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Footwear: The Limitations of a Personal Recommendation

  • Thread starter Deleted member 67185
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Deleted member 67185

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I frequently state on the Forum that people should never rely on someone's subjective statements of comfort or feel about a specific shoe. Another person's recommendations should be viewed as something to add to a checklist of recommended footwear to try out; to audition, if you will.

Due diligence is required to make YOUR feet happy. Or as happy as they can be, anyway :)

I have at least a dozen different brands and models of backpacking/walking footwear in my closet. They form an inventory of hiking shoes, backpacking boots, trail runners, and street runners. Some are well past their 'Use By Date'. Others have usable life left. Still others are sitting in a special bin of shoes I was hired to gear test. I have evolved and fine tuned my preferences for hiking footwear over the decades as materials and technologies and manufacturing processes have evolved.

For the last two years, the footwear I use most often for backpacking, and on Camino, has been the Hoka One One Bondi. Currently, it is now in v. 6. I had started with using the Bondi when it was still in its v. 5 iteration. On my feet, I find the shoe exceedingly comfortable, does well on a variety of terrain while backpacking in the Rockies and Cascades, and has functioned perfectly for Caminos.

Anyone else would be a fool to take my experience of comfort, and then order a pair on blind faith that their feet will find them just as comfortable as me.

There is a good chance the Bondi will be comfortable for some, as can be seen by reviews posted on various consumer sites. However, regardless of what others report, your experience with that shoe can be 180 degrees opposite. Your experience with the Bondi, should you try it, is something that must be individually determined. And since the Hoka One One Bondi does not dominate the footwear market, it is plainly obvious that for other folks, the Bondi is not end-all / be-all.

For example, my wife, Jill, does not like the Bondi v6. They feel 'odd' to her and they have a pressure point that is annoying to her, even in the 'wide' width. Jill had decided to try the Hoka Bondi based on the fact that I find them comfortable and more than adequate to my needs.

I made sure that she wore them only as the local store directed in order to be able to return them, even though Jill wanted to immediately take them out on the trail. As a charge nurse on pediatrics at out local hospital, she was able to try them out while working ( the store sells to a lot of hospital staff). Jill walks a lot during a shift, and after a few shifts it became apparent to her the shortfall of the Bondi as a match to her feet. And she was able to return them.

So, take the praise folks give their footwear with the appropriate salt grains, and stick to a low-sodium diet. If interested, put that shoe on your checklist to try. But do not commit to a shoe until you know it will work for you.

Oh, and if that shoe is a trail runner or road runner, and it is not comfortable from the very first time you put it on, it will not become better with age. Put them back in the box, and go on to the next candidate on your Must Try list. While some parts of the shoe will 'mold' itself to the foot a bit, like the footbed, there is no real 'breaking in".

The materials used nowadays, even in the hiking boots that I use in the winter (Lowa Camino) are far more supple than from yesteryear. The joy of most hiking footwear -- be they running shoes, trail running shoes, hiking shoes, etc -- is that the materials and construction make them generally 'good to go' right out of the box.

Yes, there are exceptions, and these occur mostly in heavy duty boots with thicker leathers or heavy manmade materials. Military boots, boots used in some construction and industrial trades, some mountaineering boots, are examples of these exceptions to the rule.
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
Totally agree Dave. There are 350k pilgrims walking in a good year and all of their feet are different even amongst siblings. My advice - well don't listen to our advice. Go see an expert shoe/boot fitter, hopefully someone who has experience in long distance walking.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
What works for my feet will typically work for others only in certain very specific circumstances.

Consequently, I will only ever advise others to follow my example in some rare instances.

(oddly, the person who first advised me to try what ended up as my permanent choice is someone who should never have used this footwear personally, but wrongly thought so -- complete blisterfest actually on the Camino !!)
 

wayfarer

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-Santiago-Finistera-Muxia. April/May 2012
Sarria-Santiago Sept. 2013
SJPP - Almost Orrison April 2014
I find that most people here tell us what worked for them and why, they did not insist that everyone should buy the same footwear. That's the whole point in making a recommendation when answering a question, whether you are an expert or just someone who likes a particular piece of equipment.
 

