A Blog about Hiking-, Fitness-, and Health Technology

Things you should (not) be bringing on the Camino

I don't like lists. But this one is in response to some questions I get all the time, so here it is.

Times change, and so do the things we bring or don’t bring with us on the Caminos de Santiago. No matter if it’s the Francés and its Glamino stroll through suburban Spain, the Arragones with its majestic views, or the Norte and its expensive albergues, some things just should or should not make the packing list.

TWO 10k external batteries

I personally recommend the Nitecore 10000, which is super light and very performant.

Not one 20k, two 10k. Why? Because some things change. And one thing that has for sure changed since the mid-teens is property safety in the albergues. Where, around 2012, I just stuck my phone to a wall wart and went to bed, today’s Camino “spirit” doesn’t extend to all of its pilgrims and walkers, and phones do get stolen. Instead, I am charging one or both of my chargers. That’s a loss of less than $100 and none of my personal data, if stolen or lost. My phone, watch, and other things charge while I walk or stop for lunch. Two bricks, because not only is there a backup in case one fails, it also means shareability with fellow pilgrims who run out of battery.

NO water bottles

Water bottles and camelbacks fail. That’s just the reality of thirty days on the road. Bring an expensive bladder from home and not only will you be out a pretty penny, you’ll also add plastic trash to your host country. Instead buy a normal bottle of water or Coke and use it for a few days until recycling it properly and buying a new one. Most supermarkets on the Camino take recycling. We’re already massive drags on the environment, what with flights to Spain, trash, etc. we don’t need to add to that.

Plus, it’s much cheaper (free, in fact, since you’re getting a nice drink and you might get your recycling deposit back).

NO Compeed or similar bullshit

Now, putting on my medicine man hat, this one’s near and dear to me. Compeed was never intended as blister care for hikers. It’s for the lady (or lad) whose flip-flops or sandals caused a blister between beach and strand bar. While walking your feet sweat. Sweat accumulates beneath the Compeed bandage und weakens the blistered area even more.

Blisters happen through pressure and friction. Leave small blisters alone and simply pop big ones with one poke of a sterile (hold over your lighter, definitely bring one) needle. Do not follow old wives tales like “leave the thread in.” That’s a good way to get pathogens below the dermal layer that is responsible for keeping them out, leading to inflammation and, worst case, an end of your Camino.

Personally, I recommend either double layer socks like Wrightsocks, or buying Injinjis with layers.

Magnesium and Voltaren

Note: too much Magnesium will make you crap your pants (at best, worst case you die). Don’t do this. But Magnesium can help you combat many of the muscle fatigue symptoms you might experience. Voltaren, as extended release tablets, also helps against cramps and pains. For both, please speak to your doctor, no Internet doctors, OK?

Runners Watch or Fitness Band

Oh, the “no technology on the Camino” crowd hates me for this. But there’s a good reason for one, the joy of seeing you beat your altitude or step record aside. Dehydration affects first your ability to produce sweat and saliva, and second your blood volume. Your heart compensates by beating faster to get the same amount of blood into your muscles, brain, and kidneys and liver. A watch or band can alert you when your pulse does not come down after you stop, meaning you should be drinking way more.

Every year even very fit people die on the Caminos because dehydration is insidious and indolent, you won’t often notice until you’re way in, because small sips from your bladder or bottle give you a wet mouth and the impression not to be dehydrated. Even if you think everything else in this list is BS, please take dehydration seriously.


Install what3words on your phone. w3w overlaid the world in a 3×3 meter grid, giving each box a distinctive name that can be memorized. The entrance to the Cathedral in Leon is, for example, at ///spill.backlog.pest. And, best of all, you can get those names in most languages. In Spanish you’d memorize ///podría.truco.pocos. Now, if you meet others on the Camino you can communicate without having to send GPS coordinates, where to meet or where you are. Accurate to 3 m. You can also memorize great places or write them down, and navigate there better.

Also read: Apple Watch (Ultra) Apps.

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