What is Essential?

I thought I was just going to crank out a post to show you my Camino packing list, but much more came up that deserves a voice. It all began two and a half weeks ago. I’d been on a lovely, yet wet walk, with my friend Berry. My goal was to go home and create two piles…my essential items for my upcoming Camino and the “nice to have” items. My plan was to take photos and weigh the essentials, then once I knew how much that weighed to select from the nice to have items.

Here are some of those photos.

But, then came the BIG shock! What I thought was essential came to 28 pounds! On the Camino you don’t need a tent and stove and food for a few days…so, most people recommend that one carry about 10% of your body weight. It’s a good rule of thumb that helps prevent injury and makes for a more pleasant Camino.

In fact, here are some of the insightful quotes about what we carry on a pilgrimage: 

  • Aim to carry 10% of your body weight not more.
  • Less is more.
  • Measure twice, cut once. ~ Proverb shared by Rachel Harris
  • What you take becomes just what you need and if you take enough it will be too much. ~ Carol Clupny
  • No matter what you pack, you can lighten the load and you are good to go. ~ Linda Aeder
  • Remember you aren’t going to a third world country! ~ Kathy Peterman
  • Don’t take the “what if” items. ~ John Piggot
  • Be careful not to pack your fears.
  • Is this something I want to carry. Because so many of our decisions from souvenirs to backpacks to everything are about the weight we want to carry. Just choose wisely about the physical and emotional things you choose to carry. ~ Bruce Tarbet

So even this minimalist, who’s walked the Camino four years ago is facing new levels of “what is essential?” And, while part of me might want to make myself wrong for having this dilemma, I think it’s an important part of the Camino. A big part of my challenge is finding the balance of bringing enough for three months which says “bring more”, while having to carry it 1,000 miles which says “bring less.”

Look for a post on my final packing list within the week. It’s all good and it’s all about learning from the experience. So many lessons that the Camino provides! Share any input on what is essential to you below. 


  1. Brent Smith says:

    You’re not really bringing that umbrella are you Kathy. Vortex jacket works fine. You could always buy one over there. You’re from Portland and the rain is a blessing not hindrance. Spoken like a true West Coaster. 🇨🇦


  2. Barb says:

    Where is the dental floss hidden?!


  3. I went through this phase a few months ago I leave tomorrow morning and hubby and I will pack today. I posted my list on my blog with my rationale and that helped whittle it down to 13lbs. Musingsfromthelastftontier.com buen camino!


  1. […] of those with be touring or rest days. I’m whittling down my pack list to get to the core of what’s essential, while realizing it doesn’t have to be perfect, it can be adapted as I […]


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