Preparing for el Camino: The Backpack
Unlike a typical hiking trip, however, you do not have to bring a tent, pots and pans, food, water filter, etc. (you will be stopping in towns every night after all) so the goal is to make your pack as light as possible, preferably no more than 10% of your body weight. This also means that your backpack doesn’t have to be as large (probably no more than 40L).
As with shoes, the key is comfort: the backpack should be quality with nice padding and support. Your hip strap should be bearing most of the weight, not the shoulder straps, and if you can get a backpack that allows for some airflow between your back and the pack, go for it (especially if you’re walking in the summer months). Your backpack should feel like an extension of your body.
If anything seems even slightly uncomfortable while you’re trying on packs, just imagine how uncomfortable that feature would be after walking with it for 15+ miles each day, and then put it back. Just like Harry Potter, you don’t pick the wand, the wand picks you, and such is the same with your backpack.
Also, pockets are key! You want nice accessible ones for your water bottle, snacks, camera, sunscreen, etc. so you don’t have to take apart your whole pack each time you need something.
I got the Deuter Futura 32 on sale at good ol’ REI after trying on and re-trying on several different kinds (with weights!). I chose it because it was the most comfortable (lots of padding in the hip belt), has a great back air vent system, and tons of pockets. Bonus: it includes a rain cover.