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Advice wanted on lightweight trail shoes

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Banjo&Matilda

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances October 2018
Hi All,
-Firstly, thank you for everybody's input on this forum - it is an ocean of knowledge that I find so valuable!

My husband and I will hike the Camino Frances in Oct-Nov 2018. We both have fairly new Zamberlan Tofane (his) and Zamberlan Vioz (mine) which are heavy, full leather hiking boots. We thought they'd be great. Then we hiked 9km yesterday, after which my husband turned to me and said "I think I'd be posting these boots back home on day 3 of the Camino". I couldn't agree more with him!!!! As comfy as they are, they are so heavy!!!
So we're on the lookout for some hiking/trail shoes that are more lightweight for us both. I realise this is a very individual thing and that we will need to try on lots of different shoes, but I have got my eyes on Topo Hydroventure shoes and am wondering if anyone has any feedback on using Topo shoes or similar for long distance hiking.
Here is the link to the shoes:
http://shop.topoathletic.com/mens/Outdoor.html?colorid=1984&model=Hydroventure

Thanks in advance!
 

kardisa

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - Leon to Santiago (2015)
Camino Madrid/Salvador/Primitivo (2017)
While I've never used that particular brand, I can say that that type of shoe (in my experience) is perfect for the Camino. I did my fast walk from Leon to Santiago using a pair of New Balance trail shoes and will walk this year in a pair of Altras. The pros of trail running shoes are that they are lightweight, breathable, and dry faster than boots when wet. You can also cut open the toe box or other particular areas if you are suffering from swelling or blisters. Cons are....???. I do recommend that you get a pair that has a rock plate, as it will protect the bottom of your foot from bruising on some of the more rocky sections.
 

Banjo&Matilda

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances October 2018
Thanks so much for your feedback @kardisa. I appreciate it. I will try on the topos when I next go into the city. I'll have to look at the Altras as well; hopefully I can find a stockist in Melbourne.
 

Barbara06

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy - Pamplona (2011-14)
VDLP (2015)
Portuguese (2015)
Francigena (2016)
Primitivo (2017)
I walked 3 times with HOKA ONE ONE trail shoes, so much better for me than the big heavy mountain shoes. In fact they look a bit like the Topo Hydroventure shoes.
But as you will be walking in winter it might be a bit different ; in cold weather the heavy shoes are easier to support than in hot weather.
 

Charles Zammit

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
St Jean Pied de Port - Finisterra 2017
GR70 France 2018
[ Via Francigena 2019]
The weight of boots ; and shoes for that matter is often disregarded as irrelevant , nothing could be further from the truth . I think you have made a wise decision to re examine your footwear .
This is perhaps a simplistic explanation but it might go some way to confirming your belief.
For fitness' sake 10,000 steps per day is usually recommended for most people , a walk on the Camino is obviously much more than this each day , for me , a scant 175cm in height, it takes about 9km to achieve .
A pair of leather boots can easily reach or exceed a kilo in weight . You are lifting a half a Kilogram 10,000 times , a total of 5 Metric tonnes !
Triple this for the walk from SJ on the first day and that is 15 Metric tons mostly uphill .
Over 800km of the Camino this adds up to a staggering 440 Metric tonnes .
Cripes ! I'm thinking of wearing thongs .
 

LakeMcD

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015
Portuguese 2016
GR10/Norte/Primitivo 2017
Chemin LePuy: 2018
I've used LaSportiva Wildcats for the Frances, Portugues, and will also use them on the Norte this year. I favor shoes with; traction, cushioning, sole protection, stability, breathability, and light weight. So far I've not had a blister yet. Do not underestimate the role of a breathable shoe to reduce heat and moisture build-up; add that to a bit of friction and you have an environment for blisters.
 

Bonita

Member
Camino(s) past & future
September ( 2015)
While I've never used that particular brand, I can say that that type of shoe (in my experience) is perfect for the Camino. I did my fast walk from Leon to Santiago using a pair of New Balance trail shoes and will walk this year in a pair of Altras. The pros of trail running shoes are that they are lightweight, breathable, and dry faster than boots when wet. You can also cut open the toe box or other particular areas if you are suffering from swelling or blisters. Cons are....???. I do recommend that you get a pair that has a rock plate, as it will protect the bottom of your foot from bruising on some of the more rocky sections.
While I've never used that particular brand, I can say that that type of shoe (in my experience) is perfect for the Camino. I did my fast walk from Leon to Santiago using a pair of New Balance trail shoes and will walk this year in a pair of Altras. The pros of trail running shoes are that they are lightweight, breathable, and dry faster than boots when wet. You can also cut open the toe box or other particular areas if you are suffering from swelling or blisters. Cons are....???. I do recommend that you get a pair that has a rock plate, as it will protect the bottom of your foot from bruising on some of the more rocky sections.
Every time I checkout New Balance, I get confused because there are so many choices. I have to order on-line, so I can't try them on. Which did you use?
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances
SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia, May 2016
C. Frances, Sept 2017
Camino Portugues, June 2019
You might see the related thread about the Keen Arroyo II hiking sandal. This footwear has a closed toe box and full heel counter. It is a very good choice IMHO for walking the Camino, depending on your needs.

