Here is the men’s version: The Oboz Bridger Mid BDry Hiking Boots.

I want to reiterate that the shoes you choose might be different than what worked for me. Every foot has a different need.

With that said: I. LOVE. These. Boots.

The insoles provide great arch support and they aren’t SO waterproof that ALL moisture (read: sweat) is trapped in your boots and on your feet. They are beautifully breathable but still waterproof. I’ve waded through small streams and my feet stayed dry.

I’ve hiked countless times in these boots with no blisters at all!

But walking in them for 500 miles is a whole other story. That’s why I would alternate my boots with another more lightweight pair of shoes if I were to walk the Camino again.

Lightweight shoes like these:

Do pack one pair of lightweight trail runners

Over dinner at the end of your day on the Camino, you will read ahead about the next day’s Camino stage. That’s when you’ll find out whether you’re in for a day of pavement or trails. If you’ve got a trail day ahead of you, a pair of Altra Trail Running shoes like the ones Lizz wore is the way to go.

Trail runners will make my camino de santiago packing list for the next pilgrimage

Here’s the men’s version of the Altra Lone Peak 5 Trail Running Shoes.

Lizz loved her Altras on the Camino but she needed something more sturdy for pavement days.

On the other hand, while my boots protected my feet on pavement, I needed a pair of lighter-weight, breathable shoes for trail days and for hot days when my feet were throbbing from their numerous sweat-induced blisters.

Remember you can always switch your shoes in the middle of your stage, too. If you’re walking on pavement, wear your boots. When the trail loops back into the trees, sit down and swap out the boots for your trail runners.

Do pack one pair of shower shoes

I realize that carrying three pairs of shoes might seem like an indulgence, but I really think it’s necessary. The shower shoes can be old flip-flops that you have kicking around your closet. If they can fold up inside your other shoes that’s a bonus.

I ended up tying my $5 shower shoes sole-to-sole to whatever pair of shoes I wasn’t wearing and strapping both to my backpack.

Three pairs of shoes are necessary items on your camino de santiago packing list
You can see backup shoes and shower shoes strapped to my backpack here

When selecting your shower shoes, remember that you might end up wearing these at night. Your feet will want a break from any kind of “real” shoes and they’ll love the time spent without socks while you’re relaxing with a glass of wine after a day of walking.

Lizz wore the Skechers sandals below both at night and in the shower. They dried quickly and gave her feet both the break they needed and the arch support they required. (Skechers sandals for women/Skechers sandals for men.)

These shoes can double as shower shoes and night shoes on the Camino
Lizz relaxing in her evening sandals/shower shoes at the place where we hit 100 miles walked.

These shoes are a little heavier and require more space than a throwaway pair of flip-flops, so keep that in mind if you are going with my three-shoe approach. For me, the flip-flops were enough at night. But go with the Skechers shower + night sandals if you need more support.

SOCKS! A crucial item on your Camino de Santiago packing list

Yes, socks are getting their very own section in this blog post just like backpacks and shoes. I believe socks belong right at the top of your Camino de Santiago packing list.

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To avoid blisters, it’s crucial to have dry socks on your feet. This is one of those lessons that I learned the hard way. By the end of our pilgrimage, I would swap my socks nearly every time we took a rest, putting them on the back of my bag to dry while I walked.

Seriously, socks were so important to me on the Camino that I started hoarding them! When we would go into a big town, I would stop at the outdoor store and stock up, sticking them into every available inch of space in my bag and pockets.

How many pairs of socks and what kind to pack?

Two pairs of silk liner socks

Yep, you’re going to want socks for under your socks! I didn’t have these until our over-prepared hiking buddy showed up with extras and gave me two pairs. This is the only thing that finally allowed the blisters on my toes to begin to heal because – once the liners were in place – my hiking socks were rubbing against the silk liners instead of against my skin.

I paid it forward and gave one of my pairs of precious silk liners to another pilgrim who was also suffering from blisters.

Because I had so much trouble with blisters in between my toes, I will also try toe sock liners when I walk the Camino again:

You need two sets of liners so you can swap them out for dry liners when you change your socks. You might wear your liners out (I did), but you can stop at a Decathlon (or another outdoor store) in one of the larger cities along your route to stock up.

silk liner socks are a must for your camino de santiago packing list

Two pairs of Merino Wool Lightweight Hiking socks (short) for warmer walking days and one pair of Merino Wool Hiking Socks (long) for colder walking days and nighttime.

