What to pack to walk St Olav’s Way in Norway

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What to pack for St Olav's Way


Packing for a long-distance hike is one of the most important preparation activities. This is especially important when walking St Olav’s Way in Norway. We recently walked from Oslo to Trondheim. Here is our ultimate guide to what to pack to walk St Olav’s Way.

You can find more of our St Olav’s Way walking resources here. Including a daily stage guide.

What size backpack do you need to walk St Olav’s Way?

On a normal long-distance hike, we aim to carry 30 to 40 litre backpacks. However, to walk St Olav’s Way in Norway, we recommend that you carry a backpack of between 50 and 80 litres.

You will require a bigger backpack than you might carry on the Camino de Santiago, as you will need to carry a sleeping bag (see below), sufficient water and food supplies, plus camping stuff (if you choose to camp.) It is important when you pack your bag to leave extra space for food and water that you acquire on the walk.

How much should your backpack weigh for St Olav’s Way?

Ideally, it is not recommended for your backpack to weigh more than 10 to 15% of your body weight when you are walking longer distances each day. If you do stick to the recommended 20 to 25km per day of walking on St Olav’s, then it may be possible to carry a little more than this. Our backpacks weighed between 10 and 13kg, with food and water included and a lot less without provisions.

When you are weighing your backpack in preparation for walking St Olav’s Way, do not forget to include the weight of your water and the food that you expect to carry. On average, we carried around 1kg (2’2 llbs) of food with us each day, sometimes up to 2kg (4’5 llbs).

Best backpacks for St Olav’s Way

Here are three of the best backpacks for St Olav’s Way in 2023.

  1. Best Budget: SKYSPER Hiking Backpack, 50L/60L $50

2. Best for women: Osprey Renn, 65L $189

3. Best for men: Osprey Rook 65L $176

How much water should you carry on St Olav’s Way in Norway?

Based on our experience of walking St Olav’s Way from Oslo to Trondheim, we recommend carrying 3 litres of water per person each day. This should be sufficient to maintain hydration during the day and takes into account the difficulty you have on some days to refill water.

Here are some of the best water receptacles, that we recommend to pack for St Olav’s Way:

  1. Water Bladder: A water bladder/ reservoir is a great option if you want to make sure that you can access water throughout the day without removing your backpack. This is an especially helpful option if you have a backpack, like the Osprey Tempest, which has a slot to put a water bladder in. This one also holds up to 3 litres.
  2. Best for cold water: If you can’t stand the thought of tepid water, it’s best to go for a stainless steel insulated bottle that will remain cold all day as you hike. Something like this one is great and comes in different size options to suit your needs.

Can you drink water from streams in Norway on St Olav’s Way?

When we walked from Oslo to Trondheim, a few times we had to get water to drink from streams. We read that it is generally safe to do this in Norway as the water here is very clean. But, you do have to be cautious about where the water is flowing from. In Dovrefjell for example, the water is more likely to be safe as it’s high up and you are at the source of the water. But lower down the valleys, you cannot be sure where the water has flowed from. It can be useful to check satellite images on your Google Maps to see what is above the water source.

If you want to be sure that is is safe, you should use water purification tablets and/or a filter, like this.

How much food do you need to carry on St Olav’s Way in Norway?

The official Pilegrimsleden website recommends that you carry at least three meals per person in your backpack. This is a good suggestion to aim for. However, you must keep in mind that you cannot access supermarkets every day. Therefore, there will be some days when you are required to carry up to three days worth of food.

This may not be necessary if you are staying in pilgrim accommodation and willing to pay for food (although that is not always possible), but if you are camping or on a budget, we suggest planning carefully to ensure you have enough.

On average, we carried around 1kg (2’2 llbs) of food with us each day, sometimes up to 2kg (4’5 llbs). We always recommend keeping a few “emergency” snacks and meals in your backpack for St Olav’s Way too. Something like these freeze-dried camping meals would be very useful to have.

You can read more about food on our top tips for walking the Norwegian Camino post here.

