So many folks have asked us about the small items we packed that made our 35 day trek truly workable. Here you'll find the best of those.
PS - If you buy from this page, we do receive a small "affiliate" check, so if you find what will work for you here, shop on. Buen Camino!
We walked hundreds of kilometers in our double-layer Wrightsocks and have become devotees of the product.
We list socks FIRST on our list because keeping your feet healthy and happy is the most important thing you can do to enjoy your camino. Shoes are entirely too personal a decision to leave up to a website, but not so socks.
Buy these guys. Cannot recommend highly enough!
Before setting off on our Caminos we debated - to trekking pole, or not to trekking pole? That was the question! We realized on the first day that the walk would have been nearly impossible (ok, much more hazardous) without our trusty poles.
Don't leave home without them.
We love our Osprey, and part of what we love is that the company has invested in making their women's line true to a woman's body. We took a 45 l and a 65 l. We felt the larger size came in handy (for example when we needed to double up one day!) but we knew that 35-40 l were all we would each pack on a normal day. For these reasons, we see some sense in going with a somewhat larger pack that you could also use on your PCT hikes but that you will not (say after me, "I-will-not-overpack-on-the-camino") fill to overflowing. A good pack is well worth the investment.
After you've reached your destination, you'll want to shuck off the 10% of bodyweight that you've been carrying on your back and slip into a bag/purse that you can carry into town with just your phone/camera/bankcard/passport. I can't fit all of that into a pocket, and I always like to have a bit of "carrying home" room in case I see an exquisite melon or luscious bottle of wine that I should have for the next day's lunch.
This does the trick.
See notes for the pack above. This is similar to REI's "Flashpack" series which we carry all the time at home. One of us favors a more serious "pack" as a purse (this item) and I must admit it came in handy.
One of us preferred the lighter weight alternative of the foldable unit described above. You decide.
We each carried an Envirosax with us and each used it every day. Grocery shopping? It can cover that. Something to sit upon in that apple orchard? Perfect solution. Need a shopping bag for your souvenirs once you've FINALLY reached Santiago?
These were invaluable in keeping our everything well sorted. Blue = Shower stuff, red = First aid supplies, Green = PJs & shower wear, Gold = clean undies, Pink = dirty duds. You'll be happier if you can just grab what you need without a complete unpack every single time.
Keeping hydrated in key as you make your way to Santiago, and the Camelbak slips into your Osprey allowing you to never think of it between refills. There can be long stretches of road with no potable water, and you do not want to be without backup.
The weight of water is the one time you'll never hear me say, "Less is more." It's just not.
After reading a LOT about gear, we were convinced that we needed one of the European ponchos for the Galician rain, so we bought two beautiful, high-end red beauties before leaving St. Jean Pied de Port. We now believe 1) A bigger visor against the driving rain and 2) A zip front would have been improvements. This Aircee will leave you with more money in your pocket and a higher degree of visibility than my purchase got me.
Truth is, roll up your pants legs and peal off some of your under layers when you meet the rain. You're going to get wet, but you'll be happier if you can see where you're going and not suffocate while you make your way to a big cup of tea and a toasty plate of roasted peppers.
We each kept one of these attached to the outside of our pack. Keeps beverages hot or cold, great for the chilly mornings you can snag a coffee for the road, wonderful for those days when you find a wine fountain en route.
This cup weighs next to nothing, which is the kind of recommendation I wish I could make about every bit of gear.
Yes, you're laughing now, but you are the one who will be laughing at all those ladies who forego staying hydrated just because they cannot count on having a tree to pee behind or the luxury of a flushing loo. I called my device the "great equalizer" because, darn it, I didn't want to walk miles in discomfort. So, I learned to pee standing up, with no fuss, leaving no TP-trail (Please. I beg you. DO. NOT. LEAVE. A. TP. TRAIL.). I was ready to walk on my way in under a minute every time. You can do it, too. Believe.
While we're mentioning the unmentionable, let me brief you about ExOfficio's awesomeness. In a world where you bless the quick-dry properties of all things that will be next to your skin for any length of time, EO has it going on. I was able to get a style I like in colors that didn't make me cringe. I suggest shopping online sales, but - sale or no - these panties are perfection for anyone walking the talk.
Sweaty brow? Runny nose? Bugs lodging themselves in your teeth? All these prosaic occurrences are possible on the road to Santiago. A buff can help you with that.
We're big "Thorns" fans, so we represented women's soccer with logo-emblazoned buffs. If I hadn't been wearing the red and black, I would have totally shown out in tie-dye.