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boots vs. sneakers for first days out of Caminha/A Guarda


New Member
Camino(s) past & future
planning Portuguese Coastal Way (May 2018)
I'm walking my first Camino in May. I'll be taking the Coastal Route, starting in Caminha. I think that it's mostly road/asphalt for the first few days (until we leave Vigo?), so I believe I'll be better off in running shoes than hiking boots. Could you give me some advice?
Thank you!


"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
Hi, dweeds, and welcome to the Forum. :)

I know you asked about shoes, but allow me to re-post some information that will help you when you go shoe shopping.


The most important theme for achieving a proper fit is: You do not choose a shoe based on measurements, you buy a shoe based on its Fit N Feel regardless of instrument measurements.
  1. When you go to the store, do so toward the end of the day.... you will have been up on your feet, so that will help with getting the correct fit. Additionally, you will need to wear the same backpack with the same gear you will be carrying... you want this additional weight on you as this will put the same downward pressure on the foot that you will be having while on Camino.
  2. Wear the exact same sock(s) you will be wearing while you are walking on the Camino. And if you have a special insole or orthotic, bring it with you.
  3. At the store, the measuring that will be done on your feet is only to get you in the ballpark for the correct shoe size.
  4. Start by standing up; never measure while sitting. You want the full weight of your body, with the pack on, to put the same pressure on your feet to spread them out as will happen while walking. That alone will increase the volume and size of your feet.
  5. Make sure those 'Camino' socks are on your feet; if you wear socks with liners while walking, do the same thing at the store.
  6. While standing, have someone near to you that you can use to steady yourself. With the measuring device on the ground, step onto the instrument and center all of your weight onto the foot being measured. Do the same for the other foot.
  7. Start with that size, but be aware that both the width and the length need to feel like there is adequate room for your feet. Ideally, like Goldilocks, everything will be just right. But, don't count on it. Be picky.
  8. If you have special insoles or orthotics, put them into any shoe you try on as they will take up space inside the shoe.
  9. When you find what you think will fit you well, you will need to see if your toes have enough clearance. Toes should not be able to be forced to the front of the shoe and touch the shoe. Not even a little. If they do, long walking and downhill grades on the trail or path or road will traumatize the bed of the nail, and that is when toenails can blacken and fall off.
  10. With your shoes tied securely, but not too tight, walk around the store with your pack on. Go up stairs and down stairs, scuff the shoes to the floor so that your feet are forced to do any movement they will do and see if your toes so much as butterfly kiss the front of the shoe. Kick the front of the shoe into a post or stair or wall or someone's shin.... does that make any of your toes touch the front of the shoe? That goes for all the little piggies.
  11. Next, pay attention to the width of the shoe. It shouldn't feel snug on the sides and there should be no rubbing or pressure points at all. They will not go away with "break in". They will create soreness, pain, and blistering. Even if it seems to be tolerable, it is like water torture; as your feet are continually exposed to those pressure points your feet will break down against them bit by bit, and bruising, blisters, and soreness will follow.
  12. You may need to go up a size to a size and a half in length, and go with a wider width to avoid those things I mentioned above. The notion that one avoids blisters by wearing snug footwear has been shown to do just the opposite.
Last edited:

Derek Booth

Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte (2019)
Take notice of this post.
Read, Learn and inwardly digest No. 9. Been there, seen that,and just finished a course of antibiotics following not reading this post.


"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 issue of footwear to wear on Camino or backpacking or whatever has one big caveat: One size does not fit all. In other words, ignore recommendations of specific brands, models, etc. One person using a specified shoe or boot will crow loudly to the heavens, "This shoe is the best and kept me blister free, made me feel like I was walking on clouds, made birds to sing, children laugh, and rain turn to sunshine". Yet another person, wearing the identical footwear will scream, "Dear God, what new level of Hell am I in?"

Recommendations should be treated as an item on checklist of shoes to consider; a place to start. The other issue is the fact that if a shoe feels good when walking 5 miles, in 10 miles they can produce pressure points and begin showing inadequacies of support --- or too much support, which can be as bad as too little support. The less experience in walking longer distances, the more time you need to take in sorting out whether or not your chosen footwear will work for you and your feet.

Running shoes. These are generally the lightest of the basic category of shoes. There are two distinct categories: Road shoes and Trail shoes. The differences between the two types are: traction and tread, materials used and durability, levels of cushioning, motion control and support, protection from getting poked in the sole by rocks and sharp trail debris -- which can make the bottoms of your feet sore or injured. A properly fitted shoe in this category should require no break in. In fact, if there are suspicious pressure points, or they feel a bit tight, they will typically not get significantly better until the materials start to break down.

Trail shoes. These are the beefy cousins to road and trail runners. They have a heavier design structure, sometimes more cushioning, sometimes better and more aggressive tread and traction, are stiffer in the forefoot. Generally, their usable life is somewhat better than either a road or trail runner, but it isn't a given. Again, a proper fitting trail shoe does not generally require much, if any, 'breaking in' to feel good on the foot.

Trail/hiking boots. Since I am not going to talk about mountaineering boots, trail/hiking boots (either name works) are the heaviest category of foot wear. They are stiffer than the others and they can generally be resoled. They can come insulated for cold weather walking, like my Lowa Camino that I use in the winter, or not insulated. This footwear will outlast the other two categories by wide margins. Depending on the boots manufacturer and materials (fabric vs leather vs hybrid) it can take a considerable time to break a pair in so that they feel better on the feet.

There are factors and characteristics for each category of footwear to consider, as well as when during the year and what type of walking you would be using the footwear for. There are folks who prefer only going barefoot on one end of the spectrum, to those who wear the heaviest backpacking boot on the other end. Preferences in types and styles of footwear are subjective and personal. The reasons given to support that choice may or may not be valid for anyone else.

I have tested a lot of footwear over the years for manufacturers targeting backpacking and hiking activities. I have found great shoes and boots which are great shoes, but ones that were not good for my feet and would feel good to others. For example, the Solomon Pro 3d series of shoes are great shoes, albeit a bit heavier than some other great shoes. A lot of people love them. When I tested them they performed extremely well ---- but I hated wearing them over the long run. That does not discount the fact that large numbers of users find them very comfortable to wear.

This just demonstrates why you cannot blindly rely on anyone's recommendations for a specific shoe. Note those shoes which receive a lot of good reviews for fit, performance, and longevity both here and when Googling for recommendations. Then start the process of finding the one which YOU like best.


Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese (2014,2016),Primitivo (2015), San Salvador (2017), Norte (2018), Ingles (2018)
Hi Dweeds. All good advice above. I'll just add that for the route out of a guarda / caminha I think if your preference is for runners you will be fine. I did the litoral from Porto in trail shoes with no problems at all. Bom Caminho
Camino(s) past & future
(2015) Frances
(2018) Portuguese
(2019) VdP Seville to Salamanca
(2020) VdP Salamanca to Santiago
Dave Bugg provides good advice. I've now walked about 1000K of Caminos and used just a good quality of trail shoes. Used both ASIC and NB. Like others have stated, each foot likes what it likes and other opinions carry no weight (no pun intended) other than providing basic guidance. Whatever you choose, use it for a while. Not so much to break it in but to make sure that it suits your foot. And, most importantly, if it doesn't give it to Goodwill and try something else. It won't get better and may just ruin your Camino. For the spending of a $150-$300 it's not worth the risk. The one area that you don't want to be wrong on is your feet. And being right doesn't mean spending a large amount of money.

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