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Sleeping bag in May?

Camino(s) past & future
I am walking in March and April of 2019.
#1
Hi dear forum
Originally, as in a month ago, I planned to walk the Camino in February. (I had just read "a walk in the woods", a book about walking the 2000 mile Appalachian trail with a 40 pound backpack, camping in snowstorms, possible bear attacks...) it made the camino sound easy! .I am hesitant, now, though...it sounds like too much will be closed, and I won't meet very many other pilgrims. So i am changing my mind to start in mid May. I have already collected some things for a winter walk: a 30° f. (0°C) sleeping bag, some wool clothing. Would you seasoned walkers take a bag and wool layers in May? Thanks in advance!
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
#3
You haven't said which Camino but I'll guess the Frances. So, even in May you might hit snow a couple of times as you hike the higher elevations. Warm base layers make for comfy hiking - even if you spend the afternoon in just your merino top. 30f/0c Sleeping bag? Do you sleep warm or cold? Are you planning on Hostales, Albergues or take it as it comes? Many of the more traditional Albergues, and come to that many traditional Hostales, will not have heating.

There are numerous threads on this topic and reading them will probably lead you to the conclusion that no-one knows but everyone has an opinion :) I would carry a sleeping bag but probably not a 3 season heavyweight.

And Camino is not a "walk in the woods": it's a walk in lush valleys, cold deserts, mountain passes and rolling green hills. Mr Bryson's book is a great read but I wouldn't use it to evaluate the Caminos ;0)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Some, and with luck, some more.
#4
Hello Lisakline,

Waka and Tincantinker have offered good advice.

I've started twice from St Jean Pied du Port in early May. On both ocassions I was glad I had both Merino wool base layers to wear as my tops and a 2 season sleeping bag. As Waka said, Merino is both warming and cooling dependent upon the conditions. That sounds weird, but it is factual.

Until I reached Leon most evenings were cool to cold and early mornings, especially along the Meseta were decidedly cold until about 9-9:30 am. (I had to use my spare socks as gloves more than a couple of times.)

On the very plus side, early May is a beautiful time to walk most of the Camino routes.

Buen (comfortably cool or warm) Camino
 
Camino(s) past & future
2012 SJPP-Burgos, 2014 Burgos-Leon, 2018 Leon-Santiago
#5
Hi,
Agree with the above. I was grateful for a merino base layer at the Cruz de Ferro on May 19 in the snow and sleet. A light sleeping bag would be good to have, as with other light clothing you could layer, such as fleece or a primaloft or down sweater. You may not need them, but you’ll be glad you have them when you do.

All the best,
Paul
 
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
#7
Go for it! When I have walked the Camino Frances, it has always been from mid-April to the end of May. EVERY time, I have encountered light (not more than ankle deep and wet) snow at Cruz de Ferro in mid-May.

In May 2016, I encountered a brief whiteout at O' Cebriero, but it only lasted about one-hour. I tried to buy gloves in a tienda, but the owner refused to sell them to me, telling me that the snow would be gone "shortly." Of course he was right. By the time I had gone to my favorite cafe, finished my coffee and tortilla, and walked halfway down the hill, the pavement was dry... go figure...

I have done the section from Leon onwards three times, and from SJPdP twice. You will encounter at least some snow at altitudes more than about 700 meters ASL. You do not need gaiters if you are wearing mid-height boots.

If you are staying in albergues, I recommend a lightweight sleeping bag. Not only is heat not always on offer, but some fellow pilgrims insist on opening windows...(grrr!) Plus, the cleanliness of the shared blankets is not guaranteed...:eek:

In May, all the albergues should be open. In the unlikely event you go to an albergue and it is closed, with no sign posted as to opening hours or contact information, go to the nearest bar cafe. Ask about the albergue. They will most always know what the deal is. Sometimes the albergue operator is sitting at the bar... Above all, relax, enjoy the journey. Go with the flow...

Hope this helps.
 
Camino(s) past & future
I am walking in March and April of 2019.
#8
Go for it! When I have walked the Camino Frances, it has always been from mid-April to the end of May. EVERY time, I have encountered light (not more than ankle deep and wet) snow at Cruz de Ferro in mid-May.

