The great pack shake-down


I’ve been gathering my supplies for weeks, but today was the first real assessment of what I will bring and what I will leave behind. The rule of thumb is to try to keep your pack under 10% of your body weight. Mine is well under that, but I’d still like to keep it as light as possible.

First, I spread everything out…it looked like a lot. Of course, I’ll be wearing some of the clothes and layering as needed. When I stuffed it all into the pack, it weighed a little over 14lbs.

Next step – bug-proof my bedding and backpack. Bedbugs and other critters can be an issue in the albergues (hostels) and I was advised to spray everything liberally with permethrin. So my down quilt, silk sleep sack and pack are now all well-doused and drying on the back porch.

Daily walking clothes include convertible hiking pants, choice of long-sleeved, short-sleeved or tank top, supportive bra, quick-drying undies and darn-tough brand socks.

Traveling/resting clothes are a Macabi skirt (very comfortable with deep pockets), a loose-fitting t-shirt, a pair of wool leggings and a comfort bra. Also a pair of non-skid travel “slippers” which are great when you’re on a plane, train or bus and want your feet to be able to relax.

For layering/weather I am trying to be as well-prepared as possible. I hate being cold, but I heat up very quickly when walking. And the weather in April could be literally anything. So…I’ve got a set of silk long-johns (which can double as pajamas), the afore-mentioned wool leggings, a very light zip-up hooded shirt/jacket by Ex Officio, a thin, zippered fleece, a felted cashmere sweater (extremely warm) a down vest and an Altus poncho. The Altus was specifically recommended to me by Someone Who Knows. Unlike a typical poncho, it has sleeves, a snap-front, a huge hood and a specially shaped back so it can go over your entire pack or be tucked away if you’re not wearing the pack. Apparently, it’s the “in” thing to wear on the Camino. And it rolls up to a tiny size.

Bits and bobs – I’ve got two bandannas, a tiny first-aid kit, a large-brimmed sun/rain hat, “dirty-girl” gaiters to keep pebbles and dirt out of my shoes, two buffs (one wool, one polyester,) a pair of thin gloves and both an ankle and knee brace in case my old body goes wonky.

Toiletries have all been put into little bitty containers and include toothpaste, medication, lotion, deodorant, and a starting supply of ibuprofen/aspirin. Also a puff for scrubbing, a teeny-tiny travel towel, a bar of laundry soap, earplugs and a toothbrush. And the all-important charger and adapter for my i-Phone.

And finally – footwear. I’ll be wearing an almost-new pair of New Balance 410s, which I find the most comfortable and supportive for my feet. And I’m bringing a pair of Tevas, to change into when I get to the end of of each day and maybe even to walk in if the weather is good and my feet need a break. I plan to pick up a pair of hiking poles when I get to Pamplona.

So….I don’t feel completely “ready” yet. But I’m getting there. And anything I forget or need after I leave, I can buy in Spain…as well as leave anything superfluous behind in the albergue for another pilgrim.

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