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backpack_size

chaski

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Next
Hello fellow travelers.
First time doing el camino, french way, will start in September.
do you have a suggestion of the backpack size, 40, 50, 60 litters?
will all I need to make it across fit in the 40 litter?
thank you for your replies.
 
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henrythedog

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
X
Hello fellow travelers.
First time doing el camino, french way, will start in September.
do you have a suggestion of the backpack size, 40, 50, 60 litters?
will all I need to make it across fit in the 40 litter?
thank you for your replies.
40 will be sufficient IF you have a light sleeping bag which packs small AND the 40 litre backpack is a comfortable fit for you.

Comfortable fit (with weight in it) is much more important than the size of the pack.
 

Grousedoctor

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2021
You will find a number of threads on the Forum regarding pack size. You will also find a variety of perspectives on this. On my first CF, I walked with a 36L pack. Although I have changed brands, I now carry an Osprey, the 36L pack has always been more than sufficient for a month long Camino. But, it’s not just the pack size that’s important. It must also fit you. I would also suggest that you keep your weight down to between 12-14 pounds. I remember starting in SJPP with about a 20 pound pack and by the time I reached Pamplona, I had already shed several pounds of weight. On the Camino, you don’t need much, so packing “essentials” will help you monitor how much you put into your pack. Invest in lighter weight clothing and gear. There will be plenty of opportunities to wash clothes along The Way. Another reason I like this size pack is that it can go in the airplane cabin with me. I never check my pack with an airline. The last thing you want, IMHO, is for your pack to get lost and not arrive with you. You can buy poles, a knife, etc. in SJPP. Keep your pack close. Planning your Camino is great fun and a real learning experience. Lots of information about gear on this Forum too. Buen Camino!
 

henrythedog

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
X
Hello fellow travelers.
First time doing el camino, french way, will start in September.
do you have a suggestion of the backpack size, 40, 50, 60 litters?
will all I need to make it across fit in the 40 litter?
thank you for your replies.
Could I ask - are you from South Georgia (which I think might be a first for here) or the southern part of the country of Georgia (possibly also a first) or the south of the US State of Georgia (you’re certainly not the first, but welcome nonetheless)
 

chaski

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Next
40 will be sufficient IF you have a light sleeping bag which packs small AND the 40 litre backpack is a comfortable fit for you.

Comfortable fit (with weight in it) is much more important than the size of the pack.
thank you so much.
 
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chaski

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Next
You will find a number of threads on the Forum regarding pack size. You will also find a variety of perspectives on this. On my first CF, I walked with a 36L pack. Although I have changed brands, I now carry an Osprey, the 36L pack has always been more than sufficient for a month long Camino. But, it’s not just the pack size that’s important. It must also fit you. I would also suggest that you keep your weight down to between 12-14 pounds. I remember starting in SJPP with about a 20 pound pack and by the time I reached Pamplona, I had already shed several pounds of weight. On the Camino, you don’t need much, so packing “essentials” will help you monitor how much you put into your pack. Invest in lighter weight clothing and gear. There will be plenty of opportunities to wash clothes along The Way. Another reason I like this size pack is that it can go in the airplane cabin with me. I never check my pack with an airline. The last thing you want, IMHO, is for your pack to get lost and not arrive with you. You can buy poles, a knife, etc. in SJPP. Keep your pack close. Planning your Camino is great fun and a real learning experience. Lots of information about gear on this Forum too. Buen Camino!
good info, thank you.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
will all I need to make it across fit in the 40 litter?
I would say "Yes", provided that you don't have special needs.

This thread has been tagged with "back pack & packing". If you click on that tag at the top of the thread, just under the thread title, you will find other threads discussing back pack size.
 

Dennis D

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Francés - 2014
Francés - 2015
Francés - 2016
Francés - 2017
Francés - 2018
Francés - 2019
(2020 - ?)
Welcome to the Forum,
You will find lots of good folks here sharing their Caminoholic experiences.

What time of year do you plan to go?
Do you plan to stay in Albergues?

Grossdoctor gave you some great advice. I agree with everything he says.

If you are walking in the colder months perhaps a 28L would suffice. Because you will be wearing your cold weather clothing most days.

The first time I walked, I used a 40L backpack Since then, I have always taken a 24L Osprey. If the weather is warm and I don't need my fleece jacket and sweater I put them in a stuff sack and hang it on my pack. I don't bring a sleeping bag because I snore loudly (that's my excuse anyway) so I stay in Casa Rurals and hotels. That allows me to wash my clothes at night. So with the philosophy of "less is more" I wear the same shirt, socks, undies, etc. every other day.

Backpack weight is critical. 10 pounds plus a water bottle that I carry most days in the pocket of my fleece jacket. Easy access etc. BTW there is tons of opinions regarding water bottles. You might enjoy looking at that.

Finally a very critical factor is your footwear. If you feet can make it, the rest of you will follow. I encourage you to research as much as possible and be sure that you have found the proper boot/shoe that you can walk in day after day as blister free as possible.

