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What absolutely cannot be missing from your backpack

Hello fellow pilgrim, today I want to talk to you about what to put in your backpack for the Way of Santiago.

Before delving into what to pack for the Way of Santiago, it’s essential to make a few small but necessary considerations. What you’re about to read stems from my personal experience, which led me to pack a backpack that was too heavy. I had to send some items home to continue the journey more comfortably. Also, I tackled the Way of Santiago in winter, so for those doing it in spring or summer, the backpack will undoubtedly be lighter. I tried to opt for quality products while spending as little as possible, purchasing most items from Decathlon. If you’re planning to start from Lisbon or Porto, I recommend buying what you need in Portugal as it’s cheaper than in Italy.

An important final consideration: you’ll surely pack something unnecessary for the journey, but don’t worry; that’s part of the journey’s beauty: making mistakes to improve. With these premises, let me begin by telling you what to pack for the Way of Santiago.

What to Put in Your Backpack for the Way of Santiago: Clothing

The general rule for clothing is “less is more.” Every hostel offers laundry facilities at very low costs, and hanging wet clothes on your backpack to dry in the sun gives you a true pilgrim experience. Here’s how I organized my clothing:

And that’s it for clothing. I tried to bring only the essentials, fearing cold weather as I walked the Portuguese Way in winter, but there were also many hot days. The most important items, in my opinion, are those for rain, as it rains a lot in Portugal. If you have a limited budget, I recommend investing in a good pair of shoes (I got these Merrell shoes on Amazon at a great price, and they were fantastic).

Sleeping Bag

The sleeping bag is crucial because most Albergues (especially in Galicia) and Donativos don’t provide sheets or blankets. Nearly all the Albergues and Donativos I encountered along the way were heated, but the sleeping bag was still necessary. I started with a Quechua Forclaz 0°C sleeping bag weighing 1 kg and 670 grams, then switched to a 15°C sleeping bag weighing 680 grams (also Quechua Forclaz). It was a brilliant decision; I couldn’t have continued the journey with a heavier sleeping bag, and I never felt cold with the 15°C one. This taught me not to fear the cold, as I’m very sensitive to it, and that one kilogram less surely saved me from potential injuries along the way.
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What to Put in Your Backpack for the Way of Santiago: Beauty Kit

My travel beauty kit was very minimal:

  • Toothbrush + toothpaste;
  • Shower gel;
  • Nail clippers;
  • Refreshing foot gel (extremely important) to apply after showering;
  • Vaseline to apply, especially between the toes before starting to walk, and after showering to prevent blisters;
  • Blister plasters, very useful; I used them, and within a couple of days, the first blisters disappeared and never came back;
  • Large microfiber towel/small microfiber towel;
  • Various medicines.

In the Beauty section, the essential things for me were those concerning foot care to avoid blisters. However, in every town along the Way, there are well-equipped pharmacies for this issue, so if you forget something, don’t worry; it won’t be difficult to find it.

Tech Products

Certainly not essential for the Way, but perhaps more necessary than we’d like to admit are tech products:

  • Sony Alpha 5100 camera, with which I captured beautiful moments and made videos of my journey (speaking of videos, if you’re interested in seeing how I fared on the Way, check out my YouTube Channel, and if you’d like to support me, just subscribe);
  • Power bank to never run out of battery;
  • Head torch, the most useful among these. Some mornings, you couldn’t see anything until 8 a.m., and the path wasn’t always perfectly illuminated;
  • Xiaomi Airpods: excellent value for money, useful for listening to podcasts or music during endless hours of walking. However, I must say that enjoying the silence and the sounds of nature was certainly more beautiful.

My tech part ends here; I brought just the essentials to not be too wild and to bring back some good shots or videos.

What to Put in Your Backpack for the Way of Santiago: Miscellaneous

Finally, I’ll list what to pack for the Way of Santiago, all those remaining items that don’t have a specific category:

  • Trekking poles: very useful for those, like me, who are used to walking with poles. I got them from Decathlon at a great price, and they were the lightest ones;
  • 500 ml plastic water bottle;
  • Plastic bottle (I always reused the same one to avoid waste), kept in the jacket pocket;
  • Guide to the Portuguese Way of Santiago, super useful for getting an idea of the stages and what to see or what facilities you can find along the way. The only downside to this detailed guide is the mileage; sometimes it marks fewer kilometers than you actually have to walk;
  • Knife with torch;
  • Pedometer, which I lost a few kilometers from arriving in Santiago; perhaps it was a sign that my walking had to end in front of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.


A perfect backpack should weigh around 8 kg and always have space to carry food along the Way. Whether it’s your first time or the umpteenth time walking the Way of Santiago, you know well that making the perfect backpack is impossible. But don’t worry too much; the important thing is that you know that whatever you miss, you’ll still manage to reach Santiago without problems (indeed, I’ve seen people walking with sneakers wrapped in plastic bags under constant rain and still reaching the goal like everyone else). The Way has taught me to give much less importance to material things, so I’m sure that whatever you bring or don’t bring will still be the right choice. All that’s left is to wish you a Buen Camino, pilgrim.

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What to put in your backpack for the Way of Santiago
Curious about what to put in your backpack for the Way of Santiago? Read our tips and embark on the journey!
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La Scimmia Viaggiatrice