The Camino de Santiago is in (nearly) all cases, not a rugged wilderness adventure where you need to bring a tent, sleeping mat, and the whole shebang. You will be staying in hostels or albergues along The Way. Or in an emergency in a fire station or church. It is however recommended to bring a sleeping bag. Here is why.
A good night’s rest is essential on any day, but when hiking all day every day it becomes even more important. Sleep heals your aches and pains and muscles so you can do it again and again. Depending on the Camino you’re going to be walking you will spend anywhere from a week to a few months walking day in and day out. There are therefore a few things to consider. Let’s dive into those reasons and make it clear to you if you need a sleeping bag yes or no.
Weather and season of the year
Like a lot of your clothing and pack list, the season makes a great difference in what you need to bring. Most pilgrims will opt for a spring or late summer Camino, to avoid the hot Spanish summers. The locals however will go on those hottest days of the year. For spring and late summer, it is really recommended by virtually anybody I talked to and from my own experience to bring a sleeping bag with you.
It differs from Albergue to Albergue, but most of them do not have heating in them or are inadequate for the often big rooms. With a spring/summer sleeping bag I didn’t have it cold once on the Camino Frances and the Coastal Portuguese Camino. So I recommend taking a lightweight sleeping bag for those times of the year.
When you do decide to hike in the hottest parts of summer, then take a look at the predicted weather and decide from there if you have to take a Sleeping bag or just a Sleeping bag liner/bedsheet. More on that later in this article.
If you are looking for more solitude and decide to hike one of the Caminos in winter, then you can still get away with a +5 degree Celsius sleeping bag, if you are a cold sleeper however you can opt for a more heavy-duty winter sleeping bag. Or one that is rated from 0 degrees Celsius and colder.
Sleeping bag or sleeping bag liner
In the hotter summer months, you can decide if you take a sleeping bag or sleeping bag liner, with most people walking the Camino in late summer or spring you most often see people bringing a sleeping bag. If walking in the hot summer months and you know that the temperatures at night are also going to be above sleeping bag temperatures you can take a Sleeping bag liner. For most, a sleeping bag is a way to go.
Albergue blankets were a popular choice before the pandemic, now all those blankets are not the best option anymore. And where also known before covid to not be the most hygienic option ever. It remains therefore more of an emergency solution if your sleeping bag or liner got soaked or lost. And not to be relied on. Not all Albergues have them, even in normal non-pandemic times.
Weight and size of the sleeping bag
For all sleeping bags that you take on the Camino, you are best off to take a lightweight one and one that is the smaller form factor. Your choice will land on either a mummy-style sleeping bag or quilt. Where a quilt is the most lightweight option in many cases. And a mummy sleeping is a bit more affordable in most situations.
And then there is the choice between a Down Sleeping bag vs a Synthetic one. You can read my earlier article on that subject by following the link. For the Camino, you can go either way, where a Synthetic summer sleeping bag is a good choice to bang around. And a Down one will shave off some of your carry weight and pack size.
A down sleeping that I really like and carried on the Coastal Camino Portuguese and the Camino Frances from St John, is the Aegismax down sleeping bag. Which is a budget-friendly down option. And makes for a great in-between sleeping bag. Where I walked the Coastal Camino in April / May, and the French way in September / October. And was never cold.
So I hope that answers your question if you need to bring a sleeping bag with you to one of the Camino’s. If you have a question feel free to shoot me an email. Or hit me up on Social media. Be sure to also check out my full Camino de Santiago Gear list. For any further tips on what backpacking gear to bring on the Camino.
Happy Hiking and Hike for Purpose!