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Warm clothing needed in May on Frances Way

Creativeguy

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP France to Santiago 2020
I am getting my gear organized and walking a LOT in preparation for my experience this May. One question I don't have an answer for is about how much warm clothing to bring???

My options are a 150 weight base layer long sleeve wool shirt, the same type of shirt but 250 weight and a light and compact puffy jacket. Initially, I was considering bringing all three along. However, I'm not clear on how much really cold weather to anticipate?

Assuming the Pyrenes are windy and cold, I'll be happy to have the jacket for warmth and wind protection. Are their other sections of the trail that would require more than me bringing the light 150 weight long sleeve shirt and the puffy jacket? I tested the gear last week hiking to the Monarch butterfly reserve in Michoacan, Mexico at over 3,000 meters. Walking uphill, all three were too much. Standing around outside watching the butterflies, I needed all three.

Any advice on "normally" how much cold weather to expect in May on other parts of the Camino?

Thank you!!
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
Hi, Creativeguy,

Maybe this will give you an idea of what might work during your time on Camino. Below is a list of my "closet" that I carry in my pack. Besides it being used during the Fall on the Camino last year, it is about the same as what I used to thru hike the Pacific Crest Trail and the Colorado Trail (most of which sits above 9,000 feet / 2743 meters in elevation. And for the thousands of other backpacking miles I have done.
  1. Pants -- Running shorts with liner
  2. Baselayer Top -- Smartwool, Lightweight, Long-Sleeve x 1
  3. Baselayer Bottom - Smartwool, Lightweight
  4. Hat - wool beanie
  5. Windshell Jacket - Patagonia, Houdini
  6. Insulating Layer -- Mountain Hardwear, Ghost Whisperer Vest
  7. Socks -- Smartwool Phd, Crew, Light Padding x 2
  8. Extra insoles x 1
  9. Poncho --- Zpacks, Cuben Fiber / or Frogg Toggs Ultralite Poncho
  10. Gloves -- North Face, polartec
The total weight is around 3.4 pounds.

The clothing that I wear usually consists of running shorts and a long sleeved synthetic and lightweight shirt. All of the clothing can be used in various layering configurations to provide a comfort range from 30 f / -1 C to very hot. This is just an example of how a layering system can be flexible and cover a wide temperature range which is more than sufficient for the time of year you are going over the Pyrenees and Galicia.
 

Rick M

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
April ('16,'18, '19)
Dave's right. Until weather forecasts improve dramatically, we have to guess a lot. Look at it this way: If you were wearing everything in your pack, would you be comfortable in a moderate wind at 0 C? The answer should be YES, but that does not mean taking a parka. Between a base layer, a long sleeve merino, my fleece, and my rain jacket, I'm fine. I know, because that is what we had walking out of Burgos one year on the first of May. Layers.....think layers.

Buen Camino
 

koilife

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016); Portugues w/ son #3 (2020)
On my first Camino, the first week from SJPdP was very cold and rainy (highs were 4 C - 8 C). I wore a 150 weight merino tee shirt with a long-sleeve Columbia hiking shirt, and a Patagonia Houdini wind jacket. Bottoms were just 8" leg merino "boxer-briefs" and a pair of convertible Columbia hiking pants. I wore a merino stocking cap. Rain protection was an umbrella. As long as I was moving, I was fine. If I had needed to stop for an extended period outside, or if the temp had stayed under 0 C, I would have needed to put on another layer. This being said, I am relatively unbothered by the cold and didn't find those temps particularly uncomfortable. Coming from Michoacan, you might not be as tolerant of the cold.

My only regret with the system was not bringing lightweight gloves (my hands were very cold in that cold, rainy weather).

