of St James packing list
list CSJ PDF
page updated by hn on 28/07/2010
should I take ?
Another subjective area, though the basic rule is
always "if in doubt, leave it out." Go
for quick-drying lightweight clothing, and remember
that a few grammes saved here and there soon add
up to an appreciable difference. Some people advise
carrying no more than 10-15% of your own body weight.
Remember to take account of your day's supplies,
especially water (1lt of water weighs 1kg). You
should be able to get your base weight (i.e. without
the day's food and water, but including the rucksack
itself) down to 10-12 kg.
Adapt the following basic list to the season, and
your own needs and preferences. You'll find further
advice, and some conflicting opinions, in our leaflet
The Walking Pilgrim, available through the Bookshop.
If you're short of money, the investments that will
really pay off (in this order) are 1. good, well-fitting
boots plus the time needed to break them in and
harden your feet; 2. a well-fitting rucksack; and
3. light-weight, quiick-drying clothing.
Pack everything in one or more heavy-duty plastic
bin-liners as no rucksack is entirely waterproof.
Rucksack: say 35/45 lts capacity for women, 60 lts
for men, but above all adjustable and wellfitted
to your own hips and shoulders: there are different
designs for men and women. Go to a specialist shop
where they will give you good advice, and load it
with the appropriate weight to test it properly.
N.B. it's not the capacity that matters so much
as the weight you put into it.
Water-Resistant Containment/Transportation Bag and
Liner for your Rucksack. Not essential if you pack
everything in plastic bin-liners, as suggested above.
Boots: light, sturdy, offering good ankle support
over the rough stretches. Probably better than trainers,
which though comfortable aren't much use in the
wet. A good shop will allow you to take them home
for a few days to wear around the house, though
not outdoors, and take them back if you're not happy
Lightweight sleeping bag (essential in Spain, but
not in France, where blankets are provided and a
sheet sleeping bag is enough)
Good waterproof gear
Stick: useful as a 3rd point of balance, and for
fending off the odd dog.
3 pairs walking socks, plus one pair for evenings
3 sets underwear (Women: make sure that your bra-adjusters
don't sit under your rucksack straps. Men: avoid
boxer shorts, which can chafe.)
1 pair walking trousers, plus a 2nd pair for evenings
(but for walking if necessary)
1 pair shorts (in summer)
3 shirts (long-sleeved against the sun)
1 tee-shirt (for sleeping - most find a tee-shirt
and pants quite decent enough)
Broad-brimmed hat (summer)/Small knitted hat (winter
- you can lose a lot of heat through the top of
1 pair lightweight shoes/sandals for evenings
We have heard that there are now high-tech shirts
and underwear with silver threads woven into them,
said to absorb body odours for up to three weeks.
We haven't tested these claims, but do know from
experience that washing clothes each day is no problem
- though drying them can be, if you run into wet
Whistle (especially if you are walking alone and/or
on one of the less-frequented routes)
Basic toiletries and medicines (Compeed for blisters,
a length of Elastoplast that you can cut to the
required size for small injuries, insect repellant,
antiseptic cream, sun cream ...). But don't necessarily
start with full tubes of these things; save weight
at the outset, and replace as you go along
Small ball of natural sheep's wool (see footcare
Roll toilet paper
Towel (preferably a light-weight sports towel)
Universal bath plug
Water bottle, min 1lt (consider the value of an
aluminium one, which can double as a hot-water bottle)
Swiss Army Knife (corkscrew, scissors, tweezers
all come in handy)
A length of string (clothes-line; emergency boot-lace;
6 nappy pins (much safer than clothes-pegs, especially
if you need to dry your socks etc. on your rucksack
as you walk along)
Universal bath/basin plug
Needle and stout thread (for blisters as much as
anything else - see below)
Small plastic bottle (eg ex-Body Shop) of detergent
for washing your clothes - top it up as and when
you get the chance
12"-18" square of bubble wrap (weighs
nothing and provides a miniature ground sheet for
when you have to sit on wet ground)
Wax for your boots
Very small torch
Watch with alarm
Passport, EHIC card or its equivalent (essential
evidence of entitlement to local health-care for
EU citizens; non-EU pilgrims should arrange private
health insurance), pilgrim record/credencial, credit
cards etc in a waterproof pouch. Make sure that
emergency contact details are recorded in your passport
and/or pilgrim record.
Lightweight New Testament/one paperback (there's
surprisingly little time for reading)
A lightweight tent (the more you pay, the lighter
your tent); quite unnecessary on the le Puy route,
the Camino Francés, and the Via de la Plata, where
there is ample accommodation; but worth considering
if you're taking one of the less well-developed
routes. Even on the developed routes, a tent frees
you from the constraints of the standard stages,
dictated by the availablility of refuges etc.
A small spiral immersion heater (with an appropriate
plug) and a camping mug for making hot drinks if
you don't want to go to the length of carrying -
A small camping gaz stove (go for the standard #C206
190g cylinder type, since the fancier styles aren't
available in Spain), billy can, mug, bowl, spoon,
tea bags, instant coffee in another ex-Body Shop
plastic bottle, powdered milk in ditto: all handy
if you like to brew up while you're walking, and
want to be sure of being able to cook in the less
well-appointed refugios. Being able to do your own
cooking is especially helpful for vegetarians.
Cheap camera; though if you're serious, these days,
take a small digital camera. There are - increasingly
- photo shops along the way which will transfer
your pictures to CD.
A mobile phone: useful in France, where you can
book ahead in the gîtes d'étape (though DON'T book
more places than you need "just in case",
and DO cancel reservations that you can't take up);
less useful in Spain, where you can't book ahead
in the refugios. Nice for keeping in touch with
home, wherever you go, and reassuring in case of
emergency, especially if you're taking one of the
less-frequented routes, or are going out of the
Electrical adapter(s) for charging the camera and
the phone, and plugging in that heater. French and
Spanish sockets aren't quite the same.
Small quantity of dried fruit (very good for the
slow release of energy: a handful of raisins and
a mouthful of water can keep you going for ages.
Raisins are ideal because they're light, available
in small packets, and on sale in most grocery shops)
A thermal blanket - may be available from French
pharmacies - weighs very little, and could just
come in useful either for yourself or if you were
to come upon an injured pilgrim.
Ear-plugs (boules quies in French) to counter the
inevitable snoring in the dormitories. Their disadvantage
is that you don't hear your alarm if you want to
get up early.
A square of brightly coloured light-weight fabric,
if you are walking during the autumn hunting season
(from 15 August onwards), to wear as a headband.
There have been too many accidents, and the hunters
themselves now break their camouflage with fluorescent
orange caps: we have even seen hunting dogs with
fluorescent orange collars!
Whistle - perhaps especially for women walking alone
- to attract attention in an emergency.
A thin pillowcase: when refugios have pillows they
aren't always clean, and when they don't you can
always stuff it with your clothes to make an adequate
also visit the Pilgrimage to Santiago Forum for
the current conversation about equipment.
won't accept cannisters of Camping Gaz, and confiscate
them at St Pancras International: reckon to buy
your Camping Gaz locally.
now accept camping knives with blades less than
3" long, so Swiss Army knives are OK.
à Q.Pratique depart