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Not using a hiking backpack


New Member
Hi all!

I'm doing the Camino this year, in April/May (starting in SJPDP). I'm in the process of buying a backpack for it. The backpack will also be for the rest of the time I'm in Europe, which is 5 months. So it's going to be a big backpack (~70L).

The guy in the shop that I talked to was really pushing a hiking backpack, saying I couldn't do any hiking with a normal travel backpack because of weight distribution and support structures.

But I really want to use a normal travel pack, not a hiking pack because normal travel packs seem much more user-friendly (unzipping all the way, day pack attached etc).

So, I'm hoping some people who have done the Camino can help me out... should I follow the salesman's advice? Or will I be okay with a normal travel backpack?

Oh and also, while I've got your attention... I was looking at getting some hiking sandals to walk in some days, and liked the look of these ones: ... fv1=Hiking
Will they be okay to use at the time of year I'm planning on going (mostly April, maybe some May)? I know it can rain quite a bit then, so I'm just looking for some assurance that I wouldn't be throwing my money away on them.

Thank you for reading my long-winded post!
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starting a backpack discussion here - brave. It may go on for some time...
Typical 70L travel backpacks aren't designed to be carried on your back all day and they're not designed for lightness. They start at around 3kg empty. So it really depends if you'll feel comfortable in the mid-day sun in the middle of nowhere with possibly 2kg more on your back than you really need,hour after hour.
But people do it... ... /lightbox/
If you feel the choice is between a big hiking pack and a travel pack, then maybe look for a hiking one that zips all the way down the middle is the best compromise.
But IMO the best option for the camino, if you can afford it, is probably to post on your travel bag somewhere, along with all the stuff you don't need for walking, and walk with a 40L bag.


Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
Speaking from dont' want to be carrying a 70l pack for any distance at all.
I travelled for fifteen months carrying gear for me and two children in a 60l pack. It was uncomfortable, but had to be done. I could travel for that amount of time with a 45l pack easily. Perhaps you could reassess what it is you are thinking you need to take.

Listen to the salesman;-)


I recently walked the camino with a 90 liter pack.

I figured I wouldn't be carrying as much gear as on a hike so no problem.

The camino is different from going on a hike. Typically days are longer - often 25 km or more. The road is a variety of surfaces all of which are harder than a typical hiking trail. You are walking at least 30 days day after day. All of which adds up to a lot of wear and tear on the body.

So you want your pack to fit properly and you want to carry as little weight as possible.

I started with a 35 pound pack. I mailed stuff home along the way but it was still too heavy.

The pack itself turns out to weigh 7 pounds empty. A 60 liter pack would have weighed about 3.5 pounds - half the weight.

My experience is that a larger pack makes you less careful about packing light. If there is room in your pack you will be tempted to use it. Perhaps a 45 liter pack ...

My advice? Get a good pack, with internal or external frame intended for carrying loads for long distance, specifically sized for the gear needed for the camino. Worry about life after the camino after you are finished.

You can buy a duffel bag large enough for the pack and a stack of new clothes once you arrive in Santiago.


I use a 40 litre pack, but I carry a tent and sleeping mat, which you won't need on the Camino Frances. Without the tent and mat I could easily manage on a smaller pack.
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Year of past OR future Camino
Via de la Plata 2010, Camino de Madrid, Salvador, Primitivo 2013, Olvidado, Invierno 2014
If you really want a big pack, maybe you can find one that is light? There are big ones which are as light as some of the heavier smaller packs, around ca 1,5 kg something.
Myself, I got two packs from Osprey.
One is a Talon 33l, that's my camino pack, 800 something grams. It's my favourite pack. The other one is a Kestrel 68 l, which I bought for a trip to Asia. It's only 1,7 kg, well made and comfortable, still I wouldn't dream of taking it with me on the camino. Because I got the other one which is big enough, and life is better with a lighter pack. Ok that's what I think.

I'm a big fan of Teva sandals, and the ones you are looking at seems very comfortable. But if I were you I wouldn't take them on the camino. Because the leather makes them more difficult to wash, takes longer to dry. Ordinary Teva terra are easier to wear and wash, and sandals can get very dirty on the camino.


Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Walked (2012)
Mate I wouldn't suggest going over 35L. I did it with a 48L pack and wish I'd done 35. At a certain point I couldn't make the pack any lighter without sacrificing essentials or buying a new pack.


Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2010, 2013, 2015, and 2017.
Camino Portuguese in planning (Sept 2018)
oliviasky said:
Hi all!

I'm doing the Camino this year, in April/May (starting in SJPDP). I'm in the process of buying a backpack for it. The backpack will also be for the rest of the time I'm in Europe, which is 5 months. So it's going to be a big backpack (~70L).

Hiya olivasky,

you are in a similar situation to us. We are starting a European holiday with the Camino followed by 2 months traveling around. For most of the holiday a large backpack is completely impractical and have decided that suitcases are much more suitable. We will need to take additional items for use after the Camino that we don't want to have to buy when we are there. So we turned the problem around: "How do we walk the Camino with suitcases?"

On our first Camino we carried large heavy (17kg+) packs and it was not an enjoyable experience. The second time we got our heavy packs transferred and that is exactly what we are going to do again in May because it made the world of difference. The only difference is we will not take heavy packs at all but suitcases instead.

So for this next Camino we have arranged for our suitcases to be transferred to our destination each night and we will walk during the day with day packs. No doubt this will get some disapproving looks from the purists, but who cares, it's our Camino!

So the point is I want to encourage you to think of alternative ways to approach your problem and for you to feel free to do your Camino your way. :)




Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino frances Sept/oct 2012 , Salvador, Primitivo 2013
Cotswold Way July 2014
European Peace Walk August 2014 (John)
Hi, like susannafromsweden, we also used the Osprey Talon 33l . It was plenty big enough , and mine weighed around 5kg full. I'm only 5'1 so it was perfect for me.
In spite of all the advice available on this forum, and no doubt elsewhere, we still met people who nearly expired under the weight of their backpacks, and who had to post stuff home.
As people have suggested, if you can send stuff forward it will help.

Sandals are a great idea . I bought some along the way, and it really works to have some as an alternative to boots , when its hot,or if you have blisters.
Buen camino.


Staff member
I'm not sure, but I don't think oliviasky's question has as much to do with size as it does with structure. Surely there are many 70 liter "hiking backpacks", and any store like REI sells lots of them. She says she is thinking of taking a 70 liter "normal travel backpack." I am not sure what a "normal travel backpack" is, but if what you're asking is whether you should take a backpack specifically designed for hiking as opposed to a "suitcase with straps" I think all of us would agree that the features you mention (suport structures and weight distribution) are crucial for walking the Camino with a backpack.

70 liters is very large, though, and you've already heard a lot of opinions on that score.

Combining the Camino with extended travel afterwards is tough. I would really urge you not to carry anything more than what you need for the Camino on the Camino. Either send a lot of stuff ahead to Santiago (to Ivar's service, for example) or leave it somewhere it can be picked up later. Of course the suggestion about daily luggage transfer is also an option. Buen camino, Laurie
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New Member
Thank you all for your replies! I really appreciate the time you all took to help me.

I've just come home for the day, and one of the things I did was go to another shop that sells backpacks. The salesperson there was knowledgeable, but kept on pushing one particular backpack that sounded good (both front loading and top-loading, and it looked like it had good support), but it was 85L and 3kgs when empty! :shock: He assured me that it would be fine for me, an 18 year old female, to take hiking for 800km. I'm glad I started this forum so I can see more opinions (I'd already read a couple of other backpack-related forum posts before posting this one) that I really shouldn't do that.

Haha, I definitely agree with you, whariwarirangi... I always end up packing more when I have more space. It's easy to get into the "I should bring this just in case!" mindset.

Thanks susannafromsweden for your advice about the sandals and the information about your Osprey packs. It sounds like a good brand, I'll check them out.

Shipping ahead my main backpack and carrying a smaller 40-45L backpack seems like a very good option, so thank you to everybody who suggested those.

Sending my pack ahead to my accommodation every night doesn't seem practical for me since I'd like to maintain flexibility about exactly where I stop, and I'm on a budget and (I think) that would work out more expensive than shipping my excess stuff ahead. But thanks for the idea jastrace, and I'll start thinking of alternative ways to approach my problem. :D

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