What to put in the backpack?

Summer hike
Summer walks are already on our minds

The veterans of the walks give us the list of what to put in the backpack in anticipation of a long journey.

Once the Christmas holidays are over, we immediately find ourselves immersed in the work routine with the full week ahead of us.

Resuming is never easy, but it is also true that the days have started to get longer and the calendar shows us 12 months and 4 seasons still practically all to be planned and experienced for this 2024. Enthusiasm therefore has something to feed on!

Most people expect many months to be faced without holidays or long weekends, but nothing prevents them from already thinking about the next holidays and the next journeys, on the contrary: this can be an incentive to start working again with determination and passion, well aware that there is a time for duty and a time for pleasure, and being well focused and productive on the former makes us enjoy the latter more.

CAMCO’s idea is to offer you, in this blog, interviews with the guides of the European Association of the Via Francigena and the Compagnia dei Cammini, both associations of which CAMCO is a partner.

Each guide will tell us about his favorite route and the stages of which he is now a true expert: what that stretch of itinerary offers from a cultural, historical, architectural, food and wine, landscape point of view, etc., trusting that some “gems” will be revealed to us ” hidden, which only those who deeply know a territory can know.

We hope that this can also be a stimulus in planning the next holidays.

Each of the guides will also be asked what is that thing they put in their backpack that few people generally think about.

This question is a curiosity born when, while tying my shoe, the lace broke while I was walking along the paths of the mountains behind the house. Fortunately, I was now just a few hundred meters from being back and it wasn’t a problem, but at that moment I thought what inconvenience such an inconvenience could have represented if it had happened in June 2018, when I was walking the Rota alone Vicenza in southern Portugal in its “Historical” variant, the inland one, in which between one stage and another you do not meet a living soul and the traces of human presence are limited to the cork oak woods marked by the removal of the bark or some flock of sheep in the distance.

Since then I have always had a pair of spare laces with me, although there are more universal solutions to this problem, as we will see later.

Lugo, Galicia (ES)
Lugo Cathedral, Camino de Santiago. 2017
Towards Pienza
Detour towards Pienza, along the Via Francigena. 2021

It makes sense, at this point, to give an overview of what to put in your backpack.

All of us walkers know well that “trade-off” between the weight of the backpack and the “essential minimum” and how this “minimum” is a measure that is gradually reduced year after year, walk after walk.

It is a bit useless to list the obvious things to put in the backpack and which concern personal hygiene, clothing for walking and for “social” moments at the end of the stage, shoes, slippers, ponchos, hats, sunglasses , sun creams, hats etc etc.

Obviously if the equipment includes rope, pegs and Marseille soap (and this is the case for routes lasting a very small number of days), you can limit the number of items to include for your journey.
If the fabric of these garments prevents the formation of stagnant humidity and bad odors, it may also happen that it is not necessary to wash t-shirts and shorts at each stage arrival – visit our online shop for products in fabric of natural origin that have these characteristics.

Having therefore omitted the list of the most obvious things, with Erica Scatizza of the European Association of the Vie Francigene – who has already written about it in the EAVF blog – we report here a list of those less obvious things, but which are those things that, when has in the backpack, they represent a relief and improve the quality of our walking experience.
It is a list drawn up following a work of collecting advice that Erica in turn asked from pilgrimage veterans.

We refer you to Erica’s article which you can find on the AEVF blog for proper recognition of those who gave this advice. We thank Erica again and proceed with a real list, leaving the less schematic treatment of the topic to the aforementioned article:

  • First aid kit (again from the blog of the European Association of the Vie Francigene, we link a list of what is meant by “first aid kit” – Luca Faravelli explains it to us).

  • Whistle – to call attention in case of need.

  • Cheap, “old-style” cell phone, with a practically infinite battery life, to be kept switched off in the backpack and used in an emergency if the smartphone runs out of battery.

  • American tape, with which to temporarily repair practically anything, including shoes in case the aforementioned lace breaks or the sole comes off.

  • Bandana/buff to protect your head or neck from the sun or to avoid inhaling too much dust on dry dirt roads.

  • Space-saving canvas backpack.

  • Bars/snacks, with a preference for dried fruit.

Campagnano di Roma
Campagnano di Roma, along the Via Francigena. 2023

I would like to add a map and compass to this list if you are in sparsely populated areas, with little view of the horizon, and your GPS (or smartphone) runs out of charge or does not receive the satellite signal. Obviously you need to know how to use a map and compass.

As mentioned, there is always an internal conflict when preparing the backpack. On the one hand, many things are thought “it can always be useful”, but on the other hand all that is added is an extra burden for a certain number of hours of walking per day, for a certain number of days of walking in total.

Net of all of the above, in reference to which everyone will draw their own conclusions, here is the advice that Erica offers at the end of her article:
“always put ‘one more day’ in your backpack, to be able to experience the surprises that the journey can give us peacefully and more calmly”.

Thanks Erica, have a good journey everyone.

P.S.: …and for you, dear reader of this article, what must always be present in your backpack? Write it in the comments!

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