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Boots or shoes in March

Sharonih

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (SJPdP to Santiago) March 15, 2018
I am leaving SJPdP in mid March 2018 via Valcarlos and as much as I am breaking in a pair of ankle height hiking boots I normally wear runners. I am mainly concerned of getting wet feet due to snow on the trails and roads, has any one walked at that time of year and what did you wear I am asking because I would prefer to wear a hiking shoe.
 

HeidiL

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2004-), Portugués, Madrid, 4/5 Plata, 1/8 Levante, 1/8 Lana, Augusta, hospitalera Grado.
I walk in February - April and wear shoes, not boots. Yes, they get wet if I have to wade across something and don't remember to switch to Crocs, but they're light and comfortable.

The one time there was enough snow to matter (the day before Segovia on the Camino de Madrid) boots wouldn't have helped - there was snow up to my knees anyway.
 

J F Gregory

Portugal Central - October 2019
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (March-April,2016) finished, (October 2019) Portuguese Central Route.
With a bit of luck you find the right shoe when needed. If you are not the kind of guessing person I would suggest to wear a good brand of hiking shoes.

View media item 1774

View media item 1775
I remember mud like that in several places in March 2016. Every Step added 3 lbs. to my boots. Every 30 feet or so stop and scrape. Made for a long day.
 

zrexer

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014, 15,16 & 19 Camino Frances
2017 Camino Portuguese
2018 Camino Primitivo
2020 Camino Del Norte
Sharonih, there are a lot of spirited debates on the merits of hiking boots versus trail shoes or runners on many threads in this forum. I went the boot route on Camino 1 and halfway through Camino 2 (different boots on each and well broken in) I struggled with blisters badly. Finally ditched my boots in Sahagun in Year 2 and bought a pair of runners, partially because it was the only thing large enough at the shoe store I found that would fit me.
Since then I have worn either runners or trail shoes and have virtually eliminated blister issues. Others will chime in they have been completely blister free while wearing boots. I have found good quality lined socks such as those made by 'Wrightsock' help greatly in blister prevention.
Boots may be better in mud, but between gaiters and some waterproof shoe covers my wife fashioned, mud has not been a big issue wearing shoes(see pictures below.)
While snow and rain can be issues particularly on a March, early April Camino in the last 4 years we have always walked starting the first week of April and have had relatively few issues with mud, although I will admit we have probably been some what lucky.
IMG_0001.JPG IMG_0002.JPG
 

Rick M

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
April ('16,'18, '19)
Nothing about the Camino would require you to wear a boot versus wearing a shoe. Its just not that rugged, and the choice between a boot and shoe is based on personal taste and comfort. Avoiding blisters is paramount, so choose what your feet like! You will only encounter snow at the start of the journey through the Pyrenees, the rest of the time its about rain and mud. My choice is a gortex trail shoe, along with gaiters. Not everyone likes gortex, and you have to be very conscious of drying them out at the end of the day, but they worked well for me in the frequent rain and mud.

Whatever you chose, walk in them and make sure you won't get blisters. It takes several back to back days to know for sure. If you do get blisters, change things up, including sock choices, and try again. Some people try several shoes before they find the One.

Its a long walk. Really, its just the first day or two where snow is any serious consideration since you will be at altitude. For the rest, take a look outside your window today (Assuming south VanIsle), and that's what you need to be ready for on the worst days. On the up side, later into April you will probably get some 20 degree days with sunshine as well.

Buen Camino

Edit: Actually, I just saw the news....snow on the Island! Oops.
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I have always worn boots on the Camino, but don't have a strong opinion on that. If you really feel more confident with the shoes, I would say to use them. I would probably take some cheap gaiters for Day 1 and abandon them in Roncesvalles. You are not likely to get much depth of snow anywhere else - if you do, take a day off!

You will get wet feet from the rain, from time to time, whether you wear boots or shoes. As @Rick M said, take a look outside your window today (I see miserable pouring rain and 3C :() and try going for a long walk in your shoe of choice. No shoe will be perfect for all conditions, so take the ones that are usually best for you.
 

Sharonih

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (SJPdP to Santiago) March 15, 2018
Nothing about the Camino would require you to wear a boot versus wearing a shoe. Its just not that rugged, and the choice between a boot and shoe is based on personal taste and comfort. Avoiding blisters is paramount, so choose what your feet like! You will only encounter snow at the start of the journey through the Pyrenees, the rest of the time its about rain and mud. My choice is a gortex trail shoe, along with gaiters. Not everyone likes gortex, and you have to be very conscious of drying them out at the end of the day, but they worked well for me in the frequent rain and mud.

Whatever you chose, walk in them and make sure you won't get blisters. It takes several back to back days to know for sure. If you do get blisters, change things up, including sock choices, and try again. Some people try several shoes before they find the One.

Its a long walk. Really, its just the first day or two where snow is any serious consideration since you will be at altitude. For the rest, take a look outside your window today (Assuming south VanIsle), and that's what you need to be ready for on the worst days. On the up side, later into April you will probably get some 20 degree days with sunshine as well.

Buen Camino

Edit: Actually, I just saw the news....snow on the Island! Oops.
:D yes the island is getting a bit of a dump today thanks for the info
 

nycwalking

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Ourense to Santiago (2019), CF: (2014, 2004, 2002, 2001). On to Fisterra, (2002, 4, 14).
I always wore Nike running shoes; no blisters no problems.

But, winter 2014, they could not handle the mud, switched to boots.

But, if you really like trail runners take gaiters. Actually, take then even if you wear waterproof boots. They will prevent water sliding down your pant leg, into your waterproof footwear and soaking your feet.
 

