All of my 4 Caminos I used the same backpack from 2009 (which I bought before my first Camino de Santiago).
My backpack is not really those mainstream alpine/mountain backpacks which are very popular amongst many hikers, but it’s more a military backpack, so not very comfortable or good looking 🙂 The main reason why I bought, was the price. In 2009 it cost me JUST 35 euros 🙂 Can you imagine that? All other high end backpacks that time cost at least 100 euros 🙂
For the first Camino I saw zero deterioration on my backpack, it was quite comfortable and had enough space for my all stuff (as for my first Camino I put toooo much stuff).
Now my backpack survived more than 3000 km of my hiking trips and as well I use it sometimes for shorter hikes/trips, but it’s still in a pretty good shape. The only problems I had was with zippers, nothing else.
So for the price of 35 euros my backpack is pretty good 🙂
How to choose the right backpack?
You have to consider three things before buying your backpack:
- The size of your backpack.
- Waterproof fabric
All backpacks sizes are measured in liters. If it’s your first backpack, you can get lost pretty easily as I was as well:)
For Camino de Santiago you do not need to big backpack as you won’t (hopefully) carry too much additional stuff or clothes, so don’t bother buying those big 80-90 liters backpacks as you wont need that much space. And those bigger backpack weight much more as well.
My best suggestion is to buy a bacpkack from 45 liters to 65 liters max. If you prepare everything very carefully, you most definitely can fit all your stuff in 45 liters. I even saw some hikers who used school bag size backpacks with all their stuff inside 🙂 And it’s no problem at all if you plan ahead.
Still, if you want to put some additional stuff like books (better just one thin book), carry a bottle of water inside the backpack or your clothes are thicker, buy the one who offers 65 liters of space. Such backpack won’t be too heavy itself and will definitely fit all your stuff inside. If it doesn’t, it means that you need to get rid off something 🙂
This is very important as well.
Most of the professional backpacks have such additional stuff like: rotating hip belt, adjustable chest strap, at least two entries into the backpack or even an internal pocket to keep a hydration bladder.
And all of that stuff is very useful when hiking many kilometres every day 🙂
Rotating hip belt is a must. It helps to lower pressure on your shoulders, I used it a lot. It’s a very very big help. Believe me, after 20-30km of daily hike with all your stuff on your back, you will need that help a lot 🙂
Adjustable chest strap – it as well helps to lower the pressure, but I didn’t really used that as it wasn’t comfortable for me. But if you like it, use it 🙂
Entries to backpack – some of the backpacks have at least two different compartments. I always use the lower one on the bottom to put my sleeping bag. It is very useful because while hiking you may need some stuff from your backpack: a jacket, shorts, a sweater or something, so the sleeping won’t block the reach to that stuff 🙂 And as well it is very comfortable to put it right into that compartment in the morning. Some backpacks have the zippers on the side of the backpack, so you do not have to open the top of the backpack and can reach anything you need from there. That is very useful feature as well.
Internal pocket for hydration bladder – it can be useful if you like to drink water from that straw, but I don’t 🙂 So I don’t offer to do that. Some of backpacks have side pockets or a pocket on the back, so it’s very easy to put drinking water there as well and use while you walk. I do that 🙂
Other higher end backpacks may offer other features and all of that can be pretty big help for you as well 🙂
Believe me, you don’t want to have all your stuff wet when you finish your daily hike of 30km. Believe me.. It’s a terrible experience, especially to have your sleeping bag soaked which means that you will have to sleep in a wet sleeping bag… oh, that’s bad…
My backpack is not waterproof.
On my first Camino most of us simply used those plastic garbage bags to put your stuff inside the backpack in it actually helps a lot. While using them, I never had a wet sleeping bag or any of my clothes again. So that I would call a budget solution :))
Other solution is to buy waterproof backpack cover which is quite cheap and helps a lot as well. I use that one now.
And the best solution is of course to buy waterproof/gore tex fabric backpack which will save you from a lot of problem 🙂
Tips before making the final solution
If the backpack you want to buy has all those features I mentioned above, just simply put it on and try to feel if there’s any discomfort on your back and shoulders. Try all the straps and walk around 🙂 If it’s good – it will be one of your best friends on Camino de Santiago 🙂
If backpack is not for life, it’s at least for 10 years or more 🙂 And if you save too much today, you may regret it in the future if your backpack is not too comfortable or tears very fast. I know that I spent very little on my first backpack, but if I were to buy a new one today, I would definitely go for more comfort than less price.
I hope you liked my suggestions about backpacks and it will help you in the future 🙂
Do not forget to follow me on Instagram: @golookexplore