If we have finally decided to follow one of the Jacobean routes to reach Santiago de Compostela, we are presented with many doubts and questions regarding the preparation of this one. One of them among others is what to carry in the backpack, but we are going to go further and start from the base of this problem, which backpack to choose?
For novice pilgrims it may not be one of their concerns and they don’t attach much importance to it. They opt for the option of carrying any type of backpack thinking that it is not important and choosing the cheapest 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 tour through history. We will meet people from all over the world, enjoy moments of personal encounter, and finally we will meet the majestic Cathedral of Santiago, the goal of every pilgrim on the Camino.
So that this idyllic journey does not become a torture, in this article we will try one of the two most important things to complete the journey successfully. One of them is the Footwear for the way of Santiago and another one that is the one that we will treat is the type of backpack to realize the way.
The choice of the type of backpack is a real headache as there are many types of them. Many pilgrims do not choose correctly and this is a mistake that is normally made. We have to remember that the type of backpack is important, we will carry it with us throughout the day travelling long distances. In order to choose the perfect backpack for the Camino de Santiago we have to have different factors such as capacity, characteristics, adaptation to our body, weight etc.
The first thing we have to do when choosing the type of backpack is to decide on its capacity, which will ultimately 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 fact and a very important factor. We must not sin by carrying a backpack too small or 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 accompanies and about 50 to 60 liters if we are in winter. This is because in winter we must carry more luggage than in summer when our equipment is lighter. Next we will be able to see the different levels of capacity according to the luggage that we are ready to pass the Way.
Backpack 35 liters: Ideal capacity for any pilgrim who wants to embark on the adventure with the minimum luggage.
Backpack of 40 liters: A capacity in which the pilgrim will be able to cross the Light Way, with the right and necessary thing to travel. The most advisable capacity if the weather is good.
Backpack of 45 liters: This capacity is ideal for not very hot but also not cold weather. Like the previous one it is light and we will be able to overcome the stages with hardly any difficulty or discomfort.
Backpack of 50 liters: This capacity is too much for any pilgrim in summer. We’ll end up a lot more tired at each stage. A large capacity for good weather but small for winter.
Backpack 55-60 liters: In the cold months, this is the right one.
Be careful, in addition to the capacity of the backpack is often advised that its contents do not weigh more than 10% of body weight. That is to say, if a person weighs 70kg the ideal would be that as maximum the weight of the backpack was of 7 kg. 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 is the size of the backpack. Just like pants, a jacket or a t-shirt in this type of accessories exists size. They are given according to the length of the back. This length will be measured from the base of the neck to the end of the hip bone. You may think that it is not necessary to choose size, that a backpack is a backpack but all bodies are not equal and if we want to go as comfortable as possible we must take it into account. We leave you a table to get an idea of the size we use.
Height / length of torso:
160-175 cm / 45 -52 cm170-185
cm / 50-57 cm180-200
cm / 55-62 cm
Height / length of torso:
160-175 cm / 45-52 cm170-185
cm / 50-57 cm180-200
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 must see certain characteristics that will facilitate our path.
We will have to choose a backpack that has compartments and separate pockets to be able to organize the complements that we take with us and important things like the documentation the first-aid kit or even the mobile phone.
That the backpack includes a waterproof cover because 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 rain.
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 since there are many kilometers that we are going to travel and the backpack is going to suffer quite a lot. It is not a decorative complement, it is one of the main elements.
The lumbar reinforcement and the adjustable straps both to the chest and to the waist is an essential characteristic, it will be adapted in this way to the body and we will avoid possible discomfort in the back and neck.
Having pads on the shoulders will help to cushion the weight at each step we take, we avoid discomfort and injury.
We have numbered perhaps the characteristics that you can not miss in the choice of your backpack but if you have some more such as water compartment or a stick holder, better than better, all help is little. If your backpack meets these details, we have found the perfect backpack.
HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR BACKPACK
The backpack will become part of you during each stage, you will be so to speak one. That’s why we must avoid injuries or discomfort when carrying it, but how do we do it? If we have chosen well our backpack will be padded and ready to fit 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, that the point of balance in us remains centered. We will have to put in the bottom everything that we do not use during the stage of each day. Everything that is heavier will be adjusted inside so that it is close to or as close to the back as possible. When we have put everything in the bottom, the rest of the space will be used to carry the things we need in the stage, so that they are at hand. Finally, the backpack will carry 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 made of plastic because of the noise. If you are accompanied on this adventure, distribute the weight, you can share certain things like the first-aid kit or the food.
Finally, after the choice and purchase of our rucksack, we recommend that days before heading towards this adventure, we prepare the rucksack to check the weight we are going to carry. We will have to put everything that we think to take us to the way, already be clothes, the sleeping bag, the first aid kit, etc. After preparing it we 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 with the indispensable thing and we have not put the accessories that we will carry. It’s a real headache, we don’t want it to be torture on the way because of the backpack, and we don’t know what we should or shouldn’t put in it, so we advise you to ask if you have any doubts, “What did you take me to the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago?
IF WE OPT FOR LUGGAGE TRANSPORT…
This is a pretty comfortable option. If what we want is not to worry about the weight, to take everything we want or believe necessary and to 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 stage completed, so you do not have to worry about carrying the weight of all your luggage or why you should and should not take us. This is one of the services that in our agency we offer if you decide to count on us to organize the Way of Saint James for you. Walk carefree.
Have you had a bad experience? Would you recommend a particular backpack? Tell us and help future pilgrims.