In mid-December I wrote this post about the gear I’ll be bringing with me to hike the Camino de Santiago in March. Back then I had seventy-seven sleeps to go until I departed. Now, I have only thirty-four nights remaining in my own bed until I’m breathing in the air of northern Spain. The items I still need to get are dwindling in number, but the anxiousness is growing.
To recap, here’s the packing list I’m following, as found in Conrad Rudolph’s Pilgrimage to the End of the World (I’ve crossed off the items I have):
a light cotton hat (with a good visor for sun and rain) 1 pair of cotton hiking shorts 1 pair of long pants (no jeans) three cotton t-shirts 3 pairs of cotton underwear 2 or 3 pairs of boot socks (preferably of a wool, nylon, and Lycra blend) a poly fleece sweater (with a fully zippered front) a hooded windbreaker (made of Gore-Tex, with a fully zippered front) a 1 1/2 litre water bottle a small towel
- a travel toothbrush and tiny tube of toothpaste
- bar soap
- shampoo (I might try out a bar shampoo from Lush Cosmetics for this trip)
- concentrated laundry soap for travellers
- lip balm
- a small amount of toilet paper in a small plastic bag (cardboard roll discarded)
- a comb
- nail clippers
small, light scissors (for cutting Moleskin and Second Skin, i.e. blister fighters and healers. I’m going to rely on the scissors in my Victorinox for this) 1 package of Moleskin 1 package of Second Skin
- some Band-Aids
- a safety-pin and a book of matches (for blisters…yuck)
- a small plastic spoon (in case I decide to eat yogurt on route…this is an actual suggestion)
- waterproofer for boots
- a pen whose ink won’t run when wet
sunglasses (these are actually a must for me because my eyes are super light-sensitive) a penlight-sized flashlight
- 15 feet of thin, light cord to be used as a clothesline, and 6 clothespins
- a needle and a few yards of strong thread
- antibiotic ointment
very light sandals a small notebook for writing camera
Looks like I’m doing pretty good, eh? 🙂
In Canada we have an amazing chain of stores called Mountain Equipment Co-op (commonly known as MEC). Being a co-op, their number of retail locations across the country are a bit sparse. However, by the graces of the outdoor adventure gods, I was placed in an office that is DIRECTLY BESIDE the only MEC location in Toronto. I am so close to our MEC that I share an office wall with their Receiving department and some part of their own office floor forms my ceiling; I am so close to MEC that I can tell you all that one of their very talented employees can play Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball on the recorder. I shit you not. I have been subject to many a performance (unbeknownst to them).
Anyway, being this close to this nirvana of a store has enabled me to spend many of my lunch breaks browsing through its departments. A few weeks ago I did just that and stumbled upon their clearance section. I hit a gold mine!
Here’s what I got:
Every article of clothing that you see in this picture (except the socks), I scored at clearance prices. Bam.
Through a combination of shopping the clearance section of MEC’s online and retail stores, I found three t-shirts ranging in price from $9-$12 (one long-sleeve, two short-sleeve). Yes, I realize they’re all the same colour. Do I care? Not one bit. When you’re on a budget you don’t have that luxury. Besides, who do I need to impress with a colourful wardrobe while I hike 20-30 kms a day?
I also found two pairs of quick-dry hiking pants that convert into capris. Same style, two different colours, $19 a pair. Score. Add to that the zip-up MEC fleece sweater for $25. The only regular-priced item I bought that day was my Outdoor Research hat, which cost me $32. I’m still on the fence about it though, because I feel like a big dork wearing it. I may just bring along my New Orleans Saints baseball cap. I’m also now realizing that I forgot to include the hat I purchased in the above picture, so if you’re curious, here you go.
I had to outsource to find a waterproof/windproof jacket. I knew this item might be pricier than the rest, but I still managed to find a deal. In searching out a proper jacket I came across altitude-sports.com, a Montreal-based sporting goods store. I guess I had perfect timing because on their site I found a North Face windbreaker that was 50% off. I didn’t hesitate in getting one for myself because I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen anything by North Face marked down so low. Add to that cart two pairs of hiking socks and a medium-sized hiking towel (that’s honestly the size of one of my at-home facecloths when folded).
Today, I returned to MEC to pick up some Moleskin, 2nd Skin, two Nalgene bottles (they may be neon green but they were only $5 each), and a mini Maglite for only $7.50. With the exception of my toiletries, first aid items, and miscellaneous gear like a plastic spoon and a clothesline, I’m pretty much set. I even received three small notebooks for Christmas from my friend Aleesha, specifically for this trip. They’re awesome and have covers with some of my favourite quotes on them, like Hemingway’s “Write drunk, edit sober.” — though there won’t be any of that happening on this trip.
So there you have it! I am almost done gathering together my necessary hiking items to make this trip a reality. And now, I’m going to bed to reduce that number of thirty-four sleeps to thirty-three.
Cripes, that’s awfully close.