Because I changed my socks more than most pilgrims due to my blister issues, I also carried three extra pairs of hiking socks that I picked up along the way. But if you start with three pairs of merino wool socks and two pairs of liners and get the right shoes for your feet, you won’t turn into a sock hoarder like me:

What’s that you have in your pocket?

The Camino clothing do’s and don’ts

First things first, throw fashion right out the window. One day Lizz took a picture of me so we could laugh later at how I went from fashionista to, well, not even close. This is what she got:

standard outfit on the camino de santiago
What? This isn’t cool?

In my defense, all of my clothes were in the wash, and that glow-in-the-dark hip bag was one of the most important things I packed since it served as my wallet. I needed to keep my feet dry at all times, hence the socks and sandals.

But, yeah. Fashion. Out. The. Window.

  • Do pack quick-drying, moisture-wicking clothes. You can do what I did and pack a combination of quick-dry and regular clothes, but you’ll only end up wearing the regular clothes to bed and on laundry day. (See picture above.)
  • Do bring a swimsuit if you are walking a coastal route. (Men may consider doubling board shorts as evening pants.)
  • Do Look for shirts without tags and with laundry loops for easy drying.
  • Don’t wear anything with unnecessary zippers or seams that could cause chafing.
  • Don’t even try to look cool. People understand that you’re walking the Camino in most towns along the route. In the cities, they may not understand that you’re a pilgrim right away, but they do get it once you tell them. Just embrace the hiking clothes.

The essential clothing items for your Camino de Santiago packing list

One lightweight rain shell with hood

You want this to be lightweight so that it will roll up really small, and you want it to have zips in the armpits (pit zips!) because it’s super warm in that shell even when it’s raining.

Being from the rainy Pacific Northwest, I got the jacket thing right on the Camino. This is the rain shell I wore and loved. Here is the men’s rain shell.

Here’s that rain shell in action:

One warm, packable fleece or puffy jacket for cool days & nights

We walked the Camino in August and September and we were prepared for extreme heat. But on the coastal route, most of the time, we needed our jackets in the morning and evenings.

a puffy, warm jacket is a key packing item on the camino de santiago
Sporting our jackets at an unexpected evening carnival in Bilbao

The puffy polyester jacket I wore is no longer in production, but that’s because there are way better jackets on the market now. Like Patagonia’s Nano Puff® line of jackets. Warm, windproof, and water-resistant, this jacket is made from post-consumer recycled polyester, it’s fair-trade certified AND it packs into a tiny pouch.

this is the perfect jacket for your camino de santiago packing list
This is the jacket I would wear on the Camino

Here is the men’s version of the Nano Puff® jacket.

this is the perfect jacket to pack for the camino
The perfect, packable jacket for the Camino

One long-sleeved, lightweight pullover or zip-up hoodie

Most mornings, I wore a super lightweight pullover that dried really fast.

a lightweight long-sleeved shirt is a must for mornings on the camino
Lizzie and me in our long-sleeved shirts on the morning we hit 300 miles walked

Since then, I found a zip-up that dries even faster! I would bring the Deviator Hoody by Outdoor Research on the Camino if I were packing again. I love how fast it dries and how the insulated front pairs with breathable material on the arms and back. It’s perfect for keeping me warm when I’m standing still, but it doesn’t turn into a sweatbox when I’m moving.

zip-up hoody for your camino packing list

The advantage to the zip-up is that it’s easier to slip out of it when you have a backpack strapped on. But if you think you will have any trouble with chafing, consider a pullover to avoid the zipper.

Here’s the men’s Deviator Hoody by Outdoor Research:

zip-up for your camino packing list

Two pairs of quick-dry pants

I packed one pair of calf-length, quick-drying hiking pants and one pair of long yoga pants. I basically lived in the hiking pants because the yoga pants took too long to dry after washing. I preferred walking in lightweight long pants for sun protection and for branch/thorn protection on wooded trails.

So here is what I would pack now (for the ladies):

One pair of quick-drying, light-weight, calf-length pants with pockets. I like the Vuori Wayfarer pants because they are loose enough to avoid chafing but stretchy enough to allow for both hiking and yoga. (It’s always good to stretch in the morning and the evening on the Camino!) Also, these roll-up really small for packing.

lightweight, quick-dry pants are a must for your camino de santiago packing list

One pair of long hiking pants. I really like Kuhl’s Horizn Skinny Pants because I like a tighter fit (like yoga pants) without lots of seams that could cause chafing. The seams in these pants are nylon and abrasion-resistant. Plus you get the yoga-like fit but with POCKETS! Bonus: these babies roll up very small for packing.

long pants with pockets are a must for your camino de santiago packing list

You might also want to check out Kuhl’s Kliffside Convertible Pants. The ability to switch to shorts is really great for anyone who prefers hiking in shorts. Just beware of any extra seams or zippers if you are a chafer.