However, the next time I walked, we were in temps well over 40 C each day, and I thought I was going to die of heat stroke.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
You described 3 layers that you would take, but didn't say if you would have other items, for example for evenings and sleeping, or if you would have a rain jacket or poncho. It is your total collection of clothes that has to be evaluated together. You should be prepared for an occasional very cold day/night, when you will pile everything on. You don't need extras in your backpack on those occasions. However, you do need to have dry clothes for the evening, but fortunately, the coldest days are not likely to be the wettest days in May.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
My own approach differs only in the details. I wear trousers and long sleeved trekking shirts with a base layer tee shirt and lightweight briefs as my standard, and add a fleece for warmth. I currently have a Patagonia Houdini that gets used in light wind and drizzle. In heavier rain, I have used a variety of rain-jackets and rain-pants, but in May you should be okay with something lighter. I don't recall needing more than three layers walking the CF in May, but I could get to four without putting on clothes from my bag.

I avoid down when I am walking, and don't bring my light down puffer jacket on my pilgrimage walks. I sweat too much if I push out, and sweaty wet down is not something I ever want to deal with. I normally use a fleece jumper, but have also used a very nice 1/4 zip merino wool top in cooler conditions.

Otherwise, I think you should be okay if you can get three layers and a rain jacket.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2012 SJPP-Burgos, 2014 Burgos-Leon, 2018 Leon-Santiago
Hi,
I’ll echo what the others have said above.
One layer I’ve found useful is a quarter-zip primaloft sweater with a DWR finish. Over a 150-200 merino base layer, a synthetic tee shirt and a technical overshirt, maybe of stretch and vented nylon, I’ve found that I don’t really need much more in May, except rain gear. I use an Altus poncho—relatively heavy, but effective.
All the best figuring out your kit.
Paul
 

ossygobbin

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2000) (2013), (2019)
Last year, from 2nd week of May My camino saw me walking the first week or so from SJPDP the weather was terrible, very heavy rain, wind, and cold. Had to buy gloves and a fleece having not taken any cold weather gear.... later on in my camino around Foncebadon it snowed And was very cold....
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
I am getting my gear organized and walking a LOT in preparation for my experience this May. One question I don't have an answer for is about how much warm clothing to bring???

My options are a 150 weight base layer long sleeve wool shirt, the same type of shirt but 250 weight and a light and compact puffy jacket. Initially, I was considering bringing all three along. However, I'm not clear on how much really cold weather to anticipate?

Assuming the Pyrenes are windy and cold, I'll be happy to have the jacket for warmth and wind protection. Are their other sections of the trail that would require more than me bringing the light 150 weight long sleeve shirt and the puffy jacket? I tested the gear last week hiking to the Monarch butterfly reserve in Michoacan, Mexico at over 3,000 meters. Walking uphill, all three were too much. Standing around outside watching the butterflies, I needed all three.

Any advice on "normally" how much cold weather to expect in May on other parts of the Camino?

Thank you!!
I walked May-June in 2017. It ranged from cool-cold-freezing in the mornings, and then most days warmed up to warm-hot-unbearable. I take 3 layers, short sleeved top, long sleeve lightweight fleece, and very lightweight puffer jacket.
Many days I started off wearing everything, and took off layers as I walked.
By the time we got to Santiago it was 43 degrees, so expect the days to get hotter as you go.
I remember a cold snap in Leon, a freak squall in the afternoon had me wearing everything and huddling in bed. Two hours later, I was back in a short sleeves buying an icecream.
Last September when we walked, we expected but just missed the heatwave that finished the week before. September is usually a pretty warm/hot month.
Whilst I remember overall that days were warm or hot- when I look back on my photos, I'm wearing my puffer jacket most mornings. Rolled up it also makes a pillow. And mine is very lightweight. And it has great pockets for warming up cold hands.
Layers are your friend.
 

FooteK

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP to SdC, 2013; Lourdes to SdC, 2015; ??? to SdC (2020)
My first May on the Frances was more rainy than anything. I brought layers - a fleece pullover to wear over a long sleeve tech shirt, and a windbreaker/rain jacket. They served me very well over 2 Caminos. I just wore zip short/tech pants the whole way - guess I have too much fat on my legs, LOL.
 
Last edited:

notion900

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
>
Dave's right. Until weather forecasts improve dramatically, we have to guess a lot. Look at it this way: If you were wearing everything in your pack, would you be comfortable in a moderate wind at 0 C? The answer should be YES, but that does not mean taking a parka. Between a base layer, a long sleeve merino, my fleece, and my rain jacket, I'm fine. I know, because that is what we had walking out of Burgos one year on the first of May. Layers.....think layers.