Can you drink alcohol when walking the St Olav’s Way?

As we are budget conscious hikers, but we do enjoy a drink or two when we hike, we were wondering about whether we could drink alcohol when walking St Olav’s Way. Firstly, you should be aware that alcohol is expensive to buy in bars and restaurants. But, when walking St Olav’s Way, you will very rarely see a bar or a restaurant anyway!

Aside from bars, there are two places to buy alcohol in Norway. You can buy beers, hard seltzer and cider in supermarkets in Norway. Beers are reasonably priced at around 25 to 40 NOK per large can. Spirits and wine must be purchased at special liqueur stores. On St Olav’s Way, there are liqueur stores in Lillehammer and Oppdal, as well as Oslo and Trondheim.

One thing to note, is that Norway has strict alcohol sales times. We found that supermarkets stopped selling alcohol at 20:00, a few hours before many of them shut (I believe that this is 18:00 in the winter.) On a Sunday, expect all supermarkets to be closed too.

Do note, drinking alcohol in public is not legal in Norway. But, it is fine to enjoy a beer or two at your campsite or hostel at the end of the day!

How to pack your backpack for St Olav’s Way

It may sound silly, but packing your backpack efficiently can make your trip much easier. Here are our top tips:

Firstly, it is extremely helpful to separate the items in your backpack so that you can get quick access to anything you need when you arrive at your accommodation. This would include your toiletries, your power cables, trek towel, and anything you need for sleeping. You can use a carrier bag to separate everything or use packing cubes. Having a separate toiletries bag can also speed things up when you need to get access to your toiletries and jump in the shower.

Secondly, try to keep your dirty clothes and walking clothes separate to your fresh evening clothes. When walking every day, especially in the summer, your walking clothes can get quite pungent!

Next, think about what you might need to get access to during your walk. Look for a backpack with handy pockets for these items. You may want somewhere to stash your phone, sunscreen, lip balm and anything else you want during the walk. I love using a water platypus which slots into a pocket at the back of my bag. This means I can access my water as I walk.

Remember, leave space at the top of your bag or in external pockets for food supplies.

Can you walk St Olav’s Way in trail shoes?

Yes, based on our experience of walking St Olav’s Way in June, you can wear trail shoes for the route. The majority of pilgrims we met were wearing walking boots although some had trail shoes. We understand from discussions on the Pilegrimsleden Facebook groups that many pilgrims do opt for trail shoes and these are though to be sufficient.

We both walked in Hoka Speed Goat Trail shoes and these were sufficient for the walk. Although they got a little wet, they dried out very quickly overnight. Much quicker than walking boots might. We also find walking boots a little heavy. Although there was some rocky terrain on the route, we felt fully equipped in our Hoka shoes.

Do you need a sleeping bag to walk St Olav Ways in Norway?

You will 100% need a sleeping bag to walk St Olav Ways. Whether you decide to camp or stay indoors in pilgrim accommodation, a sleeping bag is still required. This is because many of the hostels or home stays you will sleep in will not provide linen. Some will offer it at an extra cost, but others will not. Plus, if you decide to stay in a self-serve cabin or refuge, you will definitely need a sleeping bag.

Best sleeping bags for St Olav’s Way

We recommend picking a lightweight sleeping bag, but something that will keep you warm if temperatures drop at night. Here are some of the best on the market currently:

  1. Flannel comfort – this model is a warmer option, but comes with cosy flannel lining. It weights 1.8kg, which is a little heavier than you may want, but if the weather is cool this could be a good choice.
  2. Goose Down – we really like these goose down sleeping bags and recently used them to walk the Via Francigena in Italy and to walk St Olav’s. They can be quite warm, but are super light and comfortable and were the perfect temperature range for Norway in summer.
  3. Budget light option – this sleeping bag weighs only 600g, making it one of the lightest on the market, especially at this price tag. A great option for walking St Olav’s Way especially when the weather is warm.

