Ultralight pack list for Camino de Santiago

Being a ninja on the camino starts with a light backpack. Without water and food, my recommendation is 5 kilos max.

Remember it’s not a survival trip – it’s more about nice and long walks, having coffee at cafés, eating nice food, and meeting other travelers.

The Camino Ninja list below comes from my experience hiking multiple Caminos de Santiago in snowstorms, heavy rain, and extreme heat in all seasons. After 18.000+ kilometers of hiking, this is a way to pack light, stay dry, and still look good along the route.
The gear is inspired by mountain trail-running equipment paired with a merino base layer.

 

Bags
E
x
t
r
e
m
e
S
u
m
m
e
r
S
p
r
i
n
g
/
F
a
l
l
W
i
n
t
e
r
Backpack Ultralight backpacking starts with a small and light backpack. Less weight requires less support. For long hikes abackpack made for heavier loads is way more comfortable.
I use: Black Diamond – Bolt 24
Weight: 940 gr / 33.16 oz
X X X X
Daypack For carrying your valuables around after the walk, and can double as a stuff-sack and pillowcase too.
I use: Nordisk – Nibe 12 liter daypack
Weight: 70 gr / 2.47 oz
X X X
 
Sleeping
Sleeping Bag You are required to bring your own sleeping bag. Blankets are no longer provided by albergues. The sleeping bag is usually the single item you can save the most weight and volume on. A synthetic sleeping bag is usually more durable, and the latest high-end ones are as light as the latest down ones. Leave the sleeping bag stuff-sack at home and stuff your sleeping bag in the bottom of your backpack to save weight and volume.
I use: Nordisk – Oscar +10
Weight: 280 gr / 9.88 oz
X X X X
Sleepingbag Liner You are required to bring your own sleeping bag. Blankets are no longer provided by albergues. Just bringing a sleeping bag liner is not reccommended anymore.
Sleeping Pad When I walked my first Camino in 2005, everyone had a sleeping pad just in case albergues were full or you were caught in unforeseen circumstances.
I use: OMM – Duomat 45 // Multimat – Superlite 8
Weight: 150 gr / 5.29 oz // 190 gr / 6.70 oz
X X X
 
Hydration
Water Bottle A 500 ml / 16.91 oz water bottle, or two or three of them, is the lightest and a very convenient way to carry water. With water bottles in your side pockets you can always see how much you have left, and they can easily be replaced with new ones after being used for some days.
Weight: 10 gr / 0.35 oz
X X X X
 
Clothing – head
Cap A cap protects your head and eyes from sun, wind, heavy rain, snowstorms, sand etc.
I use: Patagonia – Airshed Cap
Weight: 60 gr / 2.1 oz
X X X X
Beanie A woolen beanie is very useful for keeping your head warm when it is chilly. Actually, I use a beanie all year round. I found the wool also cools you down when it gets really hot.
I use: Patagonia – Brodeo Beanie
Weight: 82 gr / 2.9 oz
X X
 
Clothing – top
Windbreaker A ultralight windbreaker combined with a merino base layer is enough in high summer to survive for the daring. And in general it is the most comfortable shell layer unless it is raining, snowing or really cold. It traps heat, keeps the wind out and even keeps light rain off. Works very well with a merino baselayer, and a thin lambswool swaeter on a chilly day.
I use: Patagonia – Houdini Jacket
Weight: 105 g / 3.7 oz
X X X X
Long Sleeved Merino Tee w. Hoodie This is a brilliant piece of gear all year round and probably will never get in your backpack at all. It can protect your arms, neck and head from the sun on a really hot day, as well as serve as insulation on a cold day, or night.
I use: Smartwool – Men’s Merino 150 Micro Stripe Hoody
Weight: 218 gr / 7.69 oz
X X X X
Short Sleeved Merino Tee This one you will probably only wear when you wash your long-sleeved merino hoodie tee. It’s lighter but might as well be merino so you can use it as a double base layer if really cold.
I use: Smartwool – Men’s Merino Sport 150 Tee
Weight: 136 gr / 4.8 oz
X X X X
 
Wool Sweater A light wool sweater on top of a merino base layer and under a puffy jacket takes you comfortably through a lot of snowstorm in the Spanish mountains in winter. Works well under a windbreaker all year round.
I use: Patagonia – Capilene Air Crew
Weight: 184 gr / 6.5 oz
X X X
Puffer Jacket A ultralight windproof Puffer Jacket with DWR (Durable Water Repellency) treatment is a must have piece for winter, but can also be used all year round as a lighter alternative to a fleece and windbreaker.
I use: Patagonia – Micro Puff Hoodie
Weight: 264 gr / 9.31 oz
X
Clothing – bottom
Shorts I’m not sure if any shorts are really better than others but shorts in general has less friction than pants and is my favorite for walking. I’m not too concerned with weight as they never go into my backpack …so I choose durability and pockets as my main priority, but running shorts is a good choice if durability and pockets are not a concern.
I use: Carhartt WIP – Swell Short
X X X X
Merino Leggings For chilly days (and night walks) merino leggings give you the extra warmth you need for your legs under your shorts or rain pants.
I use: SmartWool – Men’s Merino Sport 250 Bottom
Weight: 212 gr / 7.48
X X
Merino Briefs Underwear is a private matter, but I can reveal mine is super soft and doesn’t smell even if I have a day without the possibility for showering and washing.
I use: Smartwool – Men’s Merino 150 Boxer Brief
Weight: 91 gr / 3.21 oz
X X X X
 
