There is a lot to consider when choosing a backpack for the Camino de Santiago. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind as you plan for your trip.
What can you comfortably carry?
For some of you, walking long distances might be enough of a physical challenge for you. No need to place that monkey on your back! You have nothing to prove!
For others, perhaps those who have had time training with a heavy pack or are avid hikers, they may prefer to use a multi-day pack.
The question you need to answer is ‘what can I comfortably carry?’ Only you can answer that question.
Do you want to bring a lot of stuff or have space in your luggage to bring things home?
I planned to be in Europe for six weeks, about five weeks for the Camino and the rest of the time exploring Portugal, so having street clothes and space for trinkets was important to me. Pilgrims do one of three options in this situation.
- Bring a big bag and do daily luggage transfer to your next location on the Camino de Santiago. With this option you could carry a smaller daypack on the Camino.
- Ship or deliver your luggage to your final destination on the Camino or first destination back in the ‘real world’ and have them hold it for you. This option would require you carry a larger pack.
- Pack light and when you arrive in Santiago de Compostela, ditch your Camino clothes and fill your bag with a new wardrobe! This option would require you carry a larger pack.
This Princess chose option 1 for her pilgrimage, though I regularly use my daypack and my larger backpack at home in California. At the time, I had a medical issue and my doctor recommended I carry no more than 20 pounds on my back. It is always a good idea to check with a medical professional before your departure.
Choosing A Backpack
If you have answered the first two questions, you are now ready to choose which pack to buy for the Camino de Santiago. Here are my recommendations.
I used the Osprey 30L daypack with a 3L bladder. It had a hip belt to redistribute weight from my back to my legs. I liked all of the easy access pockets and the mesh back panel ventilates well. It has a place to stow trekking poles and a rain cover. This link is the closest new model to the Osprey I used at the time.
My Recommendation – Link: Daypack
A great multi-day pack option is a bag between 50-60L in weight and is highly adjustable to distribute the weight comfortably. Since I loved my Osprey, I would recommend something like this…
My Recommendation – Link: Multi-Day Pack
The key here is to make sure the pack you choose matches your torso length and meets your needs on the trail. Click on this link and scroll down for videos for how to fit a backpack: Scroll Down for How To Videos. For me, my Camino needs included easily accessing my map, water, snack and sunscreen by using strategically placed pockets in the hip belt and sides of the pack.
How does the daily luggage transfer service work?
When you arrive at an albergue or hostel let them know at the front desk that you would like a baggage transfer. They can help put you in contact with a service provider who will arrive in the morning to pick up your gear. They have tags that you put on the bag with your name and your next destination (if you are not sure what your next destination is you estimate how far you want to walk and select an albergue or hostel you would like to stay at. You can figure out accommodation once your arrive). The cost is under ten euros a day.
Regardless of your pack size, I highly recommend purchasing trekking poles to help distribute the weight away from your knees and lower back. See this link for more information. Also, for my entire packing list for the Camino de Santiago, click here.