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Breaking in shoes and boots

ilovelife

Member
How long would people recommend I break in my shoes/boots so that it'll minimize the chances of blisters.

I am completely new to being a professional hiker. Can someone recommend the best boots or shoes to wear for a long hike such as this Camino.

Thank you so much.

Noto.
 

supersullivan

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria-Santiago 2012. SJPP-Santiago-Finisterre-Muxia 2013. Ponferrada-Santiago June 2014. Leon-Santiago-Finisterre September 2014. April-May 2015: SJPP- S de C- Finisterre -Muxia- S de C.
Welcome Noto

We are all amateurs on the camino but you are welcome and wise to seek to benefit from the, at times, hard learned lessons of others.

There is no single definitive answer to your question as there are a multitude of views of the most appropriate footwear but some generally accepted guidelines may help you along the best direction for you.

You will be walking for a long distance so your footwear must be durable and able to stand up to a variety of different surfaces - woodland paths- city streets- gravel paths - country lanes. Any footwear with very thin soles will mean you feel every rock and pebble on the rougher stretches. As a regular hillwalker I'll be wearing a lighter version of my normal hill walking full grain leather boots but others prefer sturdy trail runner type shoes. Try to go to a specialist store who are more likely to carry a range of different width fittings as boots that are ideal for my foot dimensions could be uncomfortable for someone else even if they have the same size in normal footwear. Try to walk around the shop for 30 minutes wearing your footwear, go up and down stairs etc before you commit to buying. Go for gradually longer road/forest walks over several weeks maybe starting at 30/45 minutes and build up to 2/3 hours and then start walking with your backpack and gradually loading it with your camino contents.

Remember that over the course of a long days walking your feet will swell slightly and you should be thinking of buying footwear 1 size larger than normal, try to avoid cotton socks and go for something with a high wool content as they tend to offer more protection to your feet.

There are several forum threads on these topics but obviously the earlier you start to prepare the fewer unpleasant discoveries that will await you on your Camino.

Regards

Seamus

http://supersullivan.wordpress.com/2013 ... -ramblers/
 

Anniesantiago

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 was Camino #14
Buy yourself a pair of New Balance trail shoes and there is no breaking in. Get them a size and a half too large and buy Notion Control inserts. No breaking in. Wear them straight onto the Camino.
 

Green Tortuga

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012), Chemin Le Puy (2012)
ilovelife said:
How long would people recommend I break in my shoes/boots so that it'll minimize the chances of blisters.
The whole concept of breaking in one's shoes/boots is a myth. The truth is, they break YOU in. =)

As a general rule of thumb, the lighter and less constricting a shoe is, the less it'll have to break you in.

As for minimizing the chances of blisters... the usual suggestions: make sure the shoes fit, comfortable socks, yadda, yadda, yadda. If you can walk more than a mile in the shoes without feeling any pains from it, they'll probably be fine.

Beyond that, you can still get blisters and hot spots. I'm convinced that the #1 cause of blisters is feet that don't get used very often. If you sit around at a desk job all day, you'll almost certainly get blisters just because it's your feet's way of telling you, "I'm tired! Stop making me walk!"

Do a lot of training and get used to walking longer and longer distances. If you get in the habit of walking 5+ miles every single day (and the more, the better), your chances of getting blisters when you start a Camino walk go down significantly!

-- Ryan
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
Green Tortuga said:
ilovelife said:
How long would people recommend I break in my shoes/boots so that it'll minimize the chances of blisters.
The whole concept of breaking in one's shoes/boots is a myth. The truth is, they break YOU in. =)
... much truth in that ... :D

I agree with the turtle that the bigger and tougher the boot, the longer it will take to get comfortable in.

Here's the thing though -- it's imperative to get walking shoes/boots 1 size up from your normal shoe size, because feet swell when you hike ...

Doing this will save you a world of pain from your feet being too large for the shoes, and will at least lessen the severity of any blister attacks.
 

NicoZ

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013
Green Tortuga said:
Beyond that, you can still get blisters and hot spots. I'm convinced that the #1 cause of blisters is feet that don't get used very often. If you sit around at a desk job all day, you'll almost certainly get blisters just because it's your feet's way of telling you, "I'm tired! Stop making me walk!"

Do a lot of training and get used to walking longer and longer distances. If you get in the habit of walking 5+ miles every single day (and the more, the better), your chances of getting blisters when you start a Camino walk go down significantly!

-- Ryan
One thing to add is people need to stop every so often. Adjust laces,socks and your pack.

On buying a size bigger. IIRC your feet swell during the day. If you try something on in the evening and go up a size you'll end up with boots two sizes too big for the mornings.

Also remember to try boots/shoes on with the socks you intend to wear.
 

Green Tortuga

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012), Chemin Le Puy (2012)
JabbaPapa said:
Here's the thing though -- it's imperative to get walking shoes/boots 1 size up from your normal shoe size, because feet swell when you hike
A slightly bigger size is certainly well-recommended, although I usually just go up a 1/2 size rather than a full one. But your feet my vary. =)

-- Ryan
 
Camino(s) past & future
Via de la Plata 2010, Camino de Madrid, Salvador, Primitivo 2013, Olvidado, Invierno 2014
ilovelife said:
How long would people recommend I break in my shoes/boots so that it'll minimize the chances of blisters.

