Jackets & Shirts
Look for these features in a three-season jacket: Lightweight, waterproof and windproof, integrated hood that can be rolled up into the collar out of your way when you don’t need it, breathability, pit zips and venting, good pockets, velcro-cinch cuffs on the sleeves, adjustable drawstring at the bottom hem, Velcro and a zipper front closure placket. Great colors are a bonus. Our team’s favorite jacket for men and women is the Marmot Precip Jacket. It has all of the features we want in a three-season waterproof jacket, and fits so that there is room to wear a fleece or warm layer under it for cooler temperatures in spring and fall. When you don’t have it on this jacket can fold into one of its pockets, or can be tied to the outside of your pack to dry. It is available in many colors and has a lifetime warranty. You will get your money’s worth. Marmot Precip for Women, and Marmot Precip for Men are our top picks for a three season Camino jacket.
Look for these features in shirts and tops: Quick drying, breathable fabric, long sleeves that can roll up for after hours, sun blocking, and wrinkle-free. You will want quick-drying fabric because you will be washing it out at the end of every day you wear it, and it must be dry to wear or pack the next morning. Breathable fabric is best, because chances are you will be walking when it is warm, and you won’t want your clothing to make you hot and sweaty. Long sleeves and sun blocking fabric are a good idea, because you need to protect yourself from sunburn, and wrinkle-free, because why not look fresh instead of a mess? Good pockets are also a plus, but not necessary if you have good pockets in your pants and are carrying your pack.
A lot of tops out there offer a couple of these features, but our favorites have them all, plus have features that double their function and include some style. Columbia button front shirts for men and Columbia shirts for women come in a variety of colors and patterns each season. They are made from a quick drying, breathable, sun blocking, wrinkle resistant fabric and have convertible long sleeves that roll up and button into a short sleeve. The sleeves also feature a cuff design that covers more of the top of your hand, an especially nice feature when walking in the sun on the Camino, and the two-button adjustment on the cuff gives you a good fit. The collar can flip up to offer sun protection for your neck, and two zippered breast pockets can serve to keep small valuables safe. Columbia also makes long sleeved pullover knit shirts in an amazing new fabric they call Omni-freeze. It has a special texture built into the fabric that actually accentuates evaporative cooling when you begin to perspire, and keeps you cooler. We have tested these shirts and can tell the difference. They are sun blocking and wrinkle free, come in several neck styles and colors, and are very comfy worn alone, as a base layer under another top, or to sleep in. Knit Shirts for Men and Knit Shirts for Women. Even if you typically choose a v-neck for casual wear at home, remember a v-neck on the Camino means you have to wear a bandana or sunscreen to protect what is not covered by the shirt. Columbia also makes a Women’s Tank Top with a wide enough strap to wear a bra with, and it works well as a base layer, sleepwear, or after hours blouse for warm weather. A tank top does not offer enough sun protection for your long daily walk, but it can come in handy to layer and vary your outfit for after hours, or sleeping.
Look for these features in pants, shorts & skirts: Quick drying fabric, breathable, comfortable waistband adjustable with a belt or drawstring for a fluctuating waistline size; at least one secure pocket with zipper, Velcro or snap closure big enough for your cell phone and another for your wallet, passport and pilgrim credenciál; extra pockets for storing panuelos (packs of tissues to use with toilet stops), or anything you might want to access easily during your walk without getting into your pack; women's Saturday Trail Pants legs may be worn full length for sun protection or rolled or gathered up into capri length. Easy to hand wash and line dry. Choose colors that will be forgiving of dirt and stains. Two pairs. If you decide to take these long pants for your walk and shorts or skirt for after hours, you could get by with two items. Choose at least one long option for sun protection. Ladies, we like the skirt rather than shorts because it is cooler. It could even be worn on the trail with leggings. By the way, leggings are a useful clothing item for women on the Camino as they can be worn for sleeping or after hours with a pareo wrapped as a skirt, or on the trail with a Discovery Skirt for full sun protection. Peregrinas who have tried a skirt for their walking clothing like them especially for the modesty a skirt provides when answering calls of nature along the trail.
Look for these features in a hat: broad brim all the way around the head, washable, quick-drying fabric, stow-able chin string, ventilated. Two of the most serious and common injuries on the Camino are foot blisters and sunburns. A bad sunburn is very dangerous, not only because of the damage and discomfort to your skin, but if serious enough, it can effect your liver. That is why we keep harping on protecting yourself with clothing items and liquid sunscreens. Not only is a hat important for sun protection of your face and neck, but it also can provide a cooling effect for your head on long sunny stretches of trail. A broad brim all around gives the best shade. A baseball style cap makes a nice fashion accessory, but it doesn’t do the whole job your trail hat needs to do. A washable, quick-drying fabric is a must because, well, it's going to get really sweaty, and you will get rained on, and you might want to rinse it off and have it dry to wear a few hours later. We prefer a chinstrap or string because the winds can get fierce on many stretches of the Camino, and you have to be able to keep it on. When not needed, tuck the string away.
Our favorite hat is a Tilley. Hands down. This Canadian company guarantees their hats for life against failure, will return a found hat to its registered owner, and has a big range of sizes and pleasing colors. A variety of styles offer mesh fabric in the crown of the hat to allow more air circulation to increase the evaporative cooling effect on your head. It is an expensive first time investment, but a Tilley is guaranteed to last you a lifetime. Some people personalize their Tilleys with mementoes from their travels like pins and patches. Another great Camino hat is the Columbia Bora Bora Booney. It has many of the same features of the Tilley, and is less expensive.
