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What's the one thing in your pack, that you absolutely CANNOT do without...and why?

Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, April, 2016
Frances: SJPP to Ponferrada April & October, 2017
Le Puy 2018/19
There have been a number of essential and sentimental items listed already, several of which I also find I want/need. One of my first stops upon arrival (in Spain or France) is to a pharmacy where I can pick up a tube of Voltaren/flogoprofen gel, which I apply most mornings to my dodgy knees.
 
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chinacat

Veteran Member
The 10% rule isn't a rule at all. When in the Marines, slim, muscled and trim, I weighted in at 175 lbs/79kg. My field pack, without ammo and rifle was about 70 lbs/31kg. Yet, by the “rule” I should carry a 17 lb/7.9kg pack. The ideal weight is always going to be determined by the requirements of the trip, not by some magical ratio to your body weight, no matter how you measure it. Going into combat where you carry everything you “may need” is different from the Camino where the “may needs” are removed. All else being equal, the least weight you can get away with is best.
If you start your Camino weighing 200lbs/97kg and you lose 10lbs/4.5kg of body fat your muscles are strengthened and although you started with a pack weighing under 20lbs/9kg the only thing you should add to your pack is a six-pack of cerveza. As you walk you remain refreshed and urinate away the extra weight.

Err ... I was joking .... 🤔😉😄

and ... I don’t drink (alcohol) ... so, water it is then ...

and ... when I take my pack off at a rest-stop, I miss its weight ...
 

TheSparrow

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Portuguese (2019) Walked Tomar to Coimbra - Porto to Ponte Vedra - Spiritual Variant to Santiago
I just made a vlog about this very question today! Here I give you my very *lite* and essential items :)
 

Freewalker

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
PC(16), VdlP/San(17). Mozarabe(18), Levante(18) Lucca/Rome(19)Catalan,Aragon,Ebro (19),Litoral (20)
A grateful heart and frame of mind. I really feel fortunate that I am willing and able to walk vast distances. Not so easy some days when I'm dead beat, worn out and grumpy ! So appreciative for the volunteers and locals who have invited me into their homes. Last but not least, Magnesium bisglycinate powder (with amino acids and electrolytes) taken just before sleep.
 

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DevereUx

Devereaux
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances Sept-Oct 2018
#1: My high tech undies🙃!!
#2: my iPad Mini: books, guides, maps, journal, blogging, FaceTime with my homies...and locating ATMs🤔
 

Arn

Veteran Member
Odd that no-one has mentioned books. Reading to me is as necessary as food, water, even breathing. As a very fast reader, I can start a new book around 10pm, and finish it before going to sleep and sometimes read two books in a day. Reading is my 'winding down', so walking the Camino without books was unthinkable. Although I don't like reading online, I ended up loading a heap of books onto my phone, and this solved the problem. Once home, it was back to the real thing.
I carry my iPad. It has over 400 books in the library. As the mood strikes, I can transport anywhere. Though, never closer than 100km to SDC. Earning the Compostela is the icing on my bizcocho.
 

Old Kiwi

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
James Geier said "Just before the town of Circueña, we came upon two young men with a donativo refreshment table, and I spotted a pressed glass Camino shell souvenir."
On the CF in 2016 I also came across a young man with a donavito refreshment table. It was next to a picnic area with a few tables and seats. I bought some fruit, and in the course of the conversation with him, he realised by my accent that I was from the bottom of the planet. He said he collected coins and asked me if I had any with me. I remembered throwing a coin into the bottom of my pack as I left Auckland Airport a few weeks before. I found the New Zealand 20 cent coin and gave it to him. He insisted that I take one of the little yellow glass shells that he had on the table. That shell has sat on my bedside table ever since and as I look at it every night it reminds me of my Camino memories. I took it back on the Camino with me in 2019 and intended to buy another shell from him for my daughter who was walking with me. Unfortunately when we got there the man and his table were not there. I am sure that it was the same place that James got his.
 