Juliet Clark

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camiino de Santiago 2012
I am leaving SJPdP in mid March 2018 via Valcarlos and as much as I am breaking in a pair of ankle height hiking boots I normally wear runners. I am mainly concerned of getting wet feet due to snow on the trails and roads, has any one walked at that time of year and what did you wear I am asking because I would prefer to wear a hiking shoe.
No questions you must wear good Gortex hiking boots. Nothing less will suffice any time of year! I wear Scarpa boots fully integrated leather and Gortex lined for breathability, waterproof, and they are light. All boots will get wet but then you just change your socks. 3 pairs of Icebreaker brand seems to work well for me. Always tape your feet before you walk with Hyperfix tape. I've walked two camino both over 600kms and have never had a blister - just walked the heels off my boots, which I have had replaced at the bookmaker and still walking. Enjoy!
 

HedaP

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances starting SJPdP Sept/Oct 2015, April/May 2017
You can get goretex trail runners these days. ;):):)
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
No questions you must wear good Gortex hiking boots. Nothing less will suffice any time of year!

Well, actually, no. There is no one size fits all when it comes to footwear. She must wear what suits her foot. What is comfortable for her. People have different shaped feet, different gaits, different physical issues, different preferences, different priorities. There have been forests destroyed in the argument between Goretex and non-Goretex. One tries to keep feet dry but takes a long time to dry when it does get wet (and may be sweaty) and the other lets the feet and socks get wet but "walks dry". Some like the lightest of lightweight shoes, some like heavy solid army boots.

Unfortunately the only way to really know what works for each individual is by personal experience.

My Scarpa boots hit the bin after my first Camino. I thought they would be fabulous. Bought with lots of careful advice, trialled extensively at home during training. But when I walked the Camino I found that my feet became acutely painful after about 12 km. Tried inserts, orthotics, different socks, you name it. I thought that I was stuck with 12km feet. Change of footwear, problem solved. So Scarpas may work beautifully for you, but not for everyone. My husband had a similar experience with Merrells.

I now wear Ecco sandals. But that is me. There are people on this forum for whom I have enormous respect - some wear trail runners, some wear joggers, some wear boots. Of many different makes. Which is just fine.
 

Sharonih

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (SJPdP to Santiago) March 15, 2018
Thank you for all your feedbacks, they do make a difference
 

Old Gringo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2004 and Via de la Plata 2015
Did the Frances in March. Mud, rain and snow made me glad I had boots.

If you have low cuts, get gaiters as even in dry weather pebbles will end up in low cuts and make you miserable.

Fit is important. My observation was that foot problems were the number one problem that knocked people off the Camino. Ill fitting boots are the cause of most blisters.

Most people feet swell after five miles or so, so do some long walks before departure to make sure your foot is still comfortable and blister free after 5+ miles.

Buen Camino.
 

Glenshiro

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy - León, Camino Frances (2012 - 2019)
Completely agree with Kanga. My preference is for stout leather boots, (especially on the Le Puy route) but I'd never presume to dictate to others - what's important is what works for you. I usually have one pair of boots on the go and another being broken in (at home, not on the Camino.)

Saw someone on the CF outside Pamplona this year in bare feet, but that's probably not advisable for most people!
 

DeansFamily

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 18/916/10/17 Muxia/Finisterre 18/10-22/10/17 Norte 21/4-29/5/18 Primitive 20/9-5/10/18 VdlP
Kanga is correct. You have to go with what your feet prefer. I walked in my Brooks pure connect runners and was so glad I did. I knew how my feet would behave in them, they resist dust entry whilst still having breathability, they are lighter on my feet and have a generous toe box to accomodate swelling feet (and they will swell). I never had blister problems, rain wasn't a problem and it worked for me, but it mightn't work for others. My husband walked in NB 1080's and my daughter in Adidas trail runners. Just be sure how your footwear act after a really long day of walking hard (our daily distances were between 27 and 45 kms)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Muxia-Fisterra 2017
Portuguese 2018, Catalan 2019, (Mozarabe-VdlP-Sanabres-Ingles, 2021)
I completed 1000 kms of Camino Frances and Camino Muxia - Fisterra in March/April this year, and started with hiking boots. These were disposed of after only 60 kms, and I did the rest in waterproof trail runners (not Gore Tex, but a cheaper generic equivalent). At no point did I regret my decision. The trail runners were light, comfortable, easy to put on and take off at the end of the day. No blisters, bumps or bruises. They became my trusted faithful footwear friends. In the UK, where the trails usually take you over muddy farmland, I always wear hiking boots, but on the Camino, the trails mostly have firm surfaces, and boots are unnecessary. My best advice to all is don’t carry any more weight than you need to, and boots are one of the heaviest items that can safely be left behind. I shall be starting Camino Portugues this coming March, and will only take trail runners.
 

Sunbun

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Zip
One point not yet mentioned that perhaps you'll find helpful: I wore HOKA runners on the CF mid-Sept to mid-October this year, and I have NO regrets. I have lower back pain, and the springy soles made every bit of difference for my comfort, not to mention no blisters. Don't remember having a single pebble in my shoes. I was very lucky not to walk in pouring rain for long or big mud. But don't underestimate the value of a shock-absorbing sole.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
No questions you must wear good Gortex hiking boots. Nothing less will suffice any time of year! I wear Scarpa boots fully integrated leather and Gortex lined for breathability, waterproof, and they are light. All boots will get wet but then you just change your socks. 3 pairs of Icebreaker brand seems to work well for me. Always tape your feet before you walk with Hyperfix tape. I've walked two camino both over 600kms and have never had a blister - just walked the heels off my boots, which I have had replaced at the bookmaker and still walking. Enjoy!
Too bad I didn't read this sage advice before I walked two Caminos of over 900km each with just one tiny toe blister in lightweight trail runners. :p:p:p
 

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