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KUMANO KODO Trekking Backpack Contents

Hints & Tips 2/28/2020

What’s in My Bag?

Hi, I’m Mike, a resident and local guide for the Kumano Kodo and this is a question I often receive.

Below are some suggestions for basic contents to have handy on the Kumano Kodo, and then I’ve included the additional items I carry as a guide for the area plus some other fun stuff!

Keep in mind that you’ll be carrying everything with you, so make sure to balance what you think is essential versus keeping your pack’s weight down.

The items you bring may vary depending on the distance you walk each day (and whether or not you use a daily luggage shuttle or luggage storage for your heavier, non-essential stuff).

Smart packing is key to a successful trip on the Kumano Kodo.



  • First Aid Kit (it varies from trip-to-trip and person-to-person) including various bandages, blister covers, antiseptic, gauze, scissors, gauze tape, clippers, painkillers, allergy medicine, stomach medicine
  • Water (500ml to 1 liter for a short hike, and up to 2L or more for longer ones)
  • Using a water bottle or hydropack or bladder is very eco-conscious and convenient, and if I do use a PET bottle of water I try to re-use it. Tap water in Japan is drinkable and you can get it from any of your accommodations.
  • Rain gear (rain jacket at least all year-round in Kumano)
  • A warm layer depending on the season (fleece or light down jacket)
  • Lunch (especially if it is an all-day hike)
  • Snacks (energy bars, chewy candy, trail mix, chocolate, for energy or to make friends)
  • Maps, vouchers
  • Mobile phone (multiple uses include weather info, camera, phone for pre-entered emergency/essential phone numbers, calculator, translator, clock, alarm, GPS, etc.)
  • Small towel
  • Small flashlight
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug repellant
  • ID (passport)
  • Wallet/coin pouch


  • Pocket towel (handkerchief-size), as well, as so many public restrooms in Japan do not have paper towels to dry your hands after you wash them
  • Wet wipes, tissues
  • Pocket knife
  • Head lamp
  • Extra pair of socks
  • Tarp
  • A couple of plastic bags/dry bags
  • Umbrella when guiding
  • Sunglasses
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Trekking poles

For Guiding

  • Business cards
  • Copies of area maps
  • Pens
  • Mini guide notebook
  • Phone charger
  • Stamp pad (for those collecting stamps along the Kumano Kodo)
  • Extra Dual Pilgrim credential
  • Props (laminated pictures, talismans, samples, pictures, etc.)
  • Duct tape
  • Extra pair of shoelaces

For Fun

  • Headphones
  • Go-pro
  • 35mm camera
  • iPad (for photos, e-mail, research, videos, etc.)

vs. Bad Luck or Evil Spirits

  • Local talismans (O-mamori)
  • Small bean bag frog (the word for “frog” or “ka-e-ru” in Japanese, sounds exactly like the word for “go home,” so the frog is a good luck charm for returning home safely!)

Heaviest thing I ever carried

  • Two bottles of champagne

Best Advice

  •  Make sure liquids have a container with a cap and are closed properly.
  • You could get a snake in thar’ but I wouldn’ recommend it.

So, what is in YOUR bag?

Mike Rhodes
Consultant & Guide
Tanabe City Kumano Tourism Bureau

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