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Walking with the least amount of stuff

BobM

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
V Frances; V Podensis; V Francigena; V Portugues; V Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg. Jaffa - Jerusalem
In another thread viewtopic.php?f=12&t=6388&p=37477&e=37477 I was discussing walking for a week in August with absolutely the minimal practical amount of gear. However, the topic is more appropriate here.

To get an idea of what might be possible, I just did a trial packing based on my experience walking from SJPDP to Santiago.

To my surprise, I think I can get away with a small 23 litre daypack that weighs just under 4kg, possibly 3.5kg once optimised. Food and water I will have to carry slung in plastic bags, as I did before.

The biggest space savers are not having to take a sleeping bag, just a liner, and omitting cold weather clothing.

I would be interested to hear from others who have walked with minimal gear.

FWIW,here is my non-optimised list:
MacPack Day Pack
Flip flop sandals
Short sleeve shirt (1)
Short pants
Undershirt (1)
Underpants (1)
Maintenance kit (cord, pins, rubber bands)
Light red fleece top
Poncho
Nylon wind jacket
Socks thick (2)
Socks thin (2)
Sleeping bag Liner
Towel
Soap
Medical kit (compeed, panadol, anti-inflammatory cream)
Toothpaste etc
Ear plugs
Sun screen
Toilet paper
Mini torch
Passport
Garbage bag pack liner in case of rain
Waterproof stuff bags
Tickets
Plastic spoon
Plastic fork
Knife
Camera gear
Diary, pens
Guide book
 
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anniethenurse

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances.Vasco del Interior.Camino Finisterre& Muxia. Camino Portugues. Ruta del Ebro.
BobM said:
To get an idea of what might be possible, I just did a trial packing based on my experience walking from SJPDP to Santiago.

To my surprise, I think I can get away with a small 23 litre daypack that weighs just under 4kg, possibly 3.5kg once optimised. Food and water I will have to carry slung in plastic bags, as I did before.

I would be interested to hear from others who have walked with minimal gear.

Well done! I assume this is what you have in your rucksack - you are wearing another pair of shorts and and another t- shirt, boots?
My rucksack was about 7.5 kilograms with a summer sleeping bag (0,450 kg), rucksack Vaude Tour 40 (1,4 kg). I had space for water and supplies in my rucksack which was very comfortable to carry.

Maybe a light weight shoulder bag would be better for food and water than plastic bags.

Have a nice camino!

annie
 

BobM

Veteran Member
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Yes, the list is just what is in the daypack. I would be wearing a hat, light boots, shorts/shirt - and carrying a lightweight walking pole.

The suggestion about carrying food/water is a good one. Plastic bags sway around and can be annoying I found on my Camino Frances. One thought leads to another: maybe I can find one of those bags worn around the waist that would be big enough for 2 x 500ml plastic water bottles.

Why am I doing this? Well, pilgrims centuries ago pretty much had only the clothes they wore, plus a wool cloak for warmth, rain, even for sleeping. Their spartan possessions really struck me when looking at drawings in pilgrim museums (such as the excellent museum in Santiago).

For me, it is important to strip life down to its essentials, so that possessions don't possess us. For the Camino Frances, I managed to get my pack down to 7.5kg (not counting food).

It is interesting for me to try a minimalist camino. For only a week, the discomforts should be bearable. I certainly would not recommend first-timers doing this.

Bob M
 

spursfan

Veteran Member
Still things to get rid of

start with 10L OMM pack or INOV-8 pack

Long trousers
Icebreaker TechT lite with long sleeves (in place of shirt)
Muji travel slippers (not flip flops)
Spork (if needed) not separate spoon and fork
V light poncho
No need for fleece, wind jacket, sun screen, toilet paper, torch, knife, camera, diary, possibly guidebook
 

Tia Valeria

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Terry walked the Camino Primitivo in May this year. I put a list of his equipment up for him at http://www.pilgrimage-to-santiago.com/board/equipment-questions/topic5868.html. The only thing missing is the spork! He used everything except the medical kit, which he would still take if going again. The sleeping bag was a cool weather one so in summer he would save a kilo there.
Buen Camino
Tia Valeria and Tio Tel
 
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BobM

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Year of past OR future Camino
V Frances; V Podensis; V Francigena; V Portugues; V Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg. Jaffa - Jerusalem
I calculated my daypack volume wrongly. It is 11 litres, not 23 litres as I stated earlier. It will certainly do the job for one week in summer, once I have done another cull.

