What I’m Taking

What you take on your Camino walk is one of the most important decisions you’ll make – because you’ll have to haul it all on your back, or on your person, for 800+ kms.

I’ve given a lot of thought to it, and I’ve done a lot of reading on blogs and forums, and what I’ve come to learn is that the two most crucial pieces of gear are your boots and your backpack.

BOOTS: I’m going with a pair of Asolo Moran Gortex hiking boots. I’ve tried various Timberland and Scarpa boots, but the Asolo seem to be the most comfortable for me. They’re Italian, although made in Romania, and I’m using inner soles (Superfeet) to give me more cushioning for my back. (I have two metal plates screwed into my lower spine, thanks to a car accident many years ago.)

A tip on boots – don’t buy them online, you have to get them fitted, and preferably with the socks you’ll be wearing, and any sock liners too. Then you have to allow some serious wriggle room, because your feet will swell with continuous day-after-day walking. You’ll find you’ll need at least half a size, and more probably a full size bigger than normal. Also, make sure you have plenty of toe room, because when you’re walking down steep slopes, particularly with a load on your back, your toes tend to jam into the end of your boots. You’ll find that you quickly lose toe-nails if you don’t have sufficient room.

Another tip on boots: wear them in! Allow enough time to wear them in over a variety of conditions; on the road, on bush tracks, up and down hills and mountains. Do about 150-200 kms in them before you hit the Camino. If you’re going to get blisters, it’s best to get them before you leave home, that way you can work out why, and fix the problem.

BACKPACK: I’ve decided on an Osprey 38L Kestral backpack. I’ve gone through various reviews, and it seems that 38L will be all I’ll need, and the Osprey has a great reputation. I went in to Paddy Pallin in Sydney (the best hiking place, I reckon) and I got one of the staff to personally fit it – because different packs fit different backs. This one fitted fine. It’s relatively heavy – 1.44kgs – but it seems well made and very comfortable.

I’ve given thought to getting a hydration pack for the backpack – that’s basically a 2L water bladder that fits inside your backpack, with a tube that allows you to drink while you walk. I’ve decided against this – I’m going to carry two bottles of water (600ml) in the side pouches of the backpack, with a 300ml smaller bottle of water in the front pouch which I can access easily. I’ll periodically refill the smaller bottle from the two larger bottles during the day. Why do it this way? Because I don’t like the idea of sucking on a teat.

CAMERA: The choice of a camera is a critical one for me. I’m a film director but also a photographer (accredited with the Australian Institute of Professional Photographers), and so imagery is very important to me. But on this trip, so is weight!

The lightest option (other than not taking a camera at all) is the iPhone, at 135gms. I have an iPhone 5 and it’s pretty nifty with imaging, particularly with some of the apps that can really enhance a shot. However it’s a fixed lens camera, the sensor is very small, and even though I can use the panoramic function, the lens isn’t wide enough for me.

The camera I’d like to take is a Nikon D3200 – a small light entry-level DSLR with a 24MP sensor. But even with a 12-24mm f4 lens, charger and batteries, the weight comes in at 1.35kgs. Too heavy.

So I’m taking a small Fujifilm x10. I love this little camera. It has a 2/3″ CMOS sensor and a 28-112mm f2.0-2.8 lens which is sharp as a tack. Useable ISO up to 1600. With batteries and charger it comes in at 700gms. It’s a good compromise.

MAPS ETC: To save on weight, I’m digitising my maps and guidebooks, including the Camino standard – John Brierley’s Guidebook. I can view these on my iPad or iPhone. This way, I have the added advantage of being able to magnify the text with the zoom function, so I won’t need to take my reading glasses out of my pack all the time.

PACKING LIST: This is what I’m taking – with the weight of each item:

(The total backpack weight, without food and water, comes in at 8.46kgs. Food and 1.5lts of water will add another 2kgs. This is too heavy for my body weight – but right at the moment I can’t figure out what to drop from this list, given that at times it’s going to be very wet and cold.)

