Think quality not quantity! Your pilgrimage starts at the planning stage.
So start by invoking the highest for your journey and bring awareness to what you buy. There is so much exploitation of human and natural resources supported by our unconscious consumerism.
Become informed and use your voice and money to support those companies who genuinely try to make a positive difference in the world. To walk a pilgrim path for peace in gear produced from exploitative business practises or oppressive regimes is not congruent – we must make very effort to walk our talk.
Essential equipment that is useful to obtain in the planning stage:
rucksack: 50 litres should be ample, avoid large capacity bags (70 +litres) as you may be tempted to fill it with unnecessary items. An essential element is the waist strap that must allow you to adjust and carry the weight on your hips – never off your shoulder. You will need dry bags (not plastic bags which can actually pool water!) to ensure dry kit at the end of a wet day. If you are not using a poncho then a backpack cover is also recommended for heavy downpours.
sleeping bag: essential for all pilgrim hostels. If you are travelling in the summer months a lightweight 1 or 2 season bag will suffice. A zip will allow you to open it up in very hot conditions. Most hostels, especially in the mountain areas, have blankets.
toiletries: Apart from the usual take a small scissors with needle and thread for draining blisters and essential repairs.
water container: many people prefer carrying two0,5 or 0,7 litre bottles rather than a bulkier 1 litre that can be harder to pack and unpack. An appropriate accessory a soft plastic container that is mounted in your backpack. Up to 2 L of water can take it.
Water is essential and evidence supports the view that a minimum 2-3 litres (In warm weather, we need drinking even more.) a day can significantly reduce fatigue, blisters and other common ailments of long distance walking as well as avoiding dehydration.
First aid: All hostels are obliged to carry first aid boxes and there are innumerable chemists farmacia along the way. However, some essentials should be carried with you. While prevention is better than cure, unless you are well seasoned you will get blisters! Each to their own, but Compeed® is readily available, easy to apply and acts as a second skin. Whatever you bring apply it as soon as you feel a hot spot developing (don’t wait until it has developed into a full blister). Other essentials are plasters and antiseptic ointment for cuts and pain relief tablets such as Paracetamol for toothache etc. and Ibuprofen for relief of muscular pain.
walking poles: while not essential, they are highly recommended and will greatly reduce the impact on your body (around 25% if used properly). They will steady you over rough patches and may create confidence when facing the innumerable dogs that dot the countryside.
sleeping mat: very useful if you want the freedom of experiencing life under the stars and increasingly necessary if you are travelling in the busy season as it allows you more options – there will always be a floor somewhere!
cooking utensils: many hostels have basic kitchen equipment. However, if you intend cooking regularly it is advisable to bring your own utensils and cutlery. A small plastic container with lid will make it easier to carry soft fruit (such as tomatoes) and sandwiches.
binoculars: a compact set will enable you to pick out the detail of some of the many fine monuments and buildings along the way. It might also help to identify alternative paths and help pick out directional signs, etc.
For more information on equipment and weight please click on the backpack weight calculator.