Material (Confraternity of South Africa)


                                                         What do you take with you?

   Confraternity of Saint James of South Africa


  see also Material (C.South Africa) PDF


        in FAQ

• Who does the Camino and why?

• What does it cost to walk the Camino?

• Is it an organised tour?

• How long does it take to walk the Camino?

• What route does the Camino follow?

• What is the route like?

• How do you get from South Africa to Spain?

• How does one get to the starting point?

• What about language?

• When should one go?

• What about medical care and emergencies?

• How fit do you have to be?

• What do you take with you?

• What about security?

• Where do you sleep?

• What is there to eat?

• What happens when you reach Santiago?


  13. What do you take with you?


When people advise you to take the bare minimum, please believe them. Apart from the fact that glamour and variety become totally meaningless on the walk, every gram starts to weigh more as you walk. The general rule is that your backpack should not weigh more than 10% of your bodyweight. Take light, loose clothing that won't get too creased and dries easily, with options for cold or wet weather. The following list is suitable for spring or autumn where temperatures varied from about 10 - 35°C. Asterisked items could probably be left behind in high summer.


  Check What about medical care and emergencies? as well.


- 2/3 short sleeved shirts or t-shirts - fast drying and non crease

- 1 pr shorts - fast drying material ( not cotton) (Note - not acceptable wear off the Camino for visits to churches etc.)

- 2 pr zip-off longs or 1 pr plus light track pants for evenings/pyjamas

- 1 lightweight long sleeved shirt if you need sun protection while walking

- 3 sets underwear (one on, one to wash, one to dry)

- 2/3 pairs of socks

- 1 pr comfy sandals or flip flops to change into at the end of each day or to give feet a break

- rain poncho (which is useful as a ground sheet as well)

- light sleeping bag/blanket. * For any time other than high summer season when you could get by with a light sarong or sheet, sleeping bags are essential as many refugios don't keep blankets. The lightweight ones are fine for most weather - (Cape Storm Midge or similar - 300g or First Ascent from Cape Union Mart - 500g). Make a pillow out of your clothing of take a lightweight pillow case into which you can stuff soft clothing each night.

- small, light torch or LED head torch

- sun hat/cap

- lightweight wind breaker (for cooler times a more substantial jacket may be needed)

- swimwear

- coloured thermal vest or long-sleeved sweatshirt to double as evening wear/pyjamas*

- sleepshirt/nightie (optional)

- sleeveless fleece waistcoat* (optional)

- toiletries: soap or shower/shampoo gel, toothpaste & brush, moisturiser, deodorant, suntan lotion, minimal makeup, comb/brush, laundry soap

- small diary/notebook and pen

- money belt

- a few pegs, nylon cord 2 metres long for a wash line, safety pins to attach wet clothes onto the back of your backpack

- earplugs - these are invaluable to counteract disturbance in the plane, the snoring and rustling of plastic bags by early starters in refugios, the chatting (frequent) and the traffic noise (infrequent)

- map/guidebook

- credit card, phone card, passport in a money belt

- waterbottle (you can easily use plastic cooldrink bottles obtained there) or a "camelback"

- camera, batteries and/or charger

- light, easy drying travel towel

- sarong (which can be used for a wrap, a scarf, a sheet, a towel, or a cover when it is too hot for sleeping bag.)

- small Swiss army knife, scissors and/or clippers (remember that trains (eg Eurostar) and all airlines forbid carrying knives in cabin luggage.)

- zip-lock plastic bags to keep things dry and accessible

- walking stick - many pilgrims recommend walking with one or two sticks, claiming it is easier on the knees and helps on inclines/declines. Cape Union Mart offers the Italian 'Master' brand which "telescopes" to about 10cm. Wooden ones are available in shops and at some refugios, some complete with gourds and scallop shells. It is also suggested that you train with a stick to toughen the hands ahead of time.

