Gear for the Camino
top 2 priorities
Your boots and backpack will support you every step of the way and are at the top of the “must choose wisely” list. The right choice of boots and pack will carry you across the Camino comfortably while the wrong selection will bring you blisters, painful joints, and muscles and could easily ruin your experience or even send you home.
At Camino Bound, we will help guide you to choose wisely.
GEar for the Camino. #1 Boots
Hiking boots will be the most important purchases you will make for the Camino. They need to fit you perfectly and you must take the time to shop for and find them.
There are so many types of boots/shoes to choose from. How long you intend to walk the Camino and on what terrain can help you determine whether you want a full boot, low rise hiking shoe, or a pair of heavier soled running shoes.
Boots should fit snug on your feet and NOT tight. There must also be room for all of your toes to wiggle freely. This is important because after a few days of Camino walking your feet will swell and you’ll need the extra room to prevent blisters.
It is advised to get a specialist at a reputable store to measure your foot length and width. Take into consideration the shape of your foot, is it narrow or wide? Some people with wide feet and toes need a boot with a wide toe bed like Keens.
Shop for your boots at the end of the day when your feet are more likely to be a bit swollen.
Try on your boots with the socks you plan to wear on the Camino.
When you find a good fit walk around the store, stand on your tiptoes, walk up and down the steps and carry a weighted backpack.
Now, this might seem odd but try on the same boot one size bigger. If you can tighten your laces to feel comfortable and walk around well in them then the larger boot is a better choice. You will need the extra room for your swollen feet, believe us. Remember in the mornings you can tighten your laces but in the afternoon you will be loosening them. If your feet swell too much one thing you won’t be able to do is make your boots bigger, therefore another good reason for the extra space.
REI has more great advice on boot selection.
Break-in your boots before your Camino. Wear them in the house a lot. This will give you a good idea if they are the right fit and if not you will be able to return them for another size or style. Once you are sure they are the right boots then you should venture outdoors on various walks breaking them in further. It takes time to break in your boots so wear them a lot so they have time to mold to your feet.
CAUTION: the right boots will carry you across the Camino comfortably the wrong ones could result in blisters, having to buy new boots along the way, or even ending your Camino. So choose wisely.
Camino Gear, Your backpack
Choosing the correct backpack for you is of utmost importance because it will be on your back for several hours every day. If you choose the right bag it will sit on you comfortably and not be a burden, but if you choose a bag that doesn’t fit you properly you could suffer lots of pain and injury may result.
Choosing the best backpack for you will take time so do your research and allow a few hours to shop for it. Have an expert in the section help you. Tell them about your journey, how long you’ll be hiking, and what other gear you are planning on bringing. It is a good idea to ask if they or anyone on staff has experience hiking long distances, or on the Camino. If they are familiar with the Camino, that is a bonus, they will know what kind of Camino Gear you will need. Keep in mind that just because someone has done some long-distance hikes they might have missed a few key factors about choosing the right pack for you.
Your backpack should fit your torso properly, be a good size, not too big and not too small (30 to 36 litres depending on your size), and should be able to hold your daily needs and the rest of your Camino Gear. It is suggested that you carry only 10% of your body weight, the weight of your backpack is included in that 10%.
Things NOT to consider when choosing a pack:
- The colour of the pack should NOT be a reason for choosing it.
- Choosing a pack because your partner or friend has one like it should NOT be a reason for buying it.
- Choosing a pack because you like the brand name should NOT be the reason for choosing your backpack.
Tips for choosing your backpack:
- Your backpack should fit your body comfortably being not too small or too big. Many packs come in various sizes, average, long, short, and some specifically sized for women.
- Weight. Fabrics, zippers, straps, buckles, compartments, a frame, and other accessories add to the weight of the bag. Remember the weight of your pack is INCLUDED in the 10% weight allotment.
- Before you try on a backpack be sure to load it with weights. Good sporting stores will have bags of sand or weighted bags to use. Distribute the weighted bags in the backpack accordingly by placing heavier ones at the bottom, medium weight bags in the middle and closer to your body, and lighter weight bags on top. This will mimic the weight of your Camino gear and help in the choosing process.
- Loosen all the straps on the bag before you put it on and ask the associate to show you how to adjust them properly. Some bags have several straps that allow for fine adjustments that make the pack more comfortable. Ensure the waist strap is adjusted over your hips and pulled tightly. Your hips will carry the majority of the weight of your bag taking the weight off of your shoulders.
- Walk around the store with the pack on, squat a few times, bend over, step up on your tiptoes, and move about. If there are stairs in the store walk up and down the stairs as well.
- If a bag does NOT feel comfortable, take it off, put it aside, and try another. If a pack feels good, take it off and put it in the “Maybe” pile.
- Try on another pack that suits your body size.
- Have no more than three packs in the “Maybe” pile at one time.
- When you try on the fourth pack and you like it, you will have to decide if it is better than any of the three in the “Maybe” pile. Keep your Maybe pile filled with the best three packs for you.
- When you have tried on all packs in the store that suit your body size, are comfortable and of appropriate weight go to your “Maybe” pile and try those 3 packs on again. Choose the best pack out of the three that meet your comfort and weight needs.
Once you choose your pack it is a good time to get a pack rain cover for it. Keep your pack loaded with the weights and try on the cover to ensure full coverage. This will keep your pack and contents dry.
- 5 to 10 euros
- Run by local Pilgrim Association or International Confraternity.
- Normally staffed by volunteers with previous Camino experience wishing to give back to fellow Pilgrims.
- Curfew imposed.
- 8 to 12 euros.
- These albergues are organized with standards in the association.
- Facilities vary.
- Generally modern with single or bunk beds in rooms of 4 beds or more.
- 8 to 12 euros (more for private rooms)
- Usually family-run businesses.
- Single or bunk beds in dormitory-style rooms and shared bathrooms.
- Some offer separate rooms with private bathrooms, fresh bedding and towels for a higher cost.
- Many have modern facilities for cooking, laundry, common areas and maybe a swimming pool.
- May offer breakfast (desayunos) 3 to 5 euro, dinner (cena) 8 to10 euro.
- Cleanliness varies from immaculate to mediocre.
- Clean bedding may be offered.
- Blankets often supplied but used by many pilgrims.
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