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heavy boots

ann kirkwood

New Member
I am worried about my boots. They are the Scarpa heavy leather gortex lined hikers that seem as stiff as ski boots!! I've been wearing them in training and things are not getting any better. They hurt across the front of the foot. I have the beginning of bunions and I am thinking they are just not big enough for me.
I've since heard that these heavy leather hikers are not the thing for the camino. It's an expensive mistake but I'm willing to start again because it is so important. I have to act quickly to give myself time to wear them in.
I even tried soaking them in water and wearing them until they dried but they are still hard and uncomfortable. Help!
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Hard Boots

Oh dear Annie - you really don't need heavy duty mountain boots for walking el camino. Some of the paths are long, flat and hard - not conducive to unyielding leather boots.
I did a number of long distance trails (including the Coast to Coast in England, Camino Frances and the Via Turonensis) in New Balance All Terrain running shoes.
Last year I bought a pair of HiTec V-Lite boots to hike the Via Francigena - on rocky paths over the Alps and stony trails over the Cisa Pass. They were great and I will wear them again on the camino this year. They are like running shoes with ankle support and are very lightweight.
If you need to buy another pair, make sure that you can fit two fingers down the back at the heel even with thick socks on.

John Hussey

Active Member
Heavy weight boots???

Please do not wear the heavy weight limmer-style boots for the Camino. Frankly, I believe they are just a relic of days gone by when it was felt that any stroll through any hills at all with any height required them. Select something more comfortable. Trail runners, for instance, are designed for running through the mountains and serve nicely. I prefer trail sandals. Footwear is extremely personal so remember that every pound upon your feet is like five (some sources say 6) pounds upon your back. A pair of heavy limmers like Montrail Morraines weigh 5.5 pounds. A pair of comfy trail runners or trail sandals weigh just 2 pounds (for size 12 US, 45-46 european).


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Ann, I also made an expensive mistake. I bought some Merrell walking shoes and after a few times wearing them I realised I had bought a pair that were going to cause me strife on downhill sections... they were simply too small. I went out and bought a bigger pair. I thought at first that the next size up was simply too big. But having worn them a few times now, I know that with socks and a liner they are just right. It was an expensive mistake, but in the long run I am glad I went out and spent the money a second time.

I have backpacked in various places quite a lot, and have always 'got by' on a trainer kind of walking shoe, plus a sturdy sandle. But last year I climbed "Croagh Patrick" in Ireland, on a day when the weather turned foul. It has a very stony kind of surface, and once it was wet, I found I was slipping all over the place. The wind also became very strong. At one point I slipped over and was then rolled around on the ground by the wind. It was a very unnerving feeling I can tell you! I was fortunate not to injure myself more than with a few bruises.

What kind of shoe you wear on the Camino will be a personal decision, and the season you walk in will affect it. But after my Croagh Patrick experience, I have gone for a shoe with a very good non-slip Vibram sole. I have now worn these shoes enough to be confident that they provide very good ankle support over uneven rocky terrain, and I am no longer concerned that I need boots.

ann kirkwood

New Member
Thanks for the advice

Thanks you soo much for the advice. I wish you all worked in the "trekking shop" that I bought the #*#!#%! boots in!! You have probably changed my Camino experience from one of torture. In my twenties when I trekked in Nepal I abandoned boots and wore my humble trainers after 1 day and never looked back. (I didn't climb Everest!) I should have gone with my gut feeling and not listened to the "expert" who served me in the shop. There's a lesson there.

Thanks again from two very appreciative feet.
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ann kirkwood

New Member
new boots!

Thanks to your prompting I now have new Keens. The wider fitting suits me and they are a size bigger!!
Trials so far are much happier. Thanks guys.


Active Member
Good stuff!

I've got some heavy duty jobs, too, but swapped them for some nice, light Meindls... Which I think I may have to marry!
Minkey said:
Good stuff!

I've got some heavy duty jobs, too, but swapped them for some nice, light Meindls... Which I think I may have to marry!

Me too - i have the Meindl Borneo Pro's - mainly bought because i need boots equally at home on a Camino or a very wet English mountainside. They are fairly stiff and sturdy but not too heavy and unbelievably comfy.

But like they say its a matter of personal choice....there are probably people who could comfortably walk the Camino barefoot!


Active Member
I've got big Scarpas (which I love) for the UK and Meindl Softline GTX's for hotter climates, such as the Camino.

They not only fit like a glove, but they're some of the nicest, most supportive lightweights I've ever worn.
Having just got back from doing the camino with leather boots (Meindl's) i have to say im glad i took them!!

There's no question at all that if you're not an experienced walker you need good ankle support on many stretches. I saw people in trainers and even sandals which is just begging for tendonitis at the very least. That wont stop your camino but a sprain will.

It depends what you're used to but you need to spend a decent amount of money on proper footwear I think. Good hill walkers (as opposed to scarpa or meindl) would do but cheap boots or trainers is like driving on bald tyres. You might get away with it......but is it worth the risk?
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Oh, we can all talk about boots forever. But just let me mention my very best friends on my last CF and VDLP - my Garamont boots. I sadly retired them this July, and I must say I shed some tears. These boots were my best friends over many ups and downs, wet clay roads that went on forever, loose rocks, ankle-killing roman roads, and many others. I loved these boots with an inordinate love - they gave me what I needed all of the time. And I thanked them with all my heart and sadly bid them goodbye this year.

Scarpa are excellent boots but as with all such boots take some breaking in. Meindl are more comfy straight from the box but still take some breaking in.

Scarpa are not ideal for long stretches of flat terrain - until they are broken in and then they are every bit as good as anything else. Modern leather boots are generally not much heavier than their fabric cousins and in some cases actually lighter. Shell's Meindl Borneo's are extremely light. And solid leather.

Leather boots last several years, are naturally waterproof, very tough, give great ankle support (there ARE some very dodgy slopes on the camino after all) and are easy to maintain. That said there are some great fabric boots out there (Meindl and HanWag for instance) but for gods sake dont get gore-tex on your feet if you can avoid it. Great material but not on your feet!

Its a shame you have scarpa because they take so much work to use comfortably but they will, i promise you, reward you for it. Unless you havent worn them outside in which case exchange them!!!

DOing the camino in running shoes is fine if you know what to expect, have time to adjust your pace with no timetable to attend to, are very experienced at walking. Otherwise get boots. Seriously - why take the risk of a sprain? Tendonitis you can push through and walk on - a sprain and you're pretty much out.

Just my .02 :)
One other thing....(just read back through the original post and missed some bits). Soaking leather boots in water does absolutely nothing to help soften them or adapt them to your feet.

And if they dry too fast they will get harder and more likely to chafe.

Sorry :oops:

There are solutions you can get which will soften leather and you use them by wearing your shows/boots in a solution of the water like liquid. Great for shoes but I would NEVER do this for walking boots. Scarpa are a very professional company and their boots will break in to suit your feet but it takes time and quite a lot of miles for many people. The gore-tex thing is a response to consumer demand apparently - rather than any actual good technical reason for it.

It depends when you're going but if its soon then ditch the scarpa - DONT go back to that store and get some top of the range (and i do mean TOP) Hi Tec's or mid range (and above) Meindl or Scarpa fabric/Nylon/Cordura boots. they dont need so much breaking in (very little) and will be fine. Dont bother with gore tex in boots its a silly idea (so avoid Blacks in the UK as thats all they do).

Hope you find what your feet are looking for!

Buen camino :)

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