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Don't buy a backpack!

Camino(s) past & future
St Jean to Burgos 2017
St Jean to Fisterra 2018
St Jean to Fisterra 2020 or Chemin Piemont
#1
Why do you think you need a backpack to enjoy the Camino? What are you taking along that you really need all that room for?

How long are you going to walk? 10 days? 30 days? 60 days? MORE?? What about your clothing? Will it be cold? Hot? Rainy? Sunny? What about your personal care needs? Need a lot of medications or special food?

Just why do you assume a backpack is necessary?

Well, mainly because it is. Seems like we see a lot of folks with giant backpacks along the Camino packed full of stuff. How much do you really need? That is definitely up to you, but I guarantee that backpacks are like luggage. If there is extra room, you will be tempted to fill it and then you will end up with a seriously overloaded pack and Ivar ends up holding half of the crap you packed for you till you reach Santiago.(sorry Ivar...)

So, how do we avoid this dilemma and decide on what size backpack is right for you? Pretty simple.

Don’t buy a backpack first. Buy it nearly last. Assemble all of your gear, throw it in a tub and take it to a reputable outdoor or hiking shop.(REI, Jax, etc, someplace that has the ability to measure and fit you correctly) Haul that tub o’ gear in and tell the nice pro at the backpack area you need to carry this load, plus 10% expansion for 500 miles. Experiment with different packs till you find the right pack for you.

I originally had intended to use a 65L pack I picked up in Cambodia till I had the inspiration to take my crap to REI. I ended up using a 40L daypack for my full Camino and it was splendid. BTW, Im a large football player build guy and wear all XXL clothing so it does take up a fair amount of room, but the 40L was plenty for me, YMMV.

So, in short, don’t overbuy a backpack! Get what you actually need, not what you think you need before have a handle on what you are taking.
 

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Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#2
Good point, @Malachiuri , but perhaps you should rename the thread.

A backpack is necessary. But maybe not a big one - which was your message.
I have a 50L pack that I can either fill or not depending on what time of year it is. Buying a second smaller pack would be silly in my situation, though. I just use the pack I have and do not fill it.
 

Bajaracer

Camino Frances 2013 Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013) Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
#4
Actually for those doing the last 100km, I recommend small pack, just enough to carry, snacks, extra socks, water, and a jacket, the rest of your things can go in a suitcase and you can have that transported for €3 a day, hard to justify spending all that cash for a big backpack that you'll be using at most 6-8 days X €3 a day = €24, cheaper than buying that big pack.
 

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Camino(s) past & future
March/April 2015, Late April 2016, Sept/Oct 2017
#8
Actually for those doing the last 100km, I recommend small pack, just enough to carry, snacks, extra socks, water, and a jacket, the rest of your things can go in a suitcase and you can have that transported for €3 a day, hard to justify spending all that cash for a big backpack that you'll be using at most 6-8 days X €3 a day = €24, cheaper than buying that big pack.
Even if a person is hiking only the last 100km, I recommend they carry their own stuff and not get it transported unless there is a medical reason. The realization that "stuff" is a burden and rethinking what is necessary is a big part of walking. -- Also, if you've got a suitcase (or two) being transported, you never stop shopping.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#9
Even if a person is hiking only the last 100km, I recommend they carry their own stuff and not get it transported unless there is a medical reason. The realization that "stuff" is a burden and rethinking what is necessary is a big part of walking. -- Also, if you've got a suitcase (or two) being transported, you never stop shopping.
Ditto!!!
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances
SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia, May 2016
C. Frances, Sept 2017
Via de La Plata (spring, 2019)
#10
I worked in a backpacking store for years. When a couple would come in, looking for backpacks, I would tell one to get the smallest, practical size backpack. But talk their companion into getting a bigger one. That way they can say, "I don't have room for this; can I put it in your pack?"
 

Lance Chambers

Lance Chambers
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria (2015) SJPdP (2016) Burgos (2017) SJPdP (2018)
#11
I carry a 70 lt backpack but I've had it for a while, I don't feel I need to replace it as it still works fine. However, it is far larger than it needs to be.

I have helped carry gear for other pilgrims who had problems carrying their stuff because their feet were ON FIRE and covered with blisters and that backpack came in handy. I no longer come close to ever filling it up except in circumstances such as those described above.

My advice is to get a pack that you can use anywhere, anytime, any place, etc., etc. If people want a microscopic, miniature, small, big, or gigantic packs who are we to tell them what they should or shouldn't use as long as it does the job for them.
 
