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Are goretex shoes necessary?

Tina B.

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
26.6.2018. Camino Frances
#1
I am starting Camino on 26.6. and i dont know should i have goretex shoes with me or not? How do you deal with rain without goretex? And i have a question about color of shoes, i am planing to have black trail runners. Is it a big difference to walk in black runners or some light colour? I've read It is unusually rainy for this time of year.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#2
From a previous post I had made:

Water can enter trail shoes or boots through any opening during a rainstorm or while walking through dew-covered grass or pour into it as happens when you walk through puddles or other standing water along the Camino.

There are two potential remedies to this problem, neither of which is effective. First, you can try keeping rain pants over the tops of shoes, so the water runs down the pants past the opening. But this system is uncomfortably hot in warmer and rainy temperatures, and it offers no protection for puddles or having to cross water runoffs on the pathway.

Or you can try using a shoe with a waterproof gaiter or some other waterproof cobbles -- like thick plastic bags. I have not seen a gaiter or other waterproof type accessory that would both keep the water out, and keep the feet dry.

“Waterproof” shoes fail is because the materials simply don’t work over the near and long term. Lightweight, leather and fabric trail boots, for example, where some manufacturers have tried treating with a coating, don’t last. It also keeps sweat in the shoe and your feet get soaked in sweat. Fairly quickly, coatings break down and will no longer be waterproof.

When I’ve tested so-called waterproof / breathable fabrics in shoes, their actual performance never matched what was claimed.

Waterproof/breathable membranes, like Goretex, are only marginally breathable—water vapor from perspiration does not pass through the fabric as efficiently as is claimed. So on warm days the experience of having sweat being trapped in the shoe is common. Combined with the fact that the fabric waterproofing is quickly damaged by dirt, sweat, grime, and abrasion and it’s only a matter of time before exterior moisture begins penetrating the fabric and allowing feet to get wet.

That’s why serious trekkers and backpackers no longer go to great lengths to keep feet dry. They accept that when the weather is wet, feet will also get wet. Even the US military uses footwear for wet conditions which is not waterproof. The strategy is how to minimize any problems when feet are wet.

I’ve heard a potential footwear customer ask, “Are the shoes / boots waterproof?” while in the footwear department of an REI / outdoor type store. “You bet,” the customer service guy will say.

A couple of times I’ve softly interrupted by asking why they wanted, or thought they needed, waterproof shoes. Usually, the potential buyer looked at me as if I had spaghetti sticking out of my nose. Like most everyone, their answer was about thinking their feet would stay dry, and that wet feet is akin to getting into horrible trouble.

This post is meant to help inform and give a different line of thought and reasoning.

I have tried many ways to keep my feet dry:

1. “Waterproof” shoes, which, as I’ve said, don’t work well.

2. “Waterproof” socks, which don’t work for similar reasons.

3. Wearing multiple pairs of socks, which eventually all get wet.

4. Multiple pairs of shoes, which eventually all get wet too.

Since keeping my feet dry never worked, I decided to develop effective strategies so that the bad things that could occur to my wet feet when walking were either waaaaaay minimized or eliminated. Some of these lessons I learned while in Vietnam…. Like the fact that our boots had fabric tops and numerous holes in the thin leather bottom portions so that water drained out quickly and never sat in the boots.

What are the bad things?

1. Maceration, or pruning, where the skin’s outer layer absorbs and gets “soggy” from moisture. The skin gets sore and extremely soft, which makes it prone to blistering and can develop other problems.

2. Cracking of the skin when it dries. The natural moisture and oiliness of the skin is gone. The severity depends on how much stress the skin is exposed to after it is dried out.

So, what does work? For me, if I am going to be walking or backpacking in wet weather:

1. Apply a good coating of salve or balm to my feet before putting on socks and shoes. This helps protect from external moisture.

2. Wear non-waterproof shoes, which drain and dry out quickly. This minimizes the amount of puddling in the shoe that bathes the feet in moisture. Modern trail shoes have nice open mesh fabric which is terrific for draining water.

3. Non-waterproof shoes will also eliminate moisture from sweaty feet. Remember, it doesn’t matter what the source of the moisture is that feet are exposed to; rain or sweat, each can cause the same problems.

4. Wear thin, non-cushioned merino wool socks, which don’t absorb as much water as thicker socks. Merino wool will keep wet feet warm unless the weather is winter-cold.

5. Take off my shoes and socks to let my feet air dry during any mid-day rest stop that will be longer than 20 minutes. During that time, I will wring out any excess moisture from the socks, but I will not put on either of my dry pairs (I take three). I will also reapply a good amount of balm or salve to my feet to help keep them from becoming macerated.

