Camino Audit #2 – My Gear

Overall, I did well with what I took. So much though depends on the weather, and the time of year you do the Camino.

I was incredibly lucky with the weather. Two weeks before, it had been snowing and raining. On my Camino, I only really got one proper wet day, apart from a few drizzle days in Galicia. And no snow, and no really cold weather. (April 10 to May 10)

Here’s my assessment of what I took —

BACKPACK – Osprey Kestrel 38L

Fabulous. Comfortable, easy to adjust, loved that you could access your sleeping bag from the bottom, loved that it had a built in rain cover. Always cool even when I was sweating profusely. My only negative is that I could have done with the 48L version. Sometimes it was a little cramped with food. But a joy to put on, which is saying something!

BOOTS – Asolo Goretex Morans

Loved them. They saved me from a couple of serious ankle sprains. The grip was fantastic. Clung to shale rocks and were always comfortable. And waterproof. And they protected my feet perfectly. Yes I got a few blisters, but I don’t put that down to the boots – more to the long miles I was walking, and to my blister management technique, which was largely non existent. After 800 kms the tread is barely worn. They could do another two Caminos easily. Pity I can’t…

INSOLES – Superfeet

Essential. They made the boots work. Gave me cushioning when I really needed it, and helped absorb shock through my spine.

SOCKS – Icebreaker Merino thick

Again, fabulous. Further helped absorb shock, and handled heat and cold perfectly.


Probably the reason I had as few blisters as I did. Again, essential.

AFTER WALKING SHOES – “Barefoot Runner”

These for me would have to go into the Essential category. I would put these lightweight shoes on at the end of the day, after I’d showered. They only weigh 400gms, yet they enabled me to walk freely around towns and villages. For me, a far better choice then flip-flops or Crocs.

(I never subscribed to the belief that you should wear flip flops into showers, to prevent picking up foot diseases. I have resolutely refused to walk this Camino with fear.)


The technical dry-fast version. Had two pairs, and they did the job beautifully. Didn’t want to wear shorts – the long trakkies protected my legs from the sun, and even in the cold my legs seemed warm. I wore black so the dirt wouldn’t show up as much.

UNDIES – Bonds quick dry

Every bit of clothing you bring on the Camino should be easy to wash, and quick drying. My undies were perfect for that, although sometimes if I got in late they wouldn’t dry in time, so I had to hang them off my backpack the next day until they dried!

T SHIRTS – Icebreaker Merino 150gms.

Fantastic. The merino kept me warm in the cold, and cool in the heat. Didn’t hold stinky odour, and were fast to dry. Expensive, but worth it.

OUTER LONG SLEEVE TOP – Icebreaker Merino 200 gms

Again, fantastic. (Icebreaker, how about a sponsorship deal hey? Have your people call my people…) Seriously, I had two of these and wore them every day – when it was minus 5C, and when it was 35C.

(On clothing, I discovered I only needed two of everything – one to wear, and one to have clean for the following day. This required doing the laundry each day after the walk, which was not a problem. I did bring a third t shirt and a third pair of undies, both of which I never wore. I did though use a lighter thickness of sock – a pair separate to my two thick pairs – and I wore these at the end of the day when I was walking around a village or town in my runners.)

OUTER SHELL – Spanish windbreaker jacket

I brought this along for sentimental reasons, because I actually bought the jacket in Leon two years ago, in a hiking store that catered for pilgrims. It was warm and wind proof, however it trapped sweat. It wasn’t breathable, and that meant I had to wash it each night – and it took ages to dry. I’d go for a Gortex jacket if it was to do it again.

OUTER SHELL – Gretox rainjacket Katmandu

Great. Didn’t need to use it much, except for the days coming into San Martin and Astorga, and when I hit Galicia, but always comfortable and most importantly, completely waterproof.


A very lightweight windbreaker jacket I picked up in Pamplona, and ended wearing it every day, after finishing the day’s walk.

