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Im doing my packing and Im not sure whether to take a 1.2 kg thermarest (sleeping mat). My whole bag weighs 7.5 kg excluding it.

Is it worthwhile? I leave on Friday the 20th and will be walking in July and August. I know these are the busiest months and refugios and albergues might be full -how likely is it that I have to sleep on the floor if there are no matresses left?


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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2006)

It may be a good idea to bring a sleeping pad if your backpack weighs only 7.5 kg. But remember that you will also be carrying a liter or two of water, so that's an additional 1 to 2 kilos.

We did need one travelling in August, only once but once is worth the effort of carrying it. The ground will leech the heat out of you very quickly without a mat of some kind and you certainly wont wake feeling fresh! We used Alpkit slim airics though, much cheaper and lighter than therma-rest and just about as good.


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Definately don't bring a sleeping pad, it will be useless 99% of the time! Most of the albergues won't let you sleep on the floor anymore, anyways.
fiddletree said:
Definately don't bring a sleeping pad, it will be useless 99% of the time! Most of the albergues won't let you sleep on the floor anymore, anyways.

Sorry, but I disagree....our mats packed small and light and even though we hardly needed them when you DO need one it makes a huge huge difference. Admittedly its only july/august (maybe sept if recent tales are anything to go by) you'll need it btu the benefits far far outweigh the negatives. And there are still a lot of albergues we found that would and did let people sleep on the floor. More importantly we met many many people who were forced to sleep outdoors due to ALL accomodation for a good 15km in every direction being full.

Mats are needed for two reaons: 1. the obvious comfort thing..when you push your body that much you need to rest it properly if you want to do it again the next day with little problem (or at least no more problems than teh previous day!) and MUCH more importantly...2. When you sleep on the floor/ground your body heat is leeched away fairly quickly. This is at best a good way to ruin a nights sleep and at worst potentially damaging, ie: overly stiff joints which become more prone to injury, it will take longer to warm up, (older people may be particularly prone to this) to say nothing of potentially exacerbating conditions such as asthma. No matter how good your sleeping bag you will lose a lot of heat through conduction to the ground. No amount of bag insulation will stop this when you lie on it.

Sorry to sound like i'm having a go, it's really not my intention, but this forum is for a very wide range of people, many of them older and/or relatively inexperienced walkers..given this my personal opinion (and it is just my opinion i know) is that advice should err on the side of caution. In the busy months a mat is worth it, even if its just that one night. Other times (from what i hear) it would indeed be a waste of space.

John Hussey

Active Member
I'd say no to the mat. It would be a very seldom used item at best, most likely not needed at all, and the weight penalty you would pay for the 'possible' convenience of it's use is far too high a price for it to be worthwhile.

Whatever your mat of choice would weigh, however small you consider it to be, you would still have to lug that additional weight upon your body and carry it up and down, with each of your steps, all the way to Santiago.

Try and eliminate the un-needed ounces or grams and the pounds or kilos quickly slip away as well. And, your body will thank you for the wisdom of your better choice!


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Martin0642 said:
And there are still a lot of albergues we found that would and did let people sleep on the floor. More importantly we met many many people who were forced to sleep outdoors due to ALL accomodation for a good 15km in every direction being full.
I see your point, but in my experience it would have mainly been useless not because you don't need to sleep on the floor, but because recently it has become banned to sleep on the floors (I went this summer). There were many places we got to that were absolutely full, and they said they couldn't allow people to sleep on the floors anymore. And the places where I did get a bed, they weren't allowing others to sleep on the floor. Apparently it is firecode regulations and the albergues can get permanently shut down if cops or whoever else find people sleeping on the floors. Maybe in some places they loosen up in the busy season, but I doubt it

But, if you want to sleep outside on the ground, sure, it would be a good thing to bring along.
It's a fair point about the albergues i suppose but I really dont understand the weight thing. Maybe it's just me but I dont understand the obsession with losing every available gram from the pack. My pack weighed about 11-12 kg (with water) which is over the 10% rule but I found it was absolutely fine for me. Each to their own I guess but I do think the trimming weight thing can get a little obsessive....

Just my .02 :)

John Hussey

Active Member
The weight you choose to carry is accumulative, and is added with each of your steps. In simplistic terms, let us suppose that you could choose to walk from SJPdp to Finisterre carrying, with food and water, a pack weight of either 7 kilos or 12 kilos. Now, under which burden do you suppose you would be more comfortable?

Remember those tiny little grams for those "nice to haves" are of extreme important because they quickly multiply into heavy kilos. If you don't need it or even consider you would barely need it, then don't lug it along with you on a long trip. If you are only going for a short jaunt, perhaps it wouldn't matter as much but on a long trek, it certainly does


Active Member
I think it also depends on your size.... I am a pretty small woman, so I can support much less weight than a man who is much bigger than me. So, I had to be very conscious of everything in my pack, and threw away even lightweight things that I wasn't using very often, or could do without (like flip flops and contact solution). If you have a bigger build, you can afford to be less conscious of what you pack.

So, for me, I wouldn't take a sleeping back or mat, but if I were a bigger person, I probably would because I could afford the extra weight. Depends on your size, strength, how accustomed you are to carrying a pack for long distances, and how in shape you are as to whether you need to be very careful about this. So, the answers to many 'what to pack' questions depend on these things.
I couldn't have said it better fiddletree, it all depends. I'm 6'2" and fairly fit so the weight didnt bother me at all. And its a fair point that your perception of the weight changes the more you carry it. You also get accustomed to it after a while though.

But hey - at least we have a balanced range of advice on here - something for everyone? :D



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