What to take on the camino: The pilgrim's backpack
Make no mistake: the pilgrim’s baggage must only contain what is strictly necessary. You must bear in mind that it will accompany you everywhere for many kilometres, perhaps between 15 and 35 kilometres daily, depending on your physical form and your objectives. It is therefore just common sense to realize that overloading your back can be one of the worst errors in the ‘way’, one which may result in damage to the ankles and knees.
The advice that is often given as to the weight of the loaded backpack is that it should not exceed 10% of our body weight and, of course, if it is lighter still, then so much the better. It follows from this calculation that, in general, the ideal for most people is an estimated weight of between 5 and 8 kilos. It is very important that in the weeks before beginning your journey you should, when in training, carry a full backpack, leaving nothing out. In this way, the training will reflect what will later become reality.
To begin with it is important to choose the right backpack, without forgetting that the larger it is the more things we will tend to take with us, so a medium-sized or small backpack would already be a good start. Then there is the question of what to wear ... It is always best to think about what is really necessary. Putting it another way, when we have doubts about whether or not we are going to wear something, it usually means it's something we could do without. So when you find yourself thinking "maybe", you should leave it out. Later, should you discover that it is really necessary, you can always acquire it on the road.
It is also important that the backpack be lightweight and anatomical, and your sleeping bag, too, should be as light as possible. Do not forget to bring a waterproof poncho to cover your backpack, no matter what the season. Given the weather in Galicia, we know that it might be necessary the whole year round! Among the clothes you bring with you, you should not leave out something for the cold. Another thing to remember that in the shelters there will be showers, so flip flops will be useful and there might be pools and rivers, so you should take a bathing suit as well.
The sponge bag is essential, but it should be as basic as possible and should contain a small kit in case of cuts, scratches and blisters, so apart from alcohol or Betadine you should also have gauze, adhesive tape, band aids and needle and thread to cure blisters. The sun is an element to consider: don’t forget sunscreen cream, a hat to protect your head and sunglasses. And those with allergies should not forget their antihistamines.
We recommend bringing writing materials, a notebook and pen, so as to be able to jot down practical notes or personal impressions. And of course, do not forget your personal documents: your National Identity and Social Security cards . It may also be practical to have with you in a utility knife, a flashlight, a lighter and a beaker of aluminum or tin.
As regards footwear, both the season and the route should be taken into account , when deciding on boots, tennis shoes or modern sandals . The important thing is that they should be familiar and have been worn before when training. Some people maintain that the boots should be high enough to cover the ankle, thus avoiding strain and sprains, but most important thing is that they should be waterproof and allow the foot to ‘ breathe’, so that problems arising from sweat are avoided. Socks too, should be chosen on the basis of their ‘ breathability’.
As for the famous bourdon or staff - this may be an important help to slow you down on steep gradients ……. you can also use it to clear away the weeds!... The important thing is its length, it is recommended that it should be at least as tall as the person who carries it.
If you suffer from any health problems it is important to talk to the doctor before starting the ‘way’. Explain your goals and ask for advice on how to arrange the necessary care or treatment.