6. Apply a salve or ointment to the bottoms of my feet when I have stopped for the day both before and after I shower.

7. Carry an extra pair of insoles. These are lightweight and will be the barrier between your wet footwear and your dry socks when you are done for the day and if your shoes are a bit damp come morning.

8. I found that at days end, I can remove the wet insoles and use absorbent paper or toweling to sop up as much moisture as is possible while I am showering and dealing with end of the day chores. Then, when I get ready to go to dinner or wander around town, I put on a pair of dry Merino wool socks, insert the extra pair of dry insoles into my shoes, and put them back on to walk around in. Within a couple of hours, the shoes are mostly dry.

9. At bedtime, I remove the insoles and stuff absorbent material into the shoes to continue the drying out process during the night.

10. Apply more salve or ointment and wear dry and warm socks at night, to give my feet 8-9 hours of recovery time.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#7
...And i have a question about color of shoes, i am planing to have black trail runners. Is it a big difference to walk in black runners or some light colour? ...
Hi, Tina,

I can't speak from my own experience but I got an impresion that people wearing shoes/boots in light colours are walking faster. Maybe that can work for you too ;)

Sorry I can't be of much more help here :cool:
 

Tina B.

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
26.6.2018. Camino Frances
#8
From a previous post I had made:

Water can enter trail shoes or boots through any opening during a rainstorm or while walking through dew-covered grass or pour into it as happens when you walk through puddles or other standing water along the Camino.

There are two potential remedies to this problem, neither of which is effective. First, you can try keeping rain pants over the tops of shoes, so the water runs down the pants past the opening. But this system is uncomfortably hot in warmer and rainy temperatures, and it offers no protection for puddles or having to cross water runoffs on the pathway.

Or you can try using a shoe with a waterproof gaiter or some other waterproof cobbles -- like thick plastic bags. I have not seen a gaiter or other waterproof type accessory that would both keep the water out, and keep the feet dry.

“Waterproof” shoes fail is because the materials simply don’t work over the near and long term. Lightweight, leather and fabric trail boots, for example, where some manufacturers have tried treating with a coating, don’t last. It also keeps sweat in the shoe and your feet get soaked in sweat. Fairly quickly, coatings break down and will no longer be waterproof.

When I’ve tested so-called waterproof / breathable fabrics in shoes, their actual performance never matched what was claimed.

Waterproof/breathable membranes, like Goretex, are only marginally breathable—water vapor from perspiration does not pass through the fabric as efficiently as is claimed. So on warm days the experience of having sweat being trapped in the shoe is common. Combined with the fact that the fabric waterproofing is quickly damaged by dirt, sweat, grime, and abrasion and it’s only a matter of time before exterior moisture begins penetrating the fabric and allowing feet to get wet.

That’s why serious trekkers and backpackers no longer go to great lengths to keep feet dry. They accept that when the weather is wet, feet will also get wet. Even the US military uses footwear for wet conditions which is not waterproof. The strategy is how to minimize any problems when feet are wet.

I’ve heard a potential footwear customer ask, “Are the shoes / boots waterproof?” while in the footwear department of an REI / outdoor type store. “You bet,” the customer service guy will say.

A couple of times I’ve softly interrupted by asking why they wanted, or thought they needed, waterproof shoes. Usually, the potential buyer looked at me as if I had spaghetti sticking out of my nose. Like most everyone, their answer was about thinking their feet would stay dry, and that wet feet is akin to getting into horrible trouble.

This post is meant to help inform and give a different line of thought and reasoning.

I have tried many ways to keep my feet dry:

1. “Waterproof” shoes, which, as I’ve said, don’t work well.

2. “Waterproof” socks, which don’t work for similar reasons.

3. Wearing multiple pairs of socks, which eventually all get wet.

4. Multiple pairs of shoes, which eventually all get wet too.

Since keeping my feet dry never worked, I decided to develop effective strategies so that the bad things that could occur to my wet feet when walking were either waaaaaay minimized or eliminated. Some of these lessons I learned while in Vietnam…. Like the fact that our boots had fabric tops and numerous holes in the thin leather bottom portions so that water drained out quickly and never sat in the boots.

What are the bad things?

1. Maceration, or pruning, where the skin’s outer layer absorbs and gets “soggy” from moisture. The skin gets sore and extremely soft, which makes it prone to blistering and can develop other problems.

2. Cracking of the skin when it dries. The natural moisture and oiliness of the skin is gone. The severity depends on how much stress the skin is exposed to after it is dried out.

So, what does work? For me, if I am going to be walking or backpacking in wet weather:

1. Apply a good coating of salve or balm to my feet before putting on socks and shoes. This helps protect from external moisture.

