GEAR: Budgeting, What to Take & How to Pack

 

Overview: Your Gear Budget and Gear Quality, Feet and Weather Protection 

 

Packing TIps:  Notable Youtube internet video clips.  Camino veterans give easy to understand tips.

                  Small but essential items (Lindsay, 2012).

                      Packing List and Gear Review (Lindsay's Review, 2012)

                      Packing Light, (Traveleska's Review,  

                      Post-Camino Gear Review. (Manager on the Hill, 2012) 

 

LOADING & BALANCING THE PACK - the suggested way

                     Heavier stuff on the bottom and to the front, next to your back. 

 

Critical Elements of Gear.

                      Foot Wear

                      Foot Care

                      Hydration (water Bags)

                      Waterproof, breathable & wicking fabrics

                      Right fabric (for you)

 

1. IMPORTANT - Your Gear Budget and Quality: the 'Long View', Feet.

Saving money vs gear quality: a relatively few dollars more for quality core gear (boots, breathable upper layers) is worth protecting your overall Camino investment. 

 

Why gamble on quality for this one opportunity (for most) for a few dollars saved? Ultimately, this is your decision, but...?

 

1.1 The Long View:

What gear choices will best last the whole Way and protect you the most from injury, weather emergencies, etc.? What will maximize your chances of completing your Camino?  


A relatively small extra expense on a few core gear items can save hundreds of dollars more from over-exposure, emergency rest stops in hotels,  hospitalization, etc.  But remember, you are not going on an Artic exploration or climbing the Alps, so you don't need that level of pricey equipment.  (WRITE US FOR PERSONAL RECOMMENDATIONS.)

 

And more - your enjoyment of the Camino will be increased by having dependable gear essentials such as foot wear, quality layers and a good quality all-weather (and breathable) 'Outer' jacket. 

Why gamble on quality? Go prepared.

 

1.2 YOUR FEET. Every pilgrim has the best cost-saver piece of equipment - our feet.
 

Remember, your feet are the most vulnerable part of your Camno gear and work the hardest. Treat your feet well! General Rule to selecting boots - keep feet dry and friction-free.

 

invest in your feet. Protect your feet like gold at Fort Knox. Buying the 'best' (or next best) walking boot/shoe might be 15-25% more, but that extra $ USD can save you hundreds in medical supplies, special rest nights in expensive hotels, taxis, buses, etc.  Plus, you can look around and enjoy your Camino while your happy feet enjoy their walk too. 

 

Choose boots or walkers that care for your feet by wicking away foot moisture, cushioning heels and load points, and reducing stress on arches. Footwear points: waterproof, breathable (mesh panels), steel shanks, arch support inserts.

 

Complement your boot system with a good sock system.

A good (wicking) sock system is a required complement to good boots/shoes.  Typically, what works for the Camino is a 2-component sock-and-liner combination: a friction-reducing inner liner of silk or 'support hose' material worn inside a medium thickness wool hiking sock.   'WOOL' outer sock- a good bet - wool wicks, naturally controls odor and combats bacteria.

 

Foot Boils - Preventation & Treatment.  

There are several very popular foot care products such as 'MoleSkin', which is expensive when packaged for backpackers. But, there is a less expensive medical adhesive tape that works wonders to prevent and treat blisters (NEXCARE absolute waterproof tape').  NexCare is a cushioned, waterproof and teflon surfaced medical grade tape that can be worn in showers. NexCare various sizes but a convenient form for the Caminocomes in 5 yard rolls. Most drugstores carry this product.  Guard your roll (or two, they take up very little pack space), and you can help your new Camino pals. 

 

2. Guide to Selecting Gear.
There are a host of opinions about gear.  Some advice points work for almost all hikers but there is always a hiker whose body reacts differently - that person might be you, so try out your gear before you go. 

 

2.1 'Waterproof-breathable-wicking'. As a safe rule, you should focus on choosing foot and upper body clothing that will keep you dry (!) and warm or cool depending on the season, and weigh as little as possible. 'Waterproof-beathable-wicking' fabrics can perform both tasks - and are almost universally used these days. 

 

COTTON.

Cotton is generally not suggested for the extended hikes.

 

2.2 Layers work very well especially with modern synthetic fabrics and special weaves of 'older' fabrics that wick away perspiration to keep you dry. The old standby, wool, is a star insulator and wicking fabric, especially with modern wool weaves and silk-wool blends.)

 

2.3 Cotton, Wool & Synthetic Fabrics.  

COTTON. SPECIAL NOTE: in normal cases, cotton is least desirable for trail wear because it gets sweat-logged and is slow to dry out, but a colorful cotton item is always nice for after-shower relaxing or dinner at the village Inn. But if allergies restrict you to wearing cotton, then you just have to bear with cotton.

 

WOOL.  Unless you are allergic to wool, keep in mind that wool is not only warm and 'lite' weight but is naturally wicking, generally hypo-allergenic, and... anti-bacterial (kills smells if you can't do laundry for a few days). All these qualities are difficult to find in synthetics and cotton (Chemical or silver 'loaded' non-wool fabrics are exceptions but wool retains its anti-bacterial properties over many more washings).