I am completely new to being a professional hiker. Can someone recommend the best boots or shoes to wear for a long hike such as this Camino.

Thank you so much.

Noto.
Hola!

As you can see we all prefer different shoes, myself I prefer sandals:)
There are lots of books about hiking and equipment, and it's fun to (ok I think so) read about such things when waiting for the next hike.
Two classic backpacking books, for example:
Trail life by Ray Jardine.
And
The Backpackers handbook, by Cris Townsend.

They are both nice to read and lots of good information.
Buen Camino
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
Green Tortuga said:
JabbaPapa said:
Here's the thing though -- it's imperative to get walking shoes/boots 1 size up from your normal shoe size, because feet swell when you hike
A slightly bigger size is certainly well-recommended, although I usually just go up a 1/2 size rather than a full one. But your feet my vary. =)
eh, sorry, was thinking euro-sizes ; we're on the same page, a 1/2 size in your local system means a full size in the one out here.
 

gerardcarey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF x2, CPL
ilovelife said:
Here's the thing though -- it's imperative to get walking shoes/boots 1 size up from your normal shoe size, because feet swell when you hike ...
[/quote][/quote]
Out of all the advice I was given before attempting a camino this was without doubt the most valuable.

Regds
Gerard
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2012, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011
JabbaPapa said:
it's imperative to get walking shoes/boots 1 size up from your normal shoe size, because feet swell when you hike ...
Its probably better to get your camino footwear properly fitted by an experienced salesperson at a reputable outdoors outfitter. Even better if they know something about the camino. Go later in the day, walk as much as possible beforehand and bring the thickest socks combination you will be walking in if you have already made that choice.

If you do this, you might expect the footwear to be one or more sizes larger than you would normally wear. Don't be concerned - even after only a few days walk, you feet will have spread both along and across as they adjust to being loaded up each day. You may also get some swelling (oedema) so having more volume to expand into is important.

An experienced salesperson will make sure of at least two things
  • the boot/shoe is long enough so that your toes won't come into contact with the end of the toe box on a downhill slope, and
  • your heel does not move in the boot, particularly on an uphill slope.
Generally fabric and suede mix boots don't require much if any wearing in. Nor do some of the softer leathers. The tougher leathers in more substantial boots will, and if that is your choice, you need to consider wearing them regularly for several weeks, including getting some distance up on them before you leave.
 

Green Tortuga

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012), Chemin Le Puy (2012)
JabbaPapa said:
eh, sorry, was thinking euro-sizes ; we're on the same page, a 1/2 size in your local system means a full size in the one out here.
Ah, well, there you go then! =)

Stop being so agreeable. I don't have as much to post when everyone already posts what I'm thinking. ;o)

-- Ryan
 

NCfishboy

New Member
If they don't feel good in the store, no amount of "breaking in" will help. Try on as many different kinds and sizes, don't look at color or style, let your feet tell you, as you will find one that will just feel awesome. Then once home go for plent of walks with them to make sure they are the ones.
 

StuartM

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012)
One thing I always do with new boots is to wear them with no socks for a while. If they are going to rub then this is guaranteed to show you where in about ten minutes.

Unless you are planning a particularly heavy pack, a lot of mountain trails or are a bit unsteady on your feet I wouldn't bother with hiking boots. A good trail/approach shoe is perfect for that kind of terrain. Spend a bit extra and get Goretex lined, the one thing that will definitely blister your feet is damp socks. Meindl Respond or something like that. I like to stick a pair of Orthoheels in for long walks for a bit extra motion control.

Buy good socks too. A couple of really good pairs are better than half a dozen cheap pairs.
 

ilovelife

Member
Anniesantiago said:
Buy yourself a pair of New Balance trail shoes and there is no breaking in. Get them a size and a half too large and buy Notion Control inserts. No breaking in. Wear them straight onto the Camino.

Thank you to everyone for the great feedback and ideas.

So Annie, would you recommend these pair of shoes would be enough? When you've done the camino have you brought more than one pair of shoes? Should I not even bother with heavy boots then?
 

ilovelife

Member
Anniesantiago said:
Buy yourself a pair of New Balance trail shoes and there is no breaking in. Get them a size and a half too large and buy Notion Control inserts. No breaking in. Wear them straight onto the Camino.

Would you also be referring to the New Balance Minimus Trail shoes?
 

Green Tortuga

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012), Chemin Le Puy (2012)
ilovelife said:
When you've done the camino have you brought more than one pair of shoes? Should I not even bother with heavy boots then?
Pretty much any shoe or boot you buy should last at least 500 miles. When I did the Appalachian Trail, I actually bought my shoes at Payless Shoes which I got all sorts of grief about because they're so cheap, but they still managed to hang in for 500 to 700 miles before I had to replace them. And since from St. Jean to Santiago is about 500 miles, pretty much any shoe should make the entire distance unless it has some sort of serious flaw in it.

I wouldn't bother with heavy boots unless there's some sort of medical reason you need for having them. Most of the Camino goes over relatively well-maintained roads (even the gravel ones are usually in pretty good shape) where boots really aren't needed. The couple of small sections where they might be nice to have aren't really long enough to justify wearing them for 500 miles, though!

-- Ryan
 

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