My First Camino – Packing and Planning!

My First Camino – Packing and Planning!

The Camino is, for many, a spiritual journey. What they don’t tell you, is that the journey begins as soon as you decide you are going.

First, you have to decide on which Camino, then which route and how many stages. How many miles can you walk in a day with a backpack holding all your possessions? How much do you plan, and how much do you leave to chance? Do you reserve accommodations or trust that there will be a bed for you when you arrive? Do you go full pilgrim and stay in albergues (basic pilgrim accommodations for one night only) and eat the daily pilgrim meals? Or will you opt for confort, or more amenities, have rest days?

I am a planner. However, last summer on my trip to the West Coast in a campervan (Post to come. I’ve been so busy, I’m literally two years behind updating this blog), I booked a plane ticket and a campervan well in advance, did some thorough research but ended up with a general idea of places I wanted to visit but no set itinerary. I reserved no accommodations or campgrounds. I had a cell phone and a credit card, planning be damned. It was an EPIC trip and don’t regret one single minute.

So, I decided to apply the same principle to this trip. I’m booking my plane ticket, I’ve ordered and received John Bierley’s Camino Portuguès Guide, and I’ll likely reserve a rental car to lock in a good rate.

I’ve already done extensive reading online. There are numerous sites and a good number of Facebook Groups to choose from. A friend suggested also I read Shirley MacLane’s book The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit. It’s quite good, but be aware it’s not for everyone.

But my main concern was the backpack. It is recommended that your pack weigh no more than 10% of your weight. But if you plan on staying in albergues or camping and be as autonomous as possible (ie not have people carry your pack or shipping parts of it further down the way), then you might have to go up to 20%.

It took me a week of agonizing on what to take and what not to take. That in itself is a spiritual process. What do you really need? What are you taking ‘just in case’. The bigger your fears, the heavier your pack! Davie O’Brian wrote a book called The Camino will Provide – Leaning to Trust The Universe. It’s next on my reading list.

With snacks AND water, mine comes out to exactly 10% of my body weight. Here is what I packed in my Osprey Mira 34L hydration backpack:

  1. Two sets of warm weather hiking outfits. That way one is always clean and dry should I need it.

2. Clothes for colder weather/sleeping/evenings/layering

3. Mix and match clothing for visiting Spain when I’m done with the Camino.

4. Shoes! I debated with myself on this.

5. Miscalleneous.

My first attempt at packing was in packing cubes, but it didn’t fit right. Then I tried dry stuff sacks, but it was still cumbersome. Finally, I settled on plain old ziplock bags! I can stuff them in and out in a flash in any order and the pack just zips right up.

I took my pack out for a spin and walked at the pace I’m hoping to maintain to average 25 km per day and it went very well. It’s an anti-gravity pack which puts most of the weight on your hips, and keeps the pack away from your back so it doesn’t get soaked.

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