REI Sustainable Ad

For men:

The men on the Camino really liked convertible pants (they switch from pants to shorts with a quick unzip), pockets, and loose-fitting hiking pants. The Kuhl Renegade Kargo RECCO Convertible Pants meets all of these requirements, plus they are quick drying.

quick-drying convertible pants are good for men hiking the camino

If you like an even looser fit, the Kuhl’s Liberator Convertible Pants are also quick-drying with stretchy fabric in high-mobility areas (think crotch and knees). Plus the fabric is soft nylon next to the skin, but moisture-wicking cotton on the outside. The idea is that the cotton will pull sweat to the surface and away from your skin while the nylon will stop any chafing.

Two quick-dry, moisture-wicking shirts for hiking

I brought two tank tops for hiking and I wish I would have brought one tank top and one t-shirt. (I ended up wearing my nighttime t-shirt quite a bit out on the trail.)

For women

Here’s what I would bring now: One Patagonia Capilene Cool Trail Tank Top and one Patagonia Capilene Cool Trail Shirt.

The base layer is pretty important. You want it to be moisture-wicking and soft. The Capilene Cool Trail shirts are made to feel like cotton, but they are made with moisture-wicking, odor-controlling polyester. There are no itchy tags at the neck and they have a locker loop for easy drying. (This is actually key because it can be hard to find places to hang your drying clothes at some of the albergues (pilgrim hostels) where you will stay on the trail.

Patagonia sustainable advert

For men:

I would bring two different colors of the Patagonia Capilene Cool Trail Shirt.

moisture-wicking base layer t-shirt is a must while walking the camino de santiago

This moisture-wicking base layer is odor-controlling with underarm gussets that allow for breathability. The soft fabric reduces chafing and there are no itchy tags inside the shirt. The locker loop allows you to easily hang the shirt when it’s drying. This will come in handy in the albergues and pilgrim hostels where drying space can be hard to find.

One pair of nighttime shorts or pants

If you’re hiking in warmer months, consider shorts for sleeping and lounging in dormitory-style albergues. If you’re hiking in cooler months, bring long pants that will keep you warm but will roll up small for packing.

Just keep in mind that you will probably end up wearing your sleeping clothes more than you expect. You will often wear them to dinner both in the albergues and out in restaurants. And there will be days when everything is dirty, so you wear your nighttime pants and t-shirt on the trail. For this reason, I recommend quick-dry clothes even for bedtime. That being said, comfort is the number one priority in this particular item on your Camino do Santiago packing list.

One nighttime t-shirt

The same advice applies here for your evening tee. Think comfort but also quick drying. Consider something fun that reminds you of home. I brought my “Wander with Love” shirt, which is my signature sign-off on all emails. I ended up wearing it quite a bit out on the trail, too.

a t-shirt that reminds you of home should make it on your camino packing list
Out on the trail in my Wander with Love T-shirt

Underwear for your Camino de Santiago packing list

For men:

The key is to find quick-drying, moisture-wicking underwear that is also close in style to what you are used to wearing. If you are comfortable hiking in boxer briefs, don’t suddenly switch to briefs for the Camino.

Here are a few pairs of men’s underwear with the right quick-drying, moisture-wicking, chafe-resisting qualities that you want. You’ll want to pack two to three pairs:

For women:

Two to three pairs of quick-dry, hiking underwear. I brought two pairs and this worked just fine because we did laundry nearly every day. On a day when we didn’t do laundry, I hand-washed my underwear.

In your daily life, if you usually wear thongs, then I recommend bringing thongs for the Camino, too. I usually wear thongs and switched to a bikini-style on the Camino and this drove me insane.

The Smartwool Merino 140 lace thong underwear is what I would walk in. Soft, lightweight, and built to manage moisture and odor. Plus with less fabric, the thong is going to dry faster and be a bit less obvious hanging from the back of your backpack!

Underwear drying on my backpack

On the flip side, if you usually wear bikini-style underwear then don’t switch to a thong for the Camino. The Smartwool Merino Bikini Underwear will still dry fast and this underwear is made with smooth stitching to reduce the risk of chafing.

