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.

Shirts

As with most of the packing elements, personal preference and time of year will really determine what you'll need. I walked the Via de La Plata in the late spring and early summer (May-June). The weather was comfortable and I chose two T-shirts and two long-sleeve fishing shirts. If I'd walked in the fall or winter, I'd have wanted something different, I suspect.

Choose High Tech Materials

For most of the trek I dressed in layers. The mornings were a bit cool and sometimes dew ridden. Then, as the sun rose, off went the jacket. And, by late afternoon, sometimes the long-sleeve shirt went, too and I walked just in a T-shirt.

The T-shirts also doubled as sleep shirts for me. I'd take my afternoon shower, dress in a clean T and then later that night sleep in that shirt and be partially dressed for the next day.

I think the concept of layering is a good one. Being able to add and remove layers helps. But, you also don't want to pack too much (that's why I chose to use my T's for multiple tasks.

The reason I chose the Columbia long-sleeve shirts was first because of the pockets. It's always good to have pockets when walking a Camino. Also, the shirts are designed to breath with vents in useful places. I also liked the buttons that allow you to roll up your sleeves and keep them in place with hooks of fabric and buttons. Like the idea of layering, rolling sleeves up and down give you more options for comfort (and style). Plus, they wash and dry very easily. I'm still wearing these shirts, they hold up great.

No matter what style of shirts you choose, I highly recommend some sort of tech-based materials. You want shirts that wick away moisture, that allow your skin to breathe, that dry quickly, and there are even materials now that cut down on odors (really useful during weeks of walking and sweating and handwashing).

It is worth noting that you'll mostly be handwashing your clothes, so you want fabrics that will stand up to ringing like that.

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.

Travel Towel

One of the many positive things about technology is microfiber fabrics. They're light weight. They're absorbent. And, they dry quickly. As you're planning for your Camino de Santiago, try out some of these products (towels, shirts, even pillowcases).

Being into plush bath towels, I have to admit, it took me a few showers to grow comfortable using a microfiber travel towel. But, I got used to it.

My advice: Be sure to purchase the largest one you can find (at least a bath sheet size). The larger format doesn't add much weight to your pack and these towels (when dried in a drier) can shrink. No matter how "good" you are about it, your towel will probably end up in a washer and/or drier at some point along your pilgrimage.

It's also worth noting that some of these towels (like the microfiber pants and shirts) can come with anti-microbial treatments. My one recommendation here is that you try out these products for several days/weeks at home before you travel, just to make certain you aren't allergic to the fabrics.