Clothing – feet
Merino Socks Merino socks are a must have for long distance hiking.
I use: Darn Tough – Hiker 1/4 Sock Cushion // SmartWool – PhD Outdoor Light Crew Socks
Weight (large): 91 gr / 3.21 oz // 82 gr / 2.89 oz
X X X
 
Shoes
Sandals Sandals will most likely become mandatory at albergues. Having sandals with you good enough to walk a full camino is also a real life saver. If you get any kind of problems with your feet sandals might be the thing that saves your trip. It can even be recommended just using sandals for a full trip, or just if your feet get overheated, or if you get caught in rain without waterproof shoes. To walk a full camino in sandals, you most likely want some lightweight sandals with good cushioning. A few tips for sandals: Don’t tie them too much! Put half a finger at least under the straps when you tighten them, and make sure they are loose enough to have air under all of your foot at every step.
I use: Teva – Terra Float 2 Universal // Teva – Sanborn Universal
Weight: 260 gr / 9.2 oz // Weight: 212 gr / 7.5 oz
X X X X
Trail-Running Shoes In summer light Trail-Running Shoes is my choice. I always bring sandals too if it gets really hot, or if it rains.
I use: Columbia Montrail – FKT Lite – Trail Running Shoe
Weight: 234 gr / 8.25 oz
X
Waterproof Trail-Running Shoes In winter and rainy seasons, you need waterproof shoes. Waterproof Trail-Runners are enough. Just because it is raining or snowing do not go for heavy and bulky footwear. In warm seasons waterproof shoes are too warm, but if sandals are your preferred method of transportation they do very well as your extras for cold mornings and a rainy day.
I use: Asics – Gel-Sonoma GTX – Trail Running Shoes
Weight: 340 gr / 11.99 oz
X X
 
Raingear
Rain poncho A rain poncho with actual sleeves keeps your upper body and backpack dry even in heavy rain and heavy wind for a full day.
I use: Caperlan – Pocket Fishing Poncho
Weight: 175 gr / 6.17 oz
X X X X
Gaiters Next after your rain poncho the gaiters are the most important piece of rainwear. It stops water and debris from running into your shoes when it’s wet, raining or snowing. Gaiters are also good for keeping your calves warm on a cold day.
I use: Zpacks – Vertice Gaiters
Weight: 54 gr / 1.90 oz
X X X
Rain pants In heavy rain, rain pants are needed. Put them over your gaiters. On cold days rain pants with merino leggings is a good combo and can save you a lot of weight.
I use: Inov-8 – AT/C Ultrapant Waterproof Trousers
Weight: 86 gr / 3.03 oz
X X
 
 
Grooming
Toothbrush Any toothbrush will do, and you can actually just shorten the handle on your regular one if you want to save weight.
Zpacks – Ultralight Travel Toothbrush
Weight: 4 gr / 0.14 oz
X X X X
Nail Clipper A nail clipper for keeping your nails short and fine is a good idea when walking.
I use: Victorinox – Nail Clipper
Weight: 22 gr / 0.78 oz
X X X
Soap A soap or shampoo for washing yourself and your clothes.
I use: Sea To Summit – Wilderness Wash
Weight: 80 gr / 2.82 oz
X X X
 
First-Aid Kit
Sterile Gauze Pads Gauze Pads for making plasters or bandages with Duct Tape can be handy.
I use: Sterile Gauze Pads
X X X X
Iodine For disinfection and drying out blisters.
I use: Iodine
X X X X
Sewing Kit Needles and thread to fix gear, clothes and your Self if needed.
I use: Zpacks – Sewing Repair Kit w/ Kevlar Thread
Weight: 10 gr / 0.35 oz
X X X X
Lighter A lighter is handy for sterilizing needles, and also just for being a gentleman.
I use: BIC® Mini Lighter
Weight: 11 gr / 0.4 oz
X X X X
Duct Tape For patching yourself and your gear and clothes. Can also be used as sports tape to reduce friction.
I use: Duct Tape
X X X X
Pocket Knife A knife is not strictly necessary on the camino. But a very small one with a scissor, pincher, toothpick and nail file can be handy.
I use: Victorinox – Classic SD
Weight: 22 gr / 0.78 oz
X X X
 
