If we have finally decided to walk one of the Jacobean routes to get to Santiago de Compostela, we have many doubts and questions regarding the preparation of this. One of them among others is what to carry in the backpack. But we are going to go further and start with the basis of this problem, which is the best backpack to choose for the Camino?
For novice pilgrims it may not be a concern and they don’t give it much importance. They opt for the option of carrying any type of backpack thinking that it is not important and choosing the cheapest option it’s the best option. This does not mean that we are going to spend a lot of money on a backpack suitable for this type of trip.
This Jacobean route gives us incredible landscapes, we will walk surrounded by forests, nature, we will taste the typical gastronomy of each place, we will make an impressive journey through history. We will meet people from all over the world, we will enjoy moments of personal encounter, and we will finally meet the majestic Cathedral of Santiago, the goal of every pilgrim on the Camino.
So that this idyllic tour does not become a torture, in this article we will discuss one of the two most important things to complete the tour successfully. One of them is the footwear for the Camino de Santiago and the other is the type of backpack for the Camino de Santiago.
All the journeys of the Camino de Santiago by bike
The choice of the type of backpack is a real headache because there are so many types of them. Many pilgrims do not choose correctly and this is a mistake that is usually made. We have to remember that the type of backpack is important, we will carry it with us all day long, travelling long distances.. To choose the perfect backpack for the Camino de Santiago we have to take into account different factors such as capacity, features, adaptation to our body, weight etc..
The first thing to do when choosing the type of backpack is to decide on its capacity, which will determine the weight of the backpack. We have to take into account that the capacity is measured in liters to know how to choose it. The weight that we are going to carry in the backpack during each stage is a very important factor. We should not err on the side of carrying a backpack that is neither too small nor too large.
According to our own experience doing and organizing the Camino de Santiago, we recommend that the backpack has a range of about 35 to 45 liters if the weather is fine and about 50 to 60 liters if we are in winter. This is because in winter we will have to carry more luggage than in summer when our equipment is lighter. Below we can see the different levels of capacity according to the luggage we are willing to spend the Camino with.
35-litre backpack: Ideal capacity for any pilgrim who wants to embark on an adventure with the minimum of luggage.
Backpack 40 liters: A capacity in which the pilgrim can travel the Camino light, with just enough and necessary to travel. The most advisable capacity if the weather is good.
45 litrebackpack : This capacity is ideal for not too hot but not too cold weather. Like the previous one, it is light and we can overcome the stages with little difficulty or discomfort.
50 litre backpack: This capacity is too much for any pilgrim in summer. We will end up much more tired at each stage. A large capacity for good weather but small for winter.
55-60litrebackpack: In the cold months, this is the ideal one.
Please note that in addition to the capacity of the backpack, it is usually recommended that its contents weigh no more than 10% of your body weight . In other words, if a person weighs 70kg, the ideal weight of the backpack should be a maximum of 7kg. Although only that 10% is a reference, if it were below it would be much better. The less we carry the better, only the essentials.
The next step goes hand in hand with the capacity of the backpack and that is the size of the backpack. Just like a pair of trousers, a jacket or a T-shirt, there is a size for this type of accessory. They are given according to the length of the back. This length is measured from the base of the neck to the end of the hip bone. You may think that it is not necessary to choose a size, that a backpack is a backpack but all bodies are not the same and if we want to go as comfortable as possible we must take this into account. We leave you a table to get an idea of the size we use.
Height / torso length:
160-175 cm / 45 -52 cm
170-185 cm / 50-57 cm
180-200 cm / 55-62 cm
Height / torso length:
160-175 cm / 45-52 cm
170-185 cm / 50-57 cm
180-200 cm / 55-62 cm
We have talked about the capacity as well as the size but they are not the only factors to take into account in our choice. After having decided the capacity and found our size we will have to see certain characteristics that will facilitate the way.
We should choose a backpack that has separate compartments and pockets to organize the accessories that we carry and important things like documentation, the first aid kit or even the mobile phone.
That the backpack includes a waterproof cover since the weather is unpredictable and we all know that it is possible or very likely that in the north even if the weather is good it rains.
The height should be adjustable, despite having chosen the size we may need to adjust it to our back to be able to walk more comfortably.
A strong backpack with reinforced seams as there are many kilometers that we are going to travel and the backpack will suffer a lot. It is not a decorative complement, it is one of the main elements.
The lumbar reinforcement and adjustable straps to both chest and waist is an essential feature, this will fit the body and avoid possible discomfort in the back and neck.
Having shoulder pads will help to cushion the weight of each step we take, avoiding discomfort and injuries.
We have numbered perhaps the features that you can not miss in the choice of your backpack but if you have any more such as a water compartmentor a pole holder, all the better, every little bit helps. If your backpack has these details, we’ve found the perfect backpack for you.
How to organize your backpack.
The backpack will become a part of you during each stage, you will become one, so to speak. Therefore we must avoid injury or discomfort when carrying it, but how do we do it? If we have chosen well our backpack will be padded and ready to adjust to us but another factor that depends on us to avoid having a bad time is the distribution of our equipment.
We must distribute everything that we are going to take in a balanced way, so that the point of balance in us is centered. We will have to put in the bottom everything that we do not use during the stage of each day. Anything that has more weight we will adjust it inside so that it is close or as close as possible to the back. When we have put everything in the bottom, we will use the rest of the space to carry the things we need on the stage, so that they are at hand. Finally, the backpack will have compartments, reserve them for first-hand material, such as water, some cream, food, etc…
As a last tip, when organizing it is preferable to put things in bags, preferably not plastic because of the noise. If you are accompanied on this adventure, distribute the weight, you can share certain things such as the first aid kit or food.
You have to tame that backpack
Finally, after choosing and buying our backpack, we recommend that days before heading towards this adventure, we prepare the backpack to check the weight we are going to carry. We must put everything we plan to take on the road, whether clothing, sleeping bag, first aid kit, etc..
After preparing it we will weigh it and it is possible that we make the mistake of believing that it is in that 10% but it is possible that we have counted only the essentials and we have not put the accessories that we will carry. It is a real headache, we do not want the road to be a torture because of the backpack, and no longer know what we should or should not put in it, so we advise that if you have doubts consult what should I take with me on the Camino de Santiago?
If we opt for the transport of luggage…
This is quite a comfortable option. If what we want is not to worry about the weight, carry everything we want or think necessary and carry during each stage only a small backpack with something to eat and water, this is the best choice. There are companies that take care of the transport of luggage from accommodation to accommodation after each completed stage, so you don’t have to worry about carrying the weight of all your luggage or what to take and what not to take. This is one of the services that we offer in our agency if you decide to count on us to organize the Camino de Santiago to organize the Camino de Santiago. Walk without worries.
Have you had a bad experience? Would you recommend any particular backpack? Tell us about it and help future pilgrims.