So many Camino decisions relate to weather like when to go and what to bring. To pack light, you need to carry as little as possible, but you can’t wear the same clothes all the time and no single set will work in all weather. Clothes too insulated in warm weather and you rick being miserably hot, too breathable in cold weather and you risk being miserably cold. (And both of these considerations figure strongly in one’s decision to go with waterproof or not.)
So I decided that I’d start watching the Primitivo weather in May to see how it would be if we were there now instead of 2020. I picked a few representative towns from a map and linked to AccuWeather.com for each:
As noted HERE, the Camino’s weather range is rather large. Although averages are around low 50’s to mid-60’s, the total range can go a good 20 degrees in either direction (meaning a total of 40 degrees).
The average temperatures along the Camino Primitivo are in the high-40° to mid-60° range. This excited me, because that’s perfect hiking weather (for me at least). Cold enough to not sweat too much but warm enough not to freeze.
I’ve been watching the weather reports of five representative cities along the route to see how this year compares to these reported averages. It has not been uncommon to see temps from the mid-70’s to the mid-80’s. That 20° makes a huge difference! (Anything above the 60’s is “hot hiking” to me.)
Worse – if these “average” temperatures can go 20° over, then I can only assume they go 20° under as well. This would mean a given day could be spent shivering cold in summer clothing or passing out from heat in winter clothes.
Does this translate into needing to pack thermals and coats as well as shorts and t-shirts? if so, it would seem that any hopes for light weight hiking are out the door.
Laying It On Thick (or Thin)
The key to virtually any hiking clothing planning is layers.
I know for me, a big coat is fine if it’s below freezing, but gets uncomfortably hot once temps get into the 40’s. A non-insulated rain jacket won’t be much good in freezing temps, but it can protect a light weight, warm down jacket (= non-waterproof) which can be removed if temps climb. The same kinds of considerations go for things like long underwear and rain pants. Planning on dressing in (and packing) layers is the safest bet if you can’t get back home or to a car quickly.
Further, by having clothing that will do double duty as either primary or secondary layers (or even non-clothing functions), weather variance can be planned for without carrying a lot of extra weight. So for example, my long johns are also my PJ’s. My pants have zip-off legs to become shorts. My down jacket and stuff sack can serve as my pillow.
So the good news is that my hat(s) and jacket plans seem to be being vindicated. Both will work well as layers in different weather situations as well as future hikes after the Camino.
The bad news is that most of my other gear won’t provide a great range of comfort if the weather varies this far. All part of the pilgrimage experience I guess!