The same logic holds true for the two sports bras you should put on your Camino de Santiago packing list. If you usually wear a certain kind of sports bra, this isn’t the time to switch it up.

I brought two sports bras, one with thin straps, one with thick straps, and one tank-top with a built-in bra. The tank with a built-in bra took too long to dry. The bra with the thick straps competed for space on my shoulders with my backpack straps. The winner was the thin-strapped sports bra.

I recommend the Janji Groundwork Pace Sports Bra. There are no adjusting clips on the straps that will promote chafing and it’s a moisture-wicking fabric with breathable mesh lining.

the sports bra on your camino de santiago packing list should be moisture-wicking

A hat or buff are a must for your Camino de Santiago packing list

I say they are a must, but I admit that I didn’t wear either. A hat is a really good way to protect yourself from the sun and, if I wore one, I may have been able to skip the extra face lotion with sunblock that I had to carry. Hats just drive me nuts. But most people do wear one.

Lizz likes the REI packable cap. You can pack it up small, it’s moisture-wicking with ventilation and a sweatband.

I also did not walk with a buff and I do regret that. Lizz wore hers almost every day either around her neck or on her head to protect against sun and dripping sweat.

Teamwork on the Camino de Santiago
Lizz adjusting my bag for me and wearing her buff

I like the Buff Original Multifunctional Headwear, made with a quick-drying polyester that shields against sun rays. (It’s also made out of single-use plastic bottles, which helps me with my crusade against plastic water bottles!)

Should you add a swimsuit to your Camino de Santiago packing list?

If you are walking a route that traces the coastline as I did (the Camino del Norte route), then absolutely yes. We loved jumping into the water after a long day of hiking, especially after day one on the Camino:

At the end of day one, we throw our backpacks on the sand and jump into the water

Just grab a swimsuit that folds up really small. Guys, you might be able to double your board shorts as your evening wear. This brings me to:

Should you bring something special to wear in the evenings on the Camino?

It’s a luxury and definitely optional. You can always just wear whatever is clean in your backpack. But I loved the sporty dress that I brought for dinners and for walking around town. And Lizz loved her sporty skirt (she was devastated when someone stole it while it was drying on a clothesline at a public campground).

It was so nice to get out of hiking clothes sometimes.

Just make sure that whatever you bring for evenings will roll up really small for packing at the bottom of your bag.

Essential documents for your Camino de Santiago packing list

  • Passport
  • Credentials
    • You must have Camino de Santiago credentials – also called Camino passport – to stay in the albergues (pilgrim hostels) along the route. Only pilgrims can stay in these hostels and the credential is your proof that you are a pilgrim. You collect stamps in your credentials at the albergues (or at cafes, hotels, and churches) along the route. The stamped passport is what you present in Santiago to earn your Compostella, which is the certificate that proclaims that you walked all the way to Santiago de Compostella.
    • Purchase your credentials at a pilgrims’ office when you get to Spain. Sometimes they are also available at the tourist office and even at some albergues. You can order in advance from your country’s Camino association as well. But it’s not really necessary. (Americans visit here to order in advance.)
credentials are a key item for your camino packing list

