This is where modern fabrics come into their own - in normal life I stick to the natural materials rule, but for the Camino I raided charity shops for all the lightweight polyester hiking gear I could find. I found it well worth road-testing everything - to make sure that trousers and shirts didn't cause chafing when sweaty, and would dry overnight when handwashed. I took a concentrated laundry soap, but it isn't really necessary - and as suggested, a combined shampoo and shower gel can be used for everything.
You can wash yourself and your clothes in the shower, wring them out well, then after drying yourself use your towel to roll them up and wring them out again.
Socks - both wool and liners (and occasionally my towel) usually needed to be pinned to my pack the next day to fully dry - on the advice of forum members, I took a length of elastic that went round my pack and acted as a washing line, and used diaper/nappy pins to secure everything.
You can easily get by with one change of clothes, but I was happier taking 3 lots of socks and underwear - and did take an extra smartish pair of hiking trousers and a shirt for going out in the evening, and as backup in case of rain. Even with wet weather gear, cold weather gear (for early May) lightweight sandals, a pair of 'going out' soft leather shoes and everything else - it was still possible to weigh in under 6.5Kg. And it all came from charity shops - but took a fair amount of obsessive packing, repacking, weighing and discarding. But I will probably take all the same stuff again next time, as it all worked well.
All part of the fun!
There was a ad for Rohan gear (in the early 80's?) that I loved, with an endorsement from some mountaineer along the lines of: 'you can descend from the summit, wash your clothes in a mountain stream, dry them on a rock in a jiffy, and it's drinks at the Embassy at six!'
You would really only use one pair of pants? What do you wear when you are drying them? I am familiar with hikers on the AT wearing their rainpants at the laundrymat when they are washing all their clothes, but I don't think you are talking about that...
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Fret not, Rambler & Bright Eyes, and follow the advice of pjdine and evanlow. Travel very lightly indeed and you will be fine. I took hiking shorts and a pair of hiking pants with me, the latter more for evening wear -- the Spanish are very tolerant of peregrinos' wear, but they do have a formal side. I felt very decadent with a 3d pair of socks. but 2 pair of undershorts were fine. I now have superlative handwashing skills.
As far as the hostales were concerned, I never had trouble with using hangars or backs of chairs to help clothes dry. In any case, I found the staff/owners very helpful about clothes washing. Entering a casa rural in Belorado, quite drenched to the amused sympathy of the senora, I received a spontaneous (and free) offer of clothes washing & drying-- the next day other peregrinos admired the knife-sharp crease on my Tilley shorts. Generally, clothes-washing took 2-4 euro.
There was a previous posting which I thought very sound advice which was to wash and air dry under ‘camino conditions' the clothes that you were planning on taking.
The object of the exercise is to work out the logistics of washing yourself and your clothes in the shower and to test the drying ability of the clothes fabrics. Modern fabrics for hiking clothing claim to be quick drying so if under home conditions it does not dry overnight then it might be worth finding something that does.
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First of all, you have to accept that you are not going to be able to keep yourself as clean as you would at home. If you hit a bout of wet weather, you will have difficulty drying your clothes. Some albergues have driers, a lot don't, so you make do. The worst thing you can do is take too much.
That is definitely the biggest mistake to make when planning the camino. Take a maximum of 4 boxers, t-shirts and socks. A warm jersey will always be a good idea, even if it is only to sleep in on a cold night or if you decide to start walking before dawn. Remember you are in the hills a lot of the time. Also remember that Spain is a very civilised country. You can buy anything you need along the way.
Probably on the Antarctic but don't forget the sun, heat, dirt, sweat on the camino. In addition, with the close proximity with other pilgrims in the albergue, I don't think one should make other pilgrims suffers for not washing one's clothes.
Washing is part of the camino. It's simple enough, you walk, sleep, eat and do a bit of laundry on the camino every day.
We always ask the tourist office for lavandaria (in big towns like Logrono, Burgos, Leon ,etc). My husband and I plan for a week of wearing the same pants(the zipped off one is the best - drip dry type),two shirts being washed every other day in the bathroom depending on the weather. I carry 2 sets of undies and handwash every day. Once after a very cold and rainy day, I have to hang my undies on my hubby´s pack to dry. Lucky for him we walked the lonely Meseta for miles before we met other peregrinos so his honour and manly feelings are kept in tact.
Once we enter a big city, we chase up a lavandaria and have our combined load of clothers washed and dried that afternoon.
Lavandaria (automatic or manual)doesn´t cost much and I enjoy the smell of clothes well washed and dried from time to time especially the sweatshirt or jumpers we wear day in and day out.
I had two sets of top and pants in ultra fine merino wool, one for day, the other for evening. This meant I could wear my day set for days on end, the same with the evening set, it really saved on washing. One of my favourite pieces of equipment was a little twisted elastic washing line with a hook at each end, weighed nothing and was perfect for making a clothesline between any two things (chairs, bunks, etc) I got it from the travellers section at a chemist.