What I’m wearing –

Asolo boots – 1320gms
Icebreaker hiking merino socks (thick) – 118gms
Nike track pants – tech, fast drying – 350gms
Icebreaker short sleeve t-shirt – merino – 175gms
Icebreaker long sleeve top – merino – 315gms
Windbreaker softshell jacket – 560gms
Scarf – wool – 96gms
Cap (Australian Cricket cap) – 95gms
Bonds tech undies – 65gms
Sunglasses (prescription) – 95gms

What’s in the pack:

Backpack – Osprey Kestral 38L – 1440gms
Sleeping Bag – Western Mountaineering – 568gms
Knife – Opinel – 100gms
Headlamp Princeton Tek – 96gms
Towel – Katmandu – 121gms
Toilet paper – 25gms
Sellic 15 (anti-blister cream) x1 – 170gms
Day Pack – Sea to Summit sling bag – 30 gms
Ziplocs (extra bags) – 30gms

Rain Jacket – Gortex – Katmandu – 620gms
Rain pants (long) – North Face – 215gms
Katmandu Windstopper vest – 280gms
Reflective Safety vest – 220gms
2nd Nike tech track pants – 350gs
Sneakers (Rivers Barefoot lite) – 430gms
2nd Icebreaker t-shirt – merino – 175gms
2nd Icebreaker long sleeve top – merino – 315gms
Thermal top – Icebreaker merino – 220gms
2nd pair Icebreaker socks (thick) – 118gms
1 pair Icebreaker socks (medium) – 85gms
Sock Liners x 2 (Wigwam) – 50gms
2 x Bonds undies – 130 gms
Gloves – Katmandu windstoppers – 66gms
Beanie Icebreaker merino – 33gms
Glasses + case (distance + readers) – 85gms
Extra boot laces – 10gms

Sunscreen – 85gms
Aspirin / Codral – 50gms
Vitamin C powder – 50gms
Betadine small tube – 25gms
Earplugs / Eyeshades – 15gms
Soap – 50gms
Razor – 45gms
Deodorant (Dove 50ml) – 84gms
Shampoo (small) – 50gms
6 plastic clothes pegs – 24gms
6 large safety pins – 24gms
Laundry bag – 20gms
Compeed (for blisters) x 8 – 40gms
Knee bandage – 96gms
Toothbrush – 15gms
Toothpaste – 45gms
Hairbrush – 20gms
Passports – 75gms
Credit cards + Drivers License – 25gms
Money belt – mesh – 150gms
Scallop Shell – 75gms
St. Christopher medallion – 40gms
A small stone, from home, to put at base of Iron Cross. – 50gms

iPod – 31gms
iPhone – 137gms
iPad – 613gms
Sim card remover – 3gms
Apple Charger (for iPhone, iPod + iPad) – 98gms
Nokia phone -85gms (for local calls + texts)
Nokia charger – 45gms
iPad SD card reader – 35gms
Camera – Fujifilm x10 – 700gms
(includes charger and 3 extra batteries)
SD cards 16GB x 2 – 50gms
Power adapter – 47gms

NOTE: A week out from departing, I have done a cull, and removed some of the above items. I’ve had to ask myself – Is this REALLY necessary? Here are the things that I’ve taken out of the pack –

Reflective Safety vest – 220gms
1 x Sellic 15 (anti-blister cream) – 85gms
Reading glasses – 40gms
Extra boot laces – 10gms
Sunscreen – 85gms
Deodorant (Dove 50ml) – 84gms
6 plastic clothes pegs – 24gms
Laundry bag – 20gms
Hairbrush – 20gms

Individually, some of the items don’t weigh much, (a hairbrush at 20 gms? Seriously?) but cumulatively it saves more than 600gms, which is significant. The only item I’m not sure about leaving behind is the reflective vest, however I figure if I really need it, I can buy one over in Spain.

Most importantly though, with this culling I’ve now managed to bring the weight of the backpack, without food or water, down to 7.75 kgs. I’m not sure I can reduce it much further.