Camino de Santiago – What will I need for trekking the Camino?

Walking the Camino is one of the most popular adventures, rite of passage or pilgrimage in the world.  In English it is The Way of St James and it attracted more than 327,378 pilgrims from over 200 different countries to complete the Camino last year.  That does not take into account the thousands of walkers who trekked sections of the pilgrimage route in France, Portugal and Spain.   All roads on the Camino lead to Santiago de Compostela where pilgrims who have completed the entire route are presented with their Compostela certificate

The idea of walking a pilgrim path in the 21st Century may seem a bit archaic and quaint, but the increasing crowds is testament to the benefits and popularity of walking through nature, without modern devices and in the footsteps of many.  This pilgrimage was popular in the 10th, 11th and 12th Century and then lay going wild and alone, and only began to be of interest again in the late 20th century.  Modern travellers choose the section of the Camino that best suits their activity level, the time they have allocated to complete the walk and the scenery they would most enjoy along the way. 

The most famous and popular route is the French, Camino Frances, with the Camino Portugues, originating in Portugal, as the second busiest route.  These can be busy routes, so if you prefer a quieter road, the Camino Primitivo or Original Way offers 261km of beautiful scenery and a fairly strenuous trail.  Should the  wildness of a rugged coastline appeal to your senses, then the Camino Del Notre which takes in 825km of incredible, and rigorous,  sea trails  is probably the route for you.

It is possible to do the Camino de Santiago at any time of year, although snowy mountain trails may slow you down and become dangerous in winter.  Spring and Autumn are the best times for the pilgrimage, no matter which of the trails, paths or pilgrim’s way that you choose.   

No matter which itinerary and season you chose to embark on your iconic pilgrimage, you will need the right equipment.  At Outdoor Adventure Stores, we have compiled a list of gear which are essential for a successful pilgrimage, where your thoughts are mindful of the road and the journey itself and not the pain of your blisters!  Whether you decide to camp out and need a good sleeping bag or stay in hostels and pack a good sleeping bag liner, we have listed everything for you to customise to your own pilgrimage needs.  Good walking shoes and rain ponchos or coats are a must for all.  

The Camino is more than just an amazing outdoor adventure. Those who have embraced the rigours of its dusty and arduous roads say it that for many, it holds a specific spiritual symbolism too. We think you should be well prepared and are right here to assist in any way that we can so that your Camino trail is memorable for all the right reasons.

Gear List:

Ultra-comfortable walking shoes or boots 

Good quality hiking socks (merino wool or other)

Comfortable backpack, with hip straps (30-45L will work) 

Trekking poles or walking pole

Sleeping Bag

Sleeping bag liner

2-3 light cotton shirts. (one long-sleeved, one short-sleeved- look at base layer clothing if trekking in the colder weather)

Fleece jacket

Hat and sunglasses

Good rainwear or rain poncho

2-3 trousers options (hiking pants, sweatpants, leggings, shorts, anything goes as long as you’re comfortable) 

Plastic flip-flops (hostels essential)

A large quick-dry towel

Flashlight  or headtorch

Swiss army knife

Earplugs and eye mask

A medikit   (Check out our readymade, compact and complete first aid kits)

Sunscreen

Water bottle

Guidebook

Moneybelt

Phone Charger and an adapter/converter for the outlets

Sleeping Pad – This is optional, but some people like to have them.

A guide to the perfectly packed rucksack

Before you take to the highways and byways for your grand adventure, you may be faced with one last dilemma.  No, it’s not how to say goodbye to the dog nor is it anything to do with missing Mammy’s Sunday dinners.  It concerns the growing pile of clothes, toiletries and equipment on the floor. How do you get all this stuff into one rucksack?  The challenge is packing it all so that you are comfortable as you walk, so that you can find things easily and being efficient with space so that you won’t be leaving essentials behind.  Yes, packing a rucksack is a skill.

Don’t panic! Here is a quick and easy guide to the perfectly packed.

The whole secret to the task is to evenly distribute the load evenly and in order of importance/ access.

The topple test – A properly packed pack can be tested by setting it down on a flat floor. If the bag falls to the left or right, then the weight is not distributed correctly, and the load will need adjusting. If the bag falls onto the front, then you have packed a bit top heavy and need to adjust the gear at the front of your bag or the load will drag you back as you walk.  So weight distribution is very important when packing your bag, but bear in mind that the important and essential items need to be accessible.  More about ‘the topple ‘later…

Before your big expedition, it is useful to practice the packing and to do it the same way every time. That way you know what fits and where everything is. Remember that you should not carry more than 25% of your own body weight, so dump some of the non-essentials now.

Start by packing the tent.  It’s the biggest item so place it in vertically and near your back as this keeps the weight close and easier to manage.  Slide the sleeping bag (snug in its waterproof case) beside the tent. Cooking items and bulkier stuff should be added next.