Click here: https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/keen-arroyo-ii.47224/

I hope this helps.
Those are great, the Keen Arroyo. REI in the US carries the men's version, but not the women's version (arrrggg). I do love my Altras, because I have wide feet. Mostly I walk in my Chaco sandals, though.
 

JohnCP43

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino frances 2013; Camino portugues 2015; Via francigena 2016
There seem to be almost as many shoe options as pilgrims but there will be one that works best for you. It is hard to make that decision without actually trying them on but several of the mail-order shoe stores I've dealt with have reasonable return policies - a pain but better than ending up with multiple pairs of shoes that aren't acceptable.
Personally I (old guy with feet like Donald Duck's) have been very satisfied with the Merrill Moab line - the Ventilator in warm weather and the all leather Rover in cooler weather.
Whenever this issue comes up I always remember the old adage about never criticising someone until you've walked a mile in his shoes. That way when you do you'll be a mile away and you'll have his shoes!
Buen camino! May you (and your feet) keep smiling!
 

ginniek

Member
Camino(s) past & future
frances 2017
I wish I could wear my fav New Balance Trail shoes for all hiking, but I have to wear boots to keep my old ankles, knees, hips and spine aligned (or I have real problems). Maybe on a practice hike or two this weekend I'll try ankle braces to see if that does the job. Anyone else have this or a similar problem?
 

shubertj

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2012, 2013, 2018 Portuguese 2014 Ingles 2017 Fin/Mux 17, 19 Invierno 2018
Primitivo 2019
There seem to be almost as many shoe options as pilgrims but there will be one that works best for you. It is hard to make that decision without actually trying them on but several of the mail-order shoe stores I've dealt with have reasonable return policies - a pain but better than ending up with multiple pairs of shoes that aren't acceptable.
Personally I (old guy with feet like Donald Duck's) have been very satisfied with the Merrill Moab line - the Ventilator in warm weather and the all leather Rover in cooler weather.
Whenever this issue comes up I always remember the old adage about never criticising someone until you've walked a mile in his shoes. That way when you do you'll be a mile away and you'll have his shoes!
Buen camino! May you (and your feet) keep smiling!
Agree with John about the Merrill Moab Ventilator line, I wore the same pair on 3 trips and probably the most common brand shoe I saw used on on the Camino. Mine are low cut, light weight and not waterproof. The problem with gore-tex and waterproof shoes is they take to long to dry and are hot for summer walking.
 
Last edited:

Hutton24

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances October 2013
Camino Frances April 2017
Hi All,
-Firstly, thank you for everybody's input on this forum - it is an ocean of knowledge that I find so valuable!

My husband and I will hike the Camino Frances in Oct-Nov 2018. We both have fairly new Zamberlan Tofane (his) and Zamberlan Vioz (mine) which are heavy, full leather hiking boots. We thought they'd be great. Then we hiked 9km yesterday, after which my husband turned to me and said "I think I'd be posting these boots back home on day 3 of the Camino". I couldn't agree more with him!!!! As comfy as they are, they are so heavy!!!
So we're on the lookout for some hiking/trail shoes that are more lightweight for us both. I realise this is a very individual thing and that we will need to try on lots of different shoes, but I have got my eyes on Topo Hydroventure shoes and am wondering if anyone has any feedback on using Topo shoes or similar for long distance hiking.
Here is the link to the shoes:
http://shop.topoathletic.com/mens/Outdoor.html?colorid=1984&model=Hydroventure

Thanks in advance!
I found the Zamberlan too heavy - comfy but heavy and I got major blisters on the heels on day 2. I tried them on again a few weeks back and thought no way am i wearing these again on the Camino. I tried on lots of shoes and went with a Merrell Siren Edge because it is lightweight, as in very light and sooooo comfortable. https://www.google.com.au/search?q=merrell+siren+edge&oq=merrell+siren+edge&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l5.5247j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
Good luck with the shoes. People say you must have big heavy protective shoes. After walking the Camino, personally and for me only I say 'bulldust' - wear what is comfortable that you can walk in long distance. Someone else here swears by New Balance.
 

kardisa

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - Leon to Santiago (2015)
Camino Madrid/Salvador/Primitivo (2017)
Every time I checkout New Balance, I get confused because there are so many choices. I have to order on-line, so I can't try them on. Which did you use?
I'm not sure if they make them any more, but I wore the Minimus 10v2's. While I did like them, my feet feel MUCH better in Hokas or Altras due to their extra cushioning. If you also prefer cushioning, you could check out the NB Fresh Foams. They make a trail version which is supposed to be pretty good.
 

