SUGGESTED GEAR LIST FOR 6-8 DAY ACTIVE TRIP MAY – SEPTEMBER
Wondering what to bring for your trip to Spain? Here is a basic list for 6-8 day walking trip at low to moderately high altitude. If you plan right, this list works fine as a guideline for a non-active trip, too
See additional notes below for general clarifications, colder weather, biking trips, day hikes, even some ideas about street clothes.
VARIOUS FOR ACTIVITY
1-2 pairs of shorts
1-2 pairs of long pants
Maybe? substitute one pair of long pants & one pair shorts for zip-offs (though test them on the trail before bringing, sometimes the zippers rub wrong places or are hard to use). Or capri (knee-length) pants, which cover a wider temperature range than long pants or shorts.
WOMEN: consider skirts instead of shorts, 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.
1-2 sleeveless shirts (be sure you don’t get backstrap rub with sleeveless shirts). Sleeveless shirts work as layers, too.
2-3 short sleeved shirts
1-2 long sleeved shirts (2 in cooler weather, 1 in warmer)
1 polar fleece jacket OR sweater
1 rain-wind jacket
Underwear, socks, etc
Light to midweight boots or hiking shoes, depending on trip
Sunhat, sunglasses, suncream (high protection) ALL VERY IMPORTANT
OPTIONAL BUT USEFUL (Ask for specific trip and see below)
1-2 cotton bandannas
lightweight hat or earband
lightweight neck gaiter or similiar
vest: fleece, nylon or cotton
NON-ACTIVE WEAR: Whatever makes you feel comfortable, maybe your active wear doubles as non-active wear. No formal or especially dressy clothes are necessary during our trips, though a casual skirt or dress can be a nice change from shorts or pants for women. Swimsuit for some but not all trips in summer – pools open late in the north. Shoes for off-trail (Road of St. James: if they work for serious walking, all the better!)
-small backpack (large enough for food, water, rain-cold weather gear)
-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.
-jacknife, fork and spoon or spork if you plan to do picnic lunches
-eyeglasses or contacts if used, including extra pair
-Any prescription medicine, enough for length of trip. Suggest you 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 THINGS, OPTIONAL. PLEASE CONSIDER THE TRIP, SEASON OF THE YEAR AND YOUR TRAVEL STYLE
-walking poles or cane. If you ski or snowshoe, two poles may feel more comfortable than just one.
-plastic refrigerator container with lid, flat 7″ square or round is a good size (good for storage, very important if you plan to picnic)
-folding plastic glass or cup, camping cup or mug also good (especially if you plan to picnic and might include wine)
-ziploc plastic bags or plastic bags and twist ties, various sizes.
-10ft lightweight cord and big safety pins, which have other uses
-small sewing kit including various sizes of safety pins
-corkscrew, canopener (maybe on jacknife) especially if you plan to picnic or do afternoon snack
-folding umbrella if your trip includes any city time. These are also good on the trail, though not in the wind or with tricky footing
-travelling alarm clock (or use cell phone)
-earplugs and eyemask (for plane and in case of street noise at some hotels)
-small-medium size towel for swimming and for wrapping washed clothes to help dry
-washcloth (not always provided in European hotels)
-electric convertor if bringing hairdryer or similiar / plug convertor (Spain is 220V and plugs are two round prongs)
-soap or shower gel (not provided in ample supply in all our hotels)
-flashlight (especially hiking trips where refuges will be used, useful for bedtime reading, too)
-small compass (especially on biking trips if you plan to ride on your own, also good for exploring cities). OR get an app on your cell phone
-Ziplock bag with: some paper clips, rubber bands, postit-type notes, text highlighter, two extra pens, small or folding scissors (remember to put at least these in checked bag!).
-1-2 large envelopes also handy if you like to collect postcards, maps or tourist information of any kind.
COLDER WEATHER / HIGHER ALTITUDE: Above list can still be used as a guideline. In those cases we suggest you bring just one pair of shorts and at least two pairs of pants, one fairly warm and at least a bit water-resistant – three would be better late in October or early in April. Delete the sleeveless shirts and one short sleeved shirt, bring an additional long sleeved shirt (if it can be a technical, quick dry textile, all the better!). If you get cold easily, lightweight long underwear, silk or technical textiles, might be a good idea.