Place them to the front so you don’t have a pot handle sticking into your kidneys for the day. Clothes should be rolled and placed in the spaces between. Rolling is the best way to save space. Toiletries are next… Food items go to the top of the rucksack, alongside your first aid kit, waterproofs, hat and gloves and any other things which you may need in a hurry (toilet paper and sun cream!). If you are carrying liquid fuel, pop it in one of the side pockets, where it is less likely to spill on your gear and balance the weight with water bottles on the opposite side.

Now try the floor test. Once it passes the topple test, it is a good idea to trek around the room a bit and be sure that all is perfectly packed for your adventures.

A well-packed pack is something you don’t notice when admiring the astounding views and vistas of your adventure. A poorly packed one is very obvious to you and to your travelling companions.

Choosing a new rucksack- An investment in your future adventures!

Buying a new rucksack is a very serious business.  Just kidding! Its great fun, especially if you come instore and enjoy trying them on and choosing from the fantastic range we stock. It is, however, a bit of an investment. For the dedicated adventurer, the backpack you pick is likely to be up close and personal with you for many years to come.  The best haversacks, the water-resistant, lightweight and stylish rucksack of your dreams, should be the one that accompanies you to urban meetings, stylish hipster pub and carries your life-giving essentials to the remotest trekking zones in the world. O.K. we might be overstating the importance of the humble rucksack, but it cannot be denied that many of us have a backpack which has outlived even our longest relationships.  That is a testament to the excellent quality and durability of an Outdoor Adventure Store rucksack and absolutely no reflection on any individual’s couple-skills.

Replacing or purchasing a new a haversack takes time and so, it is always good to consult the experts (That’s us, in case you were wondering!) when picking a new pack. We have some tips and pointers to help, particularly for our online shoppers.

Size Matters 

For a comfortable fit which will see you bounding, effortlessly over hills and dales, you needto get a handle on the required size, even before you even start to shop. The torso, not yourheight is the key to a good fit. Here is how to measure your torso for a well-fitted backpack.

Tilt your head so that the C7 vertebra at the base of your neck protrudes at the bony bumpwhere your head meets your neck. This is the starting point of your measurement. Put yourhands on your hips and use your thumbs to feel for the top of the iliac crest (the top of the hipbone). Draw an imaginary line between your thumbs. This spot on your lumbar is the bottom
of your measurement. Stand straight and ask a friend to tape measure along the contours ofyour spine and between the two points. You now have your torso length. (Most adult’s torsomeasurements are around 40 to 60 cm.)
Torso ranges for pack sizes vary between brands and models, so always check the size chart.

If you fall between sizes, come into the store and try on each size till you find a comfortablefit or drop us an email and we can advise.
Once you have the torso size length, the hip size is generally correct, but as you carry most of the pack weight on your hips, it is crucial to have a well-fitting hip belt. Hip belt size is not the same as your trouser-waist size. Pop the tape measure around the top of your hips,following the iliac crest, which is a wee bit higher than hipline.

Adjust to Fit

Once you have bought that shiny new bag, with its promises of adventures to come, try it out at home.  Apart from the obvious posturing in front of the mirror to ensure that the style is right, you will also need to adjust the straps to fit.   Backpacks have several adjustable straps to ease the load and for greater comfort. The hip belt, shoulder straps, load-lifter straps and sternum straps. Your legs have some of the strongest muscles in your body, so the goal is to adjust your straps so that the majority of the load rests on your hips, and ultimately your legs do the work.

Pack the bag with a load of around 7kilos for starters.  Loosen all of the adjustment straps slightly. Adjust the shoulder and hip belts first.  Follow this with some tweaking on the load-lifter/sternum straps.   Walk around a bit and see how it feels, adjusting straps as you see fit.  The urge to head off for the big adventure will overtake you now, and you just might have to go for a quick trek around the park to get the full effects of your new purchase.

On the Trail    

Once you are out and about with your rucksack, pay attention to how it feels on the trail. Experienced hikers adjust regularly, depending on how the load feels.  Leaning forward slightly may feel a little better. One common trick to combat load fatigue is to tighten the shoulder straps and loosen the hip belt and to reverse the procedure later.  Ease your overworked muscles by taking the pack off at rest breaks.

 Style   

This should be the easiest part of buying a new backpack. However, with a massive variety of styles, colours, brand names, shapes and rucksack accessories to choose from, this can actually be the most difficult part of the process. Purchasing a haversack is, after all, an investment in your future adventures.  Take your time, survey the choice and imagine all the upcoming expeditions to wild and wonderful places with your trusty backpack and let that bag speak to you. Or just pick your favourite colour. Whatever your method, our expert staff are on-hand to assist with making the whole experience a pleasant and fruitful one. We wish you and your new rucksack a long and happy road together.