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boots, feet, socks

marthas

New Member
Since you are all so helpful, I wonder if you can give me some advice about boots. I have spent all summer trying to find the right combination of boots & socks (wish I could trade in my feet, too) in preparation for a Sept 1 pilgrimage. Here I am with the latest combination falling through less than 3 weeks before I leave.

So far I have gotten new orthotics, figured out the mysterious ankle rash (with a lot of help from this forum and Arn especially), and found socks that seem not to aggravate it (Bridgedale A.T. Boots Plus). I took my socks and orthotics to a good hiking store and after many hours came home with a new pair of Asolo Stynger boots. I wore them inside for a few days and on a number of short hikes, and they felt fine if a little heavy, but when I wore them this weekend on longer hikes of 8 - 10 miles, the balls of my feet started to hurt like crazy after two-three hours. I have always had bad feet -- blisters, plantar fascitis, plantar warts, twisted ankles, tendonitis -- but this is a new one.

I'm not sure what to do next. Does this sound like something that will go away as the boots get worn in? I've put about 28 miles on them so far. Do I bail out and look for other boots, or give up on boots and go to trainers? I've noticed a few references in the forum to people having the "wrong" boots and wonder what that means. Because of my history of other foot problems, I'm nervous about going to something less supportive. I can walk forever in trainers in the city or in boots on short hikes.

I'm so excited about this trip but scared that I still don't have good footware at this point! Thanks for any advice.
 
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sillydoll

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
I walked the Coast to Coast, the camino Frances from Roncesvalles to Santiago and the Via Turonensis in New Balance All Terrain shoes. I never had a blister.
I bought boots to wear on the Via Francigena - snow patches, wet rocky conditions in the Alps - and they were OK.
I wore them last year on the camino and got horrible blisters. I ended up walking about 650km of the camino in sandals.
Next year I am reverting to hiking shoes - not boots.
Everyone is different - nobody can really tell you what is best for your feet. Whatever you decide to wear, take a pair of sandals with you for the long, flat stretches of the camino and also to wear around the albergues when you have finished walking.
Good luck!
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
Marthas

I think Sil has proposed the solution - take the boots but also take a pair of sandals that you can walk in - see the other posts about sandals particularly Tevas - then you have the option.

I'm trying this myself soon - perhaps part of the conversion to sandals!

Buen camino

John
 

John Hussey

Active Member
Not only are all feet different, lamentably, sbut o are all shoes different. They are made on different lasts, some soft, cushiony, some hard, some made for high, low, or medium arch, then there is persons weight and gender to consider and, most important are the different show mechanics-whether you over pronate, under pronate, or walk with a straight gait.)

Go to Roadrunner, whether you purchase from them or not, and learn your foot type so that you can better pick out a pair of shoes:
http://www.roadrunnersports.com/rrs/

Go to left side, above center, to "Shoe Dog" and click on the "getting started button". Then answer the questions and viola, now you know your type of shoe. Even if you dont purchase from them at least you will know more about what to ask for than before. Otherwise, getting a pair of shoes is just like a crap shoot and every time you roll the dice you never know what the results will be. Trail runners would be more than adequate for the Camino in Spain. Likely, any of their running shoes would, too.
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
I know there are many opinions on the boots/shoes subject and I won't even go there. But I would ask if you have a sock/liner combo or not? I walked from Le Puy to Santiago using a Bridgedale summerweight woollen sock, together with a Bridgedale synthetic liner. The only time I got blisters was around Days 7-10, after three days when my feet were absolutely saturated from walking down 'streams' of water on the tracks during very wet conditions on the Aubrac Plateau. I was fortunate in that I was able to take a rest day, applied Compeed, it stopped raining so badly, and all got better from then on. The only other small blister I got on the whole trip was near the end on a hot day when I was wearing my sandles back into town after a day's walk, and in the heat my feet got sweaty. I feel certain that the liners helped me to be so blister-free, by taking moisture away from my feet.
Margaret
 
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jeff001

Active Member
If the problem is pain on the bottom of the foot you have to consider the amount of padding you have. You need to have a good insole in the boot and, at least in my case, a heavily padded sock. The socks with good padding (often labelled Trekking) are heavier and therefore hotter but for me the tradeoff is worth it.
 

marthas

New Member
Many thanks for all the good advice. What is now apparent to me is that:

I will have to have a backup shoe plan -- although sandals don't work for me since I get blisters if I don't wear socks and my orthotics don't fit but I have some other lightweight walking shoes I can bring.

I need to be sure to use socks that help wick moisture. My Bridgedales with CoolMax seem to do this nicely, but I'll bring a pair of liners. I can't wear the liners regularly because they irritate my ankle rash, but if blisters threaten, I'll make the tradeoff.