 

For the torso: a 'lite' wool-base-layer will keep you dry and warm - 'Icebreaker' brand is a good bet but it's expensive. (Note: a cashmere-silk-blend base shirt was picked up at an outlet store at a 60% discount; it has proved sturdy, odor-controlling, quick-drying and excellent for all weather conditions. Plus it folds into a very small size and weighs practically nothing - get two and sleep in one.)

 

2.4 LITE Gear.  Especially in the Summer on the Camino when it is humid and hot, select lite-weight gear but remember, it should also last the duration of your Camino so use foresight. Also, the extreme lite-gear class, e.g. feather-weight and 'gossamer", might not be the best overall choice for your long trek Camino but some gear in this class might be useful. Selections from this weight group will also depend on the time of year you walk.
 

3. 'Core' GEAR:

 

3.1  A List of local shops to buy gear is found in the section, 'Local Shops for Books and Gear...'.

 

3.2 Core Gear details - shoes, socks, jacket, shirts & layers, sleep bag, pack

 

Guide book.  Let's not forget this. To assist you, go to this section.

 

Electrolytes & Water Bags.  This is mentioned first so you won't forget. You will need electrolyte replacement on the Camino. Every village 'pharmacia' carries electrolyte but why not carry a small packet to start. 

 

Water.         Get a pack equipped with a 'Camel-pak' inner water bag. It's just more convenient and you can carry

                   more water (2-3 liters) more comfortably than with an energy-wasteful, hand-held bottle.

 

Foot wear.  Hi or Low rise.  Ankle or above-ankle depends on your weight & ankle strength.

                   Arch support. Steel shanks and lite (polymer) arch support inserts are advisable.

                   Mesh Panels.  Waterproof, breathable mesh panels (eg, Gortex) work well. 

                Note: you are not hiking 'Everest' - heavy duty mountain boots are unnecessary (cost and weight).

 
Socks and Boot Liners.  Wear a wicking, liner support hose next to the skin for vein support, wicking and

                  friction reduction. Over the liner hose, wear a wicking, medium weight, wool or blend outer trek sock.

                  This system will minimize friction (prevent blisters), and wick water away (keeping feet dry) and cushion.

 

Base shirt. Lite, wicking (lite wool or wool blend are good bets). Sleeve length depending on season.

 

Mid layer:  fleece (wicking),  cotton shirt, lite wool sweater, etc.

 

Outer Jacket. It is essential that this gear be waterproof, breathable and reasonably lite weight.  

                   By the way, these properties automatically mean the gear is wind-proof. There are a good number of                        dependable brands (Patagonia, Northface, Marmot, Merrell, REI, Ex-Officio, Mountain Hardware,                                 etc as far as American companies are concerned).

 

                  Saving money  here may cost you a bundle later. Santa Barbara area hikers are fortunate to be                                   near many outlets and gear companies.

 

Evening sweater or fleece. Dependng on the season, the 'Mid-layer' can double for this role.

 

Sleep Bag.  The continual additions of heating and blankets to the Camino refugios and hostels means you                                don't have to bring an 'artic' sleeping bag.  Of course if you walk in the June-Sept season, a

                 fairly lite-weight (45 F) bag or even just a silk sleep sack might do which will cut weight quite a bit.                      

                 Summer.    45-50 F degree, lite bag. Synthetic fill (low cost, low weight, dries easily)

                 April-May.  Cooler mornings.  35-45 degree bag.  Synthetic or down.

                 Oct-Dec.    Cold mornings.  30-40 degree bag. Down or Hollowfill synthetic. A silk sleep sac

                                 can add 5-10 degrees rating to bring a lite-weight 35 degree bag down to 27-30d.

 

PACK.        25-40 liter size. At this time the favorites are 'Osprey' and 'Kelty'. But there are many other

                 good brands. Your pack these days should weigh between 10 and 17 pounds (4-8 kg).

 

Water Pak. A 'CamelPak', built-in water bag actually works very well - you can walk hands-free and  sip water                            when you need it.  Most current packs have this feature (Osprey & Kelty excel).

 

 

3.3 Other Gear.

 Pants.      Lite weight cargo brands work well.  Leave jeans home (too heavy and they'll NEVER dry out).

                (Ex-Officio, Northface, REI, etc)

 

Underwear. Mesh 'Ex-Officio' are sometimes the best choice for keeping things airy and dry thus preventing

                fungal growth (men & women).  Rarely are other brands serious rivals to this brand. Some new blends                       have silver threads (natural anti-fungal) woven into the fabric - this works, too.

 

Hat.         Lite weight medium brimmed, with fold-up neck shade. Make sure there is a mesh panel around

               the hat crown to help cool the head and prevent heat stroke.

 

Neck Bandana. A lite-weight, washable piece of gear has many uses - neck warmer, washcloth, napkin, etc.

 

Gloves.    Pack a pair for warmth on cool/frosty mornings. Plus, they prevent palm boils and painful sores.  

                Again, apply the formula - wicking .

            

Headlamp. Advances in lamp technology have almost eliminated the need for a heavy, broad-beam

               and very bright headlamp (especially unpopular in a room of sleeping pilgrims!).  Bring a couple of

               clip-on, LED mini-lamps (~$9 each) - one for the toilette bag, and one attached to your pack or

               shirt pocket.  For emergencies, a small, inexpensive survival flashlite will do.