You could ask a hundred different people what is necessary to take and you might get 100 different answers. While there are many things that are personal preference, there are also many things that while they might not be essential, they should be.
THE RIGHT FOOTWEAR
Again, there are many differing opinions on this contentious issue. Much of your decision on which footwear to take will depend on which Camino you walk, how far you’re walking and the time of year you’re walking. If you’re walking the full Camino in the dead of winter then you’re going to want a sturdy pair of waterproof boots. But if you’re only walking the relatively flat meseta in the height of summer, then a light pair of breathable sneakers could suffice. Amore in depth assessment on getting the right boots can be found in raw Travel’s trek training guide.
No matter which time of year you’re walking, bringing layers of clothing is the key to both comfort and warmth. Being able to add or subtract clothing as required is the best way to monitor your comfort levels, as well as reducing your reliance on one or two clothes items should you get caught in a downpour or the like. A top range waterproof jacket is also highly recommended because if there’s one certainty is that it will rain at some stage on your walk.
THE RIGHT MATERIALS
This is also a highly important factor when trying to maximise comfort. While pilgrims of the past may have walked out of their homes with heavy, coarse and uncomfortable clothing, these days we’re a little more sophisticated.
Merino wool is the best material for under items due to their ability to wick moisture. Socks, t-shirts and thermal wear are all items that should be predominantly merino. Similarly, gore-tex is the best material for waterproofing.
Most importantly, don’t bring clothes made of heavy materials that don’t dry quickly such as denim and cotton.
To use or not to use, that is the question. Some people swear by them, some use one occasionally while others use two every step of the way. They are great for maintaining balance on inclines or declines as well as offering confidence on uneven terrain. But at the end of the day it’s very much a personal preference and practicing with them before you go may go a long way to helping you decide if you want to use them. They are lightweight and can be bought cheaply in Spain so it might be worth carrying them just in case.
HOW MUCH TO TAKE
The adage goes that you shouldn’t take more than 10% of your body weight. Of course this is difficult if you weigh 50kg and if you weighed 120kg or more it means your pack could be very heavy! Whatever the case, be minimalist as there’s nothing that can’t be bought in Spain if you’re missing something.
Of course this is only really important if you’re carrying your full pack. If you’re just carrying a daypack while walking, you might want to check out this short video for some helpful tips.
The best advice we can offer is to get yourself to a proper outdoor store and find a knowledgeable salesperson who can guide you through the full pros and cons of everything on offer.