I need to be prepared to deal with blisters if they happen.

My new boots are too hard. The boot salesman confirmed this and recommended another pair that feel so much better (and even offered to take back the others!)

So, with thanks to you, my shoe salesman, and my podiatrist, I am feeling hopeful again!

Martha
 

Alan Pearce

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Aragones 2008, del Norte 2009, VdlP 2011, Ingles 2014, Camino de Madri 2015, Frances 2017
Hi Martha,
I wore Scarpa hiking boots for the 1000km duration of my camino from Pau to Finisterre. I knew 2 years before my walk commenced that I would be going to Spain and this gave me the luxury of preparing at length for the rigours of the walk. I bought the boots 10 months prior to the trip, and did so much exercise in them that I had to get the heels replaced before I even left home [ I calculate that I did 3000km training for the walk in the Scarpas ]. Especially good about the boots were the firm soles which protected my feet from bruising along the stony paths that are a feature of much of the camino. I found them the ideal footwear fot me but breaking them in took 3 months and several blisters. Once on the road in Spain though I never looked like getting a blister.
On the other hand I met one lady on the camino who had arrived with no training whatsoever, and developed very bad blisters. She was utterly determined to make it to Compostela, so continued on wearing sandals with socks. This worked well until she came to those areas of the path that ran through the yards of dairies [ there are several of these in the last 2oo km of the Camino Frances ] where the cow poo was nearly 2 cm deep. When I asked was this causing her to re-think wearing sandals, she replied not at all. She had 2 options - one was to wear her boots, and walk about 10 km a day in agony, and have clean feet - the other option was to wear her sandals, walk 25 km a day in reasonable comfort, and to wash her socks and sandals each night . It was, she said, an absolute no-brainer.
We arrived at Compostela on the same day.
I am hoping to walk from Malaga to Finisterre in 2011, and will need to buy some new boots by then.The old ones are showing signs of age and I will soon have to put them into storage in the spare room, along with the backpack and the walking staff. They are old friends, and deserve to be together.
Good luck and Buen Camino
Alan
 

John Hussey

Active Member
Sandals, Socks and "cow poo" in Galicia.........

Now that brought back memories-the part about "cow poo" upon the trail in Galicia. I wore hiking sandals with socks the entire way from France to Finisterre and washed out the socks each evening, the pair I wore during the day. Each day the dirty water from washing the socks would rinse out the color of the trail, usually with lots of reddish clay color. But in Galicia though, the rinse water became an unpleasant brown. But still I would not have changed either.
 
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John Hussey

Active Member
JohnnieWalker said:
John tell us more about your experience with hiking sandals please...did you avoid blisters? what about inclement weather?
I'm not sure where to start. I have hiked seriously for the last 15 years or so from lengths of a few weeks to a few months. But, always three season backpacking-spring, summer, fall. I am not fond of real cold weather. Years ago I first started with heavier boots, then went to the hybrid boot- part cordura, part leather, then to trail runners, and finally to trail sandals. I have worn them successfully along parts of the Continental Divide Trail in New Mexico and Colorada and parts of the Appalachian Trail, all of the Camino Frances and 1/2 the VDlP. I use wool socks, Smartwool mostly, but I am switching to Bridegdale now.

Avoidance of blisters is one of the reasons I now use trail sandals (not to be confused with the cheap sandals used in showers). I also hike always in shorts and usually keep my feet reasonably dry. But, in an all-day rain they do get wet but wool has the peculiar propensity to keep one's extremities warm even when wet. Socks also keep the skin of one's feet moist during multi-week use while wearing sandals, exposed to so much ventilation, otherwise the skin would dry out and crack. Socks are a necessity and wool is about the best there is for socks. Another advantage is I don't have to stop and remove my boots for stream or river crossings. In sandals I just go on across without stopping and my socks are rinsed while wading and mostly dried within 30 minutes or so. Lots of advantages to sandals. Mine are open toe but I have never snubbed my toes. It is amazing how light footed (read surefooted) one becomes wearing them. I would not wear them in the dead of winter where there is lots of snow but I have worn them through quite a few large fields of prior year's remaining snowpack in June and July on top of the Rocky mountains at altitude of 12,000- 13,000' .

Sandals work for me but many seem to have a preconceived prejudice against trying them for some reason. Personally, I believe they would work for most everyone. They are becoming more popular and each year, more people use them for hiking. I did 300 miles of the AT early this summer and quite a few were in Chacos , sandals made in Colorado. Now, the AT is considerably more difficult than the Camino and over 4 times as long, so that speaks for itself. But, trail sandals still must be broken in, no matter how comfortable they are when you put them on and I mean at least a week or so of wearing them, until the bottom of your feet become molded into the bed of your sandal and, eureka, you now have a custom made orthotic to walk on.