Banjo&Matilda

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances October 2018
Thank you everybody for taking the time to reply to my question. I saw a podiatrist today to check a few things and I asked him what I should wear. He didn't give me the "miracle prescription" that I was after (how lazy of me to want to be told what to wear!), but he suggested I get something similar to my very comfy runners (Brooks Glycerin). So today I tried on some Brooks trail runners (I had no idea they existed) and got properly fitted in Brooks Ghost and Cascadia. They fit like a glove, but I don't yet have the confidence to buy them, given I haven't actually tried many shoes on yet! I will give the Merrils a go, because they seem so well liked. It is my good fortune that we have plenty of time to prepare! Thanks again everyone!
 

Annalisa

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Arrive in Biarritz on June 25, 2017
Thank you everybody for taking the time to reply to my question. I saw a podiatrist today to check a few things and I asked him what I should wear. He didn't give me the "miracle prescription" that I was after (how lazy of me to want to be told what to wear!), but he suggested I get something similar to my very comfy runners (Brooks Glycerin). So today I tried on some Brooks trail runners (I had no idea they existed) and got properly fitted in Brooks Ghost and Cascadia. They fit like a glove, but I don't yet have the confidence to buy them, given I haven't actually tried many shoes on yet! I will give the Merrils a go, because they seem so well liked. It is my good fortune that we have plenty of time to prepare! Thanks again everyone!
You are welcome I also run in Brooks ghost and love them. For ultra trail distances I have found that the larger toe box of Altras is more comfortable. Fits like a glove can get uncomfortable as the day and days go one just another thing to think about. Happy shoe shopping!
 

Charles Zammit

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
St Jean Pied de Port - Finisterra 2017
GR70 France 2018
[ Via Francigena 2019]
Merrells will work for some feet , even mine , but be sure to replace the inner sole . The inners that come with the Ventilator style are so thin they give no cushioning at all . This coupled with a very hard Vibram sole with no soft mid layer can add up to an uncomfortable time , at least.
In Australia the Neat Feat brand of inner sole available from Chemist Warehouse is ideal for the Ventilator , very soft forefoot cushioning , heel pad and excellent arch support .
One other thing to watch is the heel lining of the Ventilator , this is unfortunately fairly flimsy and will rub through if you are not scrupulous in using a shoe horn to both fit and remove them .
 

Banjo&Matilda

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances October 2018
Merrells will work for some feet , even mine , but be sure to replace the inner sole . The inners that come with the Ventilator style are so thin they give no cushioning at all . This coupled with a very hard Vibram sole with no soft mid layer can add up to an uncomfortable time , at least.
In Australia the Neat Feat brand of inner sole available from Chemist Warehouse is ideal for the Ventilator , very soft forefoot cushioning , heel pad and excellent arch support .
One other thing to watch is the heel lining of the Ventilator , this is unfortunately fairly flimsy and will rub through if you are not scrupulous in using a shoe horn to both fit and remove them .
@CharlesZammit, that doesn't sound like a very inspiring ad for Merrells! It sounds like I can find a lot better with a bit of persistence! Thank you for your feedback none-the-less!
 

Paddington Bear

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 2017
@CharlesZammit, that doesn't sound like a very inspiring ad for Merrells! It sounds like I can find a lot better with a bit of persistence! Thank you for your feedback none-the-less!
Everyone's foot is different so it is tough telling someone what to buy. There are so many brands out there.

You need fitted around the heel but room to move your toes (so not fitting like a glove). A vibram sole will stop you feeling every rock you walk over and won't slide. I wear scholl innersoles because I need arch support and like comfort. On the Camino DH will wear teva shoes (he also has keen boots for rougher walks) as he has v wide feet. I will take Salomon shoes (I also have Teva boots for other trips). You just have to try on lots of pairs and choose one that is very comfortable in the shop.

Mt Designs and Paddy Pallin have test slopes so you can make sure you won't slip forward in your shoes.
I am going with 6 friends and every one of us has different shoes!
Good luck.
 
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Charles Zammit

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
St Jean Pied de Port - Finisterra 2017
GR70 France 2018
[ Via Francigena 2019]
In Merrell's defence I must say that my defective Moab Ventilators were replaced with new ones after some discussion and an e mail to the head US office .
My experience could be down to an isolated manufacturing defect or perhaps narrow heels that rubbed a little more than they should have , time will tell .
The Vibram sole is good , it gives much stability and grip and yes protection from feeling stones underfoot . It is also a neutral , flat sole that allows orthotic devices and high arched innersoles to be fitted easily . It is hard though , very hard , and really must be fitted with an aftermarket innersole to have any foot cushioning at all .