Buen Camino,

Dennis D
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Hello fellow travelers.
First time doing el camino, french way, will start in September.
do you have a suggestion of the backpack size, 40, 50, 60 litters?
will all I need to make it across fit in the 40 litter?
thank you for your replies.
My simple guidance is:
  1. calculate your ideal walking weight in kg - if your BMI is 25 or less, use your current weight, otherwise calculate your weight for your BMI to be 25. I'm not hard over on 25, use 27.5 if that makes you feel better, but everything will be a bit bigger, heavier, etc. As an example. my BMI=25 weight is 76 kg, but I am currently 90 kg and use 80 kg as my ideal walking weight.
  2. halve your ideal walking weight and use that number as starting point pack volume in litres if you are walking in summer. If you are walking in spring or autumn, add 25%. For winter, add 50%. I generally walk in spring, so my target pack volume is 50li. My goto camino pack is a 45 li pack with an expandable storm gusset that takes it up to 50 li. When I have walked in winter, I have used a 60 li pack.
  3. get your gear together, and take it all with you when you go shopping. This should include all the consumables you intend to carry, ie food, water, medications, etc.
  4. If it all fits into something around your target volume, make sure that the pack is comfortable to wear, can be easily adjusted to your body frame, etc. There is lots of good advice about this on this forum and elsewhere.
  5. If it doesn't fit in, you can either rethink your packing list, or try a slightly larger pack. If you haven't walked before (I am assuming you haven't), come back here before you make a purchase very much larger than your target volume and get some advice about your packing list. There are plenty of people who can help with this, but be careful of those who are extreme ultralight fanatics.
My view is that anyone who tells you that a specific size will be okay without knowing how tall you are, how much you weigh and what season you walking in, just as a start, is just guessing. They may have walked with the size pack they are recommending, but neither you nor they know that you are the same size as they are, nor do they know when you are walking, whether you are more or less resilient, or whether you are able to afford the expensive ultralight equipment they use.
 
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MichaelC

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
May 2023: Via Francigena, Lucca to Rome
A 33L was enough for me to walk in the fall & carry a sleeping bag, rain gear, and warm clothes. The main drawback was that I often had to take everything out to find one thing. A larger backpack, with the same amount of stuff inside, would've been more convenient.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Portuguese camino
You will find a number of threads on the Forum regarding pack size. You will also find a variety of perspectives on this. On my first CF, I walked with a 36L pack. Although I have changed brands, I now carry an Osprey, the 36L pack has always been more than sufficient for a month long Camino. But, it’s not just the pack size that’s important. It must also fit you. I would also suggest that you keep your weight down to between 12-14 pounds. I remember starting in SJPP with about a 20 pound pack and by the time I reached Pamplona, I had already shed several pounds of weight. On the Camino, you don’t need much, so packing “essentials” will help you monitor how much you put into your pack. Invest in lighter weight clothing and gear. There will be plenty of opportunities to wash clothes along The Way. Another reason I like this size pack is that it can go in the airplane cabin with me. I never check my pack with an airline. The last thing you want, IMHO, is for your pack to get lost and not arrive with you. You can buy poles, a knife, etc. in SJPP. Keep your pack close. Planning your Camino is great fun and a real learning experience. Lots of information about gear on this Forum too. Buen Camino!
Hello fellow travelers.
First time doing el camino, french way, will start in September.
do you have a suggestion of the backpack size, 40, 50, 60 litters?
will all I need to make it across fit in the 40 litter?
thank you for your replies.
Hello fellow travelers.
First time doing el camino, french way, will start in September.
do you have a suggestion of the backpack size, 40, 50, 60 litters?
will all I need to make it across fit in the 40 litter?
thank you for your replies.
Indeed, Grousedoctor says the essentials. I would add : do NOT take anything sentimental with you which you would not easily part with.
I trained with 6kgs in a 40 litre Osprey but left with at least 7kgs in it. Too heavy ! And i yad to pay extra to get it in the cabin with me.
By the time i had folded the shoulder straps into the back of the backpack, it was too thick to go into the cabin for "free".
I'd take the one Grousedoctor uses. The only thing i took a lot of are 7 good pairs of socos as our feet are our best friends on the camino. I often stopped halfway during my daily route to take socis off, let my feet breath and put on a clean pair of socks. Earthly comfort 😉
You really CAN find soap and washing facilities all along the caminos. (I was on the Camino Portuguès interior).
Enjoy every minute ! It was all about the process for me, and not only the next destinations.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
@chaski if you intend to always stay in hotels, casa rurals and other places that supply linen and blankets, then you may get away with a smaller pack, but 28L would be too small for me. I recently changed from a 30L pack to a 36L pack because I was sick of using surgical precision to fit everything in.

I've walked the camino many times and don't think I take anything unnecessary.

I'm an average sized woman. As @dougfitz says, if you are a larger person, your clothes will be larger, and you pack needs to take that into account.
 

lisagb

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2021
Hello fellow travelers.
First time doing el camino, french way, will start in September.
do you have a suggestion of the backpack size, 40, 50, 60 litters?
will all I need to make it across fit in the 40 litter ?
thank you for your replies.
30 litres will do it.
 

