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Best Shoes?

Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances to Fisterra and Muxia May-June 2017
Hello! I think most of the time would be fine in regular running shoes, but there will definitely be times when you'll benefit from having the extra traction of a trail runner. Additionally, some trail runners have a (removable) rock plate, which will be helpful on golf-ball-sized gravel. Keep shopping for and trying on different trail runners--there are some out there that are like walking on clouds.

Rick M

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
April ('16,'18, '19)
Many people do the entire journey in running shoes. Heck, there's a contingent that do it in sandals!

Your REI advisor isn't "wrong" about trail runners. And there ARE patches of the trail that are a bit more rugged and uncertain than a running shoe was designed for, but that doesn't make the trail impassible. The most important thing about shoes is fit, leading to comfort, leading to a blister free Camino. Blisters are the scourge to be avoided at all cost.

If the running shoe is what you have confidence in, then you should wear it. When you hit the rough patches, and there aren't that many, take it slow to avoid injuring your feet. You'll be fine.

Buen Camino
Camino(s) past & future
Portugues (2013), Caminho Costa (2013), Frances (2014, 18) Mozarabe (2017)
If your pack weight hovers around 10 pounds and you are not prone to leg injuries, go with the road shoes. If you are going heavier and are prone to leg injuries, go with light hikers, but try to avoid trail runners. I used to work at REI, and as much as I love my old crew there, many of them don't realize how much more pavement walking is involved on the Camino, and any knowledgeable shoe retailer will know that trail running shoes can actually cause injury if you overuse them on paved roads.
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (SJPdP-Burgos, 2015)
Camino Frances (Burgos-Sarria, 2018)
Sarria-Santiago (Oct. 2018)
Try it out before you leave. Load up your pack, put on your shoes, and walk for 10-15 miles. Then do it again the following day. Then walk with fully-loaded pack and your favorite shoes as often as you can, long walks as much as possible (Yes, we all have time limits on how long/often we can do this!). Go up and down hills and walk on a variety of surfaces. You'll begin to get a good idea of what works for you. Everyone is different. Good luck and e joy!


"When I Have Your Wounded" - Dustoff Motto
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
The biggest difference in road running shoes and trail running shoes are the amount of cushioning, a beefed up stability -- even for trail shoes described as a 'neutral gait or pronation shoe --, and the placement of a thermoplastic rock plate embedded between the sole and the shoe -- very lightweight and flexible -- which protects feet from being punched by rocks, roots and other debris. If you've ever had a bruise or soreness on the sole of your foot after coming down on a sharp protruding chunk of rock or gravel, then you'll appreciate the rock plate for hiking and walking.

Trail runners will also have a more aggressive tread, with the material being more slip resistant under wet conditions.

You'll undoubtedly be walking many hours of each day, much longer than when doing a recreational or workout run. Feet will swell. So, with your present shoe size, you may need to consider whether or not to adjust for a wider shoe size.
Camino(s) past & future
Completed CF in Oct 2016
You definitely want trail runners for the support especially as you descend steep and rocky terrain. you have a higher probability to have foot or ankle injury in running shoes and there is no reason to assume that risk. Plenty of the trail runners at REI are equally as comfortable as running shoes, I would suggest trying the La Sportiva and Brooks.


Commercial Interests
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2001 (+more)
VDLP 2013, 2018
On the Camino Frances I can count the number of "trails" on one hand. Well, maybe I'm exaggerating, but regular running shoes will work fine. Seriously. You do not need "trail runners." Many people do the entire camino in sandals! I did the entire CF in Merrell Moab Ventilator hiking shoes even they were overkill since most of the walking on the CF is on asphalt, concrete, cobblestones or hard-dirt. I have since switched to New Balance running shoes! I think your running shoes, which are "way" more comfortable, will be a great choice. I recommend some sort of insoles such as Superfeet, the green or blue versions. I use green. :cool:

Here is what I'm wearing on my VDLP this year:


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
Regular running shoes, trail runners or low hiking type shoes/boots. They're all good choices for the Camino and you will see them all worn on the Camino and successfully worn from Saint Jean to Santiago. Just depends on the person, their feet, their overall physical condition, their age, their body weight, prior injuries etc. You know yourself better than anybody. Certainly better that the outdoor store "pro".
If in doubt get some Asics trail runners (Gel Kahanas). I have a pair of them and they aren't any heavier than my regular running shoes. They just have a grippier sole with small lugs, which could come in handy sometimes on the natural surface sections of the Camino, especially when it involves downhill, wet surfaces.
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
Everyone is different, and all feet are different. Even on one person, their two feet are likely different. So, any footwear solution is necessarily highly individualized, and should be tailored to your specific needs.

