I’d say the first and the most important item to consider are the boots/shoes. The advice I got and appreciated, was to pick one size larger then your regular shoe size. Make sure your boots/shoes collect some mileage before your start your Camino. There is an extensive debate on hiking boots vs. hiking shoes on the forum, here, and here as well. (let is not be said that I failed to show both sides of the argument)
On my first Camino I found my Salewa lightweight hiking boots great (lightweight, waterproof, comfortable, handled muddy conditions well) . But on my second Camino I was converted to hiking shoes (even lighter, waterproof, comfortable).
Total weight you carry is something I can’t emphasize strongly enough. In my opinion; the less weight you carry = the better your Camino experience will be. This doesn’t mean you can carry 0 kg, there are things you’ll need. But its definitely less than you initially think. Some ultra-light pilgrims use buff instead of towel, drill holes in the toothbrush handle to save weight. When I first read about it I found it … weird, but after a few days on the Camino I could understand that point of view better.
After two Camino’s (French and Portugese route) here is my packing list:
- short sleeved t-shirt, pants, hiking socks, hiking shoes, fleece jacket, soft-shell jacket (not needed in the summer)
- buff, pocket knife, wallet, passport and credential (in a plastic sleeve, you don’t want this to get wet)
- smartphone, headphones, charger, spare USB battery/charger
- wide brim hat, hiking poles (warmly recommended):
On my back:
- Backpack 44l (Osprey Talon 44), one extra set of clothes, ,2 extra pairs of hiking socks, safety vest (especially recommended for the Portuguese route)
- sleeping bag
- raincoat (Ferrino Trekker), gaiters (not needed in the summer)
- sandals (most hostels have “no boots/shoes inside” policy),
- multiple socket outlet (lots of people need to recharge their devices and not all hostela have abundance of sockets), headlamp, 4 clothes pins, 2 S-shaped hooks (to hang stuff in the showers), spork,
- Scrubba, a portable washing machine (for me it was faster and cleaner laundry than by hand washing)
- hiking towel (quick-drying), toiletries (keep it to a minimum and travel-sized), first aid kit, earplugs (take few spares as well),
- medicines: aspirin, magnesium powder, multi-vitamin pills, Voltaren gel (anti inflammatory, similar to Ibuprofen), Body Glide, sunscreen
- 0,75 l plastic water bottle (on the French route public water fountains are frequent, but in Portugal and in the summer I’d suggest taking extra water) spare food (usually sandwich, fruit, few energy bars).
All clothes are quick-drying, specialised hiking variety. Cotton stuff (especially jeans) should be avoided, because it takes forever to dry, and unless you are very lucky, you can bet its going to rain in Spain (and when it does, it doesn’t stay mainly in the plain).
Before I left for Spain, I sprayed my backpack and the outside of my sleeping bag with Permetherin spray. That kept the bed bugs away, even in the summer when the bugs are more of a problem.