In May 2016, I encountered a brief whiteout at O' Cebriero, but it only lasted about one-hour. I tried to buy gloves in a tienda, but the owner refused to sell them to me, telling me that the snow would be gone "shortly." Of course he was right. By the time I had gone to my favorite cafe, finished my coffee and tortilla, and walked halfway down the hill, the pavement was dry... go figure...

I have done the section from Leon onwards three times, and from SJPdP twice. You will encounter at least some snow at altitudes more than about 700 meters ASL. You do not need gaiters if you are wearing mid-height boots.

If you are staying in albergues, I recommend a lightweight sleeping bag. Not only is heat not always on offer, but some fellow pilgrims insist on opening windows...(grrr!) Plus, the cleanliness of the shared blankets is not guaranteed...:eek:

In May, all the albergues should be open. In the unlikely event you go to an albergue and it is closed, with no sign posted as to opening hours or contact information, go to the nearest bar cafe. Ask about the albergue. They will most always know what the deal is. Sometimes the albergue operator is sitting at the bar... Above all, relax, enjoy the journey. Go with the flow...

Hope this helps.
Yes, thank a lot! So much good info, I feel ready! Thanks again.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Some but not all, and other routes too.
#9
I’d like to add to the Marino suggestion, there are varing quality of Marino wool, please don’t make the mistake of going for the cheapest, something like a Rab 180 would be fine. As we all know the cheapest is always the most expensive.
 

J F Gregory

Portugal Central - October 2019
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (March-April,2016) finished, (October 2019) Portuguese Central Route.
#10
Hi dear forum
Originally, as in a month ago, I planned to walk the Camino in February. (I had just read "a walk in the woods", a book about walking the 2000 mile Appalachian trail with a 40 pound backpack, camping in snowstorms, possible bear attacks...) it made the camino sound easy! .I am hesitant, now, though...it sounds like too much will be closed, and I won't meet very many other pilgrims. So i am changing my mind to start in mid May. I have already collected some things for a winter walk: a 30° f. (0°C) sleeping bag, some wool clothing. Would you seasoned walkers take a bag and wool layers in May? Thanks in advance!
Actually the last walk my wife and I did was a winter walk and there are many walking the Frances and plenty of room in Albergues. Our next walk will also be off season. We walked with and many pilgrims during the winter. Most of them from European countries and many from eastern Asian countries. We were only walking alone by choice, but many times we walked with others and have made lasting relationships.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
#11
I would nearly always recommend a sleeping bag ... exceptions principally for those with enough means whereby comfortable accommodation will never be a problem for them, and bless them !!

But if it's in late spring, summer, early autumn, most people would be good with an ultralight one, not some heavy military or serious hiker grade all-weather job, that we sorts of nutcases prefer.

But well, truth is that the comfortable weight of one's preferred sleeping comforts is a variable, and so people should adapt accordingly.
 
Camino(s) past & future
I am walking in March and April of 2019.
#12
Actually the last walk my wife and I did was a winter walk and there are many walking the Frances and plenty of room in Albergues. Our next walk will also be off season. We walked with and many pilgrims during the winter. Most of them from European countries and many from eastern Asian countries. We were only walking alone by choice, but many times we walked with others and have made lasting relationships.
Wow, really? Now you will make me change my mind again, because i am actually chomping at the bit to start walking.... however, someone else sent me a reply, stating many cafes are closed and I should carry my own food, was that yiur experience, too? During which month did you walk?
 

J F Gregory

Portugal Central - October 2019
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (March-April,2016) finished, (October 2019) Portuguese Central Route.
#13
We started walking early March. We always seemed to find open bars, sometimes they open later in the day. We bought pepper, cheese and bread to carry usually after we arrived at the albergues for the next day for lunch while walking, from the local grocers. We would find bar to eat at early evening, remember in Spain most restaurants open at 8 or 8:30 at night and I was always hungry before that. Sometimes we would plan a dinner with other pilgrims either at the albergue or restaurants. If we could find coffee early we would but would walk to the next community before eating breakfast.
 