PS , what an unfortunate name for a shoe ; MOAB , in the light of the ordnance device just detonated in Afghanistan .
 

Gareth Griffith

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP to Santiago de Compestela in May(2016)
The Topo Marketing team say "Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for driving so much traffic to our website."
Personally I would recommend getting some boots that give you a bit of ankle support. Although there are many parts of the walk that you could walk in light training shoes, there are other parts that are rocky, rough and uneven where you will be grateful for the additional support.
Read up on blister protection too. There are too many people that have blisters that they could have avoided with a bit of prior knowledge.
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
The weight of boots ; and shoes for that matter is often disregarded as irrelevant , nothing could be further from the truth . I think you have made a wise decision to re examine your footwear .
This is perhaps a simplistic explanation but it might go some way to confirming your belief.
For fitness' sake 10,000 steps per day is usually recommended for most people , a walk on the Camino is obviously much more than this each day , for me , a scant 175cm in height, it takes about 9km to achieve .
A pair of leather boots can easily reach or exceed a kilo in weight . You are lifting a half a Kilogram 10,000 times , a total of 5 Metric tonnes !
Triple this for the walk from SJ on the first day and that is 15 Metric tons mostly uphill .
Over 800km of the Camino this adds up to a staggering 440 Metric tonnes .
Cripes ! I'm thinking of wearing thongs .
I have done the same calculation myself, but assumed 20k steps per day. On rough terrain, stepping over rocks and on ascents your paces will be much shorter than on the flat - offset to some extent by longer paces on descents.

Anyway, I have no foot or ankle problems and used normal walking shoes on the entire Camino from SJPDP as well as on the Via Podiensis from Le Puy-en-Velay. They were perfectly okay except on stony trails, because of inadequate ankle support.

However, I noticed that experienced long distance hikers generally preferred light (eg gortex) hiking boots (not old-fashioned heavy leather).

For the Via Francigena (Canterbury - Rome) and the Via Francigena nel Sud (Rome - Bari) I used hiking boots. The first pair (Salomon) wore out (failure of the uppers in creases/seams) after only 450km, but although Salomon replaced them free the replacements failed in exactly the same manner. The third pair (Teva) were heavier, but probably the best boots I have ever worn. But there are obviously many other equally good brands and to some extent you are limited by what your local stores have in stock.

Bob M
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese.
I say go for fit first. Too many people buy shoes based on other's recommendations, only to find they don't work out. My husband bought Merrell Ventilators for one camino, based on lots of reviews and the fact that are the number 1 selling hiking and trail runner, and they felt fine in the shop. He wore them a bit at home before, but not on any really long walks.
Once we got walking, after about three days, his toes spread and the shoes became increasingly uncomfortable. There was nothing wrong with the shoes, but the toe box proved to be too narrow for him. He resorted to cutting off the top of the shoes, and after a few more days went to a little local shop and bought cheap sandals. He alternated from then on between the sandals and the mutilated Merrells.
Now he refuses to wear anything other than his normal leather shoes - with ultra wide spread toes. Jacoforms. I'm pretty convinced he'd be the only person on the Camino wearing these:img57589864.jpg
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances; Via Podensis; Via Francigena; Via Portugues; Via Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg.
I say go for fit first.
Fit is the key thing. Men's feet are often wider than female feet, so make sure the shop can offer widths to suit both men and women, not 'unisex' boots/shoes.

Another couple of suggestions re fitting:

1. Take a loaded pack to the store so you can try on boots or shoes under the load you will be carrying. Feet splay under load. That's one reason why commercial porters in Nepal and the Andes often wear what seems (to us) to be unsuitable footwear rather than constrictive boots. They may be poor, but they are not stupid.

2. Warm your feet up by walking with your pack for the last few hundred metres to the store, because warm feet swell to some extent.

3. Try on boots/shoes with the socks you plan to wear in the field.

4. Some people have feet that are not exactly the same size, so remember that when judging fit. My feet, for example, differ by about 1/4 to 1/2 of a size.

All that can be boiled down to the common advice to "buy hiking boots/shoes one size larger than the size you normally wear".

Bob M
 
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Banjo&Matilda

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances October 2018
The Topo Marketing team say "Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for driving so much traffic to our website."
Personally I would recommend getting some boots that give you a bit of ankle support. Although there are many parts of the walk that you could walk in light training shoes, there are other parts that are rocky, rough and uneven where you will be grateful for the additional support.
Read up on blister protection too. There are too many people that have blisters that they could have avoided with a bit of prior knowledge.
Thanks for your advice. We are learning all about blister protection, so we will be well prepared for our Camino. I tend to agree with your advice re shoes with a bit more support. Thanks again.
 

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