As always, a camino isn’t fully written up until I have done the unpacking list. This is a brilliant tip for repeat pilgrims, walkers, travellers – packing lists are an idea, un-packing lists are cold hard reality. I am currently planning another trip and rereading this to pare down my load, trying to learn from my mistakes … Anyway, here it is:
Cash and carry:
Osprey Talon 33L pack, brilliant as always, just the right size, stops me overpacking and carries well, especially at just 6.5 kg before water! A last minute change of sidebag also worked well, with room for my guidebook, notebook, passport, credencial, wallet/coin purse – with RFID protection to stop people skimming or reading your cards, it happens! – and mobile plus assorted bits and bobs. Always across my body when I walk, under the pack, so I can take it off and go straight into the bar with my sidebag safely in place. The bag was a bit big though, have already replaced it with an Arcteryx Mantis 1 to keep it lighter.
I walked in black capri running tights, my dusty pink Purple Rain Adventure skirt – which I *loved* – and a lightweight, quick-dry white SPF shirt for hot days, or thin merino long sleeve top for cool mornings. The shirt and merino top worked well, I sometimes changed halfway through the day if it got nice and hot. As I got nearer Galicia I started wearing my light and stretchy wind and rain jacket until the day, or I, warmed up (whichever happened first).
The shorter tights developed a small, but significant hole on the inseam so I might try another brand for my next jaunt.
My Hoka Speedgoats worked wonderfully as always and I have already decided to get another pair (in sales) for my next walk. Socks were OK, merino blend but on the small side and started bobbling very quickly, must buy another type next time. Birkenstock EVA Madrid sandals are safe in the kit – I still haven’t found anything better. Wish they still made them in colours and not just black or white though, would have bought blue ones in León if they’d had my size.
Pacerpoles. Always. Wouldn’t go on any long walk without them and used them every day. Always in my hands, giving me a rocket boost up hills and providing handbrakes on the way down.
My Brita filter water bottle too is great, water always tastes better and it is just the right size so I can get it in and out of the side pockets without help. Imagine how many plastic bottles I have saved in the years I have had it!
The stretchy Rab Kinetic wind and waterproof jacket was *brilliant*. Kept the wind and rain out, plus it looks good, feels soft and is very light. Really liked it and would take it again. For heavy rain I chose to bring the Ferrino poncho this time, and it worked and ventilated well – once I got into it, which wasn’t always easy. The open sleeves were great when walking with Pacerpoles. After much deliberation I left the rain trousers at home, but ended up buying a pair of even lighter Altus ones that worked well – a great addition when I walk in tights and skirts/dresses.
The merino zip-up fleece was dropped at the last minute and replaced by a Thermoball padded jacket, which I was very happy with. Equally versatile and warmer, even if damp. One pair of woollen socks came in very handy on chilly evenings. I also had a pair of thin merino gloves I never used, a walking buff with neoprene peak which I really have to stop taking because I don’t really use it, and a few buffs – the merino buff stayed at home. Wish I had taken the fleece buff to warm my ears on two occasions, but managed with the regular one, a Hygge band cut in half so it’s not so tight.
My new Euroschirm UV-protective umbrella is a tad heavy at 450g, but it did a brilliant job of keeping me cool on the hot and open meseta. Added benefit was that it stayed in place even in a bit of wind, so I could carry on using my poles without worrying about it. And that was with a home made bungee system instead of the included clips. Only downside was I kept singing ‘Me and my shadow’ all the time …
A last minute addition was an Arc’teryx shift dress which worked very well in the hot weather. It is incredibly light, non-crease, great for slipping on before leaving the shower cubicle, and I would put on my short tights in hot or long in cold weather – I wore it every evening, slept in it on occasion, and when I washed it in the evening it was dry in the morning. Two pockets, one with a zipped security pocket inside, which I put my room key in. Would definitely take it again! Over it I’d wear a black SPF shirt, which I think I would exchange for a light merino cardi next time, plus the Thermoball if it was cold. Finished off with this year’s Desigual scarf (obviously) for a splash of colour. A Desigual scarf is not a luxury item, it is finery, warm layer, bunk curtain and pillow cover in one.
