What To Pack For The Camino de Santiago

There are a few steps to planning a Camino: picking a route, picking your dates, booking your transportation, and packing your bag.

If you’ve never done a Camino or long-distance hike before, packing for an adventure like this might seem daunting. While you might normally toss a bathing suit and a dress in your suitcase, this trip requires meticulous planning.

You’ll be carrying your luggage on your back for weeks, so it can’t be too heavy. But you also don’t want to forget anything essential. Luckily, the Camino goes through plenty of towns with shops, so anything you forget, you can buy on the go.

Are you feeling lost among all the options for what shoes to buy, what clothes to bring, which items to leave at home? Let me help you easy some of the anxiety and prep for an amazing Camino!

I walked the Portuguese Camino de la Costa this June and this post details all I learned on that trip about packing for a Camino. It should help you decide what to pack and what not to pack for the Camino de Santiago. I’ve even included a print-out of my packing list at the bottom that you can use as a template.

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Pack as light as possible

backpack camino hiking

Two things will most determine how enjoyable your Camino will be: the quality of your shoes and the weight of your backpack. Trust me, you would rather bring too little than too much!

Ideally, for long-distance hiking, your backpack will not be more than 10% of your body weight. Mine was a little over that with food and water and I definitely felt it. The heavier your bag, the more exhausting the walk is. So packing light is key to a good Camino, but how do you do that?

Here is my guide to packing light for type of any vacation

You’ll have to eliminate everything that isn’t absolutely essential. Be real with yourself: will you actually need/use this item more than once? If not, toss it. Get down to be bare minimum in terms of clothes and gadgets. And then you might still realise you could’ve done without a few items by the end of your hike.

It helps to make a list, and then start reducing that list. Do a couple of test packs and hikes to make sure you have everything and how to make it fit most comfortably in your backpack. Ideally, the heaviest items go at the bottom and items you’ll often use during the day go on top (things like wallet, phone, snacks).

Packing for a day hike is significantly easier, but there is some overlap!

If packing light and carrying your luggage for 280 km doesn’t sound like something you can do, you can always opt to book a luggage transport service. These are not expensive and will take your backpack from hotel to hotel for you, so you only need a day pack with water and food. Keep in mind that using a luggage service means that you cannot stay in municipal pilgrim hostels, as these cannot be booked in advance and don’t allow luggage delivery.

Get the right backpack

First things first: you’re going to need a proper backpack. You cannot hike for weeks, carrying all your stuff with an old school bag. Unless you feel like torturing yourself.

You’re going to want a sturdy backpack with a hip strap, of max. 40 L. The bag needs to fit your body, that’s why I always recommend going to an outdoor or sporting goods store. Try a few different ones on, until you find the right one. After all, this backpack is going to be your best friend during the trip.

I went with the Vaude Brenta 36+6 L. I already have a Vaude daypack, which I love. Their bags work very well for my built, and are great quality. The company is also committed to sustainability, with use of recycled material and long-lasting products. The Brenta backpack has a ventilating back panel, which was fantastic on the warmer days, and a built-in rain cover, for the rainy days. It’s an all-round great hiking backpack, and the size was perfect too. I could have even gone a little smaller.

To help keep your bag organized, invest in a set of good packing cubes. These will make the daily (un)packing a breeze! And take a purse or canvas tote bag for when you’re walking around the village, or going shopping after your hike.

Of course, this is all in case you’re planning to carry your own luggage. There is also the option of having it transported from hotel to hotel. In that case, I would go for a small carry on suitcase and a good day pack. I would recommend my trusted Vaude Wizzard 18+4 L. It’s comfortable to carry, and fits plenty for a day hike or even overnight hike.

Shoes

The second most important choice is your footwear. These will be carrying you around all day, so make sure you pick right! I made the mistake of wearing heavy hiking boots in Portugal in June and paid for it with blisters.

Take both the terrain and the temperatures into account. If, like me, you’ll mostly be walking on flatland, you don’t need big mountain hiking boots. All Camino routes incorporate quite a bit of asphalt, which gets to be very uncomfortable on boots like that.

Instead, I would opt for lightweight hiking shoes or trail runners. Most people I met on the Camino were wearing these, and they seemed to offer enough support and ventilation.

Hiking sandals are an option in hotter seasons, although I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re hiking with luggage. They generally don’t offer a lot of support, which can put extra strain on your ankles and shins. But bring a pair of sandals or flip-flops to wear when you’re not hiking.

Clothing

Portuguese Coastal Way Camino girl hiking by the beach selfie

When it comes to clothing on the Camino: less is more. Since this is a hiking trip, and not a fashion show, don’t worry about looking good. Everyone on the Camino dresses for comfort over style.