MichelleElynHogan

Veteran Member
From experience, I have observed myself and many who consider the backpack first before accumulating the, "NEEDS," that will support the activities. So, I do strongly urge that the contents of the pack be considered first. The pearls of wisdom in this endeavour are;
- take only what is needed. Everything you pack, will be on your shoulders for 800 km. (My goal is always 10 lb or less + water / food.)
- A pack must be comfortable. The best pack is the one that feels like it is not there.
- minimizing contents means purchasing the minimum sized pack, thus, saving weight. Carrying too much can result in not only using up too much energy but can also result in serious injury. I know. I have done it to myself.
- Place all your planned belongings in a garbage bag and go to the Sporting Goods store, get someone to help. Place your bag in a suitable sized pack and try it on. Can your bag fit in a smaller sized pack? If so, try that one on. Make sure shoulder and hip padding is sufficiently comfy. The smaller the pack the lower the weight.
- once packed and backpack purchased, carry that pack for a long walk, find out what it feels like carrying that weight. This allows for adjustments as needed.
- search this forum for, "Pack List." It should give a number of options. The discussion is endless.

Hope this helps.
 
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Sue127

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Portuguese Coastal May 23
I think aot is down to the comfort of the backpack. First time, I used a 60l and took way too much; this time, I took a 40l and took less, but still more than I needed. Next time, I will probably take my 60l and force myself to put even less in as it is a more comfortable pack. At the end of the day, pack as light as possible, your body will thank you. Buen camino
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
10/22 Aragones/Frances
My simple guidance is:
  1. calculate your ideal walking weight in kg - if your BMI is 25 or less, use your current weight, otherwise calculate your weight for your BMI to be 25. I'm not hard over on 25, use 27.5 if that makes you feel better, but everything will be a bit bigger, heavier, etc. As an example. my BMI=25 weight is 76 kg, but I am currently 90 kg and use 80 kg as my ideal walking weight.
  2. halve your ideal walking weight and use that number as starting point pack volume in litres if you are walking in summer. If you are walking in spring or autumn, add 25%. For winter, add 50%. I generally walk in spring, so my target pack volume is 50li. My goto camino pack is a 45 li pack with an expandable storm gusset that takes it up to 50 li. When I have walked in winter, I have used a 60 li pack.
  3. get your gear together, and take it all with you when you go shopping. This should include all the consumables you intend to carry, ie food, water, medications, etc.
  4. If it all fits into something around your target volume, make sure that the pack is comfortable to wear, can be easily adjusted to your body frame, etc. There is lots of good advice about this on this forum and elsewhere.
  5. If it doesn't fit in, you can either rethink your packing list, or try a slightly larger pack. If you haven't walked before (I am assuming you haven't), come back here before you make a purchase very much larger than your target volume and get some advice about your packing list. There are plenty of people who can help with this, but be careful of those who are extreme ultralight fanatics.
My view is that anyone who tells you that a specific size will be okay without knowing how tall you are, how much you weigh and what season you walking in, just as a start, is just guessing. They may have walked with the size pack they are recommending, but neither you nor they know that you are the same size as they are, nor do they know when you are walking, whether you are more or less resilient, or whether you are able to afford the expensive ultralight equipment they use.
You are 100% correct about your last paragraph. But I have a question for you. Is the first paragraph one of Einstein's theories of Camino Relativity???? ;);):):) Seriously I am impressed but very confused. I think the rest of your advice is also really solid. I am1.89 tall and weigh about 92 kilos and have a 45 liter pack. I could probably use a smaller one but I start my caminos close to November and walk well into December. The thing that makes me go with a 45L is I carry a small pillow, super light but takes up room. If I tried to sleep on those allegedly referred to as pillows in albergues I would need a larger pack to carry my chiropractor.
 

KimR

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Francés ‘18
Portuguese(costa,cent) ‘19
Norte ‘21
Hello fellow travelers.
First time doing el camino, french way, will start in September.
do you have a suggestion of the backpack size, 40, 50, 60 litters?
will all I need to make it across fit in the 40 litter?
thank you for your replies.
As others have said - comfort and fit when fully loaded is one of the most important things to consider.
Another important consideration is total of your kit and backpack are also important. ( larger backpacks weight more)
Are you a minimalist or maximalist with your clothes and equipment? It takes a while to feel comfortable not bringing the ‘what if’s’ but it is well worth to some folks. Your joints are happier carrying less weight regardless of your physical condition. As a former backpacking, I tended to over pack because I had to ready for many possibilities . There are many things you do not need and can pick up along the way if you really need it- including buses and taxis.
I now err on the side of being a minimalist & carry a 30L (under 10lbs + daily water and food) regardless of the season.

Buen Camino
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
Ask eight pilgrims and you will get maybe a dozen opinions. Rucksack volume is a highly personal thing.

My observation, through experience and here in the forum, is that the 'sweet spot" for a man is about 35 to 40 liters. For women the sweet spot is usually about 32 to 38 liters.

Larger than that range, and the excess volume trends to "suck up" extra non-essentials, and weight.

Smaller than that range, and you may have too many dangly bits hanging outside your main compartment where they can be seen, and possibly "borrowed."

I started doing my Caminos with a 48 liter Osprey Kestrel Rucksack, then transitioned to a 38 liter Osprey Kestrel. That works very well for me. However, I am toying with reducing that further to 32 liters. I bought a roll top, dry bag rucksack from Berghaus for that. We will see what happens next Camino season.

In the name of full disclosure, I customarily wear a 'belly bag" holding maybe 10 liters of stuff I must have quick at hand: water, cellphone, guidebook, snacks, buff(s), sun hat, umbrella or poncho, etc. I have rigged this smaller bag to be attached to the front of my rucksack harness. This reduces having to remove the rucksack most of the time.