BTW, are the Muji travel slippers mentioned by spursfan the same as:

http://www.muji.eu/pages/online.asp?V=1 ... 28&PID=794
Bob M
 

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Portia1

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2009, Portuguese 2012
Frances 2016, (Frances 2019)
If you are carrying flip flops for the showers, then wouldn't the travel slippers get wet and soggy?
 

spursfan

Veteran Member
bare feet are fine for most showers - the travel slippers are for short outside walks - though can also use walking shoes
 

alipilgrim

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Ugh, definitely not bare feet in most showers. Invest in a pair of cheap $2 drugstore flip-flops that weigh nothing. It'll give you peace of mind in some of the dirty showers, and on the wet floors in and around the shower/restroom areas. Just make sure they are not too slippery when wet. These type of sandals are also fine for walking around town, and work as slippers if nature calls during the night.
 
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BobM

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spursfan said:
the very same - offhand, I can't remember how much they weigh but they're lighter than anything else I've seen
They will certainly be lighter than rubber thongs (the ones for the feet :shock: ). How about durability? The advantage of flip flops is that they can be worn out in the street in the evening while going to buy food etc. Normally I would not want to don my walking shoes again in the evening - even if dry. It's hard to see from the pic if the soles are cloth or something more durable.

I won't wear them in the shower. Personally, I never found the showers to be a problem for bare feet, altho I recognise the risk of getting tinea. It's just a risk I took, rightly or wrongly.

Anyway, I like the concept of the slippers. Availability is the thing.

Bob M
 

BobM

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Year of past OR future Camino
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Another thought about footwear: How about sandals & no socks instead of boots for a short summer camino? That would save having to carry socks and flipflops/slippers.

I have seen pilgrims wearing sandals before, but generally only for a day or so to allow blisters etc to heal. On another occasion I saw a couple wearing sandals in rain.

But sandals are definiteiy in the minority - at least in the modern era. In medieval times I have the impression that sandals were the norm among pilgrims. They are certainly common today among porters in places like Nepal.

My concern would be getting chafed by sandal straps etc without socks. Also, it would be easy to stub one's toe in rocky places.

Does anyone have some sandal-wearing experience to share?

Bob M
 

MermaidLilli

Active Member
Me Me Me!!!
Tried and tried to wear regular walking shoes/sneakers/trailrunners and they were ok, but when using my sandals, I felt so much better. On all 3 caminos I started with both pairs and ended mailing the shoes to a family member here in Spain to be picked up later. I wore my sandals usually with socks. Sometimes 2 pairs if I was cold but mostly 1 pair alone, Smartwools, they were. A few times I walked with none and did not get any blisters. I sunk in mud, got rained on and still no issues.
So I removed weight from my pack and had happy feet.
And yes, all 3 times the Teva Terra-Fi sandals.
Happy Feet Lillian
 

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laurie

Member
I have had many problems with my feet, bunions etc. and had difficulty in finding boots to fit. However, I have happily walked the Via de la Plata from Seville wearing Merrill sandals and have worn them for many miles on other routes, the Primitivo for example. Mud, rain and snow are a problem and, if I am anticipating them, I take boots as well as sandals, often carrying the boots laced together and slung across the top of my backpack. It takes all sorts.
 

annakappa

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Last year for our spare "relaxation" shoes, I took my faithful Birkenstocks and Adriaan a pair of Keen walking sandals. There were moments that we needed to put on socks because of the cold weather (May/June). I would never have even considered using flip flops in the shower, even although I had seen a few comments on different forums about doing so. However, we saw many people using Crocs and so that is what we have now bought. They are a lot lighter than the Birkenstocks and Keens. Can easily take a pair of socks if the weather is too cold - and - well why not - being plastic could be used in the showers - but that for me is not so hygenic as they will obviously be used for walking around town. For those who fear picking up something nasty in the shower, why not bring along a small bottle of alcohol gel which is being so much promoted these days and rub you feet in this after leaving the shower? By the way, alcohol also helps to harden the soles of your feet! Anne
 
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Bridget and Peter

Active Member
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[/quote="BobM"]altho I recognise the risk of getting tinea. It's just a risk I took, rightly or wrongly.[/quote]

I didn't know what tinea was (we generally call it Athlete's foot in the UK) so I looked it up - and Wikipedia gave the following warning!

'Although the condition typically affects the feet, it can spread to other areas of the body, including the groin.'
 

