Preparing our lives and our packs for the Camino

We have been spending the last several days making preparations for our trip to Europe and the Camino de Santiago. We start by heading to Italy and France for just over a month before beginning our trek in Spain – which we have allotted 45 days. Our plans involve shipping our backpacks and Camino related gear to our relatives in Italy. We will travel to the first half of our vacation with traditional “Rick Steves” style travel bags with our regular, try not to look like a tourist, clothes. Once we arrive in Genova, we will transition to our Camino backpacks and hiking gear and will ship our travel bags and clothes back to Colorado.

Today, we organized all of our Camino clothing and gear into our backpacks for our final weight check. It is recommended that you keep your packs at or less than 10% of your body weight. We have read Camino related books and blogs to obtain as much information as possible on what to bring, what not to bring and how to keep pack weight down. One book that was especially helpful was, “To Walk Far, Carry Less” authored by Jean Christie-Ashmore. While we did not go to her suggested extremes (cutting off backpack loops, cutting cords, etc.) we did weigh everything and made lightweight related choices.

We started out by sorting all clothing and personal items we needed. Here is what that process looked like with Sandy’s gear:


We then weighed our backpacks to determine the total carrying weight. Both packs were a bit over the 10% rule, so we trimmed down our apparel and other items. Our final Camino weight for our packs is 16 pounds for Sandy’s and mine is 19 pounds. This is not counting water, which weighs about 2 pounds per liter. On an average day we will carry 2 liters, but we both have the capacity for 3 liters in our Camelbacks. So, our actual daily start weight will be 20# for Sandy and 23# for me. Good news however…As the day goes on and water is consumed your backpack becomes lighter.

Here is what my backpack looks like. After hiking with it for more than a month I am sure I will grow to dislike it quite a bit. Ha

Tomorrow we will determine the least expensive way to ship the packs and send them on their way. We will catch up with them on the last week of March when we arrive at our cousins home in Genova.

Finally, we will conclude this post with an amazing photo of our destination:

20140204-215523.jpg Buen Camino!



Filed under Mark & Sandy's Camino 2014

7 responses to “Preparing our lives and our packs for the Camino

  1. You have done a good job in getting your packs at the correct weight. I have found on long trips, less is more. It is important to drink lots of water. On days that I felt cool and did not drink enough, I would get severe leg cramps at night. Not serious, but painful. I have found a dry powder rehydration that works well, pedialyte, a product for children in drug stores.
    I carry an ultra light silk liner for my sleeping bag which is the lightest that I could find. If you are going to use pilgrim dormitories, bring the best ear plugs you can find . I was much happier in inexpensive hotels which you can find in every town for about $30 per night. Is your smart phone unlocked so you can get a local SIM card. Much more affordable and convenient. I used mine each day to make reservations at the next town that I thought I would get to. You are going off season so places should not be very crowded.

    • Thanks Barry for the sound advice. We have the earplugs, but I am a very light sleeper so noise at the alburgues is a concern. I like the idea of pedialyte for rehydration. We will keep that in mind for sure.

      We have the T Mobile international plan on our phone. It has the European SIM card already in it. Free unlimited data and texting. Free calls in 100 countries if calling land lines, .20 per minute otherwise. In a side by side comparison, if you use AT&T in Europe and use 72 Mb of data, make a 32 minute call back to the states and text 36 times your bill would be $1,150. With T Mobile’s international plan your bill would be $6.40. The T Mobile plan cost $10 per month. Sorry, that sounded like a sales promotion!

      Thanks again for your help.

  2. racheve

    You have had to be so organised! I am planning some travel to Europe over the summer and I am not sure I could mentally prepare myself let alone pack this far in advance, however I can see why you are and the sense it makes! Enjoy

    • Thanks for the note Racheve. We really enjoy the planning almost as much as the trip on these big vacations. For example, on our last trip to Italy, we had 44 different transportation connections which we made. Planes, trains, busses, hydrofoils, ferry’s, bicycles…you name it – we used it. On this particular trip, we have our “pre Camino” lodging reservations made at all but one location. We try to stay at “a hub location” for at least three days in each area we are visiting. This really helps prevent you from being overly tired with the travel.

      The focus on pack weight is really important as trekking 800 K with too much weight would be unbearable. There are stories I have read that the sides of the trail on the first 50 K on the Camino is littered with extra clothing, heavy bags and unnecessary equipment which pilgrims have abandoned.

      Thanks again for your comments and Buen Camino!

  3. What an adventure! Hope it’s one I will get to embark on someday. Til then, I look forward to following your posts on the Camino. 🙂

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