Packing ~ Steve

Steve:

Let’s go full nerd and I’ll tell you what’s coming with me.

Top row #1

  • Deuter Futura 42 litre backpack. I’ve been using a 32 litre version of the same pack for years as my standard ‘day in the Scottish hills’ pack.  It has excellent ventilation, which in my book trumps most other concerns.
  • 3x UnderArmour underwear. Overriding virtue is that they dry quickly.
  • Numerous ziploc bags (actually the IKEA equivalent – they shut better)
  • A collection of Smartwool and Bridgedale socks.  Again, these are my standard Scottish hill socks.  My concern is that they might be too warm for Spain – we shall see. In the end only three pairs were actually packed.

Row #2

  • Cheap inflatable pillow bought in some airport somewhere.  Probably an unnecessary luxury and may well end up in the bin + a Yellowstone sleeping bag liner.  Very thin and enough to keep out the bed bugs.
  • Shoulder bag bought at a Greenbelt festival years ago.  Useful as a day sack.
  • The grey/blue box contains a lightweight SeatToSummit microfibre travel towel.  Thin and dries fast.
  • Under that is my diabetic test kit with enough glucose test strips to last the trip.
  • Under that is a Leatherman knife that was, in the end, left behind.
  • To the right is a toilet bag with the usual Compeed plasters, toothbrush etc etc.
  • Between the toilet bag and the socks are some vegan energy bars that we bought for the difficult first day from St Jean to Roncevalles through the Pyrenees.

Row #3

  • Very cheap (£30) Snugpack sleeping bag.  The Camino is (usually) hot, so a ‘proper’ sleeping bag is not required.  I’ll either use this or the Yellowstone bag liner. Depending on the weather, one will be discarded along the way.
  • Sherpa fleece. Thinnish and light.
  • Craghoppers Kiwi shirts x 2. I like these shirts a lot. They’re relatively cheap, have sensible pockets and niceties like drying loops. A well designed item.
  • A large plastic ziploc full of bits and pieces to keep my knackered left foot happy.  Hopefully they will all be unnecessary and I can abandon them.
  • Electrics
    • Spain to UK mains adaptor
    • The very splendid IKEA high power, three port, USB charger
    • A Gorrillapod mini-tripod (for the Sony A6000 used to take the picture)
    • The black bag under the adaptor contains a Sansa Clip (the best mp3 player I’ve found – enough battery life for a week, huge capacity (4GB internal + 64GB micro SD)), some Sennheiser sports headphones (with the fiddly ear things that stop them falling out as you walk). I use the Sansa/Sennheiser combination on my daily dog walks.

Row #4

  • Trousers x 2
    • Berghaus walking trousers, my standard hiking gear, plus
    • new Montane trousers, with side vents and (important!) big zipped pockets.
  • Luminous green Rab long sleeved shirt, another hillwalking regular.
  • White Musto cap.  This is a rather expensive cap, but, being a bald bloke in Spain, I need something to keep the sun off.  The Musto is designed for sailing and is completely washable.  I use it daily for the dog walks.
  • Microsoft Surface 3 (note not the Pro 3), on which I am writing this blog. Cheap(ish) and cheerful, if a bit underpowered.  If Very Bad Things happen at work and I have to connect up from the plains of Spain then the Surface will make that possible.  I’d like to leave it at home and rely on the iPad mini that’s next to it but what with VPNs and Apple’s idiotic lockdown I can’t.
  • The yellow box is a 10,000mAh WakaWaka battery, part of the Base 10 kit. Not entirely sure if I need this – it is rather heavy – but I can ship it home if necessary.
  • The Ziploc is full of cables to keep everything juiced up.
  • Sunglasses and a backup pair of regular glasses.

Row #5

  • Rab E-vent jacket.  Another stalwart of the Scottish hills.  I’ve had this for a few years now – it doesn’t weight a lot and is incredible at keeping out wind and rain.  Wasn’t cheap but I’d buy it again.
  • Platypus 2 litre water bag.
  • A ziploc of Euros.
  • Passport and EHIC.
  • The excellent John Brierley book of Camino maps.

Shoes

 

An explanation of the footwear:

The Camino hostels (known as albergues) require that you leave your boots at the door and wear something else in the albergue. The Merrell sandals are my ‘something else’.

Now, you don’t need two pairs of walking shoes.  The true Camino pilgrim rejoices in carrying as little as possible, so two pairs of walking shoes is a luxury. However, given my foot issues, I wasn’t sure what to take.

I’ve been wearing Merrell Chameleons for years and I think they are the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned.  But they are not hill walking shoes.  When up the Scottish hills I wear Scarpa Deltas but these are big heavy four season proper hiking boots.  If I wore those in the Spanish heat I’m pretty sure my feet would burst into flames.

I bought some Scarpa Vortex walking shoes (distinct from boots) a few months back but I just couldn’t get them to fit properly.  Either they were too loose and I got blisters or too tight and the blood supply was cut off. Once my metatarsals started playing up I took my Vortexes to Tiso Perth where Mike (I hope I have the right name?), the assistant manager, spent a couple of hours trying out different insoles and the like to get a better fit.  In the end he said that it just wasn’t working so why don’t I return the Vortexes, get my £140 back, and buy something else that fits better.  Given that the Vortexes were now about two months old and were quite used I was very impressed.  After another hour I left with the Salewas.  Big thumbs up and many thanks to Tiso…

Then a visit to Gregor McCoshim for a last minute appointment to try and build up the shoes to protect my 2nd metatarsal.  I left with both the Salewas and the Chameleons fitted with the necessary modifications.  For the first time in 10 days I could walk without wincing.

So… I’m writing this update on Day Zero, and we’re about to start walking tomorrow.  Only an idiot would set off on a 500 mile walk in a new pair of shoes but I’m forced to be that idiot.  I’ll try the Salewas and see how I do – hopefully I can get over the Pyrenees in them.  If necessary I’ll use the aged Merrells and hope my feet hold up.  Fingers crossed…