For some time now I have been giving serious thought about the equipment I will be carrying during my time on the Camino. There are numerous recommendations about this in books, on the Internet, and from well-meaning people who have already made one or more pilgrimages. While I have carefully considered these suggestions, at the end of the day it will really become a personal decision as to which items I will carry and which will be left behind. Of course, as departure time approaches the choices become more time sensitive, but final decisions have not yet been made and the discernment process goes on.
This topic elicits impassioned opinions from prior pilgrims. Should you carry a sleeping bag or not? What kinds of footwear should you take? What brand and size of backpack should you purchase? Are walking sticks a good idea or not? Should you carry a phone or other digital devices (iPads, cameras, etc.)? How many pieces of clothing (pants, shirts, socks, underwear) do you really need? What precautions should you take to avoid and/or treat blisters and bedbugs? Should you carry a guidebook? And on it goes…
Obviously, as you consult the available resources, you find many conflicting opinions. As a tool to help my decision-making process I have created a simple Excel spreadsheet in which I list each item I am considering taking. I type in the individual weights and Excel calculates a running total weight for me. I chose to enter the weights in grams for a finer degree of accuracy and let the spreadsheet do the math to convert into ounces and pounds. My goal is to have a final total weight of 20 pounds or less. At this point, I’m not too optimistic I will achieve the goal, but at least I should be close and will have a pretty good idea of where I stand. I hope the decisions I make will be good ones.
Here’s a photo of some of the stuff I have accumulated so far. Some of it will be left behind, of course, but most will probably end up in my backpack. (To be honest, this is also a test to ensure I can successfully upload photos into this blog.) I have also attached my spreadsheet, which anyone is free to use and modify at will. It’s just an Excel spreadsheet, after all. I encountered one on-line source who seemed unreasonably possessive of his packing list (IMHO). But as I said, it’s just Excel and it’s just a packing list, for Pete’s sake! Anyone can create one as easily as I did. But, if my packing list spreadsheet helps another pilgrim, then so much the better.