Ladies, a Pareo-size cotton scarf is a versatile piece to take when you are packing super light. This one by Anika Dali is especially attractive and oversized, so it adds to the versatility. In our guidebook we say that any time you can pack one item that has multiple uses it's a good idea. A cotton blend scarf like this can be used as a towel to dry after showers; hung on a bunk to dry it provides some privacy to your bed space; it can be worn as a makeshift top, skirt, or even a swim suit in a pinch; in addition to a scarf or shawl. This one is very lightweight and rolls up small to pack. Anika Dali Oversize scarf.
Bandana: A 23”x23” bandana is handy for peregrinos. Use it around your neck to warm up your whole body. Protect your head or neck from sunburn. Tie on a flighty hat on a windy day. Control long hair in the wind. Soak in cool water or wrap up some ice and tie loosely around your neck to help cool your body on a hot day with an evaporative cooling effect. Folded once to make a triangle, it can be tied loosely around your neck to be pulled up cowboy style over your mouth and nose when the wind is kicking up a lot of dust. We use bandanas when walking past dry fields being plowed for planting, or for filtering car and truck fumes along busy roads. It can also be used as part of a makeshift bandage system in an emergency. Use it to carry dry snacks by placing the snacks in the center, gathering up the four corners and tying them off as snug as needed to contain your snack. And of course it can add a note of your personal style when tied on yourself or your pack. Choose a quick-drying fabric, either microfiber or silk, as you will want to rinse or wash this out frequently. We like ExOfficio Bugsaway Paisley Bandana. It comes in nice colors, has a UPF of 30, and built in insect repellent effective against mosquitoes (including those carrying West Nile virus and malaria), ticks, ants, flies, chiggers, midges, and no-see-ums. The Insect Shield lasts 70 washings.
Original Buff: We were introduced to a "Buff" by some fly fishing friends. The original Buff is a cylinder of flexible microfiber fabric. Check out this demo video for many ways to use and wear it. Create several kinds of hats, headbands, and face "cozy" that can help you manage your hair, add warmth, block the sun from your head and parts of your face. Wear it around your neck for warmth or to block the sun. The Buff company makes many patterns and colors, and we have even found some with Camino themed designs. Original Buff
Look for these features in underwear: Quick-drying fabric, good fit (no wrinkles to cause friction blisters), good support, comfortable waist bands on briefs, comfortable bands and straps on bras.
Ladies, Walking is a low impact exercise, so you do not need to wear a bounce-proof sports bra on the Camino. Whatever choice will be the most supportive and comfortable bra for you to wear walking at home is what you should wear on the Camino. In our research, we have talked with many peregrinas and have tried different kinds, and the women on our team are most comfortable in a regular bra made of quick drying fabric that fits great and looks great under clothes. Try out your selection on your training hikes when you test equipment for hours of walking to determine whether there are any friction points that cause chafing. I recommend taking two bras. If you can’t wear the ones you usually wear for some reason, our team picks Patagonia Barely Bra from REI as our favorite with an honorable mention going to Barely There Women's Customflex-Fit Wire-Free Bra.
While ExOfficio underwear comes highly recommended at some outdoor stores, we found the elastic they use on their waist bands to be a bit thick and uncomfortable, especially under your pack’s hip belt. Also, with many people using this brand, people often have the same style and color, and I have known several people who had theirs mistakenly taken by someone else from the clothes lines at albergues. We recommend Patagonia Active Briefs from REI because they are seamless, so there’s no chafing, and they have a wide, flat, soft waistband that doesn’t dig into your skin like the other brands do. They come in several fun colors that are easy to spot on the albergue clothesline, but won't need to be there long because they dry so quickly. We recommend taking three pairs of briefs. Consider taking a small supply of panty liners to provide a freshening up which can lengthen the time you can wear a pair of briefs.
Guys, look for quick drying, good fitting, and supportive briefs. Walking the Camino may be low impact, but it is a strenuous, athletic endeavor, and your choice of briefs should reflect that. A sports style brief like ExOfficio Men's Give-N-Go Boxer Brief is our favorite. Test your choice on long hikes to make sure they work without chafing.
Lightweight Rain Poncho: Our favorite Camino rain solution involves using one of these rain ponchos over everything. If you're careful you can use one several times, then throw it away. It is thin and lightweight enough to wear with your hat over it, which provides a good rain-shedding effect in hard rains. These are very inexpensive, since they are made as one-use emergency ponchos, and as such they barely weigh one ounce. Take four with you to start your walk, and buy more in shops on along the way as needed. Emergency Rain Poncho
Docooler Rain Gaiters: At a price under $8, these rain gaiters are a great value. We didn't know about them on our first Camino and like many other pilgrims suffered through blisters from wet socks and shoes. These gaiters come down over the top of your foot so that rain sheds over the top of your shoe, rather than running down your leg into the opening of your shoe or boot. We also wore them on sections of the Camino that have lots of tiny gravel to prevent it from bouncing up into our shoe openings, requiring a stop to take off the shoe to empty out the offending grit so we wouldn't get a blister from it. Part of our favorite Camino Rain Solution. Several colors. Docooler Rain Gaiters.
Sunglasses: A pair of polarized sunglasses is more than a fashion accessory on the Camino, it's one piece in your overall sun protection plan. A wrap around style is a good choice because so much of the time you are walking west and the sun is coming at you from the right or left. If you wear prescription eye glasses, consider a pair of the Duco glasses pictured above. There are many styles and colors from which to choose, and they are a good price point at around $25. If you don't wear eyeglasses, we love these Flying Fisherman brand sunnies. The prices are economical at around $13, and the range of colors and styles varied.
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