Toiletries

I LOVE the Eagle Creek bags for incredibly light (Eagle Creek Pack-It Spectrum products) packing and traveling. They are light, clean easily, and dry quickly. I also love this green toiletry kit (although they come in many different colors).

Eagle Creek also offers lots of other shapes and sizes of bags and I used one for my First Aid kit, too!

As for what toiletries to pack...well, it's totally up to you. The basics are going to be plenty.

For me, well, I'm rather low maintenance, so a bar of soap, small GoToobs of shampoo, a toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, Q-Tips, nail clippers, small scissors, and a hotel style mending kit. That was it for me.

I did carry an extra bar of soap because I love my brand and two bars got me through almost the entire 7 weeks I walked.

For the women, the Australians I walked with wore no makeup and seemed to maintain as basic a routine as the men when it came to toiletries.

Of course, the choice is yours. I recommend to keep it light and simple. Weight is an issue and every extra thing in your pack is going to be reevaluated during your Camino--and you most likely will be dumping the things that you don't need in an attempt to let go of every extra ounce. Everyone who has walked says this, but I don't know that most people truly get it until they walk.

Underwear

As with all clothing choices, you want your underwear to be:

  • Comfortable
  • Breathable
  • Quick Drying
  • Durable

Most pilgrims pack two or three pair of most items of clothing and underwear is no exception. You'll be wearing a pair while the second is drying on the line at a refugio.

I highly recommend trying a few different brands and types before you head out for a month or more of walking.

You want underwear that doesn't bunch or wad--that makes for a long, uncomfortable day of walking.

One of the problems with some of the modern fabrics is that they don't breath well. This is also important. Dry skin is an imperative. If the sweat isn't wicked away from the body, you'll chafe or, worse, develop blisters or sores. These are incredibly painful in bendy places on our bodies.

Also important is that your underwear, like everything you wear, dries quickly. This is why the man-made fabrics are a great choice. I love cotton, but it stays wet and can take forever to dry. There are some rainy days and damp days when even the quick-dry fabrics take a long time.

Another advantage to many of the man-made fabrics is that they contain an odor guard. This keeps body smells to a minimum not only during your day on the trail, but also over the long haul. If odor block or odor control is a feature of the item it should be listed in the description.

All of this said, I've met several pilgrims who preferred cotton underwear. Why? Because they were heavy sweaters. The man-made fabrics didn't offer them the confidence and comfort of cotton.

This is a truth about all the lists and advice you'll encounter as you plan your pilgrimage. What works for someone else might not be the best choice for you. The only way you find out what truly will work best for you is to try it. So, buy a pair of underwear and spend six or seven hours walking or hiking. Get home and do your chores (i.e., strip out of your sweaty clothes, hand wash them in a sink or while you shower, and then hang them outside to dry). Now, put them back on one day later and see how they feel and respond.

Hydration

Staying hydrated is important. Especially when hiking and walking long distances. In general, a person should consume about 2 liters of water a day. During a 15-20 kilometer hike, that requirement increases. And, if it's a hot day or the terrain is steep or difficult, the number goes up even more.

It's also worth noting that by the time you're actually thirsty, you're already dehydrated. So, getting in the habit of drinking water while walking is incredibly important. (Perhaps I stress this a bit heavy because I live in the desert and water truly is life when out in the wild here!)

The availability of fresh, clean drinking water along the Camino ways is one of the big reasons they are safe to travel throughout the year. You will find water sources easily on most of your walking days. (There are several days along the Via de La Plata where you have to carry a bit more water because there isn't any available.)

While water is heavy (one liter weighs one kilogram), it's essential to carry enough to keep yourself hydrated, healthy, and safe. And, there are two ways most pilgrims carry water: bottles and bladders.

Camelbak

My personal choice were bottles. I love Camelbak water bottles. I had two, 1 liter bottles. They fit perfectly in the outside, side pockets of my Osprey backpack, so I had easy access all the time to them. The ring on the top also allowed me to use a carabiner clip and attach an "in use" bottle to the front straps of my packpack, making for even easier access.

Why did I prefer bottles? They're easy to refill throughout the day and they're easy to keep clean inside and out.

The second choice is a bladder. Most of my fellow walkers chose bladders. Why? They hold more water than a bottle and they attach inside the backpack, allowing them to stay cooler and allowing for their weight to be more evenly distributed via the backpacks basic structure. Of course, they aren't easy to refill during your hiking day and they can be difficult to clean.

As with all Camino gear, the choice is yours. This is one of those items that you should definitely practice with before hitting your Camino. Perhaps that's why I like the bottles so much. During my weekly hiking adventures, I fill the bottles and tuck them into the pockets of my backpack. I use them all the time. If I had started with bladders, they might be my favorite now.

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