2. Wear non-waterproof shoes, which drain and dry out quickly. This minimizes the amount of puddling in the shoe that bathes the feet in moisture. Modern trail shoes have nice open mesh fabric which is terrific for draining water.

3. Non-waterproof shoes will also eliminate moisture from sweaty feet. Remember, it doesn’t matter what the source of the moisture is that feet are exposed to; rain or sweat, each can cause the same problems.

4. Wear thin, non-cushioned merino wool socks, which don’t absorb as much water as thicker socks. Merino wool will keep wet feet warm unless the weather is winter-cold.

5. Take off my shoes and socks to let my feet air dry during any mid-day rest stop that will be longer than 20 minutes. During that time, I will wring out any excess moisture from the socks, but I will not put on either of my dry pairs (I take three). I will also reapply a good amount of balm or salve to my feet to help keep them from becoming macerated.

6. Apply a salve or ointment to the bottoms of my feet when I have stopped for the day both before and after I shower.

7. Carry an extra pair of insoles. These are lightweight and will be the barrier between your wet footwear and your dry socks when you are done for the day and if your shoes are a bit damp come morning.

8. I found that at days end, I can remove the wet insoles and use absorbent paper or toweling to sop up as much moisture as is possible while I am showering and dealing with end of the day chores. Then, when I get ready to go to dinner or wander around town, I put on a pair of dry Merino wool socks, insert the extra pair of dry insoles into my shoes, and put them back on to walk around in. Within a couple of hours, the shoes are mostly dry.

9. At bedtime, I remove the insoles and stuff absorbent material into the shoes to continue the drying out process during the night.

10. Apply more salve or ointment and wear dry and warm socks at night, to give my feet 8-9 hours of recovery time.
Thank you so much!!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Porto to Santiago Coastal Route (Future)
#9
Thanks Dave for a very informative post. Is there any balm/salve you would recommend? Would Vaseline do the trick as this tends to stay put when wet. I am currently testing New Balance trail/running shoes and after getting caught in a monsoon like downpour can see the wisdom of 3 footbeds and 3 pairs of socks.
 
Camino(s) past & future
APril 2016
#10
I understand that the original post was about walking in June, but for those walking in winter, Dexshell waterproof socks are excellent. I walked in March (rain + snow) and my feet stayed warm/dry in non-waterproof trail runners. When the rain let up, I switched to normal socks. Highly recommended.
 

J F Gregory

Portugal Coast - September 2019
Camino(s) past & future
March-April,2016 finished, September 2019 the Portugal Coastal Route
#13
I wear Altra 3.5 trail runners which are mesh with smart wool socks. I walk through all kinds of wet. The socks keep my feed warm. I wear Dirty Girl Gaiters which cover the top of the to keep out dirt, sand and rocks . They are not water-proof, but are quick drying just like the shoes and socks.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. 2019? Who knows! ;-)
#14
. Is there any balm/salve you would recommend? Would Vaseline do the trick as this tends to stay put when wet. .
Vaseline works for me but I prefer Nok cream. You can only buy it in France though
so if starting in St Jean P de Port, I would try buying it either in Biarritz or Bayonne.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#16
Thanks Dave for a very informative post. Is there any balm/salve you would recommend? Would Vaseline do the trick as this tends to stay put when wet. I am currently testing New Balance trail/running shoes and after getting caught in a monsoon like downpour can see the wisdom of 3 footbeds and 3 pairs of socks.
There's a product called "Hikers Goo" which is my current favorite. It is a thicker balm than most, and it seems to wear better without as many reapplications during the day like some products which have been mentioned and I have used in the past. Also, I take only one extra insole, besides the one in my shoe :)
https://www.amazon.com/HikeGoo-Blis...id=1528993966&sr=8-2&keywords=hikers+goo&th=1
 

Paladina

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Cycled caminos francés, Finisterre, primitivo & del norte (2017); VdlP/Sanabres, ingles et al (2018)
#17
In my experience, when Goretex shoes get wet, which they will if you are walking in persistent rain, they take at least two days to dry. You will get wetter and drier sooner in shoes that are not claimed to be waterproof.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#18
Vaseline works for me but I prefer Nok cream. You can only buy it in France though
so if starting in St Jean P de Port, I would try buying it either in Biarritz or Bayonne.
I did a quick check, and Amazon does carry the NOK cream lineup, so ordering NOK through Amazon should work in most countries. I did see it on the UK, Spain, and German sites
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times, but soon again I hope....
#19
I'm hoping for drier weather in July!
I have been on the Camino three different times during the month of July. Little to no mud observed by me. just dry and warm. Certainly none that will trap you and hold you down like a character in a 30's movie...lol. Also, whenever I saw a muddy spot on any of my Caminos I always looked for a way around it and quite often found one, yet I saw other pilgrims tromp right through the mud, muttering to themselves as they maneuvered through it. That was odd.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Porto to Santiago Coastal Route (Future)
#20
Thanks folks you have been really helpful. I am likely to choose New Balance 860V7 in 4E width in a size one up from my usual shoe size. I shall have my trusty Teva sandals for when it gets really wet.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#21
Thanks folks you have been really helpful. I am likely to choose New Balance 860V7 in 4E width in a size one up from my usual shoe size. I shall have my trusty Teva sandals for when it gets really wet.
Hi, Stew...
Two things that might be helpful to consider with this model:
1. There is no 'rock plate' built into that model of shoe. A rock plate helps protect the bottoms of ones feet from impacts due to sharp and pokey debris, like rocks and roots and cobblestones and gravel. Other New Balance shoes have that feature if you are partial to New Balance... Their 910v4 and v5, for example.