Camino(s) past & future
El Norte 2016
#17
All excess space should be used to carry that very special rock that you must carry from your home town to Santiago. The authorities are now requesting for the 2019 season that rocks be a minimum of 4 kgs and be as close to blue in colour as is feasible. Please deposit the rocks outside the Compostela office in Santiago.
 

AnnieG

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
end May to June 2014
#18
Actually for those doing the last 100km, I recommend small pack, just enough to carry, snacks, extra socks, water, and a jacket, the rest of your things can go in a suitcase and you can have that transported for €3 a day, hard to justify spending all that cash for a big backpack that you'll be using at most 6-8 days X €3 a day = €24, cheaper than buying that big pack.
 

AnnieG

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
end May to June 2014
#19
thank you for this advice. Where will you find the van/bus company that will carry for you for 3 Euros a day? And where would tell them to drop the pack if you have not booked on ahead at each stop? Thank you for your advice.
 

Bajaracer

Camino Frances 2013 Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013) Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
#20
thank you for this advice. Where will you find the van/bus company that will carry for you for 3 Euros a day? And where would tell them to drop the pack if you have not booked on ahead at each stop? Thank you for your advice.
You call them or have the albergue call them for you the night before, the albergue usually have envelopes from the transfer service, just fill out the info for the place you want to go the next day and insert the cash in the envelope, attach it to you bag, and leave it at the front entrance of the albergue.
The albergues can also call and reserve ahead for the next day, just ask them.
Use the guidebook and estimate how far you'll walk the next day and find an albergue to deliver it to. When you show up and there are no beds, pick up your stuff and find another place in town.
https://www.elcaminoconcorreos.com/en/rucksack-transfer/paqs/from-sarria-to-santiago-de-compostela
http://www.theroadtosantiago.com/sending-your-backpack-ahead.html
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - central from Porto (2018 - planned)
#21
I went with a 30 L backpack, but it was still a backpack. I wore it on my back. I didn't carry my stuff in a shoulder bag or a duffel bag or a suitcase. I suppose I could have avoided buying a backpack by borrowing one, but you can't always be sure of a good fit that way.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Caminho Portugues (2017)
#22
Why do you think you need a backpack to enjoy the Camino? What are you taking along that you really need all that room for?

How long are you going to walk? 10 days? 30 days? 60 days? MORE?? What about your clothing? Will it be cold? Hot? Rainy? Sunny? What about your personal care needs? Need a lot of medications or special food?

Just why do you assume a backpack is necessary?

Well, mainly because it is. Seems like we see a lot of folks with giant backpacks along the Camino packed full of stuff. How much do you really need? That is definitely up to you, but I guarantee that backpacks are like luggage. If there is extra room, you will be tempted to fill it and then you will end up with a seriously overloaded pack and Ivar ends up holding half of the crap you packed for you till you reach Santiago.(sorry Ivar...)

So, how do we avoid this dilemma and decide on what size backpack is right for you? Pretty simple.

Don’t buy a backpack first. Buy it nearly last. Assemble all of your gear, throw it in a tub and take it to a reputable outdoor or hiking shop.(REI, Jax, etc, someplace that has the ability to measure and fit you correctly) Haul that tub o’ gear in and tell the nice pro at the backpack area you need to carry this load, plus 10% expansion for 500 miles. Experiment with different packs till you find the right pack for you.

I originally had intended to use a 65L pack I picked up in Cambodia till I had the inspiration to take my crap to REI. I ended up using a 40L daypack for my full Camino and it was splendid. BTW, Im a large football player build guy and wear all XXL clothing so it does take up a fair amount of room, but the 40L was plenty for me, YMMV.

So, in short, don’t overbuy a backpack! Get what you actually need, not what you think you need before have a handle on what you are taking.
Wise words. I might add: pack light and then throw stuff out! When I was packing for the Camino last year I found myself “what-iffing” myself to death: “What if this happens? What if I need this? etc. I was trying to apply the old Boy Scout (I’m an Eagle Scout) motto: “Be Prepared.” I ended up WAY overpacking and hurting my right knee by Day 3. Don’t do that! My lesson also had mental/emotional/spiritual implications; that we need to unload ourselves of all the psychic crap we carry around with ourselves - and the Camino was a good time to start! Ultreya.
 
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP to Santiago
Sep/Oct 2015
#24
I got my contents down to 6 kilos. I didn't want a pack with a lot of empty space in order that I wouldn't be tempted to fill it. I picked one with just enough space so that things weren't jammed in tight.

But the pack was a tad too short for the length of my back. I ended up fussing with the adjustments every hour or two the entire Camino.
 

