Let’s Talk Camino Gear.

IMG_2437 2This is the fun stuff, right? What did you BRING? What did you love and use all the time? What did you find was not necessary? I should have done a better job of laying out all my gear before leaving to snap more pictures but that didn’t happen. I dunno, maybe the whole planning this trip in 3 days had something to do with that oversight…

Also, can I talk about how weird it is to be typing on an actual computer? This is strange to not be using my cellphone and my incredible little Dictopro Bluetooth Keyboard, which was an absolute essential piece of equipment for me. See what I did there? That was one of my ESSENTIAL items! So let’s chat! Here’s a fun collage I just made. Yay WordPress.

My packing list:

REI Co-op Flash 45 Pack in Red Hot. I LOVED this pack, super comfortable and easy to pack, very comfortable to wear every day and easy to adjust. Remember when you go in to buy a pack to talk to a specialist and make sure you get fitted. I am 5’9″ and was shocked when the guy at REI told me the Medium pack I was about to buy was too big for me. I ended up being fitted with a Small! It’s not about your total height or size, more about the length of your torso. And I was able to put this whole pack in the dryer to treat for bed bugs! Also it is nice and compact and an acceptable carry-on on all airlines.

REI Helio Sack 55 Sleeping Bag and Cocoon Microfiber Mummy Liner. I liked the size and weight of both these bags, but honestly my legs were pretty cramped inside the mummy form and sometimes it was hard for me to sleep comfortably. I might have sprung for a silk sleeping bag liner because apparently bed bugs hate silk, but if you have bed bugs in your sleeping bag I think it’s better to get bitten and deal with the problem, right? On warm nights in the beginning of the Camino I was perfectly fine sleeping with just the liner. Both were easy to wash and dry while on the Camino and dealing with the bed bugs.

Rain gear: Frogg Toggs Poncho from AmazonREI Co-op Duck’s Back Rain Cover – 40 Liters, The North Face Venture 2 Rain Jacket. The only essential of these three was the Poncho! The others were great extra gear but not necessary at all. Note that the 40 liter rain cover, though smaller than my pack, fit nicely as I didn’t overpack my bag. When it got fairly cold and I was sick at the end of my trip, the rain jacket was a nice extra layer on top of my fleece to stay warmer and block wind. During a rainy walk I would always just throw the poncho on top of me and my bag, tightening the drawstring around my neck and just wearing my fun Camino-themed Buff UV Cap. I don’t like not being able to hear properly when it’s raining, so I just sacrificed my head getting wet. 🙂

Standard rainy day look!

Clothes: 2 long-sleeved shirts, 2 short-sleeved shirts, 1 Marmot windbreaker (I wore this EVERY day), 1 Columbia fleece for lounging around at the end of each day, 1 pair of prAna lightweight pants, 1 pair of leggings (my Girlfriend Collective leggings that I got for free from Facebook last year!), 1 pair of shorts (I bought these at the end of the trip at a sporting goods store for 5 Euro just so I would have something to wear in warmer weather but hardly wore them at all), 3 pairs of smart wool socks, 3 pairs of sock liners (I sadly lost one pair), 2 sports bras and 4 pairs of undies. I also had my beanie, my Buff cap, a Buff scarf (I WISH I had packed 3 of these as I wore every single day and then over my eyes while I slept), a circular scarf for lounging around and feeling cozy, a nightgown (I know it sounds weird but it was a luxury that I am glad I opted to take), and a sunhat that I used I think ONCE. Did not use that at all, especially after purchasing my Buff cap, and then it shrunk hardcore when I treated all my things for bedbugs. And then my mary-jane style Crocs (a lot of people were jealous of these beauties) and my Keen hiking shoes… which as you know… were destroyed from this walk. At first I wished I had slightly more heavy-duty waterproof boots, but the weather was unseasonably warm and dry for the Camino in October, so I lucked out!

