Tips for pilgrims: choosing your clothing

We continue with our series of useful tips to undertake our tour to Santiago de Compostela avoiding unnecessary discomfort as much as possible.

If a few days ago we explained how to take care of your feet and choose the right type of footwear for the Camino de Santiago, today we will talk about the most appropriate clothing for the pilgrim and the essential equipment that we must carry in our backpacks for the duration of the tour.

Nowadays, if it were not for the traditional scallop that they carry as an identifying symbol in their backpacks, pilgrims could go unnoticed among any other type of walkers. However, in the Middle Ages they were recognized by everyone due to their unique attire: a wide-brimmed hat (to protect them from the sun and rain), a wide coat open at the front for better walking, a fur cape (also called pelegrina), strong shoes for long days of walking (usually made of calfskin and with wooden soles) and a wooden staff or walking stick that was higher than the height of the head. The function of the staff was not only to serve as a support for walking; it could also become, in case of need, a weapon to defend against highwaymen. The primitive pilgrims used to carry their food in a sheepskin bag, while the gourd served as a water bottle and was usually hung on the staff. The scallop became the symbol of the pilgrim from the 11th century onwards. Pilgrims acquired them when they arrived in Santiago and used to put them on their cloak or hat as a sign of having reached their goal. It became such a sought-after souvenir that the ecclesiastical authorities decided to control its sale.

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Obviously, the current dress of the pilgrims has changed a lot. However, some people still acquire parts of the traditional costume, but most of the time as a souvenir or to have an amusing photo, since walking dressed in this way would be quite tiring and uncomfortable.

There is no single style for pilgrim clothing. It must always be comfortable clothing and suitable for the time of year, but obviously, each individual has his or her own personal taste. However, if we are going to visit temples or places of worship we should not dress extravagantly. It is not necessary to have religious beliefs to go to these places but it is necessary to respect others trying not to be the focus of attention.

We will take care of the heavy luggage but it is recommended that you carry with you a small backpack with the basics. This backpack should be adjustable and have outside pockets to keep your cell phone, water flask or whatever you need often.

Apart from this, we cannot forget our hiking shoes or boots (light but with a resistant sole to adapt to the irregularities of the terrain), three pairs of hiking socks, a pair of changes of clothes, a pair of polyester T-shirts and two pairs of pants.

If we are going to do the Camino in the rainy season, we should take warmer clothing: gloves, balaclava, a polar fleece and a raincoat or windbreaker.
On the other hand, in the summer months we will need sunglasses to protect our eyes (if possible homologated, as those sold on the street are not safe) and a hat or visor to avoid sunstroke.

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In addition, it will be essential to have a toiletry bag with our toiletries such as toothbrush and toothpaste, razor blades, etc..

Remember that, even if you have forgotten something, you should not worry about it because we can almost always stock up in the towns that are on our way.

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