Preparing for My Camino – What goes and what stays

Imagine you are going away for 2 months.  Now imagine you need to carry on your back the items you will need to sustain you for the trip.  This brings up the big question “How little can I get by with?”


If you have read my past blogs, you know that this has been a year of looking at how to simplify in so many ways.  I cleaned my entire house in January, getting rid of things as I went.  I have been tracking how much trash and recycling I am generating and looking at ways to keep it to a minimum.  I have simplified my beauty routine on most days.  I am learning new ways to be frugal on my new retirement budget and I am re-finding my interests and myself separate from the job I used to hold.  Preparing for the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage is the perfect next challenge, but not an easy one.

All you Need is Less


I recall George Carlin’s famous speech on “stuff” and how it has influenced me.  Our culture is so bound up in advertising that we create artificial needs and then wonder why our spirits feel empty.  I am starting to think that less magazines, less TV commercials, and to focus on buying things that no one is advertising such as fruits and vegetables or items from local artists is the way to go.  Last Spring I became aware of how many beauty products I had and then I realized I had them because I wanted to be beautiful and thought I was not.  That “aha” opened my eyes to how much commercialism is going on in my life and strengthened my resolve to simplify.

Simple Reminders Poster

In preparation for my journey I was able to take other peoples lists of items they took on the Camino and craft my own list.  I began to get items I needed as I continued to talk to people.  Some would contradict one another, so then I put a question mark by that item.  I did my best to try out the item such as the bar shampoo and conditioner, the tooth powder, the REI convertible pants, the rain jacket, socks, sock liners, shirts and more.   REI became my friend and I am grateful for their return policy too!  A dear friend, Jennifer, works at Columbia Sports and she got me added to her friends and family discount…wow, that is quite the gift!  I am not easy to fit.  I wear a women’s 11 or 12 shoe and it has to be narrow to fit me.  Cute dresses and skirts look too short on my long legs and make me look distracting.  But I didn’t give up, I kept trying on items and then getting input from friends like Lori and my daughter, Myra.  Thanks to all those people who helped me determine what to take and what to leave at home or return to REI.  Your input is helping me have a good Camino!

Me trying on different outfits for the trip

Me trying on different outfits for the trip

So I got my list honed as much as I could, packed up the items in the backpack and began carrying that in my training hikes.  I then would come home and see what I could let go of.  I also took Heather, from the Portlandia Pilgrims, up on her offer to do a “backpack shakedown.”  She came to my house to help me do another layer of what can stay home and confirming I had what I needed to do this trip.  Thanks Heather for all your support, expertise and encouragement!  They mean a lot to me.  Remember the lighter the pack, the easier the Camino, the less injuries, etc.

Heather helping weigh and go through items to bring

Heather helping weigh and review items to bring on the Camino

Here are the final items I am taking with me in photos and on a list.

My Backpack

My Backpack all ready to go!
Weight is about 18 pounds

Here is the gear I will be taking

Here is the gear I will be taking

Clothes that made the cut

Clothes that for the trip (including Paris)

Foot gear for the Camino

Foot gear for walking 500 miles on the Camino

My photography items weight 10 ounces total as compared to my camera at near 3 pounds

My iPhone photography items weigh 10 ounces total as compared to my DSLR camera at 3 pounds

Personal care items

My bag of personal care items

I am loving these Eagle Creek bags!

I am loving these Eagle Creek bags (on left)!

Camino Gear 2013 (Edited after the Camino to show adjustments I would make for next time)
X clothing Athlethic jacket that zips up
X clothing Bandana x 4
X clothing Bra x 2
X clothing Dress
X clothing Hats x 2 – 1 for shade nylon, and 1 cap for warmth
X clothing Hiking socks x 4 -> 3 pairs is enough, liners x 4
X clothing Pants (long nylon that zip off into shorts) X 1
X clothing Rain Coat or poncho
X clothing Sandals (Birkenstocks)
X clothing Shirts (long sleve) x 3 -> 2 (Thermals, Tech and button up)
X clothing Shirts (short sleve) x 3 -> 2 (2 Tech shirts and 1 button up)
X clothing Skort
X clothing Sunglasses ->(wore glasses that have progressive lenses)
X clothing Undies x 3
X entertainment iPhone (& Charger, adapter, earbuds)
X entertainment iPhone Gorilla tripod & Oscillo 3 in 1 lens
X entertainment Solar iPhone charger?
X entertainment Small notebook
X entertainment Writing Pen & highlighter
X gear Backback & Rain cover
X gear Backpack Water Bladder (didn’t use)
X gear Boots
X gear Camino book (Brierley)
X gear Cloth napkin -> (use bandanna instead)
X gear Flashlight
X gear Purse/bag or bellypack
X gear Spork
X gear Stuff sack & plastic/cloth bags
X gear Swiss pocket knife
X gear Tupperware for food
X gear Water bottle
X gear Whistle
X Meds Aleve, Calm powder, Power C, Dehydration salts
X Blister Kit OminiFix, blister roll on, Lg. needle & cotton thread
X other Paris Books (leave there)
X other Passport, ID, credit cards, cash, pilgrim credential, medical insurance info
X other Copies of passport, credit cards, etc. (on iPhone)
X personal Glasses & copy of prescription
X personal Contact Lenses & solution
X personal Condoms x 4
X sleeping Ear plugs (4-5 pairs)
X Sleeping Eyemask (Bucky – 40 Blinks from REI)
X sleeping Sleeping bag liner with space for pillow (treated for bed bugs)
X toiletries Coconut oil
X toiletries Deodorant
X toiletries Dr. Bronner’s soap for bathing and laundry
X toiletries Eyeliner pencil, mascara and eye shadow (mirror), eyedrops for special nights
X toiletries Hairbrush, hairbands, rubberbands, scrunchie
X toiletries Laundry bag for dirty clothes
X toiletries Lip balm
X toiletries Nail clippers, hangnail sizzors, tweezers
toiletries Razor (get there)
X toiletries Sunscreen
X toiletries Toilet paper
X toiletries Toothbrush, toothpowder, Tongue scraper & floss
X toiletries Towels x 2 (Microfiber) wet first for best drying (hand towel and lg towel) -> 1 Med Microfiber towel would do
X washing Clothesline for drying clothes
X washing Diaper pins to hang clothes on pack & for blisters