Vaughan

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francais April/May 2019
Camino Notre April/May 2020
Totally agree with all of the above. I would only add that peoples experiences are undoubtedly coloured by the amount of conditioning they have subjected their feet to before they attempt the Camino. Even the best/most expensive footwear will be unable to shield you from poor preparation.
 

MyDestinationGalicia

Mark Auchincloss
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Invierno,Portuguese Ways x15 French Way Sarria x5, Silver Way Ourense, Santiago-Muxia x2..
Agreed. It's true that some brands are more "state of the art" and innovative than others like your example. I like a walking shoe that's light,waterproof,is well designed and uses the latest technology and manufacturing techniques,materials etc. For me (I've done ever Camino in Spain) it's got to be ECCO Biom every time! https://www.eccoshoesuk.com/ecco-news/74-ecco-biom-technology
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
I frequently state on the Forum that people should never rely on someone's subjective statements of comfort or feel about a specific shoe. Another person's recommendations should be viewed as something to add to a checklist of recommended footwear to try out; to audition, if you will.

Due diligence is required to make YOUR feet happy. Or as happy as they can be, anyway :)

I have at least a dozen different brands and models of backpacking/walking footwear in my closet. They form an inventory of hiking shoes, backpacking boots, trail runners, and street runners. Some are well past their 'Use By Date'. Others have usable life left. Still others are sitting in a special bin of shoes I was hired to gear test. I have evolved and fine tuned my preferences for hiking footwear over the decades as materials and technologies and manufacturing processes have evolved.

For the last two years, the footwear I use most often for backpacking, and on Camino, has been the Hoka One One Bondi. Currently, it is now in v. 6. I had started with using the Bondi when it was still in its v. 5 iteration. On my feet, I find the shoe exceedingly comfortable, does well on a variety of terrain while backpacking in the Rockies and Cascades, and has functioned perfectly for Caminos.

Anyone else would be a fool to take my experience of comfort, and then order a pair on blind faith that their feet will find them just as comfortable as me.

There is a good chance the Bondi will be comfortable for some, as can be seen by reviews posted on various consumer sites. However, regardless of what others report, your experience with that shoe can be 180 degrees opposite. Your experience with the Bondi, should you try it, is something that must be individually determined. And since the Hoka One One Bondi does not dominate the footwear market, it is plainly obvious that for other folks, the Bondi is not end-all / be-all.

For example, my wife, Jill, does not like the Bondi v6. They feel 'odd' to her and they have a pressure point that is annoying to her, even in the 'wide' width. Jill had decided to try the Hoka Bondi based on the fact that I find them comfortable and more than adequate to my needs.

I made sure that she wore them only as the local store directed in order to be able to return them, even though Jill wanted to immediately take them out on the trail. As a charge nurse on pediatrics at out local hospital, she was able to try them out while working ( the store sells to a lot of hospital staff). Jill walks a lot during a shift, and after a few shifts it became apparent to her the shortfall of the Bondi as a match to her feet. And she was able to return them.

So, take the praise folks give their footwear with the appropriate salt grains, and stick to a low-sodium diet. If interested, put that shoe on your checklist to try. But do not commit to a shoe until you know it will work for you.

Oh, and if that shoe is a trail runner or road runner, and it is not comfortable from the very first time you put it on, it will not become better with age. Put them back in the box, and go on to the next candidate on your Must Try list. While some parts of the shoe will 'mold' itself to the foot a bit, like the footbed, there is no real 'breaking in".

The materials used nowadays, even in the hiking boots that I use in the winter (Lowa Camino) are far more supple than from yesteryear. The joy of most hiking footwear -- be they running shoes, trail running shoes, hiking shoes, etc -- is that the materials and construction make them generally 'good to go' right out of the box.

