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Hiking Boot Maintenance

mustbjones

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Fall 2013
How do I keep my boots soft and supple as I break them in for my Camino? I am old enough to remember using saddle soap on my baseball glove, but I wonder if there is something more "hi-tech?"
 
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If you are not using leather boots, there isn't much you can do to them. A silicone spray makes them a bit more water resistant, but after the first torrential downpour, the silicone will be gone.

Mink oil works well on leather.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
My tips:

a. follow the manufacturers guidance on cleaning and caring for your boots in the first instance.
b. clean regularly with a brush and water - especially if you have been walking in mud, dusty conditions etc.
c. remove inner soles and allow the inside of the boots to air and dry.
d. don't expose boots to high heat sources. Air dry using an indirect, low temperature heat source, eg near a radiator (not on top of it).
e. if water is not beading on the dry boot, reapply waterproofing treatment, and if the boot is leather, apply conditioner. Most waterproofing treatments I have used contain a conditioner, but you will need to check.

Regards,
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
We use Renapur on our leather boots. Excellent and keeps them conditioned and waterproofed but still breathable.
Not sure if it is available outside of the UK but if you search their site you might find a stockist, or enough info to look for a similar product, elsewhere.
http://www.renapur.com/shop/
 

Green Tortuga

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2012), Chemin Le Puy (2012)
mustbjones said:
How do I keep my boots soft and supple as I break them in for my Camino?

I know footwear comes under the "everybody has a different opinion" category, but I have to admit to being a little surprised at how many people on the trail were using heavy duty hiking boots which seemed a lot like bringing an ice axe to Florida. The vast majority of the trail is not really what I would call "hiking"--it's a walking trail and a pair of lightweight, comfortable walking shoes would be infinitely more comfortable than genuine hiking boots. Leather boots tend to be a lot heavier, require a lot more breaking in, and for most people, it just seems like unnecessary overkill. Perhaps if you're charging through deep snow in the depths of winter or something (and maybe you're planning to do that!), but if you have to ask how to keep your boots soft and supple, it makes me think you've got the wrong kind of shoes on your feet.

However, despite my opinion on the matter (and I don't really have a good answer to your actual question), you certainly won't be alone with heavier hiking boots. =)

-- Ryan
 
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One of my walking partners last fall wore leather Army boots. He had a bad ankle, and used an additional ankle brace at the beginning. The high top combat boots provided the stability that allowed him to walk from Leon to Santiago. Since returning, he has had ankle surgery, and just got out of his immobilization boot after two months in it.

Everyone has their reasons for selecting footwear! The Forum allows you to see what others have done, and know their opinions, but each pilgrim must decide on the right footwear.

He used mink oil, by the way, and it kept the leather supple and repelled water. He is retired Army, so the boots were well worked in.
 

bohemianvirgo

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
April/May (2013)
I will be wearing a good hiking shoe, probably Merrell. I recently attended a presentation by an Appalachian Trail through-hiker and he mentioned that most people buy aftermarket insoles for new shoes. Does anyone have any advice as to which ones would be good? I would like to get them soon so I can get them broken in by the end of April.

http://www.bohemianvirgo.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bohemian- ... 5741475787
 

lessilb

New Member
I've been using the green model of Superfeet for a number of years. I have had plantar fasciitis in the past and wearing these insoles solved the problem and kept it away.
 

Green Tortuga

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2012), Chemin Le Puy (2012)
falcon269 said:
Everyone has their reasons for selecting footwear!

I hope I'm not pushing my luck on this matter--there are certainly solid, legitimate reasons people would use footwear that I wouldn't use--but I do believe that a lot of people who might have selected their footwear didn't really have good reasons for it. Those companies that create hiking boots, I believe, have done a pretty good job of brainwashing people into thinking they need more shoe than is really necessary, and it costs them in pain and blisters.

So please don't get me wrong--I'm not suggesting that heavy-duty hiking boots are wrong for everyone! For some people, they might be the right chose! But there are a lot of people walking on the Camino for which they are not the right choice but were probably purchased because they thought it was the right choice.

I image someone who's never walked more than five miles in a day in their life walking into an REI to buy some shoes. They know they're going to do 500 miles--which sounds HUGE! And, I suppose, in a way, it is, and the first time I did it, it felt HUGE! I've now since thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, and Florida Trail, and when I decided to hike the Camino last year, I looked at the 500 miles from Saint Jean to Santiago and thought, "Yeah, only 500 miles? That's not really very much..." It's all relative. =) That also explains why I chose to start in Le Puy instead of Saint Jean--and why I originally wanted to do the Portuguese route on top of that. (I ultimately cut out the Portuguese section only because I didn't have a visa and it would have required my "racing" to complete within 90 days--and I wanted to take my time.)

Anyhow.... That first thru-hike I did back on the Appalachian Trail, I remember the enormous sense of accomplishment I felt at reaching the 100-mile mark. Looking back on it, I kind of laugh at the thought. But at the time, it felt HUGE!