This has been one of the hardest parts of my Camino so far.  I love colors and choices, so trying to limit the clothes in particular was a challenge.  Most people bring 2 outfits.  I increased the amount of shirts and added in lots of bandanas and headbands to help give me more options for mix and match and self expression.  I also choose a variety of bottoms (pants that convert to shorts, a skort, a dress and thermal pants) to be able to have more variety.  If it gets cold, I may have to wear all my layers or purchase additional items there.  I was reminded by a friend Patty who did the Camino last Fall, that Spain is not a Third World country and that most items can be purchased there.”

Map of Spain

Map of Spain

Once again, this blog is not saying that I am an expert.  It is merely meant to capture my journey including the preparation pieces.  Nothing will help me know if I am bringing the right stuff more than actually doing the Camino.  Stay tuned as I explore the one final aspect of preparation which is being clear on the spiritual reasons for my journey.


  1. barb says:

    I have to admit….I had a bit of a panic…when I did not see floss !! in your photos…it was only when I saw the list written out that I was relieved…..:)
    I know when you travel and eating foods we usually do not eat our mouths can get that “fuzzy” feeling pretty fast. Other options for floss is something called “soft picks”….very light in weight also… the meantime thanks for the infor on Arnica…gotta check it out.
    Keep bloggin…love it!


  2. barb says:

    Kathy, you might also want to take a pair of those things that you attach to the ears of your sunglasses so you can tighen them to your face….or just let them hang on your neck…you can’t mispace them that way.


  3. Naomi Holland Chappell says:

    You made me laugh when I saw all the shirts and scarves and said to myself, maybe your trip is to let you know you don’t need all those options about clothes. I told my sister who begins her walk in a week or so that I bet she will be leaving clothes behind her. Have a great trip and Buen Camino.


    • Thanks Naomi, I know I will learn a lot from this journey and perhaps that what I can get by with may end up being a most important part of that lesson. I will allow it to unfold.


  4. Jane Wolfe says:

    Wow! All the thought and preparation will definitely support you on your journey. I’ll be traveling with you in spirit!


  5. Anne H Martin says:

    Thank you for sharing your list in such a clear way! I am planning to do my first Camino from mid September – Nov. And am contemplating my Iist of needed items. I agree, we are so accustomed to many daily choices in attire, it is hard to consider wearing the same items/colors day after day.


  6. tulstig33 says:

    Loved your preparation notes. Packing is always a tricky one. What to take and leave behind. Love how organised you are.


  7. Rebecca in Vancouver, WA says:

    Fantastic! We were walking up to Cruz de Ferro a year ago today. What a special day. I love your planning and thoroughness. My pack was 17 pounds including water. Everyone said don’t worry about bringing a lot of toiletries and they were right. Pharmacies are in almost every town and you can get what you need if something comes up. I really don’t think you will need your iphone solar charger. Even though I packed light, but still found myself leaving a couple clothing items behind at an albuerge to simplify even more. Once I left my favorite top on the drying sure to check for your clothes before you leave albergues the next morning. You’re smart to only bring a sleeping liner, there are heavy blankets provided at most albuerges. I hope you have a wonderful trip. Hope I can meet you someday at one of our Portlandia Camino gatherings after your return. Buen Camino!!


    • Hi Rebecca, Yes, I would enjoy meeting you as well. I couldn’t totally tell if the solar charger really adds much boost to a dead or near dead battery, so I am leaving it at home. Thanks for the tip in confirming I don’t leave things behind (unintentionally that is). Going to learn on my Camino…so stay tuned for the next lesson and post.


  8. Kathy, I am so glad we were able to get together for your backpack “shakedown”. It was a lot of fun and I hope it was helpful to you. Buen Camino friend! If anyone else in the Portland area needs a “shakedown” before their Camino, I’m happy to help!


  9. Brigid Weese says:

    Kathy, I would leave the toilet paper and take a package of WetOnes and a zip lock bag for used wipes on the trail until you can dispose of them. No need for a clothes line but I found clothes clips from the Container Store useful. Every night is special you don’t need makeup or a laundry bag (what is not on your body is being washed). Buen Camino.


  10. Peg says:

    Hey Kat!
    I know that you are winging your way to Paris now, but just wanted to send our thoughts and prayers along with you! Buen Camino, amiga mia!


  1. […] who are planning their own Camino want to know is how did it go with all that stuff I brought?  One of the hardest parts about preparing was deciding what to bring with me.  I think that is something that most new pilgrims struggle […]


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