Do you need trekking poles to walk St Olav’s Ways in Norway?

We do not tend to use hiking/ trekking poles and have deliberately avoided using them on all long-distance hikes we’ve done previously. That said, we did consider taking them for St Olav’s Way in Norway. The route is very undulating and there are quite often steep climbs and steep descents. Plus, there’s a fair bit of trail walking and very little on the road.

If you do decide to take poles, a budget set of hiking poles can be found for around £25. Mid-range hiking poles retail at £60 ish. More expensive carbon fibre poles are in the region of about £150.

Here are some pros and cons of taking hiking poles on St Olav’s Way.

What are the advantages of using trekking poles?

There are three main advantages to using hiking poles:

1// Hiking poles can help your balance and stability

Having the two poles to lean on can help you maintain balance and stability. This is particularly useful if you’re walking up or down slippery or difficult terrain. If you find steep descents difficult, we would recommend poles on St Olav’s Way.

2// Hiking poles can take pressure of your lower body

The joints and muscles in your legs can take a battering when you’re walking long distances every day. Using hiking poles can take pressure off your lower body. If you have lower body injuries, then hiking poles could be of benefit to you.

3// Hiking poles can help to maintain pace and rhythm

A bit like skiing with poles, hiking poles can help you find a nice rhythm. In turn, this can also help to maintain or increase your pace of walking.

What are the disadvantages of using hiking poles?

The main disadvantage of using hiking poles is that you will have to carry them! Hiking poles are extra weight to carry when you’re not using them, including on the plane. As noted below, you will also have to put them in the hold on the plane, which can be costly.

The second disadvantage of using hiking poles on the, is that it’s an extra thing to keep an eye on. This may sound silly, but we really enjoy the minimalism of hiking with less. This is the main reason we don’t use poles, because it just feels like something else to think about!

There is some research suggesting that using hiking poles can take up more energy than not using them. I don’t know how accurate this is, but there seems to be some logic to the argument, given that using hiking poles requires you to use your arms more.

Finally, although you can take trekking poles on a plane, you may not be able to take them into the cabin. Therefore your backpack may need to go into the hold.

Can you do laundry on St Olav’s Way in Norway?

You can access laundry facilities on St Olav’s Way in Norway. Some campsites and hostels have laundry facilities. But do keep in mind that you’ll need sufficient time to do laundry in an evening and that not every camp site or hostel has facilities. Another option is to hand-wash items as you go to keep things fresh. We always do stick to the “one to wear, one to wash” rule, so tend to hand-wash our clothing every evening.

Best laundry detergent for washing clothing on St Olav’s Way

  1. Dr Beckmann Travel Wash Detergent – Retailing at under $10/£10, this travel detergent is perfect if you want a dedicated hand washing detergent. At under 100ml, you can also take this onto a plane in your hand luggage, or save on space in your backpack.
  2. Sea to Summit Trek Laundry Sheets – if you’re planning to predominately use laundry machines on camp sites, then laundry sheets are the perfect solution for you. These lightweight sheets are handy to pack and can go straight into your machine.
  3. 2 in 1 cleaning brush – if you’re planning to handwash clothing but you want to ensure that it is scrubbed clean, this product is ideal. Offering a 2 in 1 functionality, with a scrub brush and detergent included.
  4. Foaming travel soap – these tiny soap bars and a great option for handwashing. They foam up well to allow for a thorough clean of your clothing. Plus, they are super small so you can pack a few and use them as required.
  5. All in one soap – finally, if you really want to save space in your backpack, you can take an all in one soap. This can wash your body, your hair and your clothing. The ultimate backpacking hack!

Can you shower on St Olav’s Way in Norway?

You can access showers on St Olav’s Way in Norway. But, do note that some of the accommodation on the walk from Oslo to Trondheim is quite basic and showers may not be “fancy.” If you wild camp, be prepared that you may not shower every day, but you may find places to swim and wash off in nature!

Don’t forget to pack wet-wipes that you can use if you can’t get access to a shower immediately.