I have found over the years, that removing my rucksack seems to send send a signal to the rest of my aging body that today's walk is over and it is time to relax. I only remove the rucksack once it is hoisted first thing in the morning if I am going into a cafe or tienda, where it would be inconvenient to others.

What most of us, men and women, discover is that "less is more" on the Camino. Choose items that serve multiple purposes - everything must serve at least two uses to be considered. Any more than three underwear changes (1 worn and 2 being washed and dried) is overkill - except MAYBE in the coldest part of winter.

After lugging extra clothes you did not wear or stuff you over-planned for and did not need, we usually learn. That is one reason why Ivar's side hustle, accepting and storing boxes mailed to him by pilgrims en route to Santiago from multiple directions, is such a worthwhile business. It works for all involved. On some Caminos I have sent him 4-5 boxes of stuff from my Camino. In this regard, I know what I am talking about.

Spain is a modern, first world country. You can buy anything you need along the way. No need to schlep everything from home.

Carefully read everything in this dialog, then use the search function to find other threads on specific issues. Most every question has been asked and answered many times.

Hope this helps - Buen Camino!

Tom
 
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StuartM

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2012)
I used a 36l Berghaus rucksack with very minimal stuff and it was more than adequate. If you are happy being ruthless in your packing then you could get away with even smaller, I could maybe have dropped to 25. If you don't have something that you find you want/need, usually that's just an inconvenience for a day and it won't kill you. If it is something that's going to kill you not to have... well, I guess you should've packed better :)

Bulky stuff... I didn't take a sleeping bag. I used my shemagh as a sheet where bedding wasn't supplied. I walked late autumn/early winter and was never cold. In fact I found most albergues were over-heated, especially when a room was full, and glad I didn't have a bag. I took a down jacket thinking the low weight and small size was worth it, I regretted it because it was cold and damp more than it was cold and dry and ended up feeling like I was wearing a moist sheep. A good fleece jacket is far more use, especially one that's light rain resistant. Only other bulky item I can think of was my rain jacket and I tended to have it stuffed in one of the external pockets anyway.

Having a rucksack that fits your back is more important than size. I've got a 17l Osprey that is really uncomfortable when loaded because you can have either the back length or a shape that's practical. I'd also say that having a pocket for a water bottle is absolutely vital. Having to open and close your pack to get to your water is a total pain. An external pocket for snacks and stuff is really useful too.
 

JudyWanaWander

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
PlanFuture(2023)
Hello fellow travelers.
First time doing el camino, french way, will start in September.
do you have a suggestion of the backpack size, 40, 50, 60 litters?
will all I need to make it across fit in the 40 litter?
thank you for your replies.
For me the most important thing is comfort of the pack and the weight of the pack. For instance I have a pack I've been using for years called the circuit from ULA ( link below). Although this pack is a little bit bigger than most, it is ultra light and hits me perfectly. Even though there's more room I will need, I will still be able to pack my 10% body weight and have room to spare. There's compression straps so I can adjust the load balance. this company has other packs that are smaller and even lighter weight. I absolutely love my pack. it comes with customize belts sizes and shoulder straps to be sure you get a perfect fit.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Future
Hello fellow travelers.
First time doing el camino, french way, will start in September.
do you have a suggestion of the backpack size, 40, 50, 60 litters?
will all I need to make it across fit in the 40 litter?
thank you for your replies.
I had an old 36L I was going to use and when I packed it I had a ton of room left so I switched to a 28 with deep side pockets and a front stretch pocket. It seems to be perfect.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
Ask 10 people, get 10 different answers.
Depends on the time of year, and if you are fe/male.
I personally prefer not to carry more than 28-32 liters for any of the routes.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Ask 10 people, get 10 different answers.
Depends on the time of year, and if you are fe/male.
I personally prefer not to carry more than 28-32 liters for any of the routes.
And so it should be - they will all be different heights (and weights), possibly be walking in different seasons, have different levels of tolerance to the cold and heat, and different financial circumstances and associated ability to invest in more expensive, lightweight equipment.

@Anniesantiago was gracious enough to reveal, in a previous discussion on this, that she is within a cm of the average US woman in height. The average US woman would have a BMI=25 weight of 64 kg, and if one were to use my approach for estimating an initial pack size target, it would result in a recommendation to start at 32 li.

More, she also revealed her pack weight at that time, and my estimate is that her 'packing density' is around 190 gm/li with a 32 li pack. My recommendation is based on a packing density of 200 gm/li, so she is achieving a slightly lower pack weight than might be initially expected. Using a 28 li pack, and assuming she is carrying a similar weight, the packing density would be about 225 gm/li. That is starting to get densely packed, but I assume with her vast experience, she knows how to pack to ensure things she needs during the day are more accessible than things that will only get used at the end of the day.
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Not always. There are large ultralight backpacks that weigh much less than many smaller backpacks. An example is the Zpacks 55 liter Arc Blast backpack.
That's true. I used an Osprey 60 this year that is significantly lighter than the Deuter Guide 45+ that I used on the CF, CI and walking to Muxia and Fisterra. The downside is that the Osprey's comfortable weight limit was much lower than the Deuter, and I probably overloaded it a little with the amount of water (and food) that I was carrying each day.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I started doing my Caminos with a 48 liter Osprey Kestrel Rucksack, then transitioned to a 38 liter Osprey Kestrel. That works very well for me. However, I am toying with reducing that further to 32 liters. I bought a roll top, dry bag rucksack from Berghaus for that. We will see what happens next Camino season.
@t2andreo, would I be correct in suggesting that, with your ~10 li of waist bag, you were effectively using about 48 li of carrying capacity, and think that you will be able to get this down to 42 li in total?
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
But I have a question for you. Is the first paragraph one of Einstein's theories of Camino Relativity?
Well, @lt56ny, here is the more complicated explanation (don't say you didn't ask for it!!):