Essential items for your Camino de Santiago packing list

  • Hiking sticks/trekking poles:
    • Some people don’t like walking with hiking sticks, but this was not an option for Lizz or for me. We walked the first day without sticks and then immediately visited an outdoor store that very evening to buy sticks. This took so much pressure off our backs and legs and allowed us to walk much faster. In fact, there was almost an international incident on the Camino when someone stole our sticks!
  • Fast-drying towel:
    • You will use your own towel in the albergues (pilgrim hostels) on the Camino, so you must have one that folds up small and drys fast.
  • Water purification tablets
    • Super light and perfect for cleaning tap water. We put these in our backpack water filtration system every time we filled them up in the sink (which was most days).
  • Packing Cubes
    • It’s super important to keep everything organized in your bag. Packing cubes will do that while maximizing space.
  • Anti Monkey Butt Powder (for men) & Anti Monkey Butt Power (for women)
    • Chafing didn’t end up being a problem for Lizz or for me, but maybe that’s because we started our Camino completely covered in anti-chafing powder!
  • Sunscreen
    • The link above is lightweight sun cream in recyclable, renewable sugarcane packaging. The reality is that you’ll probably buy your sunscreen after you travel to your first stage. Keep an eye out for sustainable sunscreen, but the priority on the Camino is that your sunscreen will fit in an accessible pocket for easy grabbing.
  • Sunglasses (or prescription sunglasses, perhaps?)
    • The link above is for bamboo sunglasses so that if (when) you lose them, no plastic will end up in Spanish landfills.
    • I carried prescription sunglasses (don’t lose those!) and glasses for the evening. I did not carry contacts on the Camino. Too much hassle and too much space in my backpack since I wear daily disposable lenses.
  • Silk Sleep Sack
    • I didn’t have this when I first set out and that was a huge mistake. Especially since we ended up in a freezing-cold hostel on our second night on the Camino. I wore every item of clothing in my bag and snagged a table cloth for a blanket! The sleep liner is a must at hostels and albergues where blankets and sheets are not guaranteed. It also protects against bed bugs and dirty blankets.
  • Headlamp
    • This is always good to have in your backpack. On the Camino, you will mostly use it to see inside when all the lights are out at the albergue and you need to get into your bag or bunk without waking everyone up.
  • Trek and Travel Laundry Wash
    • This tiny bottle of biodegradable cleaner goes a long way. Two caps for a full load.
  • Travel cable and lock
    • There will be times when you need to lock your bag to your bed in an albergue. Pilgrims don’t usually steal, but better safe than sorry when you’re traveling anywhere.
  • Earplugs
    • I used earplugs more for the constant parties that seem to throb all night throughout Spain than for the snoring in the communal sleeping spaces of albergues, but both can get loud!
  • Tweezers
  • Nail Clippers
  • Fork and knife multi-tool device (fork, knife, spoon, bottle opener, can opener, wrench)
    • We used this all of the time. It was lightweight and came in a bag that attached to the outside of our backpacks. I was so sad when I had to leave it behind in Spain because I couldn’t carry it on the airplane.
  • Emergency whistle
    • Keep this on a carabiner in a very easy-to-reach place on your backpack strap. I started out with one of those emergency alert alarms with a button, but I switched to a whistle after I accidentally set it off in a crowded train car on our way to our Camino starting point. You’ll actually hear those wearable alarms going off all the time on the Camino and, unfortunately, they get ignored because my experience on the train is pretty common. Carry a whistle instead.
  • Carabiners
    • You can’t have enough of these! Hook them onto your bag before you go. You’ll be amazed at how many different items hang off of them by the end of your pilgrimage.
  • Hip bag/waist pack
    • Or, as they say in America, a fanny pack. We wore these every day to store our passport, Camino credentials, ATM card, and cash. It was our wallet. We also stored a credit card in our backpacks with a small amount of cash.
  • Guide book
    • Carry one specific to your route. Tear out just the pages you will need or download it to your Kindle/e-reader. Also, make sure to download the Buen Camino App to help plan your next stage and find accommodations.
  • Wine opener
    • OK, fine, maybe this isn’t essential for you. But it sure was for Lizz and me!

Essentials for women

  • Diva Cup
    • Super lightweight and sustainable solution for your menstrual cycle.
  • Kula Cloth (for anyone who squats when they pee)
    • This is an antimicrobial, absorbent, anti-odor pee cloth. Think of it like your sustainable toilet paper so that you can leave no trace out there on the trail. You will be popping a squat out there. You may as well do it sustainably. This means that you don’t have to carry toilet paper. And since the Kula Cloth snaps to the outside of your bag (don’t worry, it folds up for privacy reasons and sanitary concerns), it takes up no space in your bag. Throw it in the washing machine or hand wash. Good for multiple uses. This is a game-changer.
the kula cloth is necessary for women on the Camino
The Kula Cloth

Essential foot care items on the Camino de Santiago

I detail my blister kit in the video below. Watching this makes my feet hurt all over again!

