Is the AARN backpack a good option?

AARN backpack

The question was:

I’m walking my first Camino (Frances) September/October 2014. I have heard good things about different packs …. and in particular the AARN packs. Has anyone used these packs? Any advice/info would be most appreciated.

Read all about the AARN backpack and the Camino de Santiago here.

Backpack security – do I need locks and a mesh?


The question was:

I’ll be walking from SJPP in mid April. I’ve read on a couple of blogs that some pilgrims have secured their backpacks in their albergues using a Pacsafe mesh cover.

I’ll be carrying my valuables with me whenever I leave the albergue to go for a walk etc, but is it necessary to use locks and a security device? (The most expensive thing I’ll have in my backpack will be some merino and Gortex clothing.)

Read the conversation on backpack security on the Camino de Santiago here in our Camino forum.


Should my backpack be 10% of my weight?

Should my backpack be 10% of my weight?

The question was:

Someone somewhere arbitrarily came up with this guideline that one should strive to restrict the weight of their backpack to 10% of body weight. This gets passed around over and over again and seems now to have become a golden rule. Where does it come from?

Obviously it helps to limit weight, but there is no reason to blindly follow some artificial rule that may have worked well for the person originally establishing the measure, yet may not necessarily be appropriate for a good many others.

Factors not directly related to body weight, such as a person’s physique, level of physical conditioning, body strength, state of health etc. determine the amount of weight that one can comfortably carry. To base the decision soley on body weight doesn’t seem to make all that much sense.

I’ve seen people who go to extremes to keep their backpack weight low. Things like removing staples from papers they may carry, cutting off and discarding half of the toothbrush handle and drilling large holes in the remaining portion to reduce miniscule amounts of weight, packing half of a comb. Do these and other such measures really make that much difference?

This is not to discount the validity of suggestions to minimize weight. But, 10%: Just doesn’t work for everyone.

Read the conversation on backpacks should be 10% of your body weight on the Camino de Santiago.

Pack list for the Camino de Santiago

Pack list for the Camino de Santiago

Not so much a question, but one of our forum members shares his pack list and asks for advice:

First draft packing List, approximately one year in advance of trip, April 2013. From Nebraska USA to Pamplona through Santiago de Compostela to the refugios on the sea. This is what I’m currently putting together to check the weight and the packability. I’m sure I’ll end up with less or that there’ll be changes. If you have any suggestions, I’d certainly welcome them.

Pack, Osprey Kestrel 38L
Bag, Snugpak TravelPak Lite
Tent (if taken) Appy Trails Mark III. (a) for emergencies and (b) because I love to sleep outdoors.
Mat/Ground Cloth/Bunk cover, Thermarest Z-Light
Rain Cover, Atmospheric Altus Poncho. Flying into and out of Pamplona. If not purchased in advance, research vendor for location and purchase Pamplona

Clothing, worn:
BDU style trousers. Multi-pocket, button-fly with ankle drawstrings. I wear them on a daily basis and am used to and comfortable in them. Have hiked and camped in them before. No adjustment necessary. Heavy-ish but durable and 65 polyester/35 cotton. After shake-down hikes, this is where the first change will be. May go lighter and more synthetic.
Lightweight, synthetic t-shirt
Sun hat
1 thin, silk or similar lightweight nylon scarf for protection of neck from dust and sun
Bridgedale wool outer socks
Bridgedale sock liners
Synthetic joxers to prevent chafing
military style belt
Teva Terra Fi 2. I have large, broad, flat feet with a trick ankle. This style sandal is the most comfortable footwear to me and are the least likely on long hikes to cause me discomfort. I know my feet, my limits and what treats me the best. I know how best to walk in them and am least likely to be injured in them or by them. I’ve done mountains in them. They encourage me to be slow and careful and my feet never overheat. Best combination for someone who has the kind of feet that I do.

Clothing, carried:
1 Spare BDU style trouser. Identical in style and color.
2 pairs joxers identical to those worn
1 spare t-shirt
1 spare pair outer socks
1 spare pair inner socks
1 pair Crocs, lace-up hiker style. Good for post-hike PLUS good for emergency hiking in event of a sandal disaster.
2 bandanas
1 thin fleece hat
1 lightweight fleece shell, zip-front so the layer is adjustable if worn under a poncho. Cuffs, Velcro or drawstrings at the wrists are preferable.
1 lightweight, synthetic long-sleeved shirt. 1 size too large for comfort. Simply for layering
1 pair single layer, lightweight basketball style shorts for (a) swimming (b) lounging or (c) hiking in event of hot weather.