A vest is especially nice off-season, it gives a lot of warmth and flexibility for the space and weight it takes up in a suitcase. Early and late in the season or at higher altitudes it is VERY IMPORTANT that you bring a warm hat, something for your hands and probably for your neck. Your trip will be more enjoyable if you have the right clothes!
DAY HIKES: We usually REQUIRE the following: Sturdy tie shoes with a good sole; a light to mid-weight over-the-ankle boot is always a good idea and is required for some hiking trips. Small-medium backpack (we strongly recommend lining your pack with double plastic bags to keep everything dry in case of rain) for day’s gear. Sweater or polar fleece except in high summer at low altitudes. Sunhat except in the middle of winter. Rain gear (poncho or jacket) all year. Water bottle, at least 1 liter and 2 liters May-Sept and on all longer hikes. Lunch, we suggest “carbo-salads” or sandwich and fruit. Bikers MUST wear helmets – most good rental places will include with your bike.
We STRONGLY RECOMMEND the following: Warm hat, earband, gloves and neck gaiter except in high summer at low altitudes, THIS GEAR REQUIRED FROM DECEMBER TO LATE MARCH. Extra pair of gloves or mittens in winter. Sunglasses and sunscreen year round. Extra socks and shirt, preferably also pants, all in a plastic bag. Post-hiking shoes (lightweight sneakers or sandals as you may have to carry during the day). Light jacket or shirt for summer. Bandanna or cotton scarf. Mini first aid (aspirin, bandaids). “Energies” or gorp (almonds, raisins, hard candies, chocolate, cookies, granola bars). Jacknife and spoon or fork (if bringing salad).
STREET CLOTHES: Generally speaking, in Madrid, Barcelona or smaller places with a lot of tourism (Granada, Sevilla) just about any clothing is OK. Smaller, less touristy destinations you should be a little more conservative.
That said, please remember that unusual or extreme clothing may draw unwelcome attention, even in the larger cities. You will already be quite visible due to language, coloring and body language, so it is better to tone down clothes a little. This recommendation is for both women and men, as some pickpockets target foreigners: the more you try to fit in, the better.
So what is OK? Shorts are fine in most places but shouldn’t be skin-tight and should probably be at least mid-thigh length for both men and women. Tank tops are OK for both sexes, though most Spanish men do not wear them. Shirtless is not OK except in beach towns, even then best on the beach and not in the grocery store. Pants are fine for women in all places, though if you will be spending a lot of time in very small towns at least one skirt or dress would be a good idea. Sandals are fine, though any shoes you bring should be very comfortable as you will probably walk a lot more than you expect, even off the trail. Women should think twice about high heels as many Spanish cities have cobblestone areas or artsy embossed pavement that can make walking in heels more of an adventure than the toughest trail.
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?)
HOW MUCH TO BRING? How much active wear you bring depends on how you feel about doing laundry by hand, as most of our hotels will not have laundry facilities (see items under “OPTIONAL”). To help you plan what to bring, we also suggest you see our travel tip about layering (link above). And just a comment: at the end of most trips, people say they brought way too much and swear to bring less on their next trip!
WHAT IS ALL THAT STUFF UNDER “OPTIONAL”? “Optional” items are based on past experience. Please consider your own travel style and personal needs as you may not want or need to bring everything listed (for example, do you get cold easily, do you like a little more time in the morning, are you interested in orientation and map reading). Yes, most of these things are available in Spain, but remember we will be in small towns in rural areas and looking for some of these things may take time away from having fun; why risk that if you can bring them from home? We suggest bringing a refrigerator container so you can make fruit or vegetable salad for lunch for a change from sandwiches. Save space by packing other things (folding cup, jacknife, detergent, cord and clothespins) inside it. Some people bring sturdy zip-lock bags to use as a bowl for salads instead of refrigerator container. Plastic bags also work for storing stinky socks or not-quite-dry laundry. “Office supplies” maybe not necessary except for the super-organized, though postit notes are great for reminders to retrieve your passport from under the mattress or the room safe.