As regards light running / training shoes versus specialized trail runners or low hiking shoes, I suggest the later for added foot support. Walking the Camino is not the same as a walk across town.

Consider that you will be in these shoes for 8 plus hours each day, in all weather. You will be carrying the added weight of a loaded rucksack, plus water. You will be walking up hills, and down hills. Do consider using hiking poles.

Surprisingly, going down hill is more difficult. Remember, gravity sucks! It WANTS to grab you and hurl you down the hill. Losing your footing makes this easier for Mr. Gravity...

Sometimes you will be walking on flat paved surfaces. However, at other times, you will be walking on broken rocks, gravel and uneven and angled terrain.

The stiffer trail runner and low hiking shoes will provide added stiffness and support to the bottom of your feet when you walk over uneven surfaces with protrusions. Conventional running / training shoes will transmit the pointy bits to your feet.

Stiffer trail runners or low hiking shoes will also provide more torsional support to prevent foot flexing to the side. This is how ankle injuries occur, and they are very common on the Camino.

Moving right along, many of us, myself included, wear mid-height (ankle high) hiking boots. The reasons for this are also personalized. In my case, my body is top-heavy.:eek: Adding a loaded rucksack affects my center of balance in a comical way... Plus, I have weak ankles, always have... Then, literally on top of that, I am not a petite fellow.

So, all of these personal attributes taken together, dictate the need for the added support one gets from mid-height hiking shoes. For reference, for my past five Caminos I have worn Keen Targhee II hiking shoes. I am on my second pair. After a full Camino Frances, I have them resoled. After three Caminos, my first pair had had enough and I retired them in favor of an identical third pair. In April, they will head out on their third (my sixth) Camino.

Just as an FYI, this shoe is available in a low-cut version and is available for both men and women. It offers excellent torsional stability and sole protection.

Hope this helps.
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New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, La via plata, Aragon,
Hi - I am struggling between wearing running shoes and trail runners. REI folks say I should wear trail runners because I am carrying a pack, 10 pounds. However, my Asics running shoes are way more comfortable. Do you think I will be OK on the trails without the heavier lugs on trail runners?

Wear the shoe that won’t give you blisters!!!


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
Camino Frances (2015)
Hi - I am struggling between wearing running shoes and trail runners. REI folks say I should wear trail runners because I am carrying a pack, 10 pounds. However, my Asics running shoes are way more comfortable. Do you think I will be OK on the trails without the heavier lugs on trail runners?

Depends on time of year. In early spring, trails can be deep in mud. In my opinion, in these conditions, only boots will keep your feet dry. The rest of the year shoes are probably fine but personally, I stick to lightweight boots.
Camino(s) past & future
Caminho Português da Costa (Fall 2018)
My Camino has been delayed for several years - first caring for my elderly Mum, overlapping and now full-time caring for my youngest sister, who has ALS. In the meanwhile, I keep on doing long hikes with my overloaded Camino backpack and these boots that came recommended here in the forum. They are lightweight, breathable, and supportive. Perhaps they are overkill, but they have worked well for this now 73-year old over all types of practice terrain. New Balance 978. They are just part of my feet now. I'm on my third pair. FWIW, my inserts are orange Superfeet.
New Balance 978 - 2018-02-26.png
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New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014 Camino Frances
2017 Le Puy en Velay-Cahors
2018 Cahors-SJPdP
Le Chemin Piemont Pyrénéen (2019)
Hi - I am struggling between wearing running shoes and trail runners. REI folks say I should wear trail runners because I am carrying a pack, 10 pounds. However, my Asics running shoes are way more comfortable. Do you think I will be OK on the trails without the heavier lugs on trail runners?

If you feel that the Asics are good and comfortable with you, then use them!


New Member
Camino(s) past & future
If you feel that the Asics are good and comfortable with you, then use them!
I totally agree with you. I did the Camino the Santiago twice already and both already in my 60s.

My number #1 recommendation to all of you falks who want to do the camino the sanitago is to wear a supportive footwear...

I suffer from heel pain and the best decision I could have made was doing the camino de Santaigo with Brooks running shoes. You are going to walk a lot so make sure you find a good cushioned shoes especially if you have suffered from plantar fasciitis.

All of the shoes listed below are a great choice on my opinion.


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