Packing For The Camino: Three ‘B-Words’ and One ‘C-Word’

It has been a quiet week at home, so I have been trying to check off some of the key pieces for our upcoming Camino walk. As I mentioned in my last post, we plan to carry our full packs. Hence, we want to travel as light as possible without getting caught short.  In my original romanticized notion of this trek, our needs were simple, and our packs were weightless. Then I began to read some on-line Camino packing lists and to review key trip details (without over planning of course). The vision of that featherlight pack began to fade as harsh reality took over.

A couple of t-shirts, a pair of shorts, some yoga pants, a fleece, socks and hiking boots….as well as my multipurpose iphone, and I’m good to go….right? Not quite.

As we will be traveling in July, we have decided not to take our sleeping bags and go with just our sleeping bag liners. I checked the weather forecast. The temperatures for the dates/places we will be traveling range from 11 to 29 degrees Celsius with potential rain showers/thunderstorms on three out of our ten days. Insert a light weight rain jacket here. I then read that the hostel in Roncesvalles offers no bedding or coverings. Add a thin wool blanket to the pile.

I made the mistake of watching you-tube videos of people who had filmed themselves on the trek, starting Day One from St. Jean. Even many of the fittest looking hikers were panting and groaning, in obvious pain, much earlier than I had expected. Despite the incredible scenery, it frankly scared me out of my wits. Better bring the trekking poles after all (if not an oxygen mask)!

The videos also revealed the three terrible B-words of the Camino Trail —blisters, bowel issues, and bedbugs!! The blisters I could deal with (she says confidently while adding vaseline and compeed to her stash). As for the bowel issues, I’ll prepare myself with water-purification tablets, travelers’ probiotics, Imodium, hand sanitizer…and toilet paper! The bedbugs, however, are another matter completely! After a little research, I was at our local hardware store quicker than you could say “permethrin”….which I then used to pretreat our clothing and gear. Permethrin, an anti-bed bug/insecticide treatment, is odorless and binds to the fabric to which it is applied. It is touted to last several weeks and several washings. When used as directed, it is safe for humans (and dogs) as it it poorly absorbed by the skin. Bedbugs be gone! And–just to be safe–I will slip in a pretreated anti-bedbug underlayer with my stuff (adding 3.5 ounces). Many forums have mentioned that it can be difficult to find Permethrin in Canada, so I have added some useful links at the bottom of this post.

And now for the ‘C-word’: Cotton. Traditionally,  when selecting clothing options, the mantra of many hikers has been ‘ABC’: “Anything But Cotton“.  Regular cotton is typically heavier than other fabrics, absorbs sweat and rain like a sponge, traps moisture against skin, drains body heat and thus can cause people to get cold, or in extreme cases, hypothermia (including when it is warm outside). Is all cotton rotten?  There are now many treated cottons and cotton-blends like TransDry Cotton, UA Charged Cotton, Niki Drifit  and polycotton that alleviate some of the above concerns. However, as a general rule when hiking, many sources, including The Mayo Clinic, caution against wearing cotton as”wool, silk or polypropylene inner layers hold body heat better than cotton does.”

Moving on from cotton, polyesters are used by many as they tend to dry quickly. However, they can also retain odor–thus not always creating the most pleasant hiking experience–at least not for those around you! Merino wool has become many hikers’ hero.  It is soft and comfy like cotton, non-irritating, prevents bacterial growth (thus reducing smell), dries quickly and most importantly, wicks away moisture from skin. As there is a huge variety of Merino outdoor clothing available,  that is what I have chosen to go with for me two rotating hiking outfits. (Two outfits. Ten days. So unlike me!)

There’s more to add to my pack, such as a water-bottle, flip-flops, flashlight, eye-mask, sunglasses, wide-brimmed hat, earplugs…the packing continues!

Being the nerdy-list girl that I am, I will compare what we bring, against what we actually use, don’t use….and have to stop and buy. Look out for this post at the end of July.

Buen Camino.

(PS – If you haven’t yet watched it,  The Way gives a good “Hollywood” introduction to the Camino and is available on Netflix.)

Canadian Tire sells Green Earth Travel Bed Bug Spray ($8.49  Cdn for 100g spray can). Does not contain permethrin but does contain DD-Phenothrin (0.20%) and Tetramethrin (0.20%) which are all from the pyrethroid family. Pyrethroids are the man-made versions of pyrethrins, natural insecticides from chrysanthemum flowers.


Walmart (Canada and USA) sells Great Value Bed Bug Insect Killer ($5.00 Cdn for 400g).

Sawyer, and other Permethrin products are available at ($10.55 USD for 12oz).

Lifesystems lightweight bed bug barrier undersheet is available at ($14.17 USD).


12 thoughts on “Packing For The Camino: Three ‘B-Words’ and One ‘C-Word’”

  1. Sounds like you’re going to be very well prepared, Donna! I admire that. We wish you and Richard a safe and wonderful time. And congratulations to Creighton for receiving his doctorate.
    (It was so nice for Richard to visit us recently. Missed you though. Hopefully he had fun golfing with friends.)


  2. I do so envy you this experience. I had wanted to do such a thing when I was younger. I bought walking shoes and hiking clothes. In the Wallowa Mountains of Oregon the hiking is wonderful and there are groups, or used to be, that provided your meals, etc. It all did appeal to me.

    Have so much fun and tell us lots about your fellow travelers. I like that part of traveling.



    1. Thanks, Barbara. You have focused on one of the key pieces to which we are most looking forward: fellow travelers. That is the reason that we have chosen to stay in the hostels (at least for the start of our journey). I will definitely keep you posted (although I am a bit nervous to blog with just my iPhone). Thank you for reading, and for commenting. Donna


    1. Hi, Louise – I’m so glad that you checked out my the start of my Camino post from last year. If you are interested in reading more, I did write and post each day for the ten days of that journey. I will also write about this year’s trip, but will likely post once I return in September. Thanks for following!


  3. Thanks, Louise – I LOVE that movie. I’ve watched it multiple times and always see something new each time that I watch. My husband and I especially enjoyed seeing it after we finished doing our last Camino as we recognized so many things. For anyone who loves walking (or biking), I highly recommend this trip.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s