Packing for the Camino needs to start six months in advance. But it didn’t. Luckily there are a lot of packing lists available on the ‘net. They say you should aim to carry no more than 10-12 % of your weight. I aimed but failed although I confess that I rejoiced in being overweight. However, I did keep my backpack under 18 lbs (around 8000 grams)!!! And that included a few luxuries: THE Camino book weighing in at 275 grams; IPad at a hefty 476 grams; a battery charger at a heavy 274 grams and, my phone. It also included a few items that I have no choice but to bring: epi-pens and emergency allergy meds at 255 grams and my daily meds at 232grams which will get lighter day-by-day. So the IPad and the meds kind of balance the load, both weighing around the same amount and they are at the opposite ends of the enjoyment scale.
Deciding what to take was a process of weighing an item, adding it to a spreadsheet, pressing the total button, cringing and then buying a similar but lighter one. This did not work for the backpack which I had to exchange for a larger and weightier one (an extra 450 grams!) in which to put all my lightweight items in. Ironic.
Many pilgrims say to ditch the electronics and get closer to nature. I ditched the rain pants, hat, foot cream, removable sleeves, and sunglasses. I think it accurate to say that without these items I will be more exposed to nature.
Trudy helped me with the elimination. ‘Hat?!! You HATE hats!’
‘Good point’. And out it went.
‘ Rain pants?! You have quick dry pants’.
‘Another good point’.
I was delighted to find a headlamp that only weighs 27 grams, a fraction of my original one of 105 grams. One item I threw in, then out, then in again at the last moment was my sarong. A skirt, a towel, a scarf, a nightgown, a picnic blanket, a sheet. Out went the buff (a neck warmer) and the third tshirt. I also threw out the unused flip-flops which are light but no arch support and in went a heavier pair that I have worn for months. I can use them in the showers (recommended) and on the trails if my feet need a change.
Multi-functional seems to be key. Quick dry pants unzip to shorts. Down vest + fleece jacket = pillow. Flip flops, sarong, spork.
Feet are king. Happy feet = happy hiker. Notice I have more socks than knickers (sorry Mom). OMG now everyone knows I am wearing 23 grams of knickers (sorry Mom). Socks: Wright: Blister proof guaranteed (2 pairs), Darn Tough: guaranteed for life (1 pair), Smart Wool (1 pair)…okay, the spreadsheet is missing a pair, add another 33 grams.
Hidden between the spork and sleeping bag are a rock and a hard shell. The shell is attached to the outside of your pack to signify that you are a Peregrino (pilgrim). The rock is to be left on the Camino at the foot of a cross at Cruz de Hierro, the highest point of the Camino. I am taking a Pacific cockle shell and a lump of diatomaceous earth (30 grams lighter than the pebble from the beach) which technically isn’t a ‘rock’ but it passes for one.
And the last item, but perhaps most important is my American Express weighing a mere 4.7 grams.