Packing list (CSJ)


                                               Confratrenity of St James packing list  



  Packing list CSJ PDF

                                                            This page updated by hn on 28/07/2010


What 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.


Main equipment

- 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 with them.

- 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)

- 1 jersey

- Broad-brimmed hat (summer)/Small knitted hat (winter - you can lose a lot of heat through the top of your head)

- 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 weather.



- Guide book

- Compass

- 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 tips below)

- Roll toilet paper

- Towel (preferably a light-weight sports towel)

- Universal bath plug

- Sunglasses

- 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; etc)

- 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

- Notebook/diary

- Ballpoint pen

- 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)

- Pocket dictionary



- 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 main season.

- 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 pillow.

Do also visit the Pilgrimage to Santiago Forum for the current conversation about equipment.


A warning

Eurostar won't accept cannisters of Camping Gaz, and confiscate them at St Pancras International: reckon to buy your Camping Gaz locally.

They now accept camping knives with blades less than 3" long, so Swiss Army knives are OK.


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