Saturday, August 10, 2013

Camino gear

When starting on a long hike or trip, chances are one of the first things you do is decide what gear you need. Clearly, because if you don't have something that means you get to go gear shopping! Here is a comprehensive lost of everything I have in my backpack (will organize this better soon):

  • Leatherman
  • Kindle
  • Compass
  • Small stuffsack (empty)
  • Sunglasses
  • Emergency 50 euro bill
  • Tape (for feet and blisters)
  • Headlamp
  • Small Ziploc with passport and credencial
  • iPad
  • Moleskin medium notebook (unruled)
  • Tent (Big Agnes UL3 with it's ground tarp)
  • Rain shell jacket
  • Rain pants
  • First aid kit
    • roll of toilet paper,
    • moleskin,
    • tweezers
    • bandaids of all shapes and sizes
    • athletic wrap
    • gauze
    • alcohol wipes
    • tampons
    • bottle of Advil
    • a few pills for anti-diarrhea and anti-fever
    • neosporin
    • Aquamira water drops
    • Ziploc with lighter and water-resistant camping matches
    • mini roll of duct tape
  • Hat (the Grand Canyon hat!)
  • Plastic grocery bag holding my share of group food for lunch or breakfast to carry
  • Medium stuffsack: 
    • Sleeping shirt (my green MITOC shirt)
    • Athletic shorts (double as pajamas)
    • Camp towel, just barely large enough to.cover the important bits
    • 2 spare pairs synthetic underwear
    • 1 spare pair liner socks
    • 2 spare pairs wool socks
    • Beanie
    • Liner gloves
    • Swimming shorts
    • Light fleece
  • Drawstring plastic bag:
    • 1 pair clean cotton underwear
    • 1 clean cotton shirt
    • 1 clean cotton bra
  • Toiletries pouch:
    • Toothbrush 
    • Toothpaste
    • Deodorant
    • Extra hair ties
    • Hair brush
    • Travel pack of floss
    • Nail file
    • Travel size shampoo bottle
  • Electric-taped uber-converter (European wall outlet to US 3-appliance plug)
  • Micro USB wall charger (with detachable USB to micro USB cable)
  • USB to iPad cable
  • Single Europe to US outlet converter
  • US wall outlet to double USB charger
  • Spanish phone charger (European outlet to mini USB)
  • 2 spare plastic grocery bags
  • Sleeping pad (held on by 2 compression straps)
  • 2 1-liter nalgenes
  • Ziploc with a 3-day supply of day and night sanitary pads
  • Ziploc with 3-day emergency supply of Clif bars and Larabars
  • Small Camino book with maps and towns
  • Small Camino pamphlet with list of albergues 
  • Metal fork
  • Sleep eye cover
  • Three giant spare Ziplocs
  • Pen
  • Whistle
  • Bandana
  • Teva sandals
  • Climbing-rated non-locking carabiner
  • Pack cover
  • And on my person:
    • Trail runners
    • Liner socks
    • Wool socks
    • Hiking pants
    • Synthetic underwear
    • Sports bra
    • Red MITOC shirt
    • Watch
    • MIT brass rat
    • Hair tie
    • Spanish cell phone
    • About 3 granola bars
    • Ziploc with American cell phone
    • Card case with American driver's license, money, cards, passport photocopy
    • Hiking poles

In retrospect, I packed well. The entire pack with water weighs about 30 pounds. Any more weight would be really hard on the knees. A few seasoned travelers will note some obvious pieces of gear missing, but I can explain each one of my choices. Here goes:
  • Sunblock - Kayla and Leah both have large tubes of sunblock, 55 SPF (and the kind that's good for your skin, mom!)
  • Bathing suit - my bathing shorts and sports bra (or topless, it is Europe after all) works just fine
  • Bug spray - this one I am lacking. But sleeping indoors or in the tent solves 95% of that bug problem 
  • Soap - why also carry soap when extra shampoo suds work just fine?
  • Clothesline and drain plug - again, these are lacking, but the plan was to be in albergues enough to render these unnecessary. 
  • Headphones - hiking through the Spanish countryside is a privilege and listening to music or podcasts would just ruin it. And for entertainment, the Kindle is perfect.
  • Nail clippers 0 that's what the scissors on the Leatherman are for!

What is the most useless item in my pack that weighs the most? 

The iPad, by far. I can do everything I need to do from my wifi-capable phone, so not only is the iPad redundant with an inferior interface, it also weighs a lot together with it's associated cables.

What has been the most useful item? 
The scissors on the Leatherman. They are a nail cutter, a bang cutter, useful for cutting my medical tape, and for opening any food container that requires precision. I use them every day.

Anything else? 
When packing for the Camino, remember that it might rain. My system includes three separate pieces for rain - my rain pants, a shell, and a pack cover. I stay perfectly dry, as does all my stuff, but the main problem is that I get too sweaty sometimes, since there is no ventilation. Other peregrinos solve this problem by using a rain poncho, since the temperature in northern Spain is rarely cold enough when coupled with rain to warrant a full rain suit. Pro tip for next time, use a rain poncho. It also weighs less and it covers the pack too.