JaneofNorwich

New Member
I'm another sandal wearer. I wore teva's for much of the camino and found them more comfortable and cooler than shoes. I wore them without socks and got blisters initially on the soles of my feet but my feet soon hardened and I had no further problems with them.

In terms of cutting down on weight, I just took 2 marino t-shirts, one skirt and a fleece jumper with me (and cotton leggings for when it got cold, though these wouldn't be needed in August.) When I washed my skirt I wore a kanga (large rectangular piece of african cotton) in the afternoon/evening until the skirt dried. I also used the kanga as a pillow case.
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
V Frances; V Podensis; V Francigena; V Portugues; V Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg. Jaffa - Jerusalem
Thx to MermaidLilli, annakappa, laurie, Bridget & Peter, Jane of Norwich (I hope I have not forgotton anyone) for such wonderful comments re sandals. Sandals it will be for me, too.

Preparatory time is running out (I leave for Europe on July 15), but I will do a couple of training walks here and in Poland in the sandals to check out any chafing problems. I do plenty of walking at home, but shoes create calluses in different places to sandals (I assume), especially with no socks.

Anyway, I am grateful to you all and, God willing, I will be able to give some feedback along the way. If things go well, I might even walk for more than a week. We shall see.

Peut etre partir est mourir un peu; mais commencer encore est naitre de nouveau.
(excuse the mangled language and lack of ^ etc, but you will get the sentiment :D

Regards

Bob M
 

skilsaw

Veteran Member
annakappa said:
By the way, alcohol also helps to harden the soles of your feet! Anne

How much beer do I have to drink to toughen the soles of my feet?
Should I do this at home, before starting the Camino, or on the Camino itself?
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
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I suggest during the walk. It will deaden any pain and you will float serenely across the terrain. Perhaps even uplifting visions will occur, with sufficient application of alcohol. :?

Bob M
 
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BobM

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Year of past OR future Camino
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Here is another idea for hardening the feet.

Many years ago, ablutions blocks in the Australian Army had a wide, shallow footbath across the door. To enter or leave the showers, one had to walk through the footbath.

The footbath contained a solution of Condy's Crystals (potassium permanganate) in water. This solution (when fresh) was a very dark red/brown colour.

It had the interesting effect of making the skin of the feet a patchy yellowish-brown, especially calluses and around the toenails. They certainly became tougher to the touch. The whole thing seemed to work.

Condy's Crystals had another use, now discredited, for treating snakebite. You could get a little container of the crystals, with a tiny, sharp blade in the cap. If bitten by a snake, the drill was to use the knife to cut the flesh, squeeze out the poison, and (assuming you had not fainted by then!), pour the crystals onto the wound, presumably to prevent infection.

So, intending pilgrims might also like to try Condy's Crystals in their preparations. See your local pharmacist for supplies.

Bob M
 

MermaidLilli

Active Member
So Bob, I saw in one of the posts further up that you were leaving Jul 15 and were to wear sandals. Did you? And your experience?
Airy toes
Lillian
 

BobM

Veteran Member
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MermaidLilli said:
So Bob, I saw in one of the posts further up that you were leaving Jul 15 and were to wear sandals. Did you? And your experience?Lillian

I took Teva sandals and used them for street wear and some minor walking before the pilgrimage, but I decided not to take them on the big walk.

Normally I wear an arch support. The Teva sandals had some arch support, but it was quite hard and dug into the instep too much. They were Ok for normal daily wear, but I was not confident they would be OK for many days of walking. I travelled very light (4.5kg) and did not want to carry extra shoes in case the sandals did not work for me on the road.

So the sandals experiment did not eventuate.

Bob M
 

gailsilb

New Member
Hi all,
I am a 71 year old woman who will be walking the Camino Frances in May 2013. I have never done this kind of trip before and would appreciate help from those who have. I want to keep my backpack as light as possible. Can anyone give me a list of the absolute minimum that I need to carry with me. Thanks for the help.
Gail
 
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BobM

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gailsilb said:
Can anyone give me a list of the absolute minimum that I need to carry with me
Gail