2. The tread on the 860v7 is not real aggressive. It might be adequate for Camino, but it will not have much margin for rough and wet terrain on uphill/downhill grades. Again, New Balance has good shoes which do have that type of aggressive tread.

Just something to consider.... as if you didn't have enough to think about :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Porto to Santiago Coastal Route (Future)
#22
Thanks Dave. You are spot on with your thinking. I started out some months ago looking for boots for general hill and trail walking. I have Mortons Neuroma in both feet, middle two toes on both feet are part joined and my feet have spread somewhat. I also do fitness walking on tarmac and passive trails. For this I use New Balance shoes. The 4E 860s will have a good well padded 3rd party insole. When I looked at the 910s, NB do not supply in either 2E or 4E widths. I am now looking at the Summit Unknown which has a rock plate but only comes in 2E widths and apparently "fits small". Before I commit to purchasing this shoe I need to do a little more trialling with my 2E width 860 pair. We will get there. Thanks very much for your help and advice. It is much appreciated
 

Tina B.

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
26.6.2018. Camino Frances
#23
I am thinking about taking two pair of shoes. Is that too much and totally unnecessary? One are trail runners and other runners which feels like walking on clouds but are not good for rocky roads cause of some specific wholes they have underneath.
 

Anamiri

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
#24
I am thinking about taking two pair of shoes. Is that too much and totally unnecessary? One are trail runners and other runners which feels like walking on clouds but are not good for rocky roads cause of some specific wholes they have underneath.
My opinion, one pair of shoes, and something for after walking, like flip flops etc. You want to keep your pack weight down as much as possible for your walking comfort
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#25
Thanks Dave. You are spot on with your thinking. I started out some months ago looking for boots for general hill and trail walking. I have Mortons Neuroma in both feet, middle two toes on both feet are part joined and my feet have spread somewhat. I also do fitness walking on tarmac and passive trails. For this I use New Balance shoes. The 4E 860s will have a good well padded 3rd party insole. When I looked at the 910s, NB do not supply in either 2E or 4E widths. I am now looking at the Summit Unknown which has a rock plate but only comes in 2E widths and apparently "fits small". Before I commit to purchasing this shoe I need to do a little more trialling with my 2E width 860 pair. We will get there. Thanks very much for your help and advice. It is much appreciated
If you are still interested in trying the 910v4, they do come in 2E, but not the 4E. You may find that some of the retailers do not carry the 910s in 2E., or any wide widths period. NB even had a 4E width on the910v3s, but have since only offered the 2E as their widest width in that model. For my left foot, I find the 2E to be just barely reasonable. :) I just looked at Amazon and they do have some of the 910v4 in 2E for some colors. There is even a 910v4 with Goretex in the lineup, for those so inclined :)
https://www.amazon.com/New-Balance-Running-Gunmetal-Energy/dp/B06XS8YGS8/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1_m?ie=UTF8&qid=1529223599&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=910v4+2E&th=1&psc=1
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
Porto to Santiago Coastal Route (Future)
#26
Thanks Dave, Unfortunately there are not many sizes of 910 available in the UK. However I shall pursue the matter. You may have started a new trend in "making your own rock plate". I am going to experiment with a thin plastic sheet (a plate made out of food boxes may do the job). You may have started a new craze that could go as big as the Backpackers ultralight spirit stove made out of a coke can. My DIY stove failed miserably.
 

ggtree

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis June 2018
#27
I am starting Camino on 26.6. and i dont know should i have goretex shoes with me or not? How do you deal with rain without goretex? And i have a question about color of shoes, i am planing to have black trail runners. Is it a big difference to walk in black runners or some light colour? I've read It is unusually rainy for this time of year.
 

ggtree

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis June 2018
#28
I just completed the Caminos Francis and had rain or at least wet ground almost every day. I was very glad for the goretex. -Gigi
 

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