  1. take the guidance that bare pack weight should be 10-15% of one's body weight, and use the lower limit.
  2. Be hard on yourself, and instead of using current weight if your BMI is greater than 25, calculate your BMI=25 weight and call that your ideal walking weight (IWW). (If you don't want to be really hard on yourself, give yourself a 10% fudge, and use a BMI=27.5 weight/)
  3. Based on past experience, a packing density of about 200 gm/li results in a pack density that is reasonable (whatever that might mean, but bear with me on that). Note that this includes the weight of the pack.
  4. Use this to estimate a volume of the pack, which is an initial estimate of what I expect you will need for a summer camino.
  5. The formula looks like: estimated pack size = (IWW * 0.1) / 0.2, or IWW / 2. You can check that the dimensions are correct: pack size = mass / mass/volume, which results in a volume, in this case, litres.
If you have followed this so far, you will see that there you could tweak one or all of three things to get a different starting estimate of pack weight. They are your IWW, the ratio of your IWW to pack weight, and packing density. How might this make a difference:
  1. if you are a larger person, you might need to use your current weight in the estimate, rather than a much lower BMI=25 weight.
  2. you might adjust the ratio of your body weight to your target pack weight, such as I do by adding about 25% to the estimate for walking in spring or autumn.
  3. you might think that you can manage a more densely packed load, and I suspect many people do, although my experience indicates anything much more than 225 gm/li is going to be difficult to manage.
There you have it. It's not quite relativity, I'm afraid, just tying together several strands of advice that have been around for some time on this forum.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
Most people range from about 160 cm to 180 cm in height, and their ideal weight would roughly be, say, 55 - 90 kg. The notorious 10% rule for backpack weight would thus say 5.5 to 9 kg weight for most people. @dougfitz's rule would give a volume of 27 to 45 L.

Skipping all the calculations now, most people will need/want a back pack in the range of 27-45 L and 5-9 kg in weight. That should give most people a starting idea of what to look for.
 
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mattythedog

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
Hello fellow travelers.
First time doing el camino, french way, will start in September.
do you have a suggestion of the backpack size, 40, 50, 60 litters?
will all I need to make it across fit in the 40 litter?
thank you for your replies.
Only you can answer this question correctly. Here is how:

1. Take all the good advice on this forum and accumulate the "base weight" gear you will take.
2. Decide what food you might be buying along the way, and get similar size/weight items. Consider that some base-weight items may be able to be attached to the outside of the pack for short periods to make room inside the pack. For me, I would want a bottle of wine, large sandwich, 2 large candy bars, box of granola bars, 2 bananas and 2 apples. Some people carry no food or snacks, only water.
3. Decide if you will get souvenirs, etc., along the way, and get similar size/weight items. For me, I don't get souvenirs along the Way. Get similar volume/weight items.
4. Take all the base weight and extra items to REI or similar outfitter.
5. Put all items in/outside the smallest packs they will fit, and then test the packs for comfort.
6. Consider the price, lowest volume and loaded pack weight which is comfortable, and buy it.
7. Load that pack accordingly, and hike 3 days in a row with the pack loaded with max gear you anticipate carrying at a distance you anticipate per day.

I walked CF from SJPP to Santiago and on to west coast 5 times, sometimes 40km/day 10 days in a row. First 2x were with Osprey Stratos 34 liter pack. Last 3 were with Osprey Talon 33. Both packs were about 2/3 full with my base items. Even with lots of supermarket splurges, I never filled them to capacity. They both are extremely comfortable on me.

Recently, I went to REI with my base weight items, plus two 1/2 liter water bottles (filled) and box of granola bars, and I found that everything (weighing about 9 Lbs) fit into a 20 liter pack. However, none of the 20L packs at REI were comfortable on me. Will probably stick with my Talon 33.
 
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AZperegrino

Getting ready for the next Camino...
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2019
CP 2022
Most people range from about 160 cm to 180 cm, and their ideal weight would roughly be, say, 55 - 90 kg. The notorious 10% rule for backpack weight would thus say 5.5 to 9 kg weight for most people. @dougfitz's rule would give a volume of 27 to 45 L.

Skipping all the calculations now, most people will need/want a back pack in the range of 27-45 L and 5-9 kg in weight. That should give most people a starting idea of what to look for.
I like it! Keep it simple and use an average of the above numbers, i.e. 36L and 7kg.

I used an Osprey Stratos 36L and it worked well for me on the CF. I believe it was around the 7kg mark fully loaded.

