This was something that we really didn’t know the answer to during our first time walking the Camino de Santiago. It’s obvious when wild camping , that you always need to pack a sleeping bag, but do you need a sleeping bag for the Camino de Santiago? Walking the Camino is not the same as walking a rough trail, the infrastructure on the Camino is really good with Albergues set up just for Pilgrims. Nonetheless, it’s important as part of your preparation to consider what equipment you need carefully.
- What do you sleep in on the Camino?
- Do albergues have blankets on the Camino?
- Do you need a sleeping bag for the Camino de Santiago?
- Is a sleeping bag or a sleep sheet/ sleeping bag liner better for the Camino?
What do you sleep in on the Camino?
On the Camino unless you are on a fancy tour, you are most likely to either stay in hostels (albergues) or in basic guest houses.
If you plan to stay in an albergue dormitory room, you will invariably be sleeping on a bunk bed. The bunk beds will vary from luxurious, like in some of our favourite Albergues on the Camino Portuguese, to darn right basic. Many municipal albergues have bunk beds with old mattresses.
Most tend to provide you with a plastic disposable sheet that you can put over the mattress, as well as a plastic disposable pillow case.
In our experience, guest houses, pensions or basic hotels will all have sheets and blankets. If you’re planning to stay in these and not in albergues, then you won’t need a sleeping bag.
Not sure what an albergue is? You can find out more here.
Do albergues have blankets on the Camino?
Albergues on the Camino do mostly tend to have blankets. You will either be provided with a blanket on your bed, or you will be able to find one in a cupboard or ask the hostel manager. On one or two occasions during the three times we have walked the Camino, we have been told that we need to pay a small fee (1 Euro) to borrow a blanket or a duvet.
The blankets tend to be very thick woollen blankets. If you are walking the Camino in the off-season, or you get cold in the night, then you might use this blanket. But, if you are walking during the summer, it is most likely going to feel far too hot to use the blanket.
Do you need a sleeping bag for the Camino de Santiago?
If the idea of sleeping under a heavy woollen blanket that hasn’t been washed frequently freaks you out – then yes, you will need a sleeping bag or a sleep sheet on the Camino.
In theory, you could probably go without. Most Albergues have blankets, but it doesn’t feel very pleasant to have this as your only option if it’s very hot in the night, or if you don’t like the idea of using a blanket that somebody else has used the night before.
If you’re not planning to stay in Albergues, then I would suggest you do not need a sleeping bag.
Is a sleeping bag or a sleep sheet/ sleeping bag liner better for the Camino?
The debate about whether to pack a sleeping bag or a sleep sheet (otherwise called a sleeping bag liner) is an interesting one!
Personally, we opt for sleep sheets – these are like thin sleeping bags made out of sheet material. They don’t have the same padding as a sleeping bag, but tend to have a hood area which will cover your pillow nicely.
If you want a less expensive alternative to this, you could actually make a sleep sheet yourself out of a normal sheet by sewing the seems together and making a little sheet envelope.
For us, E has a “homemade” sleep sheet and J bought his, rather luxurious one, from Amazon (link here – it’s a nice one!)
Another option is to pack a lightweight sleeping bag like this one . But just be careful that you go for something that really is light weight and folds up into your bag easily.
Do you need a pillow for the Camino de Santiago?
We would recommend that you do not pack a pillow for the Camino de Santiago. We don’t think you will need a pillow, unless you’re planning to wild camp of course. All albergues and guest houses will have pillows.
You may want to ensure that you have something to cover your pillow with, for personal hygiene/ peace of mind, but we don’t think it’s essential to take your own pillow.
Does it depend on the time of year that you walk the Camino?
The time of year that you choose to walk the Camino de Santiago may influence your decision as to whether you pack a sleeping bag or not.
If you are walking in off-season, any time before March or after September, then you may wish to carry a lightweight sleeping bag rather than sleep sheet. This will mean that you can sleep in the sleeping bag, and take advantage of the blankets in albergues if you are very cold. However, we walked the Portuguese route in October and we were warm enough with a sleep sheet and using the blankets in albergues.
If you are walking the camino de santiago in summer, we would caution against carrying a sleeping bag. Instead opt for a sleep sheet, which is much more lightweight and weather appropriate.
Best sleep sheets for the Camino de Santiago in 2023
If you decide to follow our advice and go for a sleep sheet (or sleeping bag liner) here are some of the best on the market in 2023.
- Easy to pack – this lightweight sleep sheet packs up really small into a handy little sack. Retails at less than $20 too.
- The best seller – one of the best sellers on the market, this one is durable and comfy too as well as lightweight.
- Best double option – if you want a bit more space when you sleep, you could go for a double sleep liner. Still light weight, but more spacious.
- Best fancy sleep liner – if you want something really luxurious, you could go for a mulberry silk option. A little pricier, but is it worth it to slip into silk sheets at the end of the day?
Best lightweight sleeping bags for the Camino de Santiago in 2023
You may decide to take a sleeping bag on the Camino, but chances are you will need a lightweight one. Here are some of the best on the market in 2023.
- Flannel comfort – this model is a warmer option, but comes with cosy flannel lining. It weights 1.8kg, which is a little heavier than you may want, but if the weather is cool this could be a good choice.
- Goose Down – we really like these goose down sleeping bags and recently used them to walk the Via Francigena in Italy. They can be quite warm, but are super light and comfortable.
- Budget light option – this sleeping bag weighs only 600g, making it one of the lightest on the market, especially at this price tag. A great option for walking the Camino de Santiago, especially when the weather is warm.
What should I pack for the Camino de Santiago?
If you would like more suggestions for packing for the Camino, you can find our supreme Camino packing list for 2023 here. This is our “lightweight” backpack packing list, based on our experience from walking multiple Caminos.
Most of our planning is done using other blogs, but you can’t beat a guide book at the bottom of your case.
Find them here on Amazon.
More on the Camino
John and Emma’s hiking gear. These are items we love to use when we go hiking, find them here on Amazon.
Osprey 40L, Multi, O/S
HOKA ONE ONE Mens Speedgoat 4 Textile Synthetic Trainers
HOKA ONE ONE Women’s Clifton 8
CWVLC Unisex Cushioned Compression Athletic Ankle Socks Multipack
Dr. Scholl’s Blister Cushions, Seal & Heal Bandage, 8 Cushions
Montem Ultra Strong Trekking, Walking, and Hiking Poles – One Pair (2 Poles)
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