Buen Camino
Yea totally agree. I would not bring a puffy jacket, it's liable to take up masses of room when you are not wearing it. Rick M mentions a rain jacket as opposed to a poncho, and that I think is key. With a jacket, you only need a modest warm layer underneath cos you'll tend to heat up in the jacket and it will keep the wind off. A poncho on the other hand, the wind could whip under it.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Take along an old sweatshirt or fleece for the first few days. Once you enter the gates of Pamplona look for the first albergue on the left a short way down the street (on the camino). Donate the clothing. I was there this last autumn and saw donated clothing being washed to be given to charity.
Logotipoa-197x300.png
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
I have walked multiple Camino between the months of June through November. Never carried anything more than a mid weight fleece pullover and a waterproof, packable jacket.
 

David with new Kit!

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF September (2019) SJPP to Logrono
CF May/June (2020) Logrono to ? (Delayed).
Same advice as above - Layers, and a good lightweight raincoat (Mines a Paclite)
 

tpmchugh

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
Camino Frances (2015)
Camino Frances (2016)
Camino Frances (2018}
I am getting my gear organized and walking a LOT in preparation for my experience this May. One question I don't have an answer for is about how much warm clothing to bring???

My options are a 150 weight base layer long sleeve wool shirt, the same type of shirt but 250 weight and a light and compact puffy jacket. Initially, I was considering bringing all three along. However, I'm not clear on how much really cold weather to anticipate?

Assuming the Pyrenes are windy and cold, I'll be happy to have the jacket for warmth and wind protection. Are their other sections of the trail that would require more than me bringing the light 150 weight long sleeve shirt and the puffy jacket? I tested the gear last week hiking to the Monarch butterfly reserve in Michoacan, Mexico at over 3,000 meters. Walking uphill, all three were too much. Standing around outside watching the butterflies, I needed all three.

Any advice on "normally" how much cold weather to expect in May on other parts of the Camino?

Thank you!!
I see this question coming up often both here and on FB groups. Unfortunately, there is no answer. I walked 2015 starting in early April. Mid to late April, it got very warm which was unseasonable. Walking out of Carrion in May, suddenly got very cold and I had to dig out Pyrenees gloves and buffs. Unfortunately, because of the very hot weather in April, I had sent my jacket home. But then it got warm again and I thought that was the end of the cold weather. Coming out of restaurant after breakfast in O Cebreiro, the temperature dropped suddenly from very pleasant to very cold. I literally ran down the hill trying to keep warm. Then it got warm again from 16th May to end of Camino on 23rd May. 2013, I started on St Patricks day and although there was still some snow on high ground, by the time I got to end of March, the weather was fine, not great, still needed fleece in early morning, but never anywhere near as cold as 2015. 2016, although in September, the weather was warmer than it had been in July. I throw this in to point out that the weather is unpredictable. What happens one year does not necessarily happen the next. Maybe do as I did and if the weather turns really good, send your warmer clothes home although that back fired on me :D :D
 

Stivandrer

Perambulating & Curious. Rep stravaiging offender
Camino(s) past & future
I´ve got Camino plans until 2042,
- or till I fall flat on my face, whichever comes first !!
Still on the Francés in May, you will encounter 0 - 3 dg centigrade in the mornings, according to height in the landscape and/or wind factor. - Had 25 dgr cent on the Meseta for at week !! Burned my legs!
I always walk bare kneed but have wool on my upper body, especially in ther mornings and sleep w wool too.
May is still trying to warm up the rocks and the landscape remains cold in the mornings before the sun goes up.
Do not pack much, but have at least one good layer of wool.
As we went over O´Cerebreio in the rain, people around me started to get colds and coughing in the nights,
- don´t go there...
As you pass summer, the rocks are all warmed up and there is not the same need for caution, I find...
 

Sjp007

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017 St James
2020 St James
I am getting my gear organized and walking a LOT in preparation for my experience this May. One question I don't have an answer for is about how much warm clothing to bring???