The ultimate packing list for St Olav’s Way

Clothing for St Olav Ways

Here is a suggested list for clothing to pack for St Olav’s Way (assuming that you are walking in summer). We’ve based this on a woman walking St Olav’s Way, but for men, we would suggest a similar list (minus the sports bra). We always abide by the “one to wear and one to wash” principle on long-distance hikes. Plus, an extra pair of socks and underwear for good luck!

Walking shoes1
Walking shorts1
Leggings or walking trousers1
Walking t-shirts or tops (quick dry)2 or 3
Sports bra (quick dry)1 or 2
Walking socks2 or 3
Pop socks (can help prevent blisters)4
Underwear (quick dry)3 minimum
Rain jacket1
Waterproof trousers (recommended but optional)1
Lightweight sweater1
Bikini or swimsuit *in summer*1
Change of clothes for the evening – see note on this below1
Change of shoes for the evening – see note on this below1
Pyjamas or sleep clothes for hostels1
Woolen Hat (for cold mornings and evenings)1
Mittens or gloves (very welcome in Dovrefjell)1

Clothing for the evening and leisure

When we have walked the Camino or Via Francigena, we tend to pack a smart-ish change of clothes for the evening to go to restaurants. On St Olav’s Way, you don’t need any smart clothes for the evening as there isn’t really anywhere to go and you’re more likely to spend the time relaxing. Instead, walking trousers and a clean t-shirt could suffice. Or perhaps an extra pair of shorts. On most evenings, I would wear shorts, a t-shirt and a light shirt to keep warm. The main goal is to be comfortable and clean!

We suggest packing an option from below:

  • Flip flops or lightweight canvas shoes
  • Shorts and a t-shirt
  • Walking trousers or leggings and a clean top
  • A lightweight dress or jumpsuit
  • A light pullover or shirt (which may be the same one you wear during the day)

Toiletries and cosmetics

Here are the essential toiletries that I packed for St Olav’s Way (again based on a female packing list).

  1. All in one soap – an excellent thing. You can get it on Amazon. Soap that washes you, your hair and your clothing. It’s marvellous. Pack it in a plastic zip lock bag (not a heavy soap dish!)
  2. Sachets of Conditioner OR a leave in conditioner – a bottle of conditioner may be too heavy, but a few sachets of conditioner or an intensive hair mask are easier to carry. A leave in conditioner spray that you can also use as a serum is a good choice. Pack into a travel sized toiletry bottle.
  3. Mooncup – carrying tampax or sanitary towels is heavy, a mooncup is not. I’d also recommend this for ease as the toilets on the trail are very infrequent.
  4. Moisturiser for body and face – an all in one moisturiser will save space and weight in your bag, for me this as non-negotiable especially to moisturise my feet. Pack into a travel sized toiletry bottle.
  5. Sunscreen – goes without saying. I find a spray easier to use on the trails and lighter to carry too. We suggest factor 50 in Norway during the summer as the sun is out for a long time! I also love this Le Roche Posay sun stick for my face as it’s lightweight, easy to put in your bag and is a solid stick (meaning it doesn’t count towards your liquid allowance on the plane.) Sunscreen in Norway is very expensive, so it’s best to pack
  6. Bug Spray – we took bug spray, but didn’t need to use it much in Norway
  7. A trek towel – this will come in super handy along the way. A quick dry towel is a necessity.
  8. A small medical kit – allergy tablets, Ibuprofen, rehydration sachets and blister plasters.
  9. A little makeup for the evening – mascara and a lip balm that also acts as a cheek tint (personal choice, but I liked having a little makeup to wear in Trondheim)
  10. Cleansing wipes – a lightweight packet of cleansing wipes
  11. Deodorant – something under 100ml and lightweight
  12. Toothpaste and toothbrush
  13. Anti-bacterial hand gel – it is difficult to wash our hands regularly on the route
Yoga for hiking