Yes, there are exceptions, and these occur mostly in heavy duty boots with thicker leathers or heavy manmade materials. Military boots, boots used in some construction and industrial trades, some mountaineering boots, are examples of these exceptions to the rule.
Once again thank you oh wise one of all things camino and feet. Just wanted to comment that I totally agree that weigh advice carefully and then choose wisely because only you know what is good for you and your feet.
My wife and I just ordered new trail runners for our Covid walks. She has scoliosis and has had pretty bad knee problems which needed surgery a few years back. She also has about the weirdest shape feet going. I always joke, (that she fails to see the humor) that after she passes this earth she should donate her feet to science. But I digress.
After reading so often about how much people love their Hoka's, I convinced my wife to try them. I told her that even though I never owned a pair the problems others talked about who loved their Hoka's were similar to hers. She ordered the Hoka One One Clifton. I was about to buy some too but I listened to my inner voice for a change and stuck with my tried and true Brooks Cascadias which have brought me years of pain free walking and only about 5 blisters in the easily 8,000 Kilometers I have walked either training or walking 5 Caminos. I am happy I bought my Brooks again.
My wife absolutely loves, loves and loves maybe more than me her Hokas. She said it is like walking on air and most importantly she has suffered no pain whatsoever and her orthopedic insoles fit beautifully in them.
Keep pumping out the great advice @davebugg[/USER] and once again everyone should read and do research as knowledge is power, but it is still your feet and every pair is unique.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Roncesvalles to Sahagun Oct 2016
Sahagun to SDC April 2017 Burgos to SDC April 2018
I frequently state on the Forum that people should never rely on someone's subjective statements of comfort or feel about a specific shoe. Another person's recommendations should be viewed as something to add to a checklist of recommended footwear to try out; to audition, if you will.

Due diligence is required to make YOUR feet happy. Or as happy as they can be, anyway :)

I have at least a dozen different brands and models of backpacking/walking footwear in my closet. They form an inventory of hiking shoes, backpacking boots, trail runners, and street runners. Some are well past their 'Use By Date'. Others have usable life left. Still others are sitting in a special bin of shoes I was hired to gear test. I have evolved and fine tuned my preferences for hiking footwear over the decades as materials and technologies and manufacturing processes have evolved.

For the last two years, the footwear I use most often for backpacking, and on Camino, has been the Hoka One One Bondi. Currently, it is now in v. 6. I had started with using the Bondi when it was still in its v. 5 iteration. On my feet, I find the shoe exceedingly comfortable, does well on a variety of terrain while backpacking in the Rockies and Cascades, and has functioned perfectly for Caminos.

Anyone else would be a fool to take my experience of comfort, and then order a pair on blind faith that their feet will find them just as comfortable as me.

There is a good chance the Bondi will be comfortable for some, as can be seen by reviews posted on various consumer sites. However, regardless of what others report, your experience with that shoe can be 180 degrees opposite. Your experience with the Bondi, should you try it, is something that must be individually determined. And since the Hoka One One Bondi does not dominate the footwear market, it is plainly obvious that for other folks, the Bondi is not end-all / be-all.

For example, my wife, Jill, does not like the Bondi v6. They feel 'odd' to her and they have a pressure point that is annoying to her, even in the 'wide' width. Jill had decided to try the Hoka Bondi based on the fact that I find them comfortable and more than adequate to my needs.

I made sure that she wore them only as the local store directed in order to be able to return them, even though Jill wanted to immediately take them out on the trail. As a charge nurse on pediatrics at out local hospital, she was able to try them out while working ( the store sells to a lot of hospital staff). Jill walks a lot during a shift, and after a few shifts it became apparent to her the shortfall of the Bondi as a match to her feet. And she was able to return them.

So, take the praise folks give their footwear with the appropriate salt grains, and stick to a low-sodium diet. If interested, put that shoe on your checklist to try. But do not commit to a shoe until you know it will work for you.