My options are a 150 weight base layer long sleeve wool shirt, the same type of shirt but 250 weight and a light and compact puffy jacket. Initially, I was considering bringing all three along. However, I'm not clear on how much really cold weather to anticipate?

Assuming the Pyrenes are windy and cold, I'll be happy to have the jacket for warmth and wind protection. Are their other sections of the trail that would require more than me bringing the light 150 weight long sleeve shirt and the puffy jacket? I tested the gear last week hiking to the Monarch butterfly reserve in Michoacan, Mexico at over 3,000 meters. Walking uphill, all three were too much. Standing around outside watching the butterflies, I needed all three.

Any advice on "normally" how much cold weather to expect in May on other parts of the Camino?

Thank you!!
I did the Camino in July/Aug and was glad I brought some warm clothes....the mornings were chilly at times. I had on a fleece jacket, long sleeve shirt, short sleeve shirt, and my poncho on at times....and was still cold (it wasn’t raining, I just used the poncho for extra warmth)....I’m bringing a small pair of gloves this year as well
 

Creativeguy

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP France to Santiago 2020
Hi, Creativeguy,

Maybe this will give you an idea of what might work during your time on Camino. Below is a list of my "closet" that I carry in my pack. Besides it being used during the Fall on the Camino last year, it is about the same as what I used to thru hike the Pacific Crest Trail and the Colorado Trail (most of which sits above 9,000 feet / 2743 meters in elevation. And for the thousands of other backpacking miles I have done.
  1. Pants -- Running shorts with liner
  2. Baselayer Top -- Smartwool, Lightweight, Long-Sleeve x 1
  3. Baselayer Bottom - Smartwool, Lightweight
  4. Hat - wool beanie
  5. Windshell Jacket - Patagonia, Houdini
  6. Insulating Layer -- Mountain Hardwear, Ghost Whisperer Vest
  7. Socks -- Smartwool Phd, Crew, Light Padding x 2
  8. Extra insoles x 1
  9. Poncho --- Zpacks, Cuben Fiber / or Frogg Toggs Ultralite Poncho
  10. Gloves -- North Face, polartec
The total weight is around 3.4 pounds.

The clothing that I wear usually consists of running shorts and a long sleeved synthetic and lightweight shirt. All of the clothing can be used in various layering configurations to provide a comfort range from 30 f / -1 C to very hot. This is just an example of how a layering system can be flexible and cover a wide temperature range which is more than sufficient for the time of year you are going over the Pyrenees and Galicia.
Thank you! I've taught backpacking, traveled in snow, humidity, etc. Just was a bit unclear about a new environment. I have many of the same things: Smartwool top both light and heavy, 9-ounce rain shell, Patagonia light puffy jacket, etc. Seeing your list spelling it out is very helpful!

Will likely take less rather than more as I'm feeling one light Smart wool long sleeve top with Patagonia jacket and wool beanie will be enough when I'm moving.

Thank you!
 

Creativeguy

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP France to Santiago 2020
Dave's right. Until weather forecasts improve dramatically, we have to guess a lot. Look at it this way: If you were wearing everything in your pack, would you be comfortable in a moderate wind at 0 C? The answer should be YES, but that does not mean taking a parka. Between a base layer, a long sleeve merino, my fleece, and my rain jacket, I'm fine. I know, because that is what we had walking out of Burgos one year on the first of May. Layers.....think layers.

Buen Camino
Great...you are confirming what I have been feeling!
 

Creativeguy

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP France to Santiago 2020
On my first Camino, the first week from SJPdP was very cold and rainy (highs were 4 C - 8 C). I wore a 150 weight merino tee shirt with a long-sleeve Columbia hiking shirt, and a Patagonia Houdini wind jacket. Bottoms were just 8" leg merino "boxer-briefs" and a pair of convertible Columbia hiking pants. I wore a merino stocking cap. Rain protection was an umbrella. As long as I was moving, I was fine. If I had needed to stop for an extended period outside, or if the temp had stayed under 0 C, I would have needed to put on another layer. This being said, I am relatively unbothered by the cold and didn't find those temps particularly uncomfortable. Coming from Michoacan, you might not be as tolerant of the cold.