And I could totally understand the feeling that if you're doing a walk that long for the first time, you feel the need to get a "real" hiking boot. Something heavy duty that can go the distance. I didn't actually do that, though--I wore sneakers along the AT. (And through the swamps of the Florida Trail, and through the snows of the High Sierras.) And they tended to last me about 500-700 miles just fine. (They weren't even expensive ones--I bought them at Payless Shoes!) And those trails were a heck of a lot rougher and tougher on my feet than the Camino.

But I think a lot of people look at sneakers and think, "Yeah, those aren't going to hold up for 500 miles!" But they can, and do. Consequently, you wind up with a lot of people walking in boots far heavier than needed--but only because they didn't know any better.

For those who have certain medical issues or weak ankles or something, there very well could be a good reason for a heavier hiking boot. But if the main reason people are buying a heavy duty hiking boot is because "they're on a long trail," that's not a good reason for it and they'll likely be doing their feet a huge favor by getting lightweight walking shoes. They need people to tell them that it's okay not to have a hiking boot if for no other reason than so many people tell them that they DO need such shoes.

Anyhow, I'll keep my trap shut on the matter now. I've said my peace. =)

-- Ryan
 
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hotelmedicis

Commercial Interests
Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2001 (+more)
VDLP 2013, 2018
Email the manufacturer directly. I have always found that they respond promptly and will of course give you the best information.
 

vicrev

Active Member
Hi all.....Dubbin brand leather boot & saddle is great,makes them waterproof & supple,been using it for years !!!.....Cheers Vicr
 

Jnlee99

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Past: SJPdP -> Santo Domingo de la Calzada
Future: Santo Domingo de la Calzada -> Santiago
In my perpetual search for perfect boots I am currently in three pairs of Merrell and one Keen. My flat and wide feet still not completly comfortable. What next? Do I need a custme made boots!!!! Augh... how I envy people with 'easy' feet.
 
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The Total Support model. The thin model may work best if your boots are on the tight side (mine are not).
 
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t2andreo

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
In my perpetual search for perfect boots I am currently in three pairs of Merrell and one Keen. My flat and wide feet still not completly comfortable. What next? Do I need a custme made boots!!!! Augh... how I envy people with 'easy' feet.

New Balance makes a line of hiking shoes and boots that are available in widths as well. Have a look here:
http://www.newbalance.com/men/shoes/Hiking/104000,default,sc.html

New Balance has a VERY LONG history of producing quality, well-fitting running shoes. I can speak to that reputation and their ability to fit runners with all manner of odd feet. But, I cannot speak to their hiking shoe / boot line.

This said, if anyone has had experience with New Balance footwear on a Camino, please share it here. Indicating the model name and number might help too. Thanks in advance.
 
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if anyone has had experience with New Balance footwear on a Camino
I have gone through three sets of New Balance, and my brother has worn out two pair. His soles de-laminated after returning home. Two of my pair "melted" in the rain. They lost structure after being soaked then dried. I stick with New Balance because they are comfortable, though. My current pair of Columbia boots have a sole chemistry that becomes extremely slippery with the right combination of water, tile, and floor cleanser. It can be like skating rather than walking! I have actually done splits to a knee on one tile floor. Stretching is important, but not a sudden over-stretch!!!
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
New Balance has a VERY LONG history of producing quality, well-fitting running shoes.
I wore a pair of NB shoes for all of a winter competition walking season a few years ago, and had to replace them for the summer season. I went back to ASICS, which generally last for a whole year of competition. The fit was okay, but they didn't have the durability of the ASICS.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
Thanks for the input. Mr. Lee's particular problem, as stated in his post is that he has feet that are both wide and have low arches - flat feet. I recommended NB as I knew they could fit him. Evidently long term quality is another issue. I appreciate the assist on that. I did not know.

Personally, I wore through the soles on a new pair of Keen Targhee II mid-height hiking boots on my Camino, St. Jean to Santiago this past spring. I sent them back to the company complaining that they should have lasted longer. I received a credit for a new pair - online only. I am waiting for the current inventory to clean out as I am hearing that the newer models in the supply pipeline will have more durable outsoles. Besides, they are out of my size 13s / 47s at present, so I have to wait for resupply anyway.;)

Getting back to the instant problem, what companies can Mr. Lee go to to find boots / shoes in widths? He can likely use an insole to deal with the arch problem. But only a wider last will result in a wider shoe.

Thanks again.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
In my perpetual search for perfect boots I am currently in three pairs of Merrell and one Keen. My flat and wide feet still not completly comfortable. What next? Do I need a custme made boots!!!! Augh... how I envy people with 'easy' feet.

Your "Forum Family" is working on it. Stay tuned...
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
In my perpetual search for perfect boots I am currently in three pairs of Merrell and one Keen. My flat and wide feet still not completly comfortable. What next? Do I need a custme made boots!!!! Augh... how I envy people with 'easy' feet.
@Jnlee99 I see you have posted elsewhere about footwear fit as well. If you had the footwear properly fitted in the first place, it might be time to consider visiting a podiatrist and getting specialist advice, possibly getting a custom insert made that can be used in a normal boot or shoe. I know several people who have done this, and it has made a significant difference to their walking comfort.