SCARF – Pasmina green scarf

Essential. Kept my neck warm in the cold, and kept the sun off. As it turned out, the unusual green colour became my “signature,” along with my Swannies cap, so people could recognise me from a long way off. That’s if they didn’t recognise the distinctive cripple hobble…

WALKING STICKS – Leki recoilable

Essential. Could not have got through the Camino without them. They helped me up hills, and helped me brake going down descents. Can’t speak too highly of sticks in general, and these Lekis in particular.

SLEEPING BAG – Western Mountaineering

This was expensive. In fact, the single biggest expense other than the airfares, but worth it. Light, warm, comfortable, and packed down to nothing. If I’d travelled later into the season, may not have needed it – but certainly needed it in April/May.

GLOVES – Katmandu wind stoppers

Only wore them about three times, but on those occasions I really needed them.

BEANIE – Icebreaker Merino

Never used it. Sent it on ahead to Santiago. (When it was really cold, I’d put on my rain jacket and use the hood for warmth around my head and ears.)


Never used them either. Didn’t find I needed them. But then again, the weather was very kind. Shipped them to Santiago too along with…

THERMALS – Icebreaker merinos

Not necessary. Never that cold. Maybe in winter…


Let it in the albergue at Roncesvalles. Never used it. Unnecessary.


Before leaving Australia, I bought a $25 Casio wrist watch that had an illumination function. I used this all the time in the albergues, where you'd wake up at night and not know what the time was. Press a button and a light came on and lit up the time. Essential.


Essential. Essential in the albergues for finding your stuff in the dark, and for when I set off early before sunrise.

KNIFE – Opinel

I got this knife soon as I got to St. Jean Pied de Port. €5 from a local store. It was invaluable, both for cutting up cheeses and chorizo, but also for cutting bandages!

CAMERA – Fujifilm x10

I chose the camera because of its lightweight, its sensor, its manual capabilities, and because I’ve always liked Fuji’s processing engines. But it was a compromise. Weight and sensor size vs Image Quality. I’ll write more about this in a future post, however, the camera did a good job, and overall I’m happy with it.


If I was doing this trek again, I’d probably buy an Apple Macbook Air. The iPad has been very frustrating at times because of its limited capabilities – but as with the camera, it’s a compromise and served it’s purpose.

PHONES – iPhone 5 + Nokia

Both phones have been useful. Smartest thing I did, as I was limping into Pamplona, was get Vodaphone SIM cards for the iPad, and the phones. I found Vodaphone had coverage everywhere I went, except for one night in the remote mountains.


Never used it. Not once. Didn’t want other influences on my thoughts, other than the sounds and spaces around me.


I went into a hardware store very early into the walk and for €1.50 I bought a power adapter which would allow 3 plugs. Essential, particularly in albergues.

WATER BOTTLE – Gatorade bottle

I didn’t use a Camelback. Too heavy. Instead I bought a Gatorade bottle, because it has a wide mouth for gulping down water fast. I put that in the left hand side pocket of my backpack’s waistband. Easy to reach. 600ml. I had another bottle of water in a pocket of the side of the backpack – always filled to a further 600mls, which I used to top up the Gatorade bottle if necessary. This was a simple and effective way for me to keep always hydrated.


Never used the shampoo. Threw away the deodorant. Bought some disposable razors because they were light. Bought a very small tube of toothpaste, and a small can of shaving cream. No hairbrush or comb. No nail clippers.


Essential. I read about snorers in albergues. They are real and they exist and they will shake your teeth loose.


Essential. Expensive in Spain, unless you buy from big supermarkets. Cheaper to buy at home and bring with you.


You buy what you need in Spain according to what injuries you get. Farmacias are everywhere, especially on the Camino! And pharmaceuticals in Spain are very cheap. For instance, a packet of 40 tablets of Ibuprofen, 600mg, are under €2. Incredible. If I was doing the walk again, I’d make sure I had Ibuprofen, Voltaren cream, crepe bandage, Betadine, and some antibiotic cream. And an elasticised knee bandage.