dick bird

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
We speak about keeping our pack light, eliminating the "nice to haves" and then, the night before departure, unpacking and again removing the "might needs." All that said, I am sure there is one item: a keepsake, picture or going away gift you must accept and in your pack it goes. On my first Camino, I carried a number of prayer cards for my recently deceased cousin killed in a terrible accident. I placed them in Churches, at many of the shrines along the Way and behind a confessional in the Cathedral of Santiago. What did you just have to carry?
I saw one pilgrim carrying one of those ceramic Nordic Elves determined to leave it at the Cruz de Ferro. Alas, he grew so attached to the Elf he took it back home.
Now, open your pack and your mind and reveal that special item carried deep inside your pack and possible your soul.
A poetry book: 'By Heart', compiled by Ted Hughes. I even replaced the copy I left in A Laxe albergue. You can read a poem over and over, which you can't with a novel and this anthology is super light. One day I (or someone else with more energy and education) will assemble a compilation of pilgrimage-related poems and I often pass time thinking which poems I would put in it. Actually, that might be a good idea for a thread - poems for pilgrimages.
 

Glenshiro

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Le Puy - León, Camino Frances (2012 - 2019)
A Thermos flask, so that I can have a cup of tea in the morning and at lunchtime. And teabags, obviously. Why, yes, I am British - how did you guess?
 
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David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
I tend not to take those physical, sentimental keepsakes with me on the Camino. I learned a long time ago it is best not to travel with anything that you are not prepared to lose. The things I "absolutely cannot do without" tend to be things like passport, credit/bank cards, phone - which I generally don't leave in my pack.
 

Arn

Veteran Member
A Thermos flask, so that I can have a cup of tea in the morning and at lunchtime. And teabags, obviously. Why, yes, I am British - how did you guess?
Tea is my GoTo beverage in the morning and sometime in the afternoon. My boer Meisie was big on Wit Tea (RooiBos) but I'd rather have it black. And, just for the record, I am 40+ % Scot, 16% Irish and the remainder Welsh/English.
The single malt is obviously from the Scot side.
 

dick bird

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
A pillow case from home. Keeps me grounded, keeps me 'home'.
A few years ago, on the Madrid, we met two senior French ladies - Therese and Brigitte. One of them left a pillowcase in an albergue and as we were a day or two behind them, they texted us to pick it up for them. A few days after that, one of them got sick and they had to go back. So we carried the pillow case all the way to Santiago and then posted it back. I think they were touched and pleased that we kept our promise, but I suspect they were even more pleased that if they couldn't get to Santiago that year, their pillowcase damn well could. They also taught us how to drink white wine properly. Vive la France!
 

Jo Jo

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF, July '14 & Sep-Oct '16
Via di Francesco, July '15,
CP Oct. '17, Salvador & Primitivo Sep '19
Only two luxury items I consider "essential": a native american flute (you cannot believe how great it sounds in those old churches), and a camera with a huge image sensor. The flute is often how I pray, and the camera is my art because I can't draw or paint. iphone cameras just cannot capture the detail I want. Picture below is sunset at El Ganso. DSC02808.sunset in El Ganso.JPG
 
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Jarrad

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2014
My previous partner (deceased) was a Catholic priest- yes, really. I carried his rosary beads with me.
Years ago I found the perfect set of rosary beads for carrying in the pocket -- small, modest, built to last, probably wouldn't even see them in my hand when in use. I carry them everywhere, Camino and otherwise, in the left front pocket along with the Chapstick. If the Camino taught me one thing, it is that prayer is efficacious.
 
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domigee

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2020? Looks like.... nowhere! 😁
Years ago I found the perfect set of rosary beads for carrying in the pocket -- small, modest, built to last, probably wouldn't even see them in my hand when in use. I carry them everywhere, Camino and otherwise, in the left front pocket along with the Chapstick. If the Camino taught me one thing, it is that prayer is efficacious.
Same. I also always carry a light set of rosary beads 😎
But in dire times (not on the Spanish caminos), I found myself praying like mad and didn’t even have time to take my rosary out.... It still worked 🙂
So yes, to answer the OP, what I always carry is my rosary and 2 holy pictures (I forget what they are called in English) my Parish priest gave me when I set off to Jerusalem. They weigh nothing 😉
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I carry no religious artifacts when I walk various pilgrimages, but I think it's wonderful for those of you who do, and that you find comfort and positivity in the doing.
 
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Arn

Veteran Member
Years ago I found the perfect set of rosary beads for carrying in the pocket -- small, modest, built to last, probably wouldn't even see them in my hand when in use. I carry them everywhere, Camino and otherwise, in the left front pocket along with the Chapstick. If the Camino taught me one thing, it is that prayer is efficacious.
My Rosary is about 125 years old and made by nuns in Lourdes. It's always in my left trouser pocket.
 