Oh, and if that shoe is a trail runner or road runner, and it is not comfortable from the very first time you put it on, it will not become better with age. Put them back in the box, and go on to the next candidate on your Must Try list. While some parts of the shoe will 'mold' itself to the foot a bit, like the footbed, there is no real 'breaking in".

The materials used nowadays, even in the hiking boots that I use in the winter (Lowa Camino) are far more supple than from yesteryear. The joy of most hiking footwear -- be they running shoes, trail running shoes, hiking shoes, etc -- is that the materials and construction make them generally 'good to go' right out of the box.

Yes, there are exceptions, and these occur mostly in heavy duty boots with thicker leathers or heavy manmade materials. Military boots, boots used in some construction and industrial trades, some mountaineering boots, are examples of these exceptions to the rule.

I agree Dave. I have worn the Bondi's on my last two Camino trips and have an older pair that I wear around casually. They have made a huge difference in my old feet being able to walk miles at a time. The only problem is they all (I have three pair) squeak loudly which is off putting. Any experience with this problem and a remedy?
 

JamesVT

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2019
Once again thank you oh wise one of all things camino and feet. Just wanted to comment that I totally agree that weigh advice carefully and then choose wisely because only you know what is good for you and your feet.
My wife and I just ordered new trail runners for our Covid walks. She has scoliosis and has had pretty bad knee problems which needed surgery a few years back. She also has about the weirdest shape feet going. I always joke, (that she fails to see the humor) that after she passes this earth she should donate her feet to science. But I digress.
After reading so often about how much people love their Hoka's, I convinced my wife to try them. I told her that even though I never owned a pair the problems others talked about who loved their Hoka's were similar to hers. She ordered the Hoka One One Clifton. I was about to buy some too but I listened to my inner voice for a change and stuck with my tried and true Brooks Cascadias which have brought me years of pain free walking and only about 5 blisters in the easily 8,000 Kilometers I have walked either training or walking 5 Caminos. I am happy I bought my Brooks again.
My wife absolutely loves, loves and loves maybe more than me her Hokas. She said it is like walking on air and most importantly she has suffered no pain whatsoever and her orthopedic insoles fit beautifully in them.
Keep pumping out the great advice @davebugg[/USER] and once again everyone should read and do research as knowledge is power, but it is still your feet and every pair is unique.
Dave, thanks once again for your thoughtful, well ordered advice on shoes for the Camino. (In the midst of the current, weird moment in time, I’ve wondered now and again how you are faring. I hope well and happy). But, back to shoes. I do ask for advice and recommendation and read reviews, especially those that are low rating a shoe and may have picked up something in a shoe that may not be working quite right. In the end, I’ve concluded that there is no substitute for trying on lots of shoes, comparing their feel on my feet, and not being in a hurry about the process. For my Camino, I tried on roughly 20 to 25 different pairs, varying brands, models, and sizing within models. With regard to sizing, I found that the stated “size” on the box usually was just a rough approximation. Fit and feel were really the only reliable guide in choosing. Finally, the advice to “size up“ from one’s usual, normal size is the best recommendation to be found here on Forum. I settled on shoes that were a size and a half larger than my true size and walked my Camino with no foot problems and only a single small blister. So, once again, thanks, Dave for another of your fine essays on how to distance walk and take care of yourself. We all owe a debt of gratitude to you for the time and attention you give to the Forum and it’s members and to the Camino. Stay safe and well.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF (2013), CPrim (2015), CdelN (2016), CVdeLP (2017),CM de Almeria (2018), CdelS de Alicante (2019)
What an interesting post, lots of valuable information on footwear Davebugg and others, but more than that love your writing style Davebugg. Nice one!
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
I agree Dave. I have worn the Bondi's on my last two Camino trips and have an older pair that I wear around casually. They have made a huge difference in my old feet being able to walk miles at a time. The only problem is they all (I have three pair) squeak loudly which is off putting. Any experience with this problem and a remedy?
A couple of things could be occurring if it is not a weird pocket of air trapped in the mid or outer sole (during manufacture).