Aprés-camino I would wear my EVA Birkenstock sandals to plod around in the albergue, wear in the shower if necessary and to go out in. If it had got too cold I could have put the spare pair of insoles in my shoes and worn them but never needed to. Glad I took the spare pair though. I also normally take one merino sports bra for walking and one normal one for after the shower, when putting on a sports bra correctly is a monumental task. This time I took two Icebreaker Siren merino bras and was very happy with that. Merino undies too; comfortable fit, dry feel, no stink, decent night wear, easy wash, quick dry.
Yet again my expensive, ultralight, beautiful Sea to Summit down sleeping bag performed brilliantly. Very pleased with my investment! It packs small, opens up like a duvet, has zips from both ends, can be cinched up at the foot end or opened up to let air into firefeet – just love, love, love it. The new 100g mummy silk bag was only used a few times but I wouldn’t go without it, it is great for a good night’s sleep in varying temperatures – cool on its own, adding warmth under or inside the down bag. Could also double as a scarf. Seriously.
I loved my foldable keyboard! It made messaging, blogging, note taking sooo much easier than pecking on my tiny mobile screen. Also easier to read back than my handwriting. Did not love my new flat power bank, it charged too slow both ways and I actually only needed it twice, but I could have managed without it. Left the tiny video camera at home and didn’t miss it once, in fact I was glad I didn’t bring another item to look after, charge and figure out. Mobile camera worked great.
From the farmacia: lightweight face coverings, magnesium, and a tube of Gehwol, a thick, white cream that makes feet happy if you slather it on in the morning. Smells great too and seems to prevent blisters better than Vaseline or similar. Rain trousers, only worn twice but will be a good addition to my kit from now on. And a small bottle of shampoo after my new non-Lush shampoo bar seemed to dry my hair out with daily use, so I alternated them and used the bar as body soap.
First aid kit, thankfully. My washable face coverings, I used the blue masks from the farmacia instead and kept one clipped to my sidebag on an S karabiner for easy access. My last minute panic addition of a merino T-shirt, which stayed in the bottom of the pack. I used the other one to sleep in twice, could have left them both at home. Silk bag was also only used once or twice but I would have taken it anyway, nothing worse than being cold in the night. And I had a bag of spares – spare pole tips, shoe lace, filter disc – and sundries, like a teaspork, foldable cup, slap straps and a Spanish fan, which I could easily minimise or just leave.
Somehow I managed to lose my purple S karabiner with safety pins on to the roof of the spa at Acebo … Easy enough to replace, but I didn’t, so I guess I don’t need it. Didn’t leave or throw anything away as far as I can remember, but I got rid of the leaky Travalo perfume decanter and my toothbrush as soon as I came home. Jury’s out on whether it’s worth repairing the tights so I brought them home.
Things were almost perfect, but the tights developed holes and the socks all started bobbling. Wear and tear happens, that’s what sales are for. I am considering adding a pair of sun blocking arm sleeves though, to add versatility and sun protection to the kit. I could wear them with a merino T-shirt instead of the white long sleeve shirt or tech top, merino feels and wears better. I am considering a lighter weight umbrella but it wouldn’t be as stable, so still on the fence on that. Bought a new, slightly smaller sidebag as the one I took was a bit too big and ended up heavy and full. Also decided to go back to my lightweight Altus poncho with a full zip. Am tempted to get another Purple Rain skirt in a darker colour for practical reasons. And, of course, with the new year comes a new Desigual scarf! I can feel a blueish one coming on.
That’s pretty much it – I did sometimes wish I had something else to wear but that didn’t last long. At least I didn’t have to wonder about it, just put on whatever I hadn’t walked in, and go out to get a drink before dinner. Definitely trying to pack this lightly again and the layering combinations worked well. With carrying so little, I will probably take my Escapist for my next spring or summer adventure, as it is just as comfortable, but easier to pack and unpack.
If you read all that, I hope that was enlightening in some way – feel free to ask questions, add comments or counter with better suggestions and clever solutions. I am all ears – winter is prepping season and I have plans …