I did consider getting something slightly larger, e.g. a Talon or Kestrel in the 44L range, not because I need more space, but to be able to get to my stuff easier. Of course, that only works if you're disciplined enough to not fill up the available space. I eventually decided to bring less stuff and keep using the Stratos.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances; Aragones; VdlP; Madrid-Invierno; Levante
I carry a 38 litre pack, which fulfills my two major requirements: it has a really good frame, which supports most of the weight of the pack contents with the waist belt (not the shoulder harness), and it is a measurable size to be allowed on the airplane with me. Also, it carries what I need.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
10/22 Aragones/Frances
Well, @lt56ny, here is the more complicated explanation (don't say you didn't ask for it!!):

  1. take the guidance that bare pack weight should be 10-15% of one's body weight, and use the lower limit.
  2. Be hard on yourself, and instead of using current weight if your BMI is greater than 25, calculate your BMI=25 weight and call that your ideal walking weight (IWW). (If you don't want to be really hard on yourself, give yourself a 10% fudge, and use a BMI=27.5 weight/)
  3. Based on past experience, a packing density of about 200 gm/li results in a pack density that is reasonable (whatever that might mean, but bear with me on that). Note that this includes the weight of the pack.
  4. Use this to estimate a volume of the pack, which is an initial estimate of what I expect you will need for a summer camino.
  5. The formula looks like: estimated pack size = (IWW * 0.1) / 0.2, or IWW / 2. You can check that the dimensions are correct: pack size = mass / mass/volume, which results in a volume, in this case, litres.
If you have followed this so far, you will see that there you could tweak one or all of three things to get a different starting estimate of pack weight. They are your IWW, the ratio of your IWW to pack weight, and packing density. How might this make a difference:
  1. if you are a larger person, you might need to use your current weight in the estimate, rather than a much lower BMI=25 weight.
  2. you might adjust the ratio of your body weight to your target pack weight, such as I do by adding about 25% to the estimate for walking in spring or autumn.
  3. you might think that you can manage a more densely packed load, and I suspect many people do, although my experience indicates anything much more than 225 gm/li is going to be difficult to manage.
There you have it. It's not quite relativity, I'm afraid, just tying together several strands of advice that have been around for some time on this forum.
I think I will just stick to my method. Out everything I think I will need on the bed. Stick it on my pack. Put it on and yhenevety dat take out one thing until I can say this feels really light.usually takes only a couple of days until I have less than I think I will need. I can always pick something up along the way.. works for me!!! A lot less cyphering too. Not one of my strong points! 😀😀😀
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I like it! Keep it simple and use an average of the above numbers, i.e. 36L and 7kg.
It's not clear whether this is a joke or a serious suggestion, but it is the very thing that I think epitomises bad advice on this subject.

I don't know how simple I can make this. For a summer camino:
  1. If you aren't overweight or obese, take half your weight in kg, call it litres, and that is a good initial estimate of the pack size you might need.
  2. Take everything you think you will need and take it to wherever you are thinking of purchasing your pack.
  3. Find a pack about the size you worked out in step 1, and see if everything fits.
  4. If it does, make sure the pack fits, is comfortable, etc. Lots of advice here and elsewhere on this. Go to step 7, otherwise try other packs, or other retailers. Go to step 7.
  5. If it doesn't fit, you might want to try something a little larger. But if you find you need something much larger, say more than 10% larger, come back here and get some advice on your packing list.
  6. repeat steps 2 to 4 (or 5) with a revised packing list
  7. Buy it.
Why do I think some of the advice here is just not helpful:
  1. We are all different, in many more ways than just height and weight, when it comes to what pack size we need. Suggesting someone else use the pack size you used when you don't reveal anything about your height and weight doesn't allow anyone to make comparisons to their own height and weight, and make an assessment of whether they are close enough to your size for your experience to be reasonably valid for them.
  2. Most posters don't reveal what season they walked in. One might assume that they walked in summer, but assumptions can be misleading things to make here. A spring or autumn walk will need warmer gear than you might choose for summer, it is more likely that a sleeping bag will be needed, etc. A winter walk is going to require a still larger pack again.
  3. There is generally scant information about what provision was made for heavier bulky items such as sleeping bags, food and water. Some people walk the CF with a 500 ml water bottle hoping all the fonts are working, which in summer they probably will be. Others, like me, will have a litre or two of water in a bladder.
If you want to help someone on this, I think you need to reveal enough about yourself, when you walked and much you relied on expensive, ultralight gear to give someone a reasonable prospect of making a valid comparison to your experience. Otherwise, they are just left guessing.
 
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StuartM

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2012)
One thing I'd add, don't make day one of your Camino the first day you've walked with a fully loaded backpack. Get a few walks in with a similar load before you go. At least an hour, preferably longer. The best way of finding out what is the right weight and pack size is to walk with it. It needs to be long enough to see if inconvenience turns into discomfort and if discomfort turns into misery.

If you've got until September then get lots of local walks in with whatever weight you plan on walking with. Just half an hour every day makes a huge difference and can help you fine tune.

One thing I learnt from teaching scuba diving is that the first 5 minutes of having weight on your back is the worst for people who aren't used to it. Just that experience of something new and your balance being different can freak people out and make them think they have an elephant on their backs and that they can't do it. I always taught people to just spend some time practicing putting the backpack on, taking it off, standing up, sitting down just to get used to how it all feels. Weight itself didn't bother most people, it was just the newness of feeling it there.
 