Jo Jo

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, July 2014
Via di Francesco (Italy), July 2015
Frances, Sept-Oct 2016
Portugues Oct. 2017
#14
A 30 degree bag in May would probably be overkill (and the weight would get to you somewhere about mile 200). Remember, heat or not, you are not in a tent but in a building. With other pilgrims giving off body heat. And a thick foam mattress under you. We walked late October. A 50 degree backpacking quilt, about 8oz for my wife the hobbit and 12oz for me, was more than enough. Sell the 30 degree and look at this link: https://sectionhiker.com/sectionhiker-gear-guide/10-best-ultralight-backpacking-quilts/ My favorite is Enlightened Equipment, but others will differ.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
#15
I have already collected some things for a winter walk: a 30° f. (0°C) sleeping bag, some wool clothing. Would you seasoned walkers take a bag and wool layers in May?
I would not take that bag. I had a 20 F bag (I was going to hike in the Pyrennes too.) It was too hot for the CF during the end of May. I bought another comfort rated for 13 C / 55 F and ended up not even using that in a few weeks.
 

J F Gregory

Portugal Central - October 2019
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (March-April,2016) finished, (October 2019) Portuguese Central Route.
#16
I used a cheap 40 degree bag, 17 oz. for my winter walk in Albergues it works great. It cost me $30.00 at sporting goods tent sale.
 
Camino(s) past & future
I am walking in March and April of 2019.
#17
We started walking early March. We always seemed to find open bars, sometimes they open later in the day. We bought pepper, cheese and bread to carry usually after we arrived at the albergues for the next day for lunch while walking, from the local grocers. We would find bar to eat at early evening, remember in Spain most restaurants open at 8 or 8:30 at night and I was always hungry before that. Sometimes we would plan a dinner with other pilgrims either at the albergue or restaurants. If we could find coffee early we would but would walk to the next community before eating breakfast.
That sounds so good, thanks so much, I appreciate your response, sounds like you had a fabulous time!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Spring of 2018.
#18
Hi dear forum
Originally, as in a month ago, I planned to walk the Camino in February. (I had just read "a walk in the woods", a book about walking the 2000 mile Appalachian trail with a 40 pound backpack, camping in snowstorms, possible bear attacks...) it made the camino sound easy! .I am hesitant, now, though...it sounds like too much will be closed, and I won't meet very many other pilgrims. So i am changing my mind to start in mid May. I have already collected some things for a winter walk: a 30° f. (0°C) sleeping bag, some wool clothing. Would you seasoned walkers take a bag and wool layers in May? Thanks in advance!
I started on May 7th and didn't take a sleeping bag. I have a fleece blanket that I had while deployed to Iraq and it worked perfectly fine for my entire Camino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 was Camino #14
#19
Every year, the weather is different.
I have FROZEN in June on the Camino.
I personally would not walk in May without a bag or down blanket.
Many albergues no longer provide blankets.
 
#20
I started May 6 and all Albergues I experienced had wool blankets. As insurance I do not consider it an error to carry a 1 lb sleeping bag. In addition, a long sleeved t shirt and a microfibre sweater under a good waterproof rain jacket will handle cool conditions. To handle rain however, I added a, "Rain Kilt," made of silnylon. It is easily found online on AliExpress. I think the maker is NatureHike. Cost has risen just over US$10.00 now. Last year, before they started to become popular, they were around 30% less.
 
Camino(s) past & future
January 2019, French Camino
#21
Wow, really? Now you will make me change my mind again, because i am actually chomping at the bit to start walking.... however, someone else sent me a reply, stating many cafes are closed and I should carry my own food, was that yiur experience, too? During which month did you walk?
I will be walking in about a month. My research shows there will be enough open albergues to reliably have a place to stay, especially since a winter walk will avoid the crowds. There are villages every few kms on most stages. I have little doubt that something on the way will be open for lunch even if this lunch is just bread and cheese.

I'm excited to run away from the nasty winter of where I live and enjoy a (hopefully) milder Spanish winter. I've never hiked in winter for more than a day, so that'll be an extra challenge.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2015
Camino Portugues 2017
#22
I learn so much from this forum. We are planning to start walking early June. I was thinking of only taking my sea to summit silk liner in order to travel as light as pisdible. Now Im considering changing my mind and taking my usual 450g ultra lightweight down sleeping bag. The last thing I want is to get cold at night.
 

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