My only regret with the system was not bringing lightweight gloves (my hands were very cold in that cold, rainy weather).

However, the next time I walked, we were in temps well over 40 C each day, and I thought I was going to die of heat stroke.
Thank you! I was in Michoacan just to see the Monarch butterflies. In the clouds at over 3,000 meters was cold unless moving. Hiking up the reserve, I peeled off layers. That was a good test!
I did take lightweight gloves which were perfect...thanks for the reiminder!!! A little layer on the hands helps a lot!

I'm coming from Colorado and generally not too bothered by cold. Cheers!
 

Creativeguy

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP France to Santiago 2020
You described 3 layers that you would take, but didn't say if you would have other items, for example for evenings and sleeping, or if you would have a rain jacket or poncho. It is your total collection of clothes that has to be evaluated together. You should be prepared for an occasional very cold day/night, when you will pile everything on. You don't need extras in your backpack on those occasions. However, you do need to have dry clothes for the evening, but fortunately, the coldest days are not likely to be the wettest days in May.
Indeed! I'm taking convertible pants from Colombia. Have two wool t-shirts to go with the Smartwool long sleeve 150 weight, Patagonia puffy jacket (ounces and wind protection)m, I'm bringing a Sea to Summit fleece bag liner, a GoLite 9 ounce rain jacket for wind and rain protection, extra shirt & sleeping shorts for evening, dry bag to keep things dry (hopefully), wool socks both hiking and running style, wool beanie, light scarf for neck protection and gloves.

Hmmm....wrting that down makes it feel pretty clear! Thanks!
 

Creativeguy

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP France to Santiago 2020
I walked May-June in 2017. It ranged from cool-cold-freezing in the mornings, and then most days warmed up to warm-hot-unbearable. I take 3 layers, short sleeved top, long sleeve lightweight fleece, and very lightweight puffer jacket.
Many days I started off wearing everything, and took off layers as I walked.
By the time we got to Santiago it was 43 degrees, so expect the days to get hotter as you go.
I remember a cold snap in Leon, a freak squall in the afternoon had me wearing everything and huddling in bed. Two hours later, I was back in a short sleeves buying an icecream.
Last September when we walked, we expected but just missed the heatwave that finished the week before. September is usually a pretty warm/hot month.
Whilst I remember overall that days were warm or hot- when I look back on my photos, I'm wearing my puffer jacket most mornings. Rolled up it also makes a pillow. And mine is very lightweight. And it has great pockets for warming up cold hands.
Layers are your friend.
Similar thoughts here. The puff jacket is new, compact and very light weight. I'm going to bring that rather than my heavier fleece for the warmth and wind protection. I've got great three-layers plus wind jacket! Plus, I'm very flexible and adaptive!!! Thank you!
 

Jim Stinson

ibrew4u
Camino(s) past & future
5/2015 CF
4/2017 CF
5/2019 CF fr Astorga
9/2019 CF fr Astorga
I walked twice in late April through May and just had light base layer, quick dry shirt, and rain jacket, glove liners and buff.
Layered up in the morning, peeled off before 10am. Keep in mind, you are not camping in the Pyrenees. One day up out of SJPP and then down the valley you go. Your next cold day might be Foncebadon up to Cruz de Ferro (highest point at 4700ft) then down again.
Pack for 30 cool to hot days, and prepare for 3 cold days.
You will be generating plenty of body heat carrying a pack and going up and down hills.
Watch the weather reports for two weeks prior to departure and make last minute adjustments. You can always donate a cheap hoody in an albergue “take it or leave it” box, or mail it to yourself in Santiago for pickup when you arrive.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino francés, Camino portugués (Tui), Pilgrims Welcome Office, hospitalero 8 times
Oh, lord. Here's the same "weather" conversation. (But "layers" yes.) Unless you're leaving tomorrow, you can't take about weather. You can only talk about climate. I'll direct you to
https://americanpilgrims.org/online-resources/#weather-climate
where you will find several dozen climate tables for numerous places on various Caminos. Pull up several and find May. Then apply +/- say 10°F to the temperatures you see. That's what you're preparing for.
 

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