Morgan Holmes

Every day is a path to walk.
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances to Santiago from SJPDP (2014); Sahagún to Santiago (2018).
#25
It's true, buy too big a bag and you'll be tempted to fill it up

View attachment 44594
I just love that shop! (And I loved Astorga!) I was especially tickled by the weird wizard stuff upstairs at Huracan. Bought a fleece there 4 years ago that I am wearing today -- most comfortable ever, well-made, and inexpensive.
 
Camino(s) past & future
camino francés sept 1, 2015
#26
Good point, @Malachiuri , but perhaps you should rename the thread.

A backpack is necessary. But maybe not a big one - which was your message.
I have a 50L pack that I can either fill or not depending on what time of year it is. Buying a second smaller pack would be silly in my situation, though. I just use the pack I have and do not fill it.
I like the extra room to access my stuff easily. I filled it up in Santiago then jumped on a plane
 

ksam

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese '08, Frances '11, del Norte '14, Invierno '16, Ingles '17, Primitivo October 2018
#27
Ok so here's my old pack. Loaded to the gills going home. My hiking shoes are in there. My poles. My souvenirs and stuff for family. Walking I believe it was around 7/8k. I agree with @james walter purdum iv . It was nice to be able to rummage around without having to unpack as I'd seen others do. It also provided a form of entertainment. Apparently men seemed to like to walk up to me and tell me my pack was way too large. Usually someone I'd never clapped eyes on over the weeks I was walking the Frances solo. I would just sit there, feet up, sipping caffe con leche and tell them to pick it up. They usually slunk away without a word. Priceless!

All of that being said, I totally agree with the OP about doing what I call backing into the pack size you need. My old one in the pic is a 65L Osprey Atmos that I've now had for 11 years. A bit more than a year ago I treated myself to a new pack. I grabbed all my usual Camino bits and bobs and headed over to REI with a large tote bag. I tried, successfully i might add, to stuff it all into a 33L Osprey Talon!! Oh joy of joys! It fit...the pack fit me!! YEAH!!
 

Attachments

Camino(s) past & future
(Le Puy- St Jean Pied a Port (September 2018 )

St. Jean Pied a Port - Finisterre 2008
#28
Why do you think you need a backpack to enjoy the Camino? What are you taking along that you really need all that room for?

How long are you going to walk? 10 days? 30 days? 60 days? MORE?? What about your clothing? Will it be cold? Hot? Rainy? Sunny? What about your personal care needs? Need a lot of medications or special food?

Just why do you assume a backpack is necessary?

Well, mainly because it is. Seems like we see a lot of folks with giant backpacks along the Camino packed full of stuff. How much do you really need? That is definitely up to you, but I guarantee that backpacks are like luggage. If there is extra room, you will be tempted to fill it and then you will end up with a seriously overloaded pack and Ivar ends up holding half of the crap you packed for you till you reach Santiago.(sorry Ivar...)

So, how do we avoid this dilemma and decide on what size backpack is right for you? Pretty simple.

Don’t buy a backpack first. Buy it nearly last. Assemble all of your gear, throw it in a tub and take it to a reputable outdoor or hiking shop.(REI, Jax, etc, someplace that has the ability to measure and fit you correctly) Haul that tub o’ gear in and tell the nice pro at the backpack area you need to carry this load, plus 10% expansion for 500 miles. Experiment with different packs till you find the right pack for you.

I originally had intended to use a 65L pack I picked up in Cambodia till I had the inspiration to take my crap to REI. I ended up using a 40L daypack for my full Camino and it was splendid. BTW, Im a large football player build guy and wear all XXL clothing so it does take up a fair amount of room, but the 40L was plenty for me, YMMV.

So, in short, don’t overbuy a backpack! Get what you actually need, not what you think you need before have a handle on what you are taking.
Well, some of us (actually speaking only for myself) don't " go out and buy a backpack for the Camino" because we already have one, and have been using all the time, and for years, and for journeys other than a Camino. It may be bigger or smaller, fuller or nae...but it's an old and familiar friend who has come along on many a winding way. Sometimes it is fuller or the road longer than expected and ~ ahem~ pain ensues. Such is life.
We know after many years how and what to pack, and that empty space is fine, or tuck in some edibles which may improve a dicey situation (they do come about) and will make the pack lighter, and your health better, when gone.
Sometimes I'm off to someplace to be playing music and it is stuffed with my various flutes (and their solid wooden cases) and weighs a ton. On the Camino I take the merest whisper of a fluier, Romanian fluier.JPG which still makes sweet music and might bring some pleasure to one overhearing dulcet melodies when least expecting them. A useless extra item for you, a necessity for me, and a 'what was that???" for someone else. All part of keeping the pilgrimage, our pilgrimages, fluid, vibrant, otherworldly magical, and a time out of time.
 

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