Other stuff: My super essential Brierley Guide which was always tucked into the side pocket nestled around my 24 oz Nalgene. This book was so important to me during the walk that Special K and I used to replace the lyrics of Adele’s “River Lea” with “Brierley!” Sing it Adele!


I digress. Okay, other things:

  • Headlamp which I used nearly every day as I liked setting out pre-dawn
  • Writer’s Work journal for jotting down thoughts.
  • European USB adapter and spare portable battery to charge devices
  • FitBit Charge and charging cable, but I’m ready to upgrade to the FitBit Alta HR
  • First Aid: Compeed, Bandaids, Nail Clippers, Ibuprofen, small sewing kit, sunscreen. Had to purchase while on the Camino: Hydrocortisone cream (bring yours from the USA, it’s stronger and more effective), Anti-diarrheal meds (FUN!), scissors, pocketknife, bug spray, throat lozenges. Had to get from friends on the Camino: KT sport tape for my blisters for the first week I had them, Benadryl for all my bug bites (apparently you can’t buy this in Spain).
  • Other random crap: Ziploc bags and a couple trash bags (came in handy when dealing with bed bug crap), my Scrubba bag which I LOVED and unfortunately lost after accidentally leaving outside in the pitch black (but my awesome Mom replaced it for me!), clothespins and a spare line to hang clothes, sunglasses, iPhone, headphones and charging cable, earplugs, reusable grocery bag, small pouch for bills, coins and my couple cards, passport and pilgrim credential, and my little leather medicine pouch from Burning Man filled with important stones and treasures that have been gifted to me that I needed to take on this special trip.
  • Toiletries: Quick drying towel, Hand sanitizer, Lush bar shampoo and bar conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrush, lotion, hairbrush and hair ties, travel sized Native deodorant, small roll of toilet paper, Glide stick for preventing friction on my feet, lavender essential oil, Thieves spray. Note that I did NOT bring a razor. Yep. Oh and I brought a bunch of the lip balm I made for burning man, for me to use and I gave a bunch to other pilgrims as gifts.
  • Crap I brought and didn’t use at all: my bluetooth headphones, iPod nano, and charging cable, digital camera and charging cable, tupperware container, set of plastic utensils, a second Camino book (a great book that had just been gifted to me but I should have read it before I left and only brought the Brierley guide), a water bladder for my pack (two water bottles in the side pockets of my pack is more than sufficient as there are fountains regularly throughout the walk.)
  • Something awesome that my parents packed and took to me that I wish I had MUCH earlier in the Camino: Tapatio hot sauce packets!IMG_3698
  • And most importantly, my scallop shell. This is the amulet worn by all pilgrims to represent that they are on the pilgrimage to Santiago. I got mine in advance from my local fish shop but most pilgrims buy them when they start the Camino at any of the local shops.IMG_3061
  • Along the way I also picked up the cute yellow arrow button (above) and a patch for my backpack (need to sew it on still). And while in Portugal I purchased the Brierley guidebook to the Camino Portugués. So maybe that will happen in the future…

I think that’s everything I packed for my 50 days abroad! On Sunday night after I cleared through customs, the guard checking my claims form asked, “Uh miss! You need to pick up your luggage before you go through this line! Where are your bags?” I turned around and showed him my trusty Flash 45. Ha. This is everything I need sir, thanks.

So now I have a better understanding of how to live out of a pack! I would love to try my hand at some backpacking with this lighter gear sometime soon, but of course I would need to pick up a lightweight small tent, a sleeping mat and some cooking gear. I think maybe I need to do some parts of the Appalachian Trail… probably not alone, though.

What is your favorite gear for backpacking? Have you been on a trip and had major gear envy? (I was pretty envious of Special K’s poncho that had a hat with a brim and a special section to accomodate his pack.)

Okay that’s all for now, folks. This pumpkin pie ain’t gonna bake itself. Happy Thanksgiving!

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