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.

Sleeping bags explained

Ok folks.  There are sleeping bags and there are Sleeping Bags!  

There are functional zipped body bags that will adequately do the job required of a bag that you sleep in. Then there are rolling clouds of enveloping coziness that fold gently around your tired body and hold you snugly in their comfiness while you sleep.

 So, how do you know which you are buying?

In this blog, we will talk you through the joys of good sleeping bags, great sleeping bags and life-saving sleeping bags. Our simple explanation of temperature guides, insulation options and the best shape bag for you will help find a sleeping bag best suited to your needs.  As always, at Outdoor Adventure Store, we have an incredible range of sleeping bags to choose from and friendly, knowledgeable staff to assist.  Check out our mid-price two season sleeping bags here.

Shapes and Sizes

Square sleeping bags are the classic of the species.  A basic square sleeping bag offers more room at the bottom where the feet should be.  This gives more toe wriggling room. If you don’t like your feet to feel constricted while you snooze, this is the one for you.   Square sleeping bags are also available in double size, so are the best choice if you prefer to sleep as a couple.

Mummy sleeping bags are well named.  Wrapping yourself up in a mummy sleeping bag, which is cleverly tapered at the bottom will keep you ‘snug as a bug in an Egyptian sarcophagus’ vibe. The design is excellent, as it keeps warm air inside and without circulating and cooling it ensures your sleep is at a steady warm, toasty level.  The Mummy design is commonly used from single season to expedition bags, and is a must in sub-zero temperatures.

The size of your sleeping bag is a very logical matter.  Manufacturers cater the sizes of the bag for the average physique of kids, youth, women and men.  

Kids and Young Adults

Children need a sleeping bag designed especially for them, with a shorter length. This is because excess space in the bag allows air to circulate and cool.  Wee ones will be better insulated in a product that is meant for their size. This is true for teenagers and young adults too.  The Kampkraft junior sleeping bag is particularly good value, offering a built-in pillow, soft touch fabric, a TOG rating of 13.5 and an easy carry bag.

Women

Some manufacturers offer sleeping bags especially for women.  This is in recognition that a smaller physique may need a better fit and higher insulation.   At Outdoor Adventure Store we can advise on the most appropriate sleeping bag for every shape and size of body type. Both for men and women.  Check out the choice here

Season Ratings Explained

Anyone who has ever shared a bed with another human being, can testify that we all have different comfort temperatures for a good night’s sleep.  There is the generalised belief that women feel the cold more than men, as previously discussed, although our customer feedback indicates that it is not always the case.  Your personal optimum sleeping temperature should be a consideration when purchasing a new sleeping bag.  But the most important thing to consider is the time of year and the temperatures prevalent where you will be sleeping. Most sleeping bags are season rated, following a very logical thought process of Season 1 being light weight and heading up to Season 4/5, where the expedition bags abide.

Season 1-2 Sleeping Bags are generally compact, light and ideal for camping in warmer climates and temperatures.  This is the most common all-use sleeping bag, suitable for family camping, Irish summer use and general festival camping. A comfortable rating for most seasonal uses.

Season 3-4 Sleeping Bags are a thicker sleeping bag, often made with down filling and offering that bit more insulation than the lighter models. Season 3 to 4 rated sleeping bags are ideal for those on adventure trips and expeditions in late Autumn and early Spring outdoor adventures.  A season 4 sleeping bag copes easily with extremely cold temperatures, while having a low weight and small pack size.  Check out this sleeping beauty, a mummy sleeping bag which fits most needs at a good price. 

Its unique Thermal Embrace System allows the bag to hug your body and maximize insulation while the aluminised reflective lining also pulls heat back. Simply snuggle into the Latitude and you won’t ever want to get out!

Packing some Weight

If you are buying your sleeping bag for a road trip or festival, then the weight may not be a huge factor.   But should you need to carry your bed on your back, for longer expeditions and over difficult terrain, then you need to choose wisely. Check bag weight and pack size (how small the sleeping bag is when packed away) online or in the shop before you buy.  For thicker sleeping bags a compression sack can reduce the volume of your packed bag.  Even the most compact sleeping bag still takes up a fair bit of space but a compression sacks provides space saving solutions by packing and compressing contents to half their size. This makes it really handy for bulky sleeping bags or clothing. 

Sleeping Bag Liners and Accessories

The liner is a very useful light inner sleeve which fits inside the bag. A sleeping bag liner can prolong the life of your bed roll as it reduces the need for washing the entire bag.  It also can be used alone on very hot nights or can add an extra layer in colder ones. 

Over the past few years, sleeping bags have evolved to the next level, putting you in control of temperature and comfort and now with added extras.  Built in LED torches, mosquito nets and DVD players.  Ok, we were kidding about the DVD players, but if you want a bag with its own integrated LED torch, mosquito net or matching compression bag, chat to our staff and they will point you in the right direction.

There is a sleeping bag to suit every need, every wallet and every sleeping temperature. Consider the dark cold nights ahead lying in your choice of sleeping bag.  You may be either shivering in misery, cursing the cold, or hopefully, basking in the glow of self-satisfaction and cozy warmth.

Sleep well folks!