What to carry?
What follows below is only an advice based on experience. Some things are optional to take, whereas you might find some items missing from the list.
Ideally, your backpack shouldn't weigh more than 10% of your body weight. Try to keep that in mind when packing. To keep the weight of clothes in your backpack to a minimum, prepare to wash them every two or three days. Also count in the weight of water you'll be carrying with yourself. In case of smaller people, the 10% ratio is unrealistic, so don't be suprised if you can't keep the weight of your backpack under 8 kgs.
Via Francigena special gear
- Tent. In France and Switzerland there are no refugios. If you have a tent, you can stay for a night in campings, gardens, and you will save a considerable money.
- Mattress. On the Via Francigena you will sleep not just in bedrooms but in empty rooms, halls as well. If you do not wish to sleep on the foor a mattress is a must. Furthermore if you plan to camp sleeping on a matterass in the tent is more conveninent.
- Plastic cup, fork, plate. In France and Switzerland you will find places where ther are no restaurants, bars. Having cutlery will come in handy for eating canned foods.
- GPS, map, guide. In France and Switzerland there are no signs you can follow. If you do not want to get lost, you will need something to lean on.
- Mobile phone. In France and Switzerland you can walk for weeks without meeting pilgrims. In case of emergency your mobile pohe can save lifes.
- Two or three T-shirts plus one with long sleeves (to protect against sun/chill).
- Shorts and trousers. A good solution are zip-off pants with removable leggings.
- A light sweater/summer fleece for cooler nights (or days).
- Raincoat/poncho with cape. It should cover your backpack, too.
- A pair of hiking shoes. Preferably Gore-Tex or the like. These shoes are water resistant, yet let your feet breathe. As soon as you try them on in the shop, there should be no doubt that they are comfortable. Don't make any compromise here. Also keep in mind that feet have a tendency to swell in warm weather.
- A hat or bandana to protect you from the sun.
- Three pairs of hiking socks. Quality is very important here to avoid the biggest fear of every pilgrim: blisters.
- Walking poles (optional). They are useful on downhill and uphill paths, and also in wet and muddy conditions, but will turn into extra weight when not needed.
- A pair of sandals. They will serve you well when strolling around in towns.
- A pair of plastic slippers or flip-flops.
- A light sleeping bag. If it gets cold, you can always put some more clothes on.
- Earplugs (for those who are annoyed by snoring).
- Pyjamas (or just a pair of shorts and a T-shirt).
- One or two towels. Baby towels serve well because they soak up a lot and get dry fast.
- Shower gel. Preferably with protection cap on top.
- Soap (washing soap also).
- Toothbrush and a small quantity of toothpaste.
- Face cream and/or suntan lotion.
- Something against flu for the first few days. Some people experience the syndromes of influenza after the first few days.
- Any medicine you usually take.
- Sticking plasters that you can cut yourself.
- Tea tree oil to disinfect wounds and blisters.
- Wound treatment creme, also good for wounds caused by sweating.
- Comfrey creme for treating arthritis, inflammations or bruises.
- Some sports cream to treat your feet with after a day's walk (and also to massage other hurting body parts).
- A few clothespins to hang out your drying clothes.
- A pocket knife.
- A pair of small scissors.
- Something to read if you're the reading type; something to write on and with if you're the writing type.
- Headlamp or small torch.
- Tissue paper, toilet paper. Don't take too much, you can buy them on the way.
- A small sewing set.
- Some safety pins.
- A smaller shoulder bag or neck wallet for your documents.
- European Health Insurance Card if you're from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.
From autumn to spring
- Basically the same equipment as in summer, except that clothes should be warmer, but breathable. Walking makes you sweat in winter, too.
- Consider swapping the hiking shoes for boots, especially in winter.
- Two pairs of long under leggings, one for walking and one for sleeping.
- A hooded anorak that's warm enough and protects you against the wind.
- Gaiters or waterproof trousers.
- A warm but light sleeping bag that is appropriate for below zero temperatures.
- A pair of gloves.
- Count an extra two-kilogram weight on top of your summer equipment. If it's 8 kilos in summer, it will be about 10 in winter.