What to pack in a hiking backpack – woman or man – for a winter (and summer) pilgrimage?

The Gîte du Gûa, on the Camino de Compostela, is a place where we hear a lot of hikers or pilgrims complain of back pain as a result of their overweight, overloaded bags.

Our first idea of a „Bonus“ was to offer you the possibility of taking an appointment with our chiropractor and reflexologist partners during your stay at the gite.

We then decided to expose our hiking hack… by revealing the precious contents of our backpacks for a pilgrimage to Compostela or to other places in France or Europe… or elsewhere!

Who knows what adventures are in store for you… leaving from Vézelay to go through Figeac or leaving from Marseille to discover Narbonne, Conques, Toulouse, Acir in Spain, Santiago de Compostela and perhaps continue to Madrid, or even further on to the Camino del Norte…
Or go the other way, to Rome…

We will be there to help you optimise your bag during your stay at home. Start again in comfort the next day! 

Local de rangement des chaussures de marche et des sacs à dos, avant d'entrer dans le gîte

Women’s hiking bag example (Frédérique’s) / Men’s hiking bag example

Everything is chosen to be UL (Ultra Light), resistant, with little need for washing and easy drying. Hence our preference for merino wool for most of our hiking clothes.

Nos principes de bases et nos priorités

Nous avons fait le choix de voyager sans trousse de pharmacie ou quasiment. Dans tous les endroits, nous avons trouvé le nécessaire en matière de premiers soins.

Ces sacs sont pensés pour marcher et/ou voyager, le plus léger possible, sans abandonner un minimum de confort. On peut donc encore réduire le poids si on reste sur des territoires où il y a « de la vie » (hébergement et ravitaillement), e bien sûr, en fonction de la saison.

The weight of our backpacks in winter and summer, with or withour food and water

In the middle of winter, our backpacks weigh between 5 and 6 kg maximum. This is  , as those elements vary from one person’s needs and stresses to the next !

As we usually carry 1 litre of water and about 1kg of food, which is already substantial, this brings the weight of the backpacks to a maximum of 7 to 8 kg.

In summer, we manage to remove 1.5 kg of content, which results in a 3.5 kg backpack for a woman, and 4.5 kg for a man (before water and food, respectively)!

Beyond the weight of the bags, we have not counted the potential „Extra“

Theophile, for example, does not want to travel without his oil and spices. For me, it’s a card game. Each to their own pleasure, and therefore to their own priority!

In short, we haven’t counted the „reassurances“ specific to each person or the little luxuries that we don’t want to do without and that can really increase the weight, depending on each person’s priorities.

Come on, we’ll “unpack” everything, or just about!

Come on, we'll "unpack" everything, or almost everything!

You will laugh at the difference in approach, just in the way the list is made.

You can tell that Théophile is „obsessed“ with weight, he weighs everything!

Frédérique, although hyper-sensitive to weight, is less concerned with weighing each item than with making sure she has everything she needs, and especially nothing too much.

Frédérique’s  hiking backpack example

The Queen of „Everything I need without overdoing it“
Everything is chosen to be UL (Ultra Light), resistant, with little need for washing and easy drying.

Chambre à deux lits donnant sur La Terrasse du gîte du Guâ à Figeac

Théophile’s hiking backpack example

The King of „Featherweight Prirority“

Pencil in hand, I make my list

Composition d'un sac à dos optimisé pour les randonneurs, liste 1
Composition d'un sac à dos optimisé pour les randonneurs, liste 3
Composition d'un sac à dos optimisé pour les randonneurs, liste 2

List 1 – In Frédérique’s backpack

In a compression sack: Overnight items

  • A sleeping bag (ultra light, temperature -5°c of very good quality)
  • A silk sleeping bag liner
  • 4 earplugs
  • A sleep mask

In a UL bag … Ultra Lightweight

Material Very good quality parachute fabric

For the evening

  • Fleece leggings
  • A long-sleeved merino T-shirt
  • A warm sleeveless jumper
  • Heavy socks
  • Lightweight flip-flops

A change of clothing

  • A pair of socks
    A pair of panties / briefs

In a UL bag where I store the food

To eat and drink

  • A waterproof box
  • A titanium fork/spoonor
  • A water bag (Camel-bag)
  • A knife


  • UL toiletry bag
  • Day and night cream, tube ½ empty
  • Toothpaste, tube ½ empty
  • Lip balm, tube ½ empty
  • 1 UL towel
  • Sunscreen (summer and winter)


  • Notebook and pen
  • A rechargeable headlamp on the same socket as my mobile phone
  • Telephone and charger
  • 1 pack of tissues
  • A foldable UL shopping bag
  • A Ultra-long, backpack-covering rain poncho


List 2 – Frédérique „what I carry with me“

On my back and my outfit

My 35 litre hiking backpack, which weighs about 300g… empty 😊, or 5.2kg full

  • Rain trousers
  • Lightweight trousers (convertible into shorts)
  • Camisole + long-sleeved T-shirt + jumper, all in merino
  • Wind/rain jacket
  • Neck strap
  • Headband (buff) for the forehead and ears
  • Warm and waterproof gloves
  • My trekking poles
  • My hiking shoes / hiking boots
  • Fanny pack, extra-flat UL, for bank card, ID papers, Social security / NHS card and cash
  • Creanciale

The fact that there are 5 bags in my ultra-light UL bag allows me to structure it according to my needs and not to mix socks and salad!

List 3 – Weight of each item in Theophile’s backpack

Total weight of my backpack : approximately 5.2kg

With water and a picnic, it reaches about 7 kg


  • Backpack: 910g or 1,330kg depending on the bag
  • Sleeping bag 460g
  • Silk bag (or meat bag) 130g
  • Compressor 95g
  • Pants 400g
  • Survet 270g
  • Shorts 95g
  • Socks 50g x 3
  • Hangers 65g x 3
  • T-Shirts 120g x 3
  • Vest 380g
  • Down jacket 310g
  • Windbreaker 110g
  • Rain cape 305g
  • Rain pants 150g
  • Sandal 180g
  • Towel 135g
  • Soap 100g
  • Toothbrush 40g
  • Nail clippers 14g
  • Laundry bag 26g
  • Clothesline 20g
  • Bandages 15g
  • Knife 60g
  • Food bag 46g
  • Water filter 37g
  • Tissues 20g
  • Charger 100g
  • Bag € 45g
  • Cards 15g
  • Spoon 20g
  • Creancial 25g
    Surplus… according to the bag of eachTranslated with DeepL

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