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Curly Cath

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Pamplona to Santiago 2013 hiked
Planning on cycling the Portuguese route in winter
Love this thread!
Water bladder so I don't have to stop to drink. I find I don't drink enough otherwise
Talismans - a st Christopher, a tiny angel and an icthus fish badge given by 3 friends.
I always buy a rosary en route
Absolutely shed loads of plasters!
A notebook. I love writing. I write the names in the cover of everyone who asked to be 'taken' on the Camino with me
Migraine tablets
A cotton scarf that I can loop under my backpack straps and over my head for shade
A safety whistle
Spare laces
A gigantic grin :)
 

Nicola Foster

Starting first Camino (Frances) end of August 2017
Year of past OR future Camino
No1 = 2017
I carry blue goldstone which I bought on a Greek island (can't remember which one) in 2010. I don't really know what it is about this piece (which is actually man-made; copper flecks in glass)...maybe the smooth feel, the changing glitter patterns as you move it in the light...but there is something about this stone which compels me to carry it!
Looking up gemstone websites, it is said to eminate various properties including healing. Although I don't really go in for that sort of thing, I did buy it at a difficult time in my life & holding it evokes a calming affect. I certainly have no intention of leaving it anywhere on any trail.
View attachment 93664
And if all that sounds a bit D&M, I also have 'Hello Kitty' dangling from my hiking pole! 😆
View attachment 93666
👣 🌏
I carried a garnet, I loved that it made the whole 800k in my pocket.
 

Nicola Foster

Starting first Camino (Frances) end of August 2017
Year of past OR future Camino
No1 = 2017
I carry blue goldstone which I bought on a Greek island (can't remember which one) in 2010. I don't really know what it is about this piece (which is actually man-made; copper flecks in glass)...maybe the smooth feel, the changing glitter patterns as you move it in the light...but there is something about this stone which compels me to carry it!
Looking up gemstone websites, it is said to eminate various properties including healing. Although I don't really go in for that sort of thing, I did buy it at a difficult time in my life & holding it evokes a calming affect. I certainly have no intention of leaving it anywhere on any trail.
View attachment 93664
And if all that sounds a bit D&M, I also have 'Hello Kitty' dangling from my hiking pole! 😆
View attachment 93666
👣 🌏
I carried a small garnet for strength and it made the whole journey.
 
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Gerard Hazelebach

Gerard Hazelebach
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (SJPdP - Santiago) September 2014
"The Peace Walk” (Vienna - Venice) August 2015
For sure my Swiss Army Knife!
 

Maija

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2014 (in stages 2009, 2013, 2014)
Camino Portugal 2018
Camino Primitivo (2019)
My breakfast Kit: Oat porridge (from home), tea (mostly bought on the Way).
Army mugs, sporks and travel immersion heater.
+
laundry pegs.
 

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henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
Hey are we now allowed to board a flight with these? I guess I could buy once in Europe...or do you have to check your backpack?
Whilst the answer may be technically ‘yes’ if you approach the security scan with a ruler, a copy of the IATA regulations and a confident expression, the practical answer is ‘don’t even think about it’. Check your bag or, if you need to, buy a suitable penknife at any ferretería in Spain.
 
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Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
Thank you for the quick, and tempting, response!
Michelle,
When I took a flight out of my local airport some time ago, I saw a message going around and around on an overhead screen telling me the exact dimensions, in cm, of a small knife blade that I could take on the plane with me. The next time that I flew, I took my small Swiss Army knife, with a blade a little smaller than required, and had no questions taking it through security, or bringing it home with me. However, I usually buy a larger Opinel knife in Spain to use to cut bread or any large food item. I try to leave it behind somewhere that it can be useful.
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
It may well vary depending on the country you’re flying from but in the UK the precise prohibition is:

Knife (with a sharp or pointed blade and/or blade longer than 6cm)No

That is any knife with a blade longer than 6cm OR a pointed blade of any length, including less than 6cm OR a sharp blade of any length, including less than 6cm.

