Several people have asked us what we're taking when walking the Camino Le Puy.
When we go touring, airlines will allow us to take 30 kilos or 66 pounds so we throw lots of clothes and other paraphernalia into our suitcases. Usually we end up lugging great weights and not using much of it.
When we go on walking holidays we aim to go light. We carry no more than 6 kilos or 13 pounds, including the weight of our packs and two full bottles of water (the heaviest items). One benefit of going light is that our packs go inside the plane as carry-on luggage. Furthermore, there’s no waiting to collect the bags from the baggage claim area of the airports.
Going light involves every item being scrutinised and needing a persuasive debate to get a ‘Yes’. It also means buying the lightest of everything, including our sleeping sheet, poncho and evening sandals. Our towel is like a rolled up chamois, the sort we use to wash the car.
We don’t make a fashion statement on a walk as we take only one set of day (walking) clothes and one set of evening clothes. Washing most of our day clothes every afternoon means they need to be of the fast drying kind.
Having done a few of these walking holidays, we have our trusty checklist which only needs a tweak each year as we review last time’s effort and consider the unique requirements of the next trip. As the Camino Le Puy in France is quite hilly in comparison to the camino routes in Spain, we are taking a light walking pole each this year.
We put each item or bundles of items (toiletries, medicines etc.) into labeled, clear, waterproof plastic bags which in turn go into a couple of plastic rubbish bags in the main body of the pack. This keeps the items dry and makes them quickly accessible.
There are some items we forget and other articles we wish we had (like a nice big fluffy towel and shaving gear) but we get by and look forward to life’s luxuries upon our return. In addition to water, we take enough food to get us through each day. In contrast to the Spanish routes where you pass cafes and supermarkets many times a day, the Camino Le Puy has less of these amenities, meaning that we need to carry enough food to last throughout the day.
It helps our sense of wellbeing to go as light as possible. The sight of pilgrims staggering under heavy packs is not a good look. Post offices along the way do great business with pilgrims shedding their load and sending their unnecessary clothes and equipment home.
If the camino spirit is to have a lasting influence, the greatest challenge is not just to carry small packs for the length of your walk but to live lightly upon your return.
Geoff & Lyn Pound
Top Image: We collected our grandchildren from school yesterday and had an afternoon tea together. Ava (left) and Lily (right) have no trouble carrying our packs even though they are without water bottles and food. Molly (centre) thinks our walking poles are like skis.
Second Image: Pack with water bottles along with sunhat.
Postscript: Every person's checklist will be personally tailored to requirements but we have found this book to be a helpful resource:
S Yates with Daphne Hnatiuk, Pilgrim Tips & Packing List Camino de Santiago: What you need to know beforehand, what you need to take, and what you can leave at home, 2013.