Pack Safety

Your backpack will be near you or on you for all of the Camino. But there will be moments where you won’t be watching it as closely: while on the loo, while taking a shower at the albergue, and while sleeping, for example.

So? How safe is it?

Honestly, pretty safe. Until the last 100 you’ll have (general caution aside) very little to fear, in terms of theft. Yes, people steal, but the credencial requirements keep most unsavory elements out of albergues.

That’s not to say I didn’t experience theft. I bring two 10'000mAh external batteries with me, so I can keep my phone, watch, etc. on me and don’t have to plug them in somewhere nearby. Twice in my wanderings did I have one or both stolen while charging. The loss was much less than would it have been, had my phone, camera, AirPods, or watch been taken, but still it did smart to be confronted with the reality of human asshole-y-ness.

My solution is threefold:

Under no circumstances should you use your backpack as a pillow or put it on your bed in any other form. That’s one of the big no-no things on the Camino. Also keep it off chairs in restaurants and cafés, even if this means the backpack is a bit less visible. Chairs are for people, not Ospreys.

Make copies

I have copies of my ID, insurance card, and pack slip (if I am sending “civilian clothes” to Santiago for the flight home) in a water proof baggie in my hygiene and medicine bag. The originals stay on and with me at all times, either in the bag that goes to bed with me, or the left leg pocket of my pants during the day.

Day Pack

An alternative to the bag with your things in it, is the day pack. A small, foldable, weighing a few grams, backpack you can use as your alternate backpack when exploring towns or going shopping. I honestly never used one, since I have pockets and not that much of value on me during my hikes, but some people swear by them.

The best solution to item theft is not to have items with you. This is Spain, anything I could possibly need will be sold somewhere nearby. So I have small versions of everything hygiene, medicine, and comfort, and if someone wants to steal my stinky socks… more power to them.

On the last 100

Suddenly you’ll start hearing stories of pick pockets and people having been picked. Around the 120km mark before Santiago, things change, and so should you. Keep a closer watch on your possessions, be aware of someone you don’t recognize as a pilgrim from stages before Sarria coming too close to you, do not let yourself be involved in conversations or “signature collections” with young men and women, and do not flash cash or your possessions in general.

This is an unfortunate side effect of 125’000 pilgrims passing through here, and part of the human condition. See it as a little demonstration, how pilgrimages were before the 19th century, without the getting killed part, and don’t get too hung up on it. Practice the same form of safety you would in any big city, and you’ll be fine.