No More Dithering, NP

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Among my online circle of fellow novice pilgrims, I find that dithering about your pack and equipment is almost a rite of passage. Major decisions like which backpack do you wear are given equal fervor as questions like should I bring a headlamp, or clothes pins, or safety pins, or a 5th pair of socks… it’s endless. I am an experienced traveler, and at the beginning of this process I thought equipment would be the easy part. I once packed for 10 weeks in Europe, covering 7 countries, with clothes for winter and spring all in one backpack – I got this! Right?

I made the joyous mistake of joining an online forum that told me otherwise. Folks can go a bit crazy over ultralight gear and what constitutes the perfect pack weight. The equipment subsection has thousands of posts and 1/3 of those are dedicated to the “shoes vs. boots” debate. It was immediately overwhelming. To the point that I ignored the equipment needs until last December. Hiking gear is really fun to play with and it’s easy to be drawn to all the high tech toys that have been developed. And there are so many options! I realized early on that gear was important, and while I wanted to make smart decisions, I also didn’t want to get lost in the need for stuff. (I didn’t mention that my European backpack weighed 45 lbs or that I dumped 20 lbs of stuff after 2 weeks.)

This time, my approach was to have a pack weight goal and acquire gear one step at a time. Shoes first (no, not boots), then my backpack second, and the rest came along when the stores sales did. I have dithered a bit about what temperature of sleeping bag to bring and it took me a while to find the right hiking pants, but my general approach to basically chill out about all the “stuff” has worked.

Until I piled all my Camino stuff into my backpack. The editing and second wave of dithering began. When you are a novice pilgrim it is hard to know what the right choices are. My forum friends have packed and repacked hundreds of times, made complicated spreadsheets about the weight of things down to the .01 gram, and had endless debates about what is the magic number for the perfect Camino pack.

Well, in lieu of dithering about the right decisions, I made a few rules to finalized my list: 1 – It only goes in the pack if I will use it everyday or every other day. 2 – No “just in case” items aside from meds and my first aid kit (I can buy almost anything there).

Here is what I have ended up with:


Leah backpack

16 lbs before snacks and water, 19 lbs after. (water bottles and shoes not pictured)


Just one week to go, no more dithering.


Novice Pilgrim, Nomad Peah, Never Perfect



A full listing of pack items:

2 hiking pants
1 cotton tights for sleeping
1 short sleeve running tech shirt
2 long sleeve running tech shirts
1 short sleeve thin cotton shirt for sleeping
3 hiking socks
1 compress knee length socks (I love these things)
3 sets of underclothes)
1 puff Jacket – Eddie Bauer Hiking/Ski hooded jacket/wind breaker super light weight (mostly night time use)
1 puff vest – REI Co-Op super light weight (mostly morning/during hike use)
1 Marmot hiking rain jacket
2 half buffs (UV)
1 pair merino wool gloves (might bet ditched when I reach the meseta)
1 ball cap
I know two puffs are overkill, but I realized in training one alone does not do it for me. Also the other will substitute for a pillow.

Salomon hiking shoes on my feet
Teva sandals for evening use.
Flips flops for the shower

Heavier items:
My meds (11 Rx scripts for 7 weeks means I just have to suck it up)
iPad mini with case,
iPhone with case and small lens attachment
1 Charger
head lamp
Travel towel – those suckers are not that lightweight! 6.5 ounces
Down travel sack – not quite a sleeping bag, more than a regular light weight travel sack
Hiking Poles poles – 10 oz for both
Guide book that has been cut up for only maps and the Spanish dictionary section
Small 2.5 oz body wash/hair wash, brush, toothbrush, toothpaste (travel size), Listerine (travel size), floss, razor, small tin of foot balm (travel size), 1 oz lavender oil. Sun screen stick (small), travel deodorant.

I also have a small first aid kit that I put together, foam earplugs, a small ball foam roller (super light weight), a few small gear ties, plastic lid from a coffee can, a doppio coffee cup, ultralight weight shoulder bag (for night time) that compresses down to fit in my hand, small travel tissues (like Kleenex), and I want to acquire a small knife once I arrive. My Leatherman is too heavy and overkill. Debit/Credit card, Passport, Euros, 2 REI 14 oz Nalgene bottles

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