For my part, I'll never wear boots again.
 

John Hussey

Active Member
Addendum:

If you count all the pilgrims of all the Caminos from each Camino's beginning till now, I suspect you will find that far more pilgrims have hiked it wearing sandals than any other type of footwear. Look carefully at the feet of that huge bronze statue of a pilgrim walking, just down the hill from O'Cebreiro, beside the road, on your left, and you will see that he wears sandals. And, look how lightfooted he seems to be walking!!
 

MermaidLilli

Active Member
John Hussey and I are from Florida. Sandals are pretty normal wear here. As everyone knows by now it is what I wore on the Via and the CF. I must say I really did try to wear my hiking shoes in the beginning, but all it took was one long downhill and sore toes to convince me to send them to Madrid and only wear the sandals. It meant as well less weight I had to carry, for I could use them walking and after walking each day. JohnnieWalker is almost convinced by now, eh?
Almost barefoot,
Lillian
 

caminojo

New Member
KiwiNomad06 said:
I know there are many opinions on the boots/shoes subject and I won't even go there. But I would ask if you have a sock/liner combo or not? I walked from Le Puy to Santiago using a Bridgedale summerweight woollen sock, together with a Bridgedale synthetic liner.
KiwiNomad06 said:
Hi KiwiNomad,

Did your Bridgedale socks have a particular name? There are so many different types on their website. Where in NZ did you buy them? I've really enjoyed reading your blog, by the way - it gave me the inspiration to do the walk from Le Puy! Starting 4 May and can't wait!!
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
caminojo said:
Did your Bridgedale socks have a particular name? There are so many different types on their website. Where in NZ did you buy them? I've really enjoyed reading your blog, by the way - it gave me the inspiration to do the walk from Le Puy! Starting 4 May and can't wait!!

Hi there caminojo
It will not be long until you are on your way then! All the best for your Camino..... or as they will be calling it in France, your Chemin.
For ages I kept the wrappers around the socks just so I could remember the names, but I seem to have thrown them away. (If I find them, I will come back and post the names here.) The liner is synthetic and has CoolMax at the top. The socks I took were lightweight (black and white) summer ones that just came to the ankle.

I originally bought my socks in Palmerston North from Tisdalls before they closed. I managed to get another pair of liners from a place in Turangi that responded quickly to my e-mail request. I have since seen the socks and liners in a couple of outdoor shops in Wellington but can't actually recall the names of the shops. I think there is a place in Nelson you can get them from by e-mail as well, but you need to register on their site first.

Enjoy getting all your bits and pieces together...before you know it you will be on your way! I loved Le Puy itself, and I hope you have some sunshine to explore it: I especially loved the chapel of Saint Michel d'Aiguilhe on top of its puy.
Margaret
 
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colinPeter

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPP-SDC (2009) Somport-Jaca, Burgos-SDC, Cee-Muxia (2012) Le Puy - Aumont-Aubrac (2014) SJPP-SDC (Oct 2015)
Hi Caminojo,
Bridgedale's are very expensive in Australia, not sure of the situation in NZ.
The cheapest place I have found the coolmax liners is on Ebay. GreatGlenn camping, I think was the name of the Ebay store (just search Ebay for coolmax liner), way cheaper even after postage, they also sell some other bridgedales as well.
However, you can buy the whole range from http://www.performance-bridgedale.co.uk, still way cheaper after postage than you pay in Australia.
You can get all your sizing from http://www.bridgedale.co.uk
Happy shopping
Col
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
caminojo said:
Hi KiwiNomad, Did your Bridgedale socks have a particular name? There are so many different types on their website. Where in NZ did you buy them? I've really enjoyed reading your blog, by the way - it gave me the inspiration to do the walk from Le Puy! Starting 4 May and can't wait!!

Hi caminojo,
I might be too late now, as April is marching quickly along for your early May beginning. But if you get to read this in time, I found my old sock packages that I thought I had stored away somewhere for when I needed to know the names! The sock I used was the summerweight "Endurance Trail Light", for 'all day hiking in warm conditions'. I found them warm enough with the liner on the colder days I struck over the Aubrac Plateau etc. The liner I used was the Coolmax liner. Both socks and liners were Bridgedale, and both were expensive, but so very comfortable. I figured it was more important to care for my feet than worry too much about my clothing. And my socks and liners all lasted the distance from Le Puy to Santiago, which was quite some test!
All the best for your packing!
Margaret
 

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