Here is what I took on one "minimalist" summer pilgrimage

Item Kg
MacPack Day Pack 1.25
Flip flop sandals 0.15
Short sleeve shirts (1) 0.2
Guide book 0.35
Short pants 0.3
Undershirt (1) 0.1
Maintenance kit 0.25
Light red fleece top 0.22
Diary, pens 0.13
Poncho 0.23
Nylon rain jacket 0.2
Socks thick (2) 0.15
Sleeping bag Liner 0.15
Towel 0.125
Soap 0.125
Medical kit 0.11
Underpants (1) 0.1
Toothpaste etc 0.1
Torch 0.02
Socks thin (2) 0.075
Passport 0.05
Garbage bag 0.05
Waterproof stuff bags 0.05
Keys 0.03
Tickets 0.02
Ear plugs 0.005
Lip balm 0.004
6 plastic pegs 0.1
Knife 0.1
Camera gear 0.38
Needle/thread 0.27
Big safety pins 0.01

TOTAL 5.5kg

If you take a light summer sleeping bag, add another 800gm. But on the CF in May/June I found that a liner was fine, as the albergues get quite hot at night with all those bodies packed in.

Add another 100gm or so for long, windproof pants.

A phone is not necessary on the CF, but if you take a phone with its charger, add another 250gm or so. Or, you could take the phone and don't take a separate camera like I did.

I took only one spare shirt/pants to save weight.

When walking the CF for the first time, it is tempting to take too much "just in case". If in doubt, leave it out.

If you google say "camino frances packing list" you will find heaps of ideas. Here is one site I found: http://www.caminodesantiago.me.uk/packing-list/

Once you have a draft list, do a trial packing with your actual pack and go for a training walk (carrying water plus some snacks to simulate the true load you will have in Spain) to get a feel for the load. Back at home, try to toss out items see how that feels on the next training walk.

Hope that helps.

Rgds

Bob M
 

julie

Active Member
Everyone has different ideas about what constitutes a necessity. I take all the items on the first list and some of the items on the second. My pack is 30L, weighs less than 1kg empty and about 4.5kg packed. This weight doesn't include food and water.

Necessities

• *2 T-shirts
• 2 pair long pants with zip off legs (or 1 pr long pants and 1 pr shorts)
• Lightweight fleece
• 2 sets of underwear
• 2 pair socks with well cushioned soles
• sunhat with brim all around - sun will be on back of neck all day
• rain wear - poncho or jacket depending on preference
• boots for walking
• lightweight sandals for after walking
• lightweight sleeping bag
• quick drying towel (small as possible to do the job)
• water bottle or reservoir sac (recommend 2 litre)
• 6 safety pins (to hang laundry)
• sunscreen
• toothbrush, toothpaste
• toiletry bag - soap, comb, tissues, razor
• walking stick(s) - some use 2, others 1, can purchase/find one along the way
• knife (e.g. small Swiss Army type) and spoon (lightweight plastic)
• First aid kit: needle & cotton (for blisters), Betadine, packet of sterile pads, scissors, length of Elastoplast (more versatile than bandaids)
Note: Only need to take minimal requirements as you will be able to purchase items along the Camino


Other items which may be useful

• guidebook - Camino is well marked but is good to know how far to next village (coffee!) and what to look out for on the way
• lightweight notepad & pen (to keep daily journal)
• ear plugs (you are guaranteed to come across snorers)
• small torch
• bandana (if very hot, wet and tie around head/neck; if cold, tie over head)
• camera + charger or extra battery
• small Spanish/English dictionary (I didn’t have one and managed OK)
• mobile phone (handy for emergencies but please turn it off in the albergue!) + charger
• credit or cash card (to withdraw money from ATM)
• money belt
• sarong


* Others would take 1 long sleeve + 1 T-shirt instead of 2 T-shirts. Sleeping attire varies - T-shirt and underwear, pyjamas or just underwear depending on weather and personal preference/modesty. You can get by with just 2 T-shirts. Walk in 1, shower and wash shirt, wear clean T-shirt to sleep in and walk in next day ...

You are going to spend about a month carrying your belongings in your pack. If you think you’ll take something “just in case” ... leave it at home!
 

BobM

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julie said:
You are going to spend about a month carrying your belongings in your pack. If you think you’ll take something “just in case” ... leave it at home![/b]

Just a thought on packing. Heavier items should be on top, lighter ones at the bottom of the pack. The theory is to make the centre of gravity of the pack as high as possible, so that the load is centred as close as possible over the spine and not dragging at your back.

A pack loaded in that way feels more comfortable.

But it is easier said than done with small, one-compartment packs like mine (35L). If I load the heavy stuff on top, it gradually pushes everything else down during the day's walk if the tightening straps are not pulled really tight.