COMPEED – for blisters.

I had a bad experience with Compeed and would never use it again. Ever. It caused a small blister on my heel to become huge, and infected. Interestingly, the pharmacist in Santo Domingo, after looking at my heel, refused to sell Compeed to me! I know it works for some people, but for me it didn’t. Big time.


Never used my clothes pegs, and never used laundry soap. There were always pegs and soaps available. Never needed a laundry bag. Ziplock bags though are essential.


That’s easy – those Leki walking sticks. And my elasticised knee bandage!

By the way, even with my camera, iPad, various phones and chargers, my pack came in at 8.8kgs. It dropped 1.75kgs further when I posted a lot of stuff through from Pamplona to Santiago.

21 thoughts on “Camino Audit #2 – My Gear

  1. Thanks, Bill. Big help to me as I am just doing my final check list in my pack today. I think I share the desire to have a slightly larger pack with you. I have the same you do, but it will do just fine. Since you did not mention them, I assume you did not have a sleeping bag liner or sleeping pad. I have not bought them either, but still considering. Honestly, I just need to go close up the pack and know that if I missed something I can pick it up on the Camino. Looking at the weather, seems Jill and I will be starting in the rain. Hope we are as lucky as you with weather. Friend walked it two years ago same time, and had no rain. Whatever it is, it is. We will get in the groove. I will miss following your blogs, but then I can focus on mine. You have definitely given me thoughts for my own. G’day Mate.


    • That’s very exciting Steve! You and Jill must be jumping put of your skins in anticipation! I never looked at the weather forecast – all I did was look out the window,the morning I was due to set out. I don’t worry about what I can’t control.

      My maxim for the Camino? Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, you’ll get there. Good luck mate!


      • I agree with that, but put various places along the Camino in my iPhone just to give us an idea of temps and rain, as well. But, as you say, once there it makes no difference.


  2. Wow !!!

    That’s seriously hi-tech LOL !!!

    ME :

    Backpack : cheap black sports bag shouldered by the straps — super light, and virtually no room inside !!!

    Boots : Size 13 French Army Boots, black

    Insoles : black

    Socks: khaki military grade wool (why don’t these idjits make them in black ?)

    Sock liners : eh ?

    After walking shoes : Size 13 French Army Boots, black

    Black jeans : Black

    Undies : Black boxer shorts, cheap, cotton

    T-Shirts : Cheap, black

    Outer long sleeve top : Pullover, wool, black

    Outer shell : The Camino

    After Walking Jacket : El Pueblo

    Scarf : Scallop shell on cheap nylon thread from Pablo Payo

    Walking stick : Shepherd/cowherd stick from a drunken atheist gay friend of my sister’s met by chance on the Jubilee pilgrimage to Rome in 2000

    Sleeping bag : Preferably French military, but my best one was stolen

    Gloves: Sunlight and shadow

    Beanie : ?????

    Gaitors : ?????

    Thermals : The Sun

    Reflective Safety Vest : Black T-Shirt

    Wrist Watch : Safely at home

    Headlamp : The Moon

    Camera : ultra cheap, and destroyed by Galician downpour

    Phone : Nope

    One Thing I Couldn’t D Without : Biblia Sacra Vulgata


    To each his own, mate 🙂


  3. Thanks Bill. I am feeling better about my choice of gear. Asolo..I love. Have both boots and shoes and not sure which ones to wear. Both are well worn and much loved. Ankle support vs. no ankle support. Advice? Also have Osprey pack, icebreaker socks & merinos and quick dry underwear. Sleeping bag is also Western Mountaineering and super light. Yes, expensive but you have helped me justify my choice. Black Diamond poles and Kathmandu shirts and 3/4 pants also. Rain Jacket is Marmot and very light. Thanks for the pashmina advice. Didn’t think of that. What brand and fabric? Am planning on iPad mini. Any other hints would be appreciated.
    How is that toe?


