I promised to write a post about the gear I took on my Camino and let you know what I would do if I did it again, so here it is.
First of all, gear is very dependent on weather (time of year) and personal preference, so no matter how many gear lists you look at, you still need to do what works for you.
Here’s a link to my original list for a more detailed comparison.
For the most part, I was very happy with the gear I took and I would change every little. We were lucky that we only had a few days of heavy rain, and about 4 days where we had to walk in heavy mud at some point, so overall, my shoe choice worked well.
If I was going to go again, in the same month (April 24 – June 2), I would make one minor clothing change, and there are a few things I wouldn’t bother to take next time.
Some General Thoughts on My Gear
Shoes – I had two identical pairs of Saucony Peregrine 5 trail shoes and I was very happy with this choice. They were lightweight, about 1 pound per pair, and I was glad to have the second back up pair on days when my shoes were wet or very muddy and didn’t dry overnight. Erik carried my backup pair so weight wasn’t an issue (for me ;).
In a perfect world, I would prefer to take a single pair of lightweight hikers with good tread and no mesh top (like my trail shoes) but I haven’t been able to find any that fit my feet so I had to stick with what I knew worked. Light hikers would be slightly sturdier and give a little more ankle support plus they’d be a little better in the rain and mud. In addition, I wouldn’t have to carry two pairs of shoes. However, overall, I was very happy with my shoe choice. I also took a super lightweight pair of flip flops.
Fleece and Rain Gear – I loved my Patagonia R1 Fleece and my Marmot Precip Jacket. I wore them almost every day for at least part of the day. There were two days that I would have liked rain pants but not often enough to carry them for the rest of the trip. I’m glad I didn’t bother with a poncho – my jacket was perfect and kept me dry but comfortable, and it doubled as a jacket in the evenings, and as a wind breaker when it wasn’t raining.
Shirts – I had two tech t shirts which I alternated every day, one long sleeved merino wool shirt, and one Columbia long sleeved button down shirt. Next time, I’d leave the button shirt and take two long sleeved Merino wool shirts instead. The merino wool was lighter to carry and I liked wearing it a lot more than the Columbia shirt.
Pants – I LOVED my RAB Helix pants. They repelled water and were super lightweight but warm enough. They dried relatively quickly but I was glad I had two pairs because clothes don’t always dry overnight and they were constantly getting dirty or muddy. I was usually able to wear them for several days before washing them.
The RAB pants had a built in button for rolling up to capri length – I much preferred this to the hassle and discomfort (to me) of zip off pants. (Erik loved his zip off pants). The weather was such that I really didn’t need shorts and I definitely could have managed with either my Outdoor Research Leggings or my Columbia Saturday Trail Capris. I did wear both but I didn’t really need to. I think I’d leave the capris at home since the leggings were more comfortable to wear around in the evenings, and also to bed if it was cold.
Underwear – I had 3 pairs of very comfy Patagonia underwear that dried overnight and 3 pairs of Merino wool socks that kept getting holes in the big toe. I had to darn them constantly. Next time, I might research a higher quality sock. I had one sports bra and one regular bra. I wore the comfy Patagonia sports bra the first day but it didn’t dry overnight so I never wore a bra the rest of the walk. 🙂 I wore my regular bra in the evenings depending on what shirt I was wearing. Next time, I would only take one regular bra. I fricking hate bras anyway.
- I wouldn’t bring my hydration pack again. I used it for a few days and then just bought a 500ml bottle of water and then kept refilling it when needed. When it got grimy, I tossed it and bought a new bottle. I wouldn’t bring a water bottle – they are heavier and too hard to clean really well. Much better to reuse a disposable bottle for a week and then throw it away. (I’m not normally a fan of bottled water but…)
- I wouldn’t take my lightweight down vest again. It wasn’t heavy and I did wear it a couple of times, but I could easily have managed without it.
- I would leave my swim bottoms at home. Never had a chance to use them
- Freshette – this was very handy and not heavy to carry but I could survive without it.
- Silk liner -I used this about 6 times I think. Lightweight and useful.
