Gearhead

One of the reasons I decided to start this blog so early is to have a place to share my planning and thought process with others — in particular, my friend who wants to walk the Camino Frances with me next year (hi, Mary-A!). Lately, I’ve had gear on my mind, perhaps because gathering gear feels more concrete than focusing on the never-ending, impossible stream of questions about the unknown (will I get the vaccine in time? will the pandemic be over in time? will there be much of a support industry in Northern Spain right after the pandemic?).

Thinking about gear the last few days, it dawned on me that there was very little I brought that was not used. I would still bring those items again — except for my swimsuit, they were all important safety/health tools.

What I left SJPdP with on April 5, 2018:

  • A 40L backpack bought in SJPdP (more on the backpack saga later)
  • a small Swiss Army knife bought in SJPdP
  • a pair of collapsible walking poles bought in SJPdP (which I will do again since they are such a pain to fly with)
  • my first credential
  • floppy sun hat
  • sunglasses
  • thin glove liners
  • a heavy-duty quick-dry jacket
  • a thin zip sweatshirt
  • two Buffs
  • two quick-dry sports bras
  • two pairs of quick-dry athletic pants
  • one pair of Capri yoga pants (for sleeping)
  • two quick-dry athletic shirts
  • one regular t-shirt (for sleeping)
  • one athletic “skort”
  • one pair of Merrell mid-high boots (with wool arch support inserts)
  • one pair of super light Sketcher foam shoes
  • 3-4 pairs of heavy SmartWool socks
  • 3-4 pairs of light sock liners (to prevent blisters — ha!)
  • four pairs of quick-dry athletic underwear
  • 18 oz Servimate filter water bottle
  • a roll of duct tape (wound to the water bottle)
  • iPhone and an iPad mini
  • wired earbuds
  • a heavy duty universal travel adapter such as this one
  • Brierley’s guidebook
  • a microfiber towel
  • bug repellent bracelets
  • a “sleep sack” for the albergues
  • a rudimentary first aid kit (bandaids, Neosporin, tweezers)
  • toiletries
  • allergy pills
  • toothbrush
  • lip balm, glittery only by accident
  • heavy duty skin balm
  • contacts and eyeglasses
  • nail clippers
  • hair ties/clips
  • a pen and journal, plus some scratch pads
  • a little hand sanitizer bottle — I’m sure I will need to bring a much larger bottle in the future post-COVID world
  • a headlamp
  • a waterproof poncho
  • two bandanas (came in handy a lot)
  • the items to leave at Ferro Cruz
  • cold medicine, just in case (never used)
  • antibiotics, also just in case (I get these strange infections on my hands, most likely because of the autoimmune thingy — luckily never used)
  • one of those cool gadgets that allows women to relieve themselves standing up (never used, thank goodness)
  • an emergency blanket, the kind that folds into the tiniest of squares (never used)
  • swimsuit (never used)
  • two compression bags to save space in the backpack
  • And two things that came in handy in surprising ways: a ziploc bag with about 20 other bags in it, and another ziploc that just had odds and ends (various sizes of paper binders, paper clips, safety pins, small S-clips, small bungee cords of various type, tiny scissors, rubber bands, string, etc — my husband was mocking me as I packed this little baggie, but boy am I glad I had every one of those little MacGyver-y bits)

What I lost along the journey:

  • the heavy jacket (replaced by Bunny the Badass Bull in Pamplona)
  • the boots (bad Bunny!)
  • various pairs of socks
  • the journal
  • sunglasses (lost in Estella)
  • that first stupid poncho was ditched in Zubiri for a new one — I was soaked the first time I pulled it out

Additional gear I had to purchase along the Camino:

  • Bunny replaced the lost heavy coat
  • a knee brace
  • an ankle brace
  • various pairs of socks
  • trail runner shoes times two (purchased in Burgos, then ditched for a better fitting pair in Leon)
  • heavy knit hat and gloves
  • long sleeve lightweight sport shirt (for better sun protection)
  • replacement sunglasses
  • two replacement raingear covers/ponchos
  • a small sewing kit
  • wireless earbuds times two (purchased in Pamplona, lost on the highway near Triacastella, then replaced in Sarria)
  • more toiletries
  • more bandaids and every “blister aid” on the market in Spain
  • a cheap fake ring to wear on my left hand — I’m just wearing my real ring next time

Things that never left SJPdP with me:

  • the original 65L backpack
  • small travel pillow and blanket
  • the passport travel wallet (why did I think those things were so great in the mid-90s?)

What I need to bring more of:

  • One more full change of clothes! I will be packing a third quick-dry shirt, pants, and bra. It was draining having to wash laundry every. Single. Night. Two days of clothes was not enough.

I hope this list is helpful to anyone out there. I will probably discuss some of these items at length more in the future. I can’t believe that all fit in a small 40L pack. Whew!

2 thoughts on “Gearhead

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  1. I LOVE travel planning & packing lists (I know, weird…I also love cleaning out closets!). I 2nd your comment about the ziplock bag with various bits in it. I started packing what I called the Office when I was traveling to Croatia to teach/perform every year for a decade. It ALWAYS came in handy (e.g you can repair an umbrella with the right, small piece of wire!). Excited for your next Camino!

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