Regards,
 

wawpdx

Active Member
In my perpetual search for perfect boots I am currently in three pairs of Merrell and one Keen. Augh... how I envy people with 'easy' feet.

You have my sympathy. I understand completely, although I have never bought a second pair from the same company.

I agree that it might be time to investigate custom made insoles. When you do decide to go that route be sure to allow plenty of time to get used to them and get them adjusted if needed. The search for the right boot will still continue but at least you will have addressed some of the problem. I've had custom insoles from the beginning, still not "easy" feet, but I know it is better than it would have been without them.

The worst thing you can do, IMHO, is to buy your boots at a "problem" foot store instead of sticking with hiking stores that have many options. I forget if that was my second pair or my third pair.

It might be helpful to look at the posts with lacing and tying advice. I recently took the laces completely out of the first set of holes in my Keens and it made a nice difference in toe room.
 
Last edited:

Jnlee99

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Past: SJPdP -> Santo Domingo de la Calzada
Future: Santo Domingo de la Calzada -> Santiago
I live in San Francisco Bay Area (California) which is very dry and hike in the hills where I live (5 to 15 miles per trail), so my boots are well fit for this environment. My boot of choice is Merrell Moab Ventilator with E width and second market insole to help with my flat arch. I rarely have problems with this boot. About a year before my travel to the Camino I also bought waterproof version of this boot and have been using it for local hiking without issues.

I took the waterproof boots for the Camino and walking continues days is what seems to have caused my blisters, and since I returned and hiking the same trails near where I live seems to bring out the same blister and pain I had during the Camino; hence my search for the perfect boots.
 

Jnlee99

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Past: SJPdP -> Santo Domingo de la Calzada
Future: Santo Domingo de la Calzada -> Santiago
You have my sympathy. I understand completely, although I have never bought a second pair from the same company.

I agree that it might be time to investigate custom made insoles. When you do decide to go that route be sure to allow plenty of time to get used to them and get them adjusted if needed. The search for the right boot will still continue but at least you will have addressed some of the problem. I've had custom insoles from the beginning, still not "easy" feet, but I know it is better than it would have been without them.

The worst thing you can do, IMHO, is to buy your boots at a "problem" foot store instead of sticking with hiking stores that have many options. I forget if that was my second pair or my third pair.

It might be helpful to look at the posts with lacing and tying advice. I recently took the laces completely out of the first set of holes in my Keens and it made a nice difference in toe room.
Thanks @wawpdx I will try skipping the first holes.
 
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Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
Do the waterproof boots make your feet sweat? so making them soft after about 20kms and more likely to blister.

Reason I ask this is that my Hi-Tec boots are waterproof and breathable, no problems with my feet overheating on the Camino. This year, in cool weather I wore Grisport waterproof boots. They were fine in training but on the Camino were hot and sweaty. We only walked very short days, around 15kms so it was OK, but I felt that walking 20kms+ I might have had problems. Going back to Hi-Tec for next year and wearing the Grisport during winter training.

It is the type of lining which makes the difference according to our hiking shop.
 

Jnlee99

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Past: SJPdP -> Santo Domingo de la Calzada
Future: Santo Domingo de la Calzada -> Santiago
As a Christmas present to my flat feet, I bought mephisto baltic boots. I am breaking them in for my Camino continuation this year. I am hoping these pair are the 'One'.
 

KarliMc

New Member
I have a pair of Asolo hiking boots. They have been wonderful to me so far in the breaking in process. I have almost put 100Km on them and no blisters and they are waterproof!
 

Christine15

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Francis (2013)
I know footwear comes under the "everybody has a different opinion" category, but I have to admit to being a little surprised at how many people on the trail were using heavy duty hiking boots which seemed a lot like bringing an ice axe to Florida. The vast majority of the trail is not really what I would call "hiking"--it's a walking trail and a pair of lightweight, comfortable walking shoes would be infinitely more comfortable than genuine hiking boots. Leather boots tend to be a lot heavier, require a lot more breaking in, and for most people, it just seems like unnecessary overkill. Perhaps if you're charging through deep snow in the depths of winter or something (and maybe you're planning to do that!), but if you have to ask how to keep your boots soft and supple, it makes me think you've got the wrong kind of shoes on your feet.

However, despite my opinion on the matter (and I don't really have a good answer to your actual question), you certainly won't be alone with heavier hiking boots. =)

-- Ryan
I agree with you, I walked last September and I used Nordic Walking Shoes, I had them for quite a while and and had some use but I trained in them before I left and used good walking Toe Socks - they were extremely comfortable and really great to walk in and did not even consider getting a new pair. Only ONE blister on the sole of my foot, as soon as I noticed it I put a Compede on and just forgot it. Everyone has different problems but worth considering.
 

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