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t2andreo

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
@t2andreo, would I be correct in suggesting that, with your ~10 li of waist bag, you were effectively using about 48 li of carrying capacity, and think that you will be able to get this down to 42 li in total?
Yes, splitting the load to the rucksack and belly bag works well for me. But you are correct in the combined size being similar.

This two-bag system will likely enable me to go to a 32 liter main rucksack, with all the during the day necessities carried in the front bag. I am also looking into smaller belly bags. That would get me under 42 liters overall (given the 32 + 10 liter split).

As we all know from discussing this issue with our Kiwi friends who use Aarn packs with the front "balance bags," distributing the weight front and back definietely helps with balance, and reduces effort- as a general rule. My cheap approach works on the same principle, but costs a LOT less.

I am trying to accommodate everything I truly need, while eliminating as many exterior 'dangly bits' as I can.

It is just a personal preference that I discerned over my various Caminos. I am always looking for the perfect 'packing scheme.' The solution is out there. I am determined to find it.

Thanks for asking.

Tom
 

henrythedog

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
X
I do it slightly differently.

Whenever it approaches ‘Camino time’; twice a year as a rule; I start packing my latest purchase. Recently that’s been a succession of light frameless sacks. I start using that for my frequent long-day walks, find a reason why it’s not quite right, then put it aside (or on eBay) and return to my trusty Kestrel 38; which fits me like a glove. I don’t think it’s ever been more than 2/3 full.

Once one has found a supremely comfortable rucksack the discipline has to be in minimising, within reason, the weight of the contents.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I am trying to accommodate everything I truly need, while eliminating as many exterior 'dangly bits' as I can.
This is important to me too, both bush walking locally and when on the camino. I now only carry three things attached to the outside of my pack - a compact camera, handheld GPS and my phone (in a waterproof pouch). The rest goes inside most of the time, although sometimes I have been seen with a loaf of bread attached to the outside of my pack in a plastic bag.
It is just a personal preference that I discerned over my various Caminos. I am always looking for the perfect 'packing scheme.' The solution is out there. I am determined to find it.
I thought that this year I would use my wife's Aarn pack. At about 50 li, I thought it was going to be big enough to fit in everything I needed to carry. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a way of distributing things between the main bag and the front balance bags that worked for me. I did test my Deuter Guide 45+, and that would have worked, but it is heavier than the Osprey Levity 60 that I eventually used.
Once one has found a supremely comfortable rucksack the discipline has to be in minimising, within reason, the weight of the contents.
For everything I reduce these days, something seems to rear up to add to my pack. Last time on the CF it was carrying my CPAP, which added substantially to my base weight. This year was the first time that I have walked since the EU banned the marketing of modified release paracetamol, upon which I depend to manage my osteo-arthritis pain, and I had to bring sufficient for the time I was away. This didn't add much to the weight, but added quite a lot to the volume of consumables I was carrying at the outset.

I had used the Osprey I carried before for the Augustine Camino when I walked that in Dec 2019, but my base weight was lower and the harness was okay in 2019. This year my base weight was higher, and it was less comfortable. It will be interesting to see what else I can do next time to get the base weight down.
 
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RJM

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Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
40L
and I highly recommend you keep it packed light enough to be a carry on for your flights, especially even more now with shortages of airport employees worldwide.
 
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RJM

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Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
I think the issue for boarding is likely to be size as opposed to weight.
Yes it is. I have only done carry on for all six times I have walked the Camino and these were 35 and 48 liter backpacks, but the weight of the backpack is pretty much in proportion to its size. If I were to pack my 48L pack to the maximum it may not fit the dimensions of the carry on luggage restrictions. I have never packed it that much and when it comes time to board I pull all the straps tighter and tie everything off, cinch everything down. Never had a problem.
I have said on here before my two tests to determine if my backpack is packed right for me is to throw it in the air while fully packed. If it's too heavy for me to catch, I need to dump some things. The other test is to put it on fully packed and to lie flat on the floor with it on and get back up several times. If I can't do that I need to lighten it and also need to work out more.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I think the issue for boarding is likely to be size as opposed to weight.
Maybe. I have been asked to repack my carry-on to reduce its weight. Not recently, but I have been more careful about how much I want to carry into the cabin since that happened.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Future
I had an old 36L I was going to use and when I packed it I had a ton of room left so I switched to a 28 with deep side pockets and a front stretch pocket. It seems to be perfect.
After reading some of the above comments I decided to add some reference for my choice. I’m a 5’9”, 134lb woman. I have experience hiking/backpacking in the mountains, a little on the water, and everything in between. Some of those experiences were supported (like Kilimanjaro) but most are me on my own, carrying my own crap. Through experience I’ve learned how comfortable internal frame packs with a trampoline style back can be and chose one for my CF in September as well. I pay a price in weight for that pack (2lbs 9oz) but the comfort far outweighs the negative of a few extra o’s. I pack light and small bc I know how miserable it can be to schlep too much weight over long distances. I’ve worked part-time in the outdoor industry for the last 3 years for fun. So I’ve tried on countless backpacks and equipment as well as learned from the experiences of hundreds of customers. Just like with shoes, there is never a one size fits all. (I tried four different trail runners til I found my shoe.) For my bp, the Gregory Jade 28 is the winner for this girl.
 