Electronics and miscellaneous

  1. Pegs – (one or two) something strong to attach clothing to your bag when it’s drying and to hang clothes on the line at your accommodation
  2.  Ear plugs and eye mask – shared rooms be noisy and in the summer you have very little (if any) darkness in Norway, so a mask can be helpful
  3. A waterproof bag cover – it may rain and you want to be able to cover your bag quickly to keep things dry
  4. A deck of cards – something you can play with your walking buddies during breaks or in the evening
  5.  Walking poles – if you choose to take them (see note above)
  6. A lightweight sleeping bag (see note above)
  7. You won’t always be able to get access to a plug , so I would highly recommend taking a spare battery pack for charging your phone on the go
  8. Wireless headphones for listening to music or audio books when you walk, or at night
  9. travel adaptor is also required, unless you already have European plugs. Or, if you just have your phone charger with you you can buy a European plug for that.
  10. A water bottle or receptacle (see above)
  11. Water purification tablets
  12. Some freeze dried food or emergency supplies (but you can buy food on route)
  13. Your pilgrim passport
  14. Actual passport
  15. Mobile phone with camera
  16. A note book and pen or a travel journal
  17. A plastic bag or waterproof bag to protect valuables from rain
  18. Cash (at least 3000 NOK) and an ATM Card
  19. Small sandwich bags, these can be used for food, or to collect your rubbish (for example, any used toilet roll) – remember to leave no litter
  20. Wet Wipes or a small toilet roll
  21. Gaffa Tape or similar to fix anything you need

For camping, we suggest a few more items. Listed below.

What to pack for camping on St Olav’s Way in Norway?

If you are choosing to camp on St Olav’s Way, then you will require a few extra items in addition to everything listed above.

We suggest the following would be required or recommended:

  • Lightweight tent (see below)
  • Sleeping pad (see below)
  • Cooking stove, gas and lighter
  • Cooking pots (we prefer these to a kettle)
  • Coffee or Tea and a cup or mug
  • Utensils (a spork is the best option)

Best tents for camping on St Olav’s Ways in Norway

Here are some of the best options on the market currently, if you’re not looking to break the bank. There are lighter options on the market, but expect to pay more.

Hyke and Bike Tent Yosemite 2 person tent2.49kg16x45x16 cm£114/ $146
Night Cat Instant Popup Tents 2-3 Persons (this is our go to as we love how easy it is to set up)2.4kg
‎81 x 18 x 18cm
£77/ $99
Wandelen Appalachian Lightweight Backpacking Tent 1.68kg12.95 x 39.88 x 12.95 cm£129/ $165
Forceatt Camping Tent 2-3 Person2.5kg‎14 x 14 x 41 cm£96/ $123
Berghaus Lightweight and Compact Cheviot 2 Tent for 2 People3.1kg16 x 16 x 50 cm£136/ $174
OneTigris COSMITTO Lightweight Backpacking Tent 2 Person2.4kg16 x 16 x 50cm£124.99/ $160

Best sleeping pads for camping on St Olav’s Way in Norway

For camping, you will need a sleeping pad. We recommend picking something lightweight. Here are three options on the market at the moment that would be suitable to pack to walk St Olav’s Way:

  1. A luxury option – Emma hikes with this inflatable roll mat. It is a little heavier than other options, but if you prefer comfort when you sleep, this is recommended. It’s a wider model with a pillow.
  2. A lightweight model – John uses a similar inflating roll mat, but this is more lightweight and basic option. It packs up super small too.
  3. The basic option – we’ve seen many pilgrims hiking with a basic foldable foam mat. This is a good option if the weather is warm.

Do you need a camping stove for St Olav’s Way in Norway?

A camping stove is highly recommended on St Olav’s Way. If you are camping, then a stove is the best solution to allow you to have hot food and drinks when you walk. That said, we did not take one with us and we did manage okay without it. Whilst we walked, there was a fire ban due to a heat-wave, meaning that we could not have used the stove even if we did have it! But this is not a common occurrence every year.

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