Backpack Essentials

What Weight will be on your feet?

In the book “Camino Ready. Backpacks, Boots & (no) Blisters” I provide a table showing the weights of essential items; it’s scary when you see how little weighs so much!! Also included are tips on choosing and packing your backpack as well as links.

I have learned the hard way the condition I arrive in is a function of

  1. both my total loaded backpack weight and
  2. how fast and far I walk each day.

Let’s face it: there are many things we would like to take with us and we make up our minds they are essential for security or comfort or health or personal hygiene. Uncertainty and fear can override all the advice you can get so I will try and put it in perspective for you.

Facts. Pressure on the hips, knees, ankles, tendons, and feet is determined by 1) our body weight, 2) the clothes we wear, and 3) the weight of our backpack. This ignores additional pressure from the terrain we are walking on. Steep up hill and downhill walking also has gravity pulling you backwards or forward.

This can be partly offset with walking poles and “why I like walking poles” in Chapter 8.

There is also a suggested packing list in Chapter 6 which cautions about carrying too much in your backpack. It is a very common problem as fear of something going wrong or not being prepared overrides all the advice about keeping weight down.

That’s why I called the Chapter “weight creep-a killjoy”. It is so tempting just to add extra clothes, toiletries, snacks and to take unnecessary items. We all do it, I certainly did on my first Camino. I have even seen middle age women and men getting ready to cross the Pyrenees for the first time with massive backpack loads full of makeup, books, extra clothing and all manner of stuff including a blow up airbed.

The pilgrims office in St Jean has a weighing scale and many have put their packs on there and just about collapsed having really only brought them from the aircraft and not having tried to carry them any distance. In these instances we urge them to post the excess to Santiago or send it home.

The albergues over the first 200-300 km are full of discarded items!

For more information please read my book  based on a certain amount of painful person experiences and lots of learnings from thousands of kilometres of walking.