... so basically no ‘functional’ knife.

some who think they’ve read the guidance see only ‘6cm’ and fail to see the ‘sharp and pointy’

That prohibits, for example the ‘box cutters’ (Stanley knives) used with tragic consequences on 9/11. Clearly the blade length is well under 6cm, but I wouldn’t want to try taking one of those through security in the US.

Think about it folks. You may well be a fine upstanding citizen, but do you want to be on a flight these days with 300+ others, any of whom were allowed to carry a Swiss Army knife on board?

We’ve been round this circle before. At the security check in UK airports there’s a bin full of knives, scissors etc which the barrack room lawyers, also present here, will tell you categorically should be allowed on board.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
It may well vary depending on the country you’re flying from but in the UK the precise prohibition is:

Knife (with a sharp or pointed blade and/or blade longer than 6cm)No

That is any knife with a blade longer than 6cm OR a pointed blade of any length, including less than 6cm OR a sharp blade of any length, including less than 6cm.

... so basically no ‘functional’ knife.

some who think they’ve read the guidance see only ‘6cm’ and fail to see the ‘sharp and pointy’

That prohibits, for example the ‘box cutters’ (Stanley knives) used with tragic consequences on 9/11. Clearly the blade length is well under 6cm, but I wouldn’t want to try taking one of those through security in the US.

Think about it folks. You may well be a fine upstanding citizen, but do you want to be on a flight these days with 300+ others, any of whom were allowed to carry a Swiss Army knife on board?

We’ve been round this circle before. At the security check in UK airports there’s a bin full of knives, scissors etc which the barrack room lawyers, also present here, will tell you categorically should be allowed on board.
Something else to consider is that the restrictions on knives are not only on planes but, in Spain, can also be found in trains. But in planes, you can always put your knife in the checked luggage. Trains do not have that option.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
Something else to consider is that the restrictions on knives are not only on planes but, in Spain, can also be found in trains. But in planes, you can always put your knife in the checked luggage. Trains do not have that option.
Several years ago I took the high-speed train from Madrid to Seville to start the VdlP. The young man who was managing luggage screening put my backpack, containing a small Swiss Army knife, on the baggage carousal, then became focused on his important task of ordering me to take my shirt off and put it on too. The shirt was long-sleeved and unbuttoned over a tshirt. By the time I had figured out that the shirt was the "chaqueta" to which he was referring, the pack and knife had gone through the scanner. unobserved
 
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Theresa Brandon

Artist, photographer, dreamer
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Inglés (2018), Camino Ingles (from La Coruña, 2019), Camino Portugues (2020)
A small roll of Tenacious Tape.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I’ll be carrying a few small items on pilgrimage with me, some for me and a few for others.

* A pair of my son’s infant socks. I carried them in my headgear when I was far away from home just after his birth. I don’t believe that good luck charms have any efficacy but they bought some comfort and I felt closer to my wife and son with them.

* A set of aviator’s wings for a couple who lost their son in an aviation incident.

* A rosary or two to be blessed at journey’s end for some friends.

* a few intercessions / prayers that others have asked me to leave at the Cathedral.

Other than that my load is just a standard pilgrim load out.

Edit: So that’s more than one thing (mathematics were never my strong suit) and really had nothing to do with the OP. Sorry ‘bout that.
 
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Bill905

Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
Shower shoes, like flip flops! I cannot do without shower shoes to help ensure my hygiene in public washrooms and public showers; for stumbling to toilets across courtyards at 3:00 AM; and best of all, arriving at an albergue after a day of trekking, removing my shoes and donning shower shoes to let my feet aerate for a few hours as I sip a tinto or a cerveza!!
 

Bardow

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(2016)
We speak about keeping our pack light, eliminating the "nice to haves" and then, the night before departure, unpacking and again removing the "might needs." All that said, I am sure there is one item: a keepsake, picture or going away gift you must accept and in your pack it goes. On my first Camino, I carried a number of prayer cards for my recently deceased cousin killed in a terrible accident. I placed them in Churches, at many of the shrines along the Way and behind a confessional in the Cathedral of Santiago. What did you just have to carry?
I saw one pilgrim carrying one of those ceramic Nordic Elves determined to leave it at the Cruz de Ferro. Alas, he grew so attached to the Elf he took it back home.
Now, open your pack and your mind and reveal that special item carried deep inside your pack and possible your soul.
Eso es correcto, llevamos cosas de más. OK
 
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