Me in my gear at the French-Spanish border

There are many facets to the preparation for the Camino, and many different opinions on all of them. Planning the journey itself really depends on the sort of person you are - some just start and stop when the feel like it, others have a detailed advance plan. Many follow more or less one of the several guidebooks available. I used the guidebooks mentioned below and had a basic plan, but that soon fell by the wayside, and I found myself planning a few days at a time taking into account the overall distance to cover and time available. More of that will be revealed in what follows.

Physical preparation was not really an issue for me as I walk for recreation anyway and had had two weeks walking in Snowdonia a few weeks before I began the Camino. But if you are not used to walking some training might be wise! Also bear in mind that every surplus kilo around your waist has to be carried 780 km and up a total of about 9000 meters. On that subject experience teaches that the Camino is good for losing a few kilos!


This is one area where good preparation pays dividends - my pack was half the weight of some others on the Camino - here is how I did it...

A wide brimmed hat (Illustrated)
Bought from a National Trust shop
A thin fleeece jacket
Three shirts
Two technical 'T's - one long sleeve (illustrated), one short sleeve, and a long sleeve shirt in a heavy non crumpling silk I bought in Thailand many years ago.
A pair of walking trousers (Illustrated)
A pair of shorts
A mistake from my point of view - I walked in trousers and shorts were not good for the evenings when the trousers were drying. A second pair of trousers would have been better
Two pairs of undies
Two pairs of hiking socks
A pair of lightwieght walking boots (Illustrated)
Brasher Hillmaster Classics which were already several hundred miles old when I started and are still going strong!
A pair of lightweight sandals
Tevas -almost ubiqitous on the Camino - weigh just 500g the pair. Hanging from the pack in the picture
Waterproof jacket and trousers
fairly cheap Regatta ones - lightweight and fairly effective - though the weather was so good they hardly got used

Books etc.
The Confraternity guide to the Camino Frances
Alison Raju's guidebook
A New Testament and Psalms
A notebook and pen
My Credencial
Assorted essential travel documents

Other kit
Sleeping bag
600g down one by Storm Sheild I got in a sale for only 35
A travel towel
Toothbrush & paste
General purpose soap
I started off with a bottle of Mountain Suds, but when that was finished a bottle of shower gel served to wash body, hair and clothing
Medical kit
Included plaster strip, Micropore, ibuprofen, Imodium, antihistamine, hydrocortisone cream, Diprobase (for feet and dry skin), antiseptic cream, blister plasters (I prefer Sorboskin to Compeed), and safety pins.
Swiss army knife
a medium sized one with sissors
Sewing kit
1.5 litre water bottle with drinking system (illustrated)
Walking pole (illustrated)
Leather conditioner (for the boots)
Spare laces
Head torch
A lightweight LED model from Ring I was 'field testing' for a friend who markets them.
Clothes pegs
I didn't have these to start with - I bought them on the way. Some just use safety pins but they slide along the washing line
Emergency whistle

Camera kit
Ths was very hard to decide. I was very tempted to cary an SLR - my Pentax MZ6 with the 28-105 would have been about 900g including case. But in the end I decided to keep weight right down and took a 200g Olympus XA. It has a fixed 35mm f2.8 lens with a very good repuation, and the camera gives control over aperture and focus and exposure (the later indirectly using the film speed control). Film was Fuji Sensia 100 slide film. I also carried a mini Ultrapod tripod.

All this just fitted into my 35 litre rucksack (illustrated) along with a day's supply of food. I could have done with a larger sack really but I knew this one was comfortable - having had it for several years - and the small size of the pack heped me keep weight down. Total pack weight was about 7kg excluding food and water.