Electronics
Phone A phone is a multi-tool and saves a lot of weight …forget about guidebooks or have them all online. It’s a flashlight, navigation, camera etc.
I use: Nokia 9 PureView
Weight: 172 gr / 6.07 oz
X X X X
SIM Card Having mobile coverage is a really good idea. Making reservations online, by phone or by e-mail. Accessing internet for finding your way to everything, calling, WhatsApp’ing and Messaging family and friends …and for sure Instagramming your Camino Pictures, posting them to Facebook. It is possible to walk the camino without mobile coverage, but Wi-Fi is usually really bad if any at all.
I use: Vodafone yu – Mega Yuser
Weight: 1 gr / 0.04 oz
X X X X
Power bank Power banks has become popular because some albergues do not have individual power plugs for each bed. Having to charge an expensive smartphone out of sight makes some people uncomfortable. Losing your phone while traveling in a foreign country can almost be as much trouble as loosing you credit card or passport.
I use: Nitecore – NB10000
Weight: 150 gr / 5.29 oz
X X X
Headlamp A headlamp or flashlight is not strictly necessary on the camino. Most of the time the torch on your phone or just the light from the screen can do. But if you plan on walking at night or early morning you might not want to use all the battery on your phone.
I use: Petzl – Bindi
Weight: 35 gr / 1.235 oz
X X X
 
Mobile Apps
Accommodation, Route Planning & Maps I use: Camino Ninja App
Weight: 0 gr / 0.00 oz
X X X X
Booking Having a third party holding your booking and making sure you have a bed can save you a lot of trouble..
I use: Booking.com App
Weight: 0 gr / 0.00 oz
X X X X
Flights, Trains & Busses Finding transportation in Spain can be a hassle. But with the right App it becomes way easier. No more standing in line trying desperately to Speak Spanish while you see your train leaving. No more paper tickets.
I use: Omio App (GoEuro)
Weight: 0 gr / 0.00 oz
X X X X
Offline Maps On the small mountain routes or remote places without cellular coverage offline maps can be useful. It is not everyday camino life. But if you want to be prepared like a scout, have an offline map in your app pack.
I use: MAPS.ME App
Weight: 0 gr / 0.00 oz
X X X X
Law enforcement Not speaking Spanish or not knowing the local area, it can feel safe with an app to contact local law enforcement in case of emergency.
I use: AlertCops App
Weight: 0 gr / 0.00 oz
X X X X
Messaging, Calls & Location Sharing For staying in contact with friends and family, and your new camino friends ….
I use: WhatsApp
Weight: 0 gr / 0.00 oz
X X X X
Photo Sharing The Caminos is definitely one of those places where you create memories for life. Do you want to share them?.
I use: Instagram (@camino.ninja)
Weight: 0 gr / 0.00 oz
X X X X
Services
Luggage Storage Luggage Storage might be one of the most important services for your ultralight adventure on Camino de Santiago. You can send stuff ahead from any post office (Correos) in Spain you will need after your Camino, like your German army boots you love but realized wasn’t as good as regular trail-runners or sandals for walking the Camino. And extra clothes and whatever you find out during the way is too much (it always happens) …even souvenirs you shop during the way.
I use: Correos
Weight: 0 gr / 0.00 oz
X X X X
New Normal (Corona / COVID-19)
Masks Masks are required whenever you go inside or cannot maintain social distancing measures of 2 meters outdoors. Mask rules apply to supermarkets, public transport, pharmacies, bars, restaurants, airports, shops etc. You will be fined if you do not follow this rule. Masks can be purchased at all pharmacies along the way, so you do not have to bring enough for your full journey. You can also wash and rewear a fabric mask in lieu of a medical one. X X X X
Hand Sanitizer Hand Sanitizer is everywhere at the entrance to supermarkets, bars, restaurants, pharmacies, and shops…but only at the entrance and not the exit. I recommend bringing your own small, refillable tube with a carabiner to have at hand to ensure you are not taking germs with you. Hand Sanitizer can also be purchased at all pharmacies and some markets along the way. X X X
Sleeping Bag You are required to bring your own sleeping bag. Blankets are no longer provided by albergues.
See: #SleepingBag
X X X X
Sleeping Pad When I walked my first Camino in 2005, everyone had a sleeping pad just in case albergues were full or you were caught in unforeseen circumstances.
See: #SleepingPad
X X X
Contactless Credit/Debit Card Most places along the Caminos have Contactless Credit/Debit Card machines now to reduce the spread of germs. And will be the preferred way to receive payments. Having cash with you will probably still be a good idea. X X X

 

Things like sunscreen, towels, sleeping pads, vaseline (for blister prevention), Compeed etc. has been excluded as they serve individual needs and not something everyone needs.