I show you my blister kit in this depressing little video that exemplifies just how much my feet were hurting!
  • Hike Goo
    • This is an essential item to avoid blisters. Rub it all over your feet to reduce friction. See above video.
  • Moleskin
    • This really helps when you have a hot spot forming. Put the Moleskin around the blister, cutting a hole in the middle so that it isn’t covering the actual hot spot. If you do this you may avoid needing the next item to cover an active blister.
  • Compeed blister mixed pack (or Second Skin) and Compeed anti-blister stick
    • This covers your active blisters. Use the same technique as above with the moleskin, but now press Compeed over the top of the area.
  • Mini rolls of duct tape
    • I used duct tape to hold the Compeed and Moleskin in place.
  • Sports tape
    • Sometimes used on my feet to protect large areas of skin that were at risk of forming blisters. Mostly used on our hands to protect against blisters forming from our walking sticks. I also used sports tape to cover an itchy area after I ran into stinging nettle on the trail.
  • Small foldable scissors
    • Used for cutting sports tape and duct tape as well as Moleskin.
  • Foot powder
    • I put on foot powder before walking, when I changed my socks while walking, and before bed at night. I really needed to keep my feet dry to prevent blisters. On the other hand, Lizz rarely needed to use foot powder.
  • Bandaids
    • I rarely used bandaids on my feet, preferring Compeed and Moleskin. But we did use bandaids when we ran into sticker bushes and thorns on the trail. Always good to have.
  • Needle and thread
    • Used for threading blisters. Clean the needle, thread it through the blister, leave the thread in the blister. This way the blister won’t refill. This is a last-resort technique if your feet are in agony. It is gross, I know. But it’s also very effective.

Toiletries for your Camino de Santiago packing list

Keep your essential toiletries super simple. As you can see with all of the above necessities, your backpack is filling up quickly. I have some optional items considered “luxury” items that I also brought along with me, but if you can get away with just this minimalist list, then you are winning the Camino!

  • Face lotion with SPF
    • If you can use the sunscreen you are already carrying to double as your face lotion, then that’s ideal. Personally, a separate, softer face lotion was necessary for me. I carried a small bottle of Kiehl’s. Link included above.
  • Chapstick with SPF
  • Shampoo bar and tin container
    • There are better shampoo bars than the Lush one that I link to here, but it’s the smallest shampoo bar that I’ve found (it perfectly packs in the tiny tin container built for it), and it will last a really long time.
  • Bar of soap with a soap-saver bag
    • The soap-saver bag doubles as your washcloth. I kept the soap in this bag and hung it up to dry when I had the chance.
  • Cotton swabs + dental floss
    • Bring small amounts of each and consider sharing if you have a walking partner. The links above are sustainable swabs and floss with no plastic.
  • Toothpaste tablets
    • Of course, a mini toothpaste tube is an option as well. But the tablets are a more sustainable option.
  • Bamboo toothbrush
    • Break off the handle to conserve space
  • Natural deodorant cream
    • Use the link above for 10 percent off. Consider pairing with a bamboo applicator.
  • Small, waterproof toiletry bag with a hanging loop
    • Hanging all your shower needs in the stall with you helps you to take quick showers in a shared bathroom at the pilgrim hostel.

Electronics for your Camino de Santiago packing list

  • European Travel Plug Adaptor
    • Pro Tip: Bring one with multiple USB ports since there is a fight at every overnight stay for outlets! Look for a lightweight adaptor. (The link above is an adaptor for Americans.)
  • Portable battery charger
    • It seems like something always needs charging on the Camino! Your phone, your kindle, your GoPro, etc. Check out the CHAMP Portable Charger from Nimble. It’s smaller than a deck of cards and gives you up to three days of power. Bonus: it’s made from post-consumer plastic, ships with no plastic, and Nimble will recycle your old battery for free.
    • Tip: Use the link above for $10 off your portable battery charger. Then search for the CHAMP.
  • Headphones
    • I love my Bose wireless earbuds, but on the Camino, I wore headphones with a cord. I just didn’t need anything else that required charging. Admittedly, I did get tangled up in cords occasionally.
  • GoPro
    • I got all of my footage using a GoPro. Even most of my photos.
  • Foldable Bluetooth keyboard
    • If you intend to write blog posts or emails from the road, the foldable Bluetooth keyboard will save you so much time. Of course, it’s best to unplug when you are out there but, if you can’t unplug, carry this traveler’s companion.
  • Kindle
    • I didn’t do as much reading as I thought I would on the Camino, but I did carry my Camino guide book on my Kindle. If you don’t intend to read, you can carry just the ripped-out pages from the relevant route guides or bookmark a blog that details your route stage-by-stage. (Like this blog for the Camino del Norte!)

Optional items for your Camino de Santiago packing list

Just consider weight and space carefully when weighing whether you need these items. We did carry all of these items in our backpacks, though we split them up between us to distribute weight. The last item was especially crucial for our pilgrimage.