    • Hi Anne, seems like you’re really kitted out!

      Re ankle support – there are a lot of sections with very rocky uneven terrain. Coming down from the Iron Cross into Acebo has to rank up there with any of the hardest parts of the Camino. Treacherous.

      So personally, I’d go for the boots.

      Wear a hat – don’t wear a cap like me. You’ll need the protection. And as for a scarf, I’d just get a cheap cotton Indian scarf – you shouldn’t need it for warmth as much for sun protection.

      Otherwise, it’s amazing how little you need. Oh, I’d pick up an Opinel knife when I get to France. For food, cutting open baguettes, and cutting bandages! They cost about €5 and I found mine invaluable.



      • Thanks Bill. Am leaving the Swannies hat at home, especially after last night’s game. Have a Kathmandu bucket hat – lightweight and quick dry. Will do my next few training walks in boots. Have been in shoes up until now. See how I go. Anne


        • Yes Anne, I read the account of the game. The Hawks, when they’re on song, are good! Hope the last minute preps go well. Bill


  4. Gidday Bill,

    your gear audit is excellent for me – I’m thinking of taking my own digital camera an Olympus E-420 (ie = about entry level) with maybe only one 14-42 lens l. – weighs with charger and upload cable and card reader about 630gm ? ..would you have an opinion and am very interested in you I-pad advice, would have to buy one, but Maurene already has a Macbook air 13″ which I could take – but is approx twice the weight of an ipad – also I am a bit heavier than you and I think I could take about 9.5 – 10.00 (max) kgs ?? any thought/ when you have time.

    Thanks in advance,

    Terry McEwen


    • Hi Terry, that’s a good outfit you’re bringing, but I would seriously consider a zoom with longer reach. Normally I don’t shoot much beyond 90mm, and I tend to favour the wide angles – 24mm being my favourite focal length – but on the Camino. I found I was often racking out to my camera’s full telephoto, which is 110mm, and even then I would have loved to have had a 200mm.

      On iPad vs MacBok Air – I think you should invest either in an iPad mini, (although I think a new version is coming out shortly) or the latest iPad, if your budget can stretch to that. Weight is important. But if you can cop the weight, then what the Air gives you is backup storage. And the ability to properly post process, if you have the time.

      Again though, when you’re climbing up he Pyrenees, every ounce counts!



      • Thanks very much Bill.

        I think I’ll bring the extra lens then (up to 150mm) and drop the extra weight of the McB.Air – by taking an Ipad with a blue-tooth keyboard. I think the Ipad mini is too small for my hands (even if that’s only in my head) if you see what I mean – as I most probably don’t need such good post processing & storage as you. If I can get ten really excellent pics out of a thousand I’ll be happy enough, and I don’t think my kids or friends need me to post-process my stories or jokes – they’re already used to the current level of (defective) processing! I have also thought of bringing my wife’s donkey (Platera) but am advised against it. Thanks again! Have a great wind-down before you have to wind-up again. We have enjoyed your blog and hope to stay in touch if the opportunity presents. Will also be keen to see your “PGS” when it’s fully evolved!

        Kind Regards,

        Terry and Maurene McEwen


        • Hi Terry,

          That all sounds like a good idea. You might be surprised how often you use that telephoto.

          Good luck with it all. Hope it all goes well for you both!



  5. Bill, thanks for the review of your packing list. I’m leaving the house in 3 days, so your blog is very timely. I’m taking my iPad and a Pentax compact digital, Any advice on using the iPad to blog along the way? Thanks.


    • Hi Kathy, the only advice I can give is to do rehearsal blogs, with photo uploads, before you go. That way you can work through any problems you might have before you hit the Camino. Bill


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