SUGGESTED GEAR LIST FOR : SELF-CONTAINED WEEKLONG WALKING TRIP IN SUMMER
Never carried your own gear for a walking trip? It isn’t that tough, especially in the summer and staying at hotels. If you have done this before, by all means follow your own system, using this list as an indication only.
For additional ideas (especially if * by an item) please see below.
CLOTHES FOR THE TRAIL, OFF TRAIL
– 1 pair of shorts, better fast-drying synthetic than cotton *
– 1 pair of long pants, better fast-drying synthetic than cotton*
– 1 pair capri-length pants (truly minimalist? Choose between this and shorts)
WOMEN: consider skirts instead of shorts or capris, multiple advantages! see http://www.bridgetospain.com/hike-like-a-girl/ if you choose right, you can bring less, wash less and probably be more comfortable. May – September I usually take one knee-length skirt, one shin-length skirt and capri-length leggings. March – April and October-November usually one shin-length skirt, one pair long pants, capri length leggings and maybe full-length leggings early or late in season.
– 1 sleeveless shirt, better very lightweight WOVEN cotton (not knit) or fast-drying synthetic* (be sure to test on the trail so your backpack straps don’t rub)
– 2-3 short sleeved shirts, better very lightweight WOVEN cotton (not knit) or fast-drying synthetic*
– Polar fleece jacket OR sweater OR light down puffie: down lightest but must be kept dry! fleece next best
– Rain-wind jacket OR poncho: poncho cooler but jacket recommended as ponchos not effective in wind (unless shaped poncho, see below).
– 2-3 pairs socks
– 2 changes underwear
– Swimsuit (depending on trip)
– Something to wear in the evening while your walking clothes are drying after daily wash. Ideally, these clothes should work for walking, too.
OTHER GEAR, NECESSARY
– Sunhat, sunglasses, high-protection suncream, ALL VERY IMPORTANT IN SPAIN
– Walking shoes or boots, tie or buckle with thick, treaded sole*
– Off-trail shoes*
– Backpack, see below for ideas on size and style*
– Water bottle, capacity around two quarts or two one-quart bottles (folding recommended but standard canteen or water bottle also ok). We STRONGLY suggest carrying 1 ½ – 2 quarts of water.
– Eyeglasses or contacts if used, including extra pair
– Soap, shampoo, toothpaste, etc*
– Any prescription medicine, enough for length of trip. Suggest you ALSO bring prescription or generic name.
– Small first aid kit with familiar medicines you might need for personal use (respiratory ailments? stomach ailments? sore muscles or joints?) We will have first aid kit too, but if you already know what works for you it’s better to have it with you than experiment on a trip with something new.
OTHER GEAR, OPTIONAL BUT RECOMMENDED (see below)
– 1 long sleeved shirt, best if button/zip front so can double as light jacket*
– 1-2 bandannas or other similiar size cotton scarves
– Walking poles*
– Ziploc plastic bags or plastic bags and twist ties, various sizes, including large.
– Jacknife, some aluminum foil with a bit of salt and pepper for picnic lunches
– Detergent, enough to wash out clothes by hand each day.
– Small sewing kit, various sizes of safety pins (even if you don’t bring sewing kit, please DO bring safety pins, they work for hanging clothes)
– Folding umbrella (very optional, good for trail for sun and rain but if you are tight on space, forget this one)
– Earplugs and eyemask (for plane and in case of street noise at some hotels)
– Small-medium size towel for swimming
SHOES, WALKING AND OFF-TRAIL: Think about what you will be doing and take the right kind of footwear. For example, for the last part of the Road of St. James, boots are not necessary – a good sports shoe, light hiking shoe or sturdy walking sandals are enough, unless you have foot, ankle or knee problems that require heavier footwear or more support. That kind of footwear is also recommended even if you aren’t doing a “walking trip” – travel always involves a lot more walking than expected and if your feet are happy, you’ll be happy and will see a lot more. If you will be hiking on mountain trails, you will need at least a lightweight boot – there are lots out there that offer good support and have a good sole without a lot of weight – talk to an experienced salesperson if you are in doubt.
For off-trail shoes, you can choose between something very lightweight just for around town OR take another, somewhat heavier shoe that can double as an alternative walking shoe. We recommend this second alternative, as being able to change your shoes in case of blisters or rubbing can make a big difference. Whatever you decide, please do bring some sort of off-trail shoe. Your feet and your walking shoes need a rest from each other in the evenings!