- Lightweight pack towel – I only needed it a few times, but was glad I had it.
Stuff I couldn’t live without
- My rayon pareo scarf from Maui – I wore this scarf everyday for multiple purposes. I usually had it wrapped around my neck or head and I loved that I could loosen it when I got warm, as opposed to a buff. When I wasn’t wearing it, I looped it through the belt of my backpack so it was always accessible. It could double as a towel, a sarong, a privacy curtain, and could be used to wipe the sweat from my face. It was easy to wash and dried quickly.
- My dollar store mittens and my $45 North Face waterproof mitt covers. Both were super lightweight and easy to carry. I wore the mittens in the mornings quite often because I was using poles so couldn’t keep my hands in my pockets. The waterproof mitts covered the fuzzy mitts when it rained or was very windy. I bought them as a treat with a gift card but was SO happy I had them.
- My Black Diamond Ultra Distance Z Poles. Super lightweight, and easy to fold up and put into backpack pocket instead of having to leave them at the Albergue door. In my opinion, poles are essential on a long hike. I used them all day, every day. There were many times when I saved myself from a sprained ankle or a bad fall simply because I could catch my balance with my poles. They were really helpful on the hills, both up and down. I wore out the metal tips on mine but was able to buy new rubber tips at an outdoor store for 3 euros.
- I’m glad I had a water proof pack liner as well as a pack cover. I put the cover on whenever it threatened rain rather than wait until it was raining and the MEC pack liner kept everything super dry inside. My gear was stored in large ziplock bags inside the pack liner for easy retrieval.
- My $8 water proof MEC phone bag was well worth it. I kept my phone and credenciel in it during the day and had it hanging from the front of my pack, clipped to my waist belt. I took photos all day so I needed something easy to access yet out of my way.
- My super lightweight fold up shopping bag that I used as a “purse” during the evenings. It weight almost nothing, and rolled into a small bag and clipped to my backpack when I wasn’t using it.
- My iClever EU Boostcube with two ports 2.4A, 24 W – a 2 port USB plug with builtin EU adapter. I bought this on Amazon and I loved that I didn’t have to worry about a separate adapter for my iPhone charger. Plus we could charge both devices on the same plug. Make sure you get 2.4A because it charges faster. I also had a ministick portable backup charger that I only used once. I wouldn’t take one again because my phone always held a charge all day, unless I had a GPS app running during the day.
- Camino Frances – A Wise Pilgrim Guide app for my phone. This was SUPER useful for mapping and for finding accommodations or info about the trail and the towns. Well worth the $6.99 CAD.
- Photo of every page of the Brierely Guide, put into a photo folder on my iPhone. Very handy as I could zoom in if needed and was zero weight.
- My iPhone 6s with 125gb of hard drive space. I bought a SIM card in Pamplona and used my phone to take 2000 high res photos, make reservations, check the guide book, find accommodations, check the map, stay in touch with my kids, and blog every night. I also had a couple of books on my Kindle App on the phone and enjoyed reading in the evenings some times.I could have managed with a 64gb hard drive.
- I was happy with my choices of toiletries and first aid supplies. If I was going again, I’d take my own sunscreen because I ended up having a buy some and they only had giant bottles which were fairly expensive. I would have much preferred to have carried my own brand in a smaller container. I’d take a tensor bandage if I went again. You can buy them along the way, but now I’m certain I need one so I would bring a good one right from day one.
Stuff I’d leave at home next time and save 765 grams. Nice.
- Columbia Long Sleeved button shirt, bring an extra Merino Wool – save 50g
- Hydration pack – 160g
- Lightweight down vest – 160g
- Swim bottoms – 75g
- Capri pants – 205g
- Compression Calf Sleeves – didn’t need them – 50g
- Back up power stick – 65g
So – that’s the adapted list. It worked for me. If I was doing the same route, at the same time of year, and staying in the same kind of accommodation, those are the changes I’d make.
Did I forget something? Got any questions? Just leave a comment below, or email me at the contact link on the side!
Next up – Our Post Camino Reflections