- remember to have some way of securing your backpack for travelling - either padlocks, an outer cover that locks or shrink-wrap (available in Cape Town and Johannesburg airports international departure halls)


  Optional extras


- Camping gas stove and mugs or a little spiral immersion heater, plug for Spain, camping cup, tea bags, coffee sachets and cup of soup packets

- travel alarm clock

- space blanket (± R15 Trappers' Trading)

- 1 neck scarf/bandana

- two large suction wall hooks to use in the showers. There are very few clothes hooks to hang your dry, dirty or wet clothes and, some of the showers don't have doors

- a universal bathplug

- small sewing kit (hotel sample)


  Footwear Tips   

- Hi-Tech 'Sole Saver' is a fluid rubber with which you can do DIY repairs to rubber soles

- Choose shoes one to two sizes larger and always try them on with the socks you plan to wear on the walk

- If your feet get wet then smear them with vaseline

- Lambs wool can be the answer to any abrasive problems

- It's important for ladies to wear ladies' boots / shoes - amongst other things they're narrower at the heel than men's boots / shoes

- Lacing of boots and shoes can be done in a number of ways: Cross lacing and parallel lacing are the most common methods but other variations can be made: for example, for the pilgrim experiencing problems with metatarsals the Arthur Lydiard method of lacing skips a couple of eyelets to leave the affected area free.

- Some people recommend taking boots and socks off to air the feet at every rest stop (every 10 or 15 km)

- Wear clean socks every day

- Make sure that your boots/shoes are long enough to accommodate your toes on the downhill, to avoid damaging toenails.

- Feet swell if you walk every day, so make sure shoes are also wide enough

- Make sure that stitching on the toe of the sock is not going to hurt you - especially the knots at the end of the stitching

- Keep feet dry

- Think about getting extra padded inner soles too, but make sure shoes are still spacious with your socks on



- We did an informal survey amongst returning pilgrims to find out what type and size backpack one should carry. Consensus was that it's all about travelling light (35 - 45 litre capacity). Most men preferred backpacks with an internal frame, but cautioned on not filling every available space!

- Orca Backpacks

(Bowwood Road Claremont, Cape Town)

- Cape Union Mart '

Outdoor' Quadrant pack, waterproof 45-litre (about R450). It carries a lifetime guarantee with it on zips etc.

K-Way Kilimanjaro / 35 litre "Duzi" which has side and back pockets and a sternum strap /   45 litre Lowe Alpine, no frame


  Some tips   

- Even if you carry a small daypack your sleeping bag can be wrapped in plastic and strapped on the outside

- Use a black plastic garbage bag as an inner lining to keep clothes dry

- Too much to carry? We all start off too heavy - don't despair! Post extra stuff to yourself Poste Restante in Santiago. Pack a nice strong white plastic bag for your unwanted items, sticky tape and put on labels addressed to yourself eg: Mr 'Joe Soap', Lista de Correos, 15780 Santiago de Compostela, A Corϊna.

- You can also buy pilgrim boxes, some large enough to take a suitcase, at the Post Office. On arrival, take your parcel ticket and ID/passport to the Post Office (Correos). It is open till about 7pm, and they will keep it there for 30 days.

- A "porter" service Originally started for ailing or handicapped pilgrims is now available if you are really desperate. Contact for details.

- Electricity Most refuges have electricity but not all have kitchens. Spain uses normal European 220 volt current with round two pin plugs

- Loo call Take a toilet roll, remove cardboard inner and fold it flat - handy when refuges run out of paper or for use along the road. And please respect private property!

- Maps You do not really need maps, as the trail is very well way-marked. Some guidebooks have strip maps for each stage.

- Public phones Available all along the route. You can purchase call cards or use cash.

- Cell/mobile phones Take a plug for Spain to recharge. Switch off when in a church, monastery, museum etc. Vodaphone covers all UK and Spain with the same Sim card.  


     retour ΰ Q.Pratique Dιpart


delhommeb at