Pilgrim Supplies:
Morning liturgical “Invitatory” typed on single sheet, laminated for morning prayer
Compline Office typed on single sheet, laminated for evening prayer
KJV Gideons New Testament/. In Ziploc With:
Flat San Damiano Crucifix from my confirmation for use as prayer shrine.
Small amount of holy water in reusable bottle. Refill as necessary
Large Ziploc for diploma(s)
Stone for Cruz de Ferro. Taken from the road at the family cemetery. Etched with grandparents, parents and siblings initials
Rosary, cord and wood. Durable and lightweight

Ligget’s Shampoo bar with clip case.
Tom’s of Maine deodorant. Long-lasting, not overly scented, organic and not irritating in heat
Dental floss
Tooth brush
Eco-dent tooth powder
Bog Roll in Ziploc
REI Multi-towel Lite in clip case
Small, light garden trowel for digging cat holes. A couple of seemingly unnecessary ounces but old habit, friendly result. Emergencies do arise and this will help to limit the effects of them.
Several small Ziplocs for packing out and disposing of bog paper

Small, lightweight bowl
Opinel #6 with micro stone
Small pillowcase. If pillow is needed, stuff with extra clothes
Micro LED light. 1 set spare button batteries
Collapsible, plastic handled, pull-type corkscrew
2 p-38 style can openers. Easily misplaced, not easily replaced. Spare necessary
1 small net grocery bag
2x ear plugs
Prescription sunglasses on keeper cord
2 water bottles, SS, total no more than 1.5 liter between them. Must be slender enough to fit in outer nets.
Camera, 2x spare batteries. Familiarize myself with Spanish recycling
550 paracord 3-4 meters with two carabiners and 8 non spring, pinch style clothes pins.
Small, lightweight, closed handle cup on carbiner to clip to front strap. For drinking without depleting water supply and brushing teeth.
1 simple stick style ball-point pen
1 small journal, lightweight
1 sheet pre-printed labels with contact information to exchange with other pilgrims (read that item here and loved it)
Most common Spanish phrases and words typed small, printed front and back and laminated. Already know a little Spanish. Will learn more.
Rudimentary map, single page size, info printed on back, laminated.
Most useful info from guides, typed small, printed front and back and laminated
Neck pouch for tickets, spare cash, debit cards, etc.

Medical/Sewing Kit:

Medical #1 Stowed in light-weight empty Multi-vitamin bottle:
A Naproxen Sodium, 12 tablets.
B Ibuprofen, 12 tablets
C Loperamide Hydrochloride, 12 tablets or three days dosage
D Multi-vitamin, one per planned day of trip
E Children’s aspirin, one per planned day of trip
F 1 roll anti-acids

Items A, B, C in small jewelry Ziplocs. Information regarding substance, ml per tablet and suggested dosage written in permanent marker on bag. On reverse of bag, active ingredient and use (ie. ‘anti-inflammatory‘)in permanent marker, in Spanish for ease of locating in pharmacy. Stow in Bottle #1 with item F. Clearly marked on outside of bottle. Items D and E in outer pocket of pack.

Medical/Sewing #2 Stowed similar to number #1:
1 Small antibiotic ointment
6 individual sterile wipes
6 Cotton puffs stored in jewelry sized Ziploc
2 large-eyed needles for sewing. In small flannel swatch
2 small-eyed needles for blister treatment. In small flannel swatch
4 large safety pins
2 blanket pins
2 spare buttons for trousers
1 plastic sewing machine bobbin spun with lightweight cotton thread for blisters
1 plastic sewing machine bobbin spun with heavyweight polyester thread for clothing repairs.
1 tweezer
1 small nail clipper

Medical #3 stowed in Ziploc freezer bag:
Small roll of wide, waterproof medical tape
Waterproof capsule style bandages, limited assortment ie: 2 or 3 per size available
1 2nd Skin or Compeed blister kit, or equivalent.
4 2×2 gauze pads
Small roll, moleskin
1 ankle brace
1 knee brace
1 crepe bandage

Medical #4, in outer pocket:
1 small foot powder
1 small sunscreen, high spf
1 small, lip balm, with sunscreen

Wow.. read the good advice that he got on his Camino de Santiago Pack List here.

Backpacks: 28 liters, 30 liters or 40 liters?

Camino de Santiago Backpack

The question was:

Although my first Camino is still at least two years away Im beginning to formulate my gear list and will soon begin the “boy in the toystore” phase (my wife accuses me of using this as an excuse for new gear…but what is a middle aged man supposed to do? Lug his 5.5 lb Expedition pack for six weeks across Spain? I already humped that thing across Europe for 9 weeks looking like a Sherpa in the process — and I was only 25 at the time).

Ive checked quite a few postings and it seems as if most are using larger bags… I want to “go small” if at all possible…

Ive spent some time at the REI store and have narrowed down my pack choice down to the Gregory Z series. My other Gregory pack has served me well and the Z series fits me very well and has a lot of features i like — especially the suspension system that really does maximize airflow on the back, making it comfortable to wear in the heat – an important consideration since I live in Florida and will be , God willing, starting my Camino in Mid/late May and ending up the first week or so in July.

Logic tells me to go with the Z40 (L) series and have a little more room. But I have the nagging feeling that the Z30 (L) would make a better hiking bag for my “day to day” outings w/ the family. I also think it would force me to be a bit more ruthless in limiting my packing choices, which can be a very very good thing. It also weighs in about 10 oz less than the Z40, also a very good thing.

Have any of you found a 28ish – 30 L bag adequate for the Camino? Again, I will be packing as light as I possibly can , and the timeframe of my trip dictates the probability of using a bag liner instead of a sleeping bag, etc. Planning on two sets of clothing, etc. Or is a slightly larger bag necessary.

My wife accuses me of wanting the 30L bag then determining that it is not adequate and sizing up to a 40L bag, thus ending up with both. She knows me well, heheheh, and since I am the designated pack mule I cannot convince her that the smaller bag is for her…

Any advice is appreciated. Especially if you have experience with the Z series bags.

Read the good responses to this question on Backpacks: 28 liters, 30 liters or 40 liters?