Bob M
 
S

Sojourner47

Guest
Well, I have posted my minimal packing list several times before, but just got home from 6 days on the Frances (Najera to Carrion de los Condes), and here's what I carried:
Karrimor daysac - 385grms
Deuter Treklite sleeping bag - 600grms (I could have got away with 100grm silk liner - all the albergues had - clean - blankets)
Rainpants - 180grms (I did need these, first day out)
Spare baselayer top and pants, 2 prs socks, buff, neckachief/hanky - 300grms
Washkit: 2x muslin squares for towels, small soap, facecloth, toothbrush and small toothpaste, tube antibacterial gel - 120grms
Lightweight foam sandals - 140grms
Small first aid kit - 40grms
Ipod shuffle, tiny LED torch, mini SA knife,phone and spare (charged) battery, small notebook,pencil,documents - 150grms
2x 380ml water bottles
Some biscuits/energy bars/fruit etc for trail snacks - ??200grms

In all about 2.7kgs,with full water bottles.

Worn: New Balance goretex trailrunning shoes, 2 prs socks,baselayer top and underpants, Rohan pants,thin fleece top, Berghaus goretex jacket, hat.

Next time, I will take silk liner instead of sleeping bag,and really light "Poundshop" rucksac (85grms), thus reducing the total weight to under 2kgs including water.

PS. The only way I can keep up with those young enough to be my grandchildren (with their HUGE packs) is to carry far less weight...... :D
 

Tia Valeria

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Sojourner:- Fine for 6 days maybe, but not enough to cover 5 - 6 weeks on the Camino, even without considering the time of year. Presumably, unlike some of us, you do not feel the cold. :(

Packing too light is not good IMHO

Bob:- Packing heavy stuff at the top of my pack makes it sit badly and pulls my shoulders. My pack is better with heavier stuff to the bottom and the weight on my hips. I have tried both previously and will stick to the way my pack feels best. :) but thanks for the thought.
 
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Lydia Gillen

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One-weakness of the forum is that we often do not know the age of the contributor.

I am in the same age group as Gail who will be 71 next year.

I am certain that I need a light sleeping bag. If I am cold at night I cannot sleep and if I don't sleep I don;t walk well.

Having said that ,I have actually put a zip in the end of the sleeping bag because sometimes my feet burn at night and being able to let them peep out the end makes all the difference.
 

cecelia

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Hi There,
I agree with Lydia that sometimes age (and sometimes gender) makes a difference to what we need for warmth or comfort. As someone who is in the same age group as Lydia and Gail, I like to have a light sleeping bag as well (under a kilo). Besides I have been on the camino when it snowed in May outside of Leon. It was just for a day but it was very cold and windy that day. Even with silk long johns, pants and rain pants I was really cold all day. Of course for the rest of the week it was so hot that many people got bad sun burns from being unprepared for the extremes.
Just a comment to Gail that May is still spring in Spain and the weather can be one extreme or the other. Think layers and be prepared to put them all on and take a lot of them off from time to time.
Buen camino Gail
 

BobM

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Pack weight is obviously important, but psychological comfort is equally (perhaps more) important, especially for a first camino. If that means carrying a few more "just in case" items and luxuries, it is probably a good thing to do.

Stuff can easily be mailed home (or given away) en route if it is no longer wanted. There are also good baggage transfer services from albergue to albergue if you need to walk for a stage or two with just a small day pack.

Rgds

Bob M
 

jeff001

Active Member
That alcohol gel the Annakappa mentioned is also very useful for controlling the bacteria that can result in foot odor after using the same footwear day after day, especially it doesn't fully dry out.
 

Tia Valeria

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BobM said:
Pack weight is obviously important, but psychological comfort is equally (perhaps more) important, especially for a first camino. If that means carrying a few more "just in case" items and luxuries, it is probably a good thing to do.

Stuff can easily be mailed home (or given away) en route if it is no longer wanted. There are also good baggage transfer services from albergue to albergue if you need to walk for a stage or two with just a small day pack.

Rgds

Bob M
Speaking personally I needed everything I was carrying at some stage on the Camino, apart from the whistle and I would not leave that out. Having said that I do then keep things to the least possible because of the cost of mailing anywhere, and I cannot afford to ditch stuff only to then replace it next year. I prefer to carry my things until I really get too old :) so most is hi-tec and lightweight. With regard to another post here:- I'll be 65 next birthday :roll: and I feel the cold.
 
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