Realistically, you only need 2-4 outfits. One or two hiking outfits, one or two everyday outfits, some underwear, a bathing suit and socks. That way, you always have something dry and clean to wear.

Not sure how to pick the right hiking clothes? Here is what to wear while hiking the Camino

Pretty much all accommodations have washing facilities, either paid or free. So most people wash their sweaty hiking clothes and hang them to dry at the end of each day or every other day. Go for light-weight, quick-dry fabrics, to speed up this process. And bring a few clothing pegs, there are never enough!

Layers are your friend, as well as a raincoat, so you’re prepared for every type of weather. Take things that are comfortable and can work for multiple situation, to get the most mileage out of your luggage. For instance: a fun cotton shirt to wear after hikes and to bed, or a bikini top that can also be worn as a crop top.

Toiletries

Toiletries can take up a lot of space and weigh you down, so leave the full-size shampoo at home. Except for sunscreen, you’ll be using a lot of that. Invest in some travel size containers and solid versions of your favorite products.

These toiletry swaps are great for sustainable travelers

Solid shampoo, soap bars, and conditioners are not only more sustainable, but they can fly in your carry-on, last long, and don’t weigh as much. And remember that the Camino is a well-established hiking route, not the wilderness. You won’t have any issue buying something new if you forgot it or run out.

Pack a little first-aid kit with essentials like blister pads, painkillers, disinfectant, and a tick pen.

Make-up can be left at home, you’d be the only one wearing it.

Electronics

camino hiking portugal pizza e reader

Much has changed since the times of the original Camino. We are no longer Medieval pilgrims who can carry all our belongings in our knapsack.

While some people choose to do a little digital detox during their Camino, most hikers rely heavily on technology. I used my phone for everything from navigation to entertainment. To save space and weight, I recommend leaving your tablet and laptop at home, though.

Hiking with your smartphone? These apps will help you on your camino

Some pilgrim hostels don’t have enough plugs to charge all those electronics, so I brought a converter with multiple USB ports, so that I only needed one plug to charge all my devices and even some of my fellow pilgrims (fast way to make friends). If you have a short battery life, bring a power bank as well.

I don’t like reading on my phone, so I did bring my e-reader. It packs hundreds of books for the weight of a thin paperback!

Food

The food situation differs a little depending on which Camino route you pick, and your dietary preferences. On the Portuguese Camino, there were plenty of shops, cafés, bakeries, and restaurants throughout the route. And the cost of food was so low, that it was barely worth the effort to cook, let alone the effort of carrying around ingredients!

A few granola bars and some fruit is plenty to tide you over to your next meal. I also carried a pocket knife, a small Tupperware box, a ziplock bag, and a set of bamboo cutlery. These came in handy throughout the hike for picnics and leftovers.

I also brought my trusted Grayl bottle, which filters water on the go. But I didn’t end up needing it, as there was plenty of save drinking water available. A regular reusable water bottle will do the trick just fine, and weigh a lot less.

Miscellaneous

Camino Portugal hike sunny selfie

There are always a few items on my packing list that don’t fall into a clear category. These are the random, but useful items to have with you on your Camino.

Most pilgrim hostels only provide disposable sheet and no blankets, so bring a sleeping bag or sleeping bag liner (depending on the season). Towels are never included, so pack a microfiber travel towel as well. I even brought my own pillow case, but I could’ve done without.

You won’t be able to sleep in a dorm without a sleeping mask and earplugs!

Unlike regular hostels, most pilgrim hostels didn’t have lockers. Although pilgrims generally have little to steal, it is still worth bringing a little padlock for your bag.

To protect against the sun during your hikes, bring both sunglasses and a hat. Maybe even a bandana, if you’re the sweaty type.

My packing list for the Portuguese Camino


If you’re planing to hike the Camino Portugues, what you pack might just be the most important thing. Your main objective should be to pack as light as possible, since you’re going to be carrying it all on your back. If you’re using a luggage transport service, you can bring a bit more.

But honestly, you won’t need that much on the Camino. As a pilgrim, it is perfectly acceptable to wear the same clothes every day and comfort is king, so pack things that feel good, dry quickly, and that you can layer.

This post is based on my own experience hiking the Portuguese Camino in June, so there might be some differences in your packing list. Be rigorous in eliminating unnecessary clutter, and remember that you buy almost anything you need during the hike as well!

If you have any questions, feel free to post them below or shoot me an e-mail. Any essential Camino items I left off that you would recommend? Leave a comment!

I hope you enjoyed this post and found it useful for planning your Camino. If you did, please show it some love by liking, saving, commenting, pinning, and sharing it on social media 🙂

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