Suz2022

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Sept 2022 del Norte
It's not clear whether this is a joke or a serious suggestion, but it is the very thing that I think epitomises bad advice on this subject.

I don't know how simple I can make this. For a summer camino:
  1. If you aren't overweight or obese, take half your weight in kg, call it litres, and that is a good initial estimate of the pack size you might need.
Validation! I start my first Camino (Norte from Irun) on 30 Aug and I probably weigh about 120 lb. I will use my Osprey Sirrus 26L, which will be about 10lb total weight before water and snacks, plus a <1L bag on front for phone, guidebook, etc. Couldn't be closer to your metric. I have a larger pack but don't need the space. I am now ruthlessly redoing my pack items to make more room for snacks. I want to pack my Altras as my 2nd shoes, but they take up too much room, so I'll hope for the best with my Salomon Senserides and a pair of town shoes.
 
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Hello fellow travelers.
First time doing el camino, french way, will start in September.
do you have a suggestion of the backpack size, 40, 50, 60 litters?
will all I need to make it across fit in the 40 litter?
thank you for your replies.
I did my first Camino Frances (SJPP to SDP) this May/early June. At 183cm tall I weighed a beefy 100kgs at the start and used a 45-55l pack (empty pack weighs 2kgs) I have had for years. Overloaded to a total of 13kgs (I am Mr Contingency).
Ate well every day but still lost about 9kg over my 37 days of walking. On review of what I used vs. items that never left my pack 11kg would have been about fine for me. This includes a 580g Rab down sleeping bag rated for spring/shoulder season temps, and the simple fact that my XL sized clothes etc. are inherently heavier.
 
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Fr Scott

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Starting El Camino Norte in Irun June 3, 2015
Hello fellow travelers.
First time doing el camino, french way, will start in September.
do you have a suggestion of the backpack size, 40, 50, 60 litters?
will all I need to make it across fit in the 40 litter?
thank you for your replies.
I used a 40 and had no problems at all. As long as you’re not camping you should be fine. My rule of thumb is this, the bigger the pack the more you put in it, the heavier it will be, the more you will end up sending stuff back. ✌️😊
 

Gavala

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Via de la Plata?
I already had the Osprey Stratos 26L and just yesterday purchased the 36L version for my first camino.
I have to say, I'm not sure how I would fill a 26L let alone a 36L for the Frances SJDP so I'm having to buy everything needed now to test them both out, before the 3 month no quibble returns window closes.
 

Deacon Jason

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2016)
Caminho Português (2023?)
I already had the Osprey Stratos 26L and just yesterday purchased the 36L version for my first camino.
I have to say, I'm not sure how I would fill a 26L let alone a 36L for the Frances SJDP so I'm having to buy everything needed now to test them both out, before the 3 month no quibble returns window closes.
I walked the Frances with a 30L Gregory Z30 pack...though there was some extra room when I started, there were a number of times along the way when I needed that extra space for grocery items/leftovers. So a little extra space can be a good thing.
 

JimG59

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino de Santiago de Compostela (2022)
I already had the Osprey Stratos 26L and just yesterday purchased the 36L version for my first camino.
I have to say, I'm not sure how I would fill a 26L let alone a 36L for the Frances SJDP so I'm having to buy everything needed now to test them both out, before the 3 month no quibble returns window closes.
I’m puzzled where you say you are not sure how you would fill a 26L pack, but just yesterday you purchased a 36L.


Seems illogical.
 
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Albertagirl

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Frances; Aragones; VdlP; Madrid-Invierno; Levante
I’m puzzled where you say you are not sure how you would fill a 26L pack, but just yesterday you purchased a 36L.


Seems illogical.
I think maybe @Gavala is saying that, in preparing for a first camino, it seems necessary to buy everything needed before departure, including a pack that will carry it all. Maybe the 36 l. pack will turn out to be a bit large, but @Gavala doesn't know for sure at present and has to get all shopping done in a limited time, and maybe return the 36 l. pack before departure, if it turns out to be larger than needed. The challenges of a "soon to be pilgrim." Welcome to the camino, @Gavala.
 

Gavala

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Via de la Plata?
I think maybe @Gavala is saying that, in preparing for a first camino, it seems necessary to buy everything needed before departure, including a pack that will carry it all. Maybe the 36 l. pack will turn out to be a bit large, but @Gavala doesn't know for sure at present and has to get all shopping done in a limited time, and maybe return the 36 l. pack before departure, if it turns out to be larger than needed. The challenges of a "soon to be pilgrim." Welcome to the camino, @Gavala.
AlbertaGirl you hit the nail on the head. Thank you. Re: first Camino, 2 backpacks to choose from.....

The logical thing to do is to purchase everything that I 'think' I need and head off along the south downs on a few jollies. Stay over in some pubs etc and see what I can get away with. Nothing scientific, just throw some things in and out and smile when one of them provides about right.


I walked the Frances with a 30L Gregory Z30 pack...though there was some extra room when I started, there were a number of times along the way when I needed that extra space for grocery items/leftovers. So a little extra space can be a good thing.

I wasn't considering left overs DJ. If anyone wants to avoid left overs you can always walk with me.

Good call. Thanks.
 
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