  • Conditioner bar and tin container
  • Scrubbie shower bar from Lush + tin container
  • Vitality Extracts Skin Envy oil
    • This served as our lotion. We just rolled it on dry spots and it saved us a ton of space!
  • Face serum
    • Applied at night, this oil took care of the dry skin I was dealing with from so much sun exposure.
  • Butterstick lip treatment
    • This is definitely a luxury. But you’ll see there is no makeup on this list. This is the one touch of color we enjoyed. Plus the butterstick offers sun protection.
  • Razor and backup blades
    • I did shave my legs and armpits on the Camino because that just made me feel more comfortable. But many women did not shave and most men did not shave.
  • Journal and pen
  • Massage roller
    • I was torn on where to put this. I almost put it in essential items. Lizz and I used our roller every day. Me for my sore back and Lizz for her sore feet. One time, I misplaced the roller and there was this horrible five-minute period when we couldn’t find it. Oh, the look on Lizz’s face. I thought we were going to have a murder on the Camino!
  • Wilderness Wipes
    • When a shower isn’t possible, wilderness wipes will do the trick. Plus they are compostable.
  • Collapsible plate and collapsible cup
    • I try not to use any single-use plates or cups and my foldable plate and cup helped me to reduce my impact in Spain. I paired it with the knife, spoon, and fork on my multi-tool (listed in essential items) for all on-the-go meals.
  • A rock
    • There is a Camino tradition to leave a carry a rock from home and then leave it on the trail. It is symbolic of carrying a burden and then leaving that burden behind.
  • Stickers
    • When our friend joined us halfway through our pilgrimage, she brought stickers that read: “no vino…no Camino”. We gave these stickers to people we met. It was fun. And we were sharing a part of our pilgrimage with others. I recommend bringing stickers or something to give out that will share a piece of you with your fellow pilgrims.
  • Mustard
    • I thought Lizz was crazy to bring mustard with her, but I was so wrong. SO wrong. You will eat many, many dry sandwiches on the Camino and mustard really jazzes them up! In fact, right after socks, I might call this my most important Camino item! We even ran out and had to get more mustard about halfway through our pilgrimage.
mustard is a must have for your camino de santiago packing list!
Mustard was everything. Everything.

Camino costs and how to save

If you are thinking: “My goodness! I need to buy a whole lot of gear!” I sympathize. Your gear is the most expensive part of the Camino except, perhaps, any international travel to get to Spain.

Consider browsing used-gear sites. This could save you some cash and it’s a sustainable way to shop, too.

I love GearTrade where you can buy gently used gear. Or even sell your gently used items!

GearTrade sustainable advert

REI also has a used gear catalog and members can trade in gently used gear for REI gift cards!

This post will help you find affordable hiking clothes and gear.

I’ve also created a Camino Cost Calculator so that you can determine your costs depending on your route and walking style.

This Camino de Santiago cost calculator will help you budget for the Camino
Click here to start estimating your Camino costs

Additional Camino de Santiago resources

  • The Buen Camino app will help you plan stages & find albergues: for iPhone for Android
  • Accommodations: When we didn’t want to stay in an albergue, we used Booking.com
  • Travel Insurance: I used World Nomads
  • My Audible membership allowed me to listen to audible books while walking
  • Consider reading “The Pilgrimage” by Paolo Coelho before you go
  • Search for used outdoor gear at GearTrade or REI
Camino de Santiago packing list pin for pinterest
Pin for later!

Did I forget something? Was there a crucial item that you couldn’t live without on the Camino or another trekking adventure? Did something on my list surprise you? Comment below and let me know!

51 Comments on “Camino de Santiago Packing List: The Do’s and the Don’ts”

  1. Wow! This is so impressive – the hiking and the packing! I am such a novice day hiker that I didn’t know you could be fitted for backpacks, but that makes sense! Thanks for sharing your story!

  2. Brilliant work Jen. I’ve been reading this for an hour cause you keep sending me off to check products that I’m sure I need. This is such an exhaustive list. You really did do the ultimate packing list, true to your word.

  3. Wow! I had no idea it took this much pre-planning to do the Camino! I’m usually detailed when it comes to planning a trip, but you hit on several things I didn’t think about for a 35-day hike! Great post! I’ll be saving for this later when we make plans again for our Camino!

  4. Ever since I heard of this trail through a local Spaniard friend I have been wanting to take this spiritual trip! I just lived vicariously through you on this. Amazing!

  5. This is such a useful guide for anyone thinking of hiking the Camino de Santiago. I know that I’d make all of the rookie mistakes you did and probably more! I like how you not only recommended products in this article but also told us where you (and friends) went wrong and how you learned from it. Very helpful!