If it occurs because of the insole rubbing, a thin application of silicone grease will help. Apply it to areas where the insole touches the inside of the shoe. Silicone grease seems not to hold onto dirt particles as aggressively as vaseline petroleum jellies, nor does it cause damage to fabrics and glues used in the shoe.

If the noise still persists, try also putting a thin application to the bottoms of your insoles.

Another candidate is the interface between sock and insole. Sometimes it is the sock-insole equivalent of the violin and bow. :) I have had it happen to me a few times when my sock was a bit damp, or an insole was a bit 'grabby' against the sock as it moved against the insole.

You might have some luck, if that is the cause, using Engo Anti-Blister patches attached to the upper surface of the insoles. They make the sock-insole interface 'slicker', which could reduce the 'violin and bow' effect.
 

tjb1013

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2017)
Portugués (2019)
Agree completely.

Two hopefully helpful observations/amplifications:

1. If buying directly from Hoka, they will accept a return for any reason within 30 days. I have been lured by somewhat measly discounts to buy from retailers, and as a result have three pairs of (still expensive) Hokas that aren’t quite right for me. They felt good enough when I tried them on, but pesky pressure points revealed themselves in use - well within the 30 day period.

2. The wide Bondi 6 is not as wide (for my foot) as the wide Speedgoat 4 (non-waterproof version). As many have noted, same size from same company, and from same shoe year to year (in Hoka’s case they version number the shoes, which is helpful in this regard), fit differently.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Roncesvalles to Sahagun Oct 2016
Sahagun to SDC April 2017 Burgos to SDC April 2018
A couple of things could be occurring if it is not a weird pocket of air trapped in the mid or outer sole (during manufacture).

If it occurs because of the insole rubbing, a thin application of silicone grease will help. Apply it to areas where the insole touches the inside of the shoe. Silicone grease seems not to hold onto dirt particles as aggressively as vaseline petroleum jellies, nor does it cause damage to fabrics and glues used in the shoe.

If the noise still persists, try also putting a thin application to the bottoms of your insoles.

Another candidate is the interface between sock and insole. Sometimes it is the sock-insole equivalent of the violin and bow. :) I have had it happen to me a few times when my sock was a bit damp, or an insole was a bit 'grabby' against the sock as it moved against the insole.

You might have some luck, if that is the cause, using Engo Anti-Blister patches attached to the upper surface of the insoles. They make the sock-insole interface 'slicker', which could reduce the 'violin and bow' effect.
Thanks Dave. I have the squeaking problem with all three pairs of Hoka's but no other shoe. I took the orthotic out of the shoe and walked around and lo and behold no squeaking. I guess the problem was the interface of the orthotic and the inside of the shoe. I'll try some silicone and see if that fixes the problem. Thanks again as I would not have considered the orthotics. You are most helpful, as usual
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
@davebugg, thanks for your post and the strong advice to check out locally.

In my case the podiatrists advice was for a shoe with both a wide fitting and with pronation support. But it took more than 3 years of trial and error on everyone's part.

Luckily there was a suitable model available locally. Started with V5 in mid 2015 and the the latest (Feb 2020) is V8. I can get these new in the importers remainders shop at about half the new price of the later version.

Even though the brand is international, I note only the less specialised (more rapidly selling?) models can in found in UK shops.

Kia kaha
 

danvo

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2014, 2016, 2019, Camino Portugues 2017
My first camino I started in Merrel Moab low GTX - comfortable, but I had few blisters. Then I switched to sandals - Teva Terraluxe. In those sandals I walked second half of that camino - and then my next Camino (Frances, then to Muxia and Finisterre, total ca 1200 km (half of first Camino and next one, 300+ and 890km)- without any blister. Sandals - best option so far FOR ME. I'm sure that everyone has his/her best solution, I just want to point to sandals as alternative. Quality sandals is a must, of course. For example - next camino was in Teva Terra Fi4 and it was terrible...
 


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