BACKPACK: A good pack is more important than most people realize. For a weeklong summer trip, staying in hotels, a backpack around 30-35 liters (1830 – 2150 cubic inches) is a good size – a large day pack, about the size of an airplane carryon. It should have well-padded shoulder straps and a padded hipbelt – the hipbelt is very important to take some of the weight off your shoulders. If you pack right, this size can even hold a light sleeping bag. For more suggestions, please see Backpacks under TRAVEL TIPS
CLOTHES: We strongly recommend taking a minimum of clothes and washing things out by hand every day upon arrival at the hotel in the afternoon. If you do this promptly and roll things in a towel before hanging up, most things will dry by morning, especially if you bring fast-drying synthetic sports textiles, or at the very least, a cotton blend with a lot of synthetic. Cotton dries slowly, so daily washing is a problem, though wovens will dry a lot faster than knits. Sleeveless shirts should cover most of your shoulders to cut down on rubbing from backpack straps. A long-sleeved shirt is recommended for people who get chilly easily, to layer with a jacket if it gets cold, or for everyone as a light jacket for cool mornings or evenings. Bandannas or other cotton scarves are great for keeping sun off your neck, and a fantastic aid to keeping cool – just wet them before tying around your neck or around your head. Cloth sunhats are good for the same reason, though the brims are usually not as wide as straw hats. Light colors are cooler though they do show dirt more than dark. For more suggestions about packing for active trips and something about technical textiles, please see layering travel tip on TRAVEL TIPS
POLES: Ok, ok. These are not strictly necessary for easy walking trips, but I’m a convert. They really do take stress off your lower extremities (something to think about if you have creaky knees), may help avoid a stupid fall if you misstep, cut down on “sausage fingers” and really power you along on the flats. Downside is getting them over here and back, if they don’t fit in your checked bag, keeping track of them in addition to your other stuff, and carrying them when you don’t want to use them (ideally you can strap them on the outside of your pack). So it’s up to you!! Personally I prefer two poles – that may be your case if you ski or snowshoe. Another possibility if you are planning to walk the Road of St. James: get a wooden pilgrim staff, inexpensive and for sale several places, though as they are not telescopic you probably won’t be able to take it home.
RAIN GEAR: one of the always ongoing questions for walkers is about rain gear. Good rain jackets are very expensive and usually barely have butt-coverage (if that), so you need to thing about legs, either truly zap-dry pants or rain pants; the rain pants are heavy and hot and you may not need them often enough in the summer to make the weight worthwhile. (Another option for legs is rain chaps to wear over pants or leggings, Sierra Designs makes them though again, these may not be necessary if you walk in dry season. And chaps only come to top of your thighs (zero butt coverage) so you need a longer jacket or a poncho.). Rain jackets can be hot in the summer, even with the very best design, though that warmth is nice at other times of year. AND if you use a jacket, your pack can get very wet, even with a pack cover the straps can get soaked. Classic rain ponchos are cooler, cover your pack, but are floppy and almost useless in the wind. In between idea: poncho-jacket, looks like a huge jacket with sleeves, zip front and a hump to cover the backpack. Made by Altus, Ferrino, Bluefield, Packa and Sea to Summit, slightly different styles and different prices. Final decision of what rain gear should be based on how much you hike, where you hike and at what time of year. If you hike a lot, you might want different options (but if you hike a lot you already know that, right?)
OTHER GEAR: Yes, most of these things are available in Spain but if you will be out of major urban areas it might be difficult to find some things. Hints on how to cut down on weight and bulk: if you are traveling with someone, make a deal about sharing some things, like jacknife, soap, toothpaste, sewing kit or clothesline. Please do NOT just assume that someone else will have what you need and be willing to lend things to you – you should discuss that matter first – being relatively self-sufficient is part of the learning experience of a self-contained trip. / For soap, shampoo etc, bring small containers, maybe dividing your stuff in two so you can throw one container away when finished (otherwise you carry a half-empty bottle) – film cannisters work well as long as you close them tightly and keep them in a ziploc bag in case of leakage. / Plastic bags, ziploc or otherwise, work for storing stinky socks or not-quite-dry laundry.
CAN YOU REALLY DO IT? Wondering if you can carry this? Yes, you can. Your backpack should be a largish day pack, and not terribly heavy (probably around 10-15 pounds). Wondering if you really can live a week with this minimum amount of gear? Yes, yes and yes! Having so little is actually a very enlightening experience, but if you are REALLY going nuts with your minimalist attire, you can always get a new tee-shirt partway through your trip. And get this: at the end of most van-supported trips, people say they brought way too many clothes – and swear to bring less on their next trip!