  6. Love it! I admire your dedication to doing the whole thing. Not gonna lie, it’s not something I would ever do, but, I loved reading about it. I think your tips can apply to many other hiking situations too and are very useful. As someone who suffers from back issues, I can totally relate to your family of muscle knots. Not pleasant!

    • The Camino is definitely not for everyone. But thank you for reading about it anyway! These tips definitely apply to other long-distance treks.

  7. What a great share! This is so high on our bucket list. We had actually planned to do this in 2020. I hope we can reschedule for the future. I loved reading all your tips and tricks along with what gear to bring. I have a pair of Oboz and LOVE them!!

  8. This information would make any hiking adventure more comfortable. I have never put that much thought into my socks or even a backpack before. I’m saving this for my next hike!

  9. What a great list to share! Those are really good points about needing different types of shoes. And I can only imagine how many socks you’ve gone thru!

  10. How very kind of you to share a detailed list and quite an extensive guide to anyone who plans of taking a demanding challenge requiring both mental and physical stamina at the same time allowing oneself to let go and embrace life’s revelations in every step of the way.

  11. What a great post not only for that specific pilgrimage but also a great review of gear that worked and some that didn’t and why. Gonna keep this handy for when I purchase gear in the future.

  12. You weren’t wrong this is the best list indeed. All you need to on this. A few things I would never of thought of nor did I know of.

    Not something I have heard about but will save this list and research a bit more

  13. This is brilliant! I’m planning my Camino at the moment (I should have been setting off at the end of this month) and thought I was organised but there’s stuff on here I’d never have even considered! Thank you!!!

  14. Man, we all owe you a debt of gratitude for this blog. It’s great not just for Camino travels but also any long distance hiking.

  15. That is such a handy and well put together list! I assume it’s good for most multi day hikes – especially in similar climatic conditions. I’ll save this this for my first multi day hike, which I’m gonna do ASAP, hopefully this year!

    • Yes, this list will absolutely work for a multi-day hike in which you don’t plan to camp. I am going to put together another list that adds tents + sleeping bags. But that’s a whole different kind of backpack. Thanks so much for checking out my list!

  16. What an incredible packing list, for any long distance walk; really! And only 20L? It makes sense that you couldn’t even cram an orange in.

    These are great tips and learnings for any long distance walking!

  17. Wow I didn’t even think that getting a fitted backpack would make a difference, I always thought a backpack was just a backpack ? Felt like you just saved my life the next time I plan for a long trek!

  18. First of all, this guide/list is incredible. I know how long my posts that are like this one take, but with all the videos and graphics you have… wow. Second, I don’t even plan to be on the Camino for years, but there’s just something about your writing that keeps me reading and reading! I love the personal stories and speaking from experience.

    • Thank you so much, MacKenzie! I appreciate you reading this little tale of mine even though the Camino might not be in your near future. That being said…you never know when the Camino will call!

  19. This is an epic resource for a most excellent adventure. One day, we’d love to do it. COVID ruined any immediate plans and we may have to put it off for many years now, unfortunately.

    • Stupid COVID. Yes, I know it may be a while before this list comes in handy. I’m hoping to do the Camino again next summer. Fingers crossed!

  20. I love this post! There’s probably little chance of me walking the entire Camino de Santiago, BUT I’m still holding onto hope that I will walk some of it one day. This is such a great, comprehensive packing list. And to be honest, I’m totally going to buy a couple of these things for my hiking trips in California, so thank you!

    • These items will definitely help for your California hikes! Now that I’ve made the mistakes on the Camino, I get all kinds of prepared for even my short hikes. And I enjoy them all so much more now! Here’s to hoping that you’ll walk the Camino soon. (Even walking the last 100 kilometers is such a great experience.)

  21. There are so many things to know before walking this route! It’s actually been on my bucket list for a while now but I haven’t managed to plan it yet. So thanks for the helpful tips and packing list!

  22. Okay this is definitely the BEST Camino packing guide I’ve read! Thank you so much for the detailed information, it will be so useful.

  23. What an incredibly thorough Camino guide. I have a friend who also did the walk a few years back, and she recommended many of the same things you did — even down to the toe sock liners. If anyone asks for Camino de Santiago info, I’m 100% forwarding this blog to them.

  24. WOW!! You’re right. This is the best Camino packing list ever. It must have taken hours of work to share your experience and recommendations. Plus, you’ve introduced me to new products … pee cloth? They sound perfect. Thank you for this. It’s excellent.

    • It DID take hours of work! Thank you so much for noticing. Honestly. You just made my whole day. And the pee cloth will change your life for the better. Promise.

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