Your choice of clothing will impact not only how you look (if that’s important for you) but also how much weight you’ll carry, how fast you’ll be done doing the laundry, and how much you’ll be protected against the elements.
You may chose traditional hiking wear, and there’s also a plethora of options out there that combine great functionality and style.
We’ll just go through all the body parts – well, almost all body parts – and give you some tips, tricks and examples so you can take your pick.
There are three elements that your head could potentially need protection from: the sun, the rain and the wind. The earth is not considered a potential thread unless you want to bang your head to the ground when you reach Santiago, but usually people choose to enter the cathedral and give good old Saint Jacob a hug.
There are hats in all shapes, sizes, designs and functionality.
When you pick one, think about when and why you would be using it.
If you’re going to take a poncho or raincoat with you, you won’t need an additional hat to protect you from the rain. But you might need one to protect you from the sun.
There are hats that go all the way back to cover your neck, but you can also use bandana’s or Buff-like garments to protect your neck.
Upper body options
The options are endless let’s face it. But here is a basic configuration to get you started, using the layering method (see tab ‘Layers’).
- no cotton. Preferably merino wool. Odor-resistant!
- ladies: pick a comfortable bra!
- consider a merino-wool shirt that you could even use while sleeping
- short-sleeve or long-sleeve depending on the weather / time of day
- additional middle-layer for the cold mornings and evenings: fleece-jacket
- (disposable) rain poncho (some people like it, some people don’t)
- rain/wind-free jacket if you’re walking in autumn, winter or spring or if you do prefer to carry around a jacket just in case it rains in the summer. We walk in summer and simply take 2 disposable rain poncho’s with us ‘just in case’. Easy to re-supply and you won’t be carrying additional weight for the sake of ‘just in case…’.
Lower body options
The options here are endless too. Here is a basic configuration to get you started, using the layering method (see tab ‘Layers’).
- no cotton. Odor-resistant!
- ladies: no strings or thongs (well, this counts for men as well actually)
- consider medium tight shorts for double-use as sleeping garment
- consider a merino-wool legging that you could even use while sleeping
- quick drying hiking pants with functional pockets
- consider 3/4 zip-off models. Great to walk in ‘shorts’ when you want without taking extra clothing
- consider hiking skirts or even dresses
- additional middle-layer if you’re walking in winter: merino wool leggings
- rain/wind-free pants
- consider a poncho – it’s easier to put on and take off
Your feet are your servants – treat them well!
Check out our foot care page to learn all the ins and outs with regards to choosing the proper shoes, boots or whatever foot ware you prefer.
With regards to the materials and flexibility here are some general considerations:
The camino has some stretches that might be a bit more technical, but mostly you’ll be dealing with easy terrain with sometimes long climbs and descents. So, when they ask you what your main challenges will be during the adventure, make sure you emphasize the length and the weather conditions of your trip, including the altitude differences. If you just say ‘it will be a long walk in the mountains’ you won’t get the proper shoes.
Do mention if you are going to be carrying a heavy backpack and whether or not you have concerns about straining your ankles – this will also influence the advice they give you.
Do a walking test. There are stores that offer free tests and tailor their advice on your potential buy specifically to your feet.
Some people like hiking boots, some people like hiking shoes and others love the light-weight trail runners. Try them on and try them out.
Whatever you pick: make sure it’s breathable and water proof material like GORE-TEX.
Let’s recap the layering method. It will keep your body temperature and moisture levels balanced, adding up to the great experience while walking. Whatever hiking wear you have, make sure all layers are covered in your collection.
The Base Layer
This is the first layer that sits directly against your skin.
– regulate body temperature
– gets rid of moisture from the skin
Points of attention:
– No cotton (soaks up moisture but doesn’t dry, so makes you feel cold)
The Mid Layer
– Provides insulation
– Helps stop cold air passing through
Points of attention:
– should transport moisture away
Fabrics that are great to use as middle layer are the so-called micro-fleeces, merino wool tops, soft shells and thin insulated jackets. Adjust this middle layer in terms of thickness to the climate you’ll be walking in.
The Outer Layer
– protect you from wind and rain
Points of attention:
These are your thin shell jackets. If your looking for increasing your warmth you should be aiming at thickening your mid layer or adding another mid layer, rather than putting on a thick warm outer layer.
This post is also available in: Dutch