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Hiking Boots vs Running-style tennis shoes

#1
Any comments on whether hiking boots are necessary? We would be walking from Leon to Santiago in late April/early May. Seems like with the variety of running/trail type tennis shoes those may be more comfortable in the long run. Any thoughts?
 

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MichaelB10398

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes to SdC, SJPP to SdC
#2
The question is more of personal taste. Pilgrims have walked this in sandals, tennis shoes, or even barefoot. Some things to consider is how strong your ankles are; do they get twisted easily. If you don't need the ankle support, then the lower cut of hiking shoes may be a better choice. Find a good outdoor clothing store with qualified staff, and a walking "hill" that allows you to go up and down it as you try different shoes or boots. Good luck and Buen Camino,

Mike
 

skilsaw

Veteran Member
#3
My bias is towards boots, but that being said, for my second Camino (The Via de la Plata), I bought boots that were lighter and had a more flexible sole than the leather boots I wore on the Camino Frances.

April / May can be quite wet, and even have new snow at high elevations. You will be passing Cruz de Ferro (the Iron Cross) at 1500 meters elevation just past Rabanal. The second mountain you have to climb is to O'Cebreiro.

Whatever you choose, buy them early and walk a lot in them with your loaded pack on. This will let you know if the footwear gives you blisters. If you get blisters on training walks, try a couple different socks to see if this solves the problem. Other remedies include putting vaseline (Petroleum gelly) on your feet just before you put on your boots each day. If nothing works, try another pair of footwear.

Along with the boots, I took "hiking" sandals with vibram soles. These were a nice change in the evening and good to wear into showers when the floor wasn't too clean. I also wore the sandals for a couple of days while I was letting blisters dry out.

Enjoy your preparation for the Camino. It is all part of the journey.

David, Victoria, Canada
 
#4
I agree with a lot of the last post - I walked at that time of year and took trail shoes but with Vibram soles (definitely not tennis shoes, please) - there is a small chance of snow (though can probably walk on roads to avoid the worst) but almost certainly the odd muddy stretch
 

cecelia

several caminos- '03-'13
#5
Hi everyone,
I've walked three times at that time of the year and definitely prefer boots although at times it can be hot. But unless it is a really unusual year there will be mud - not just dainty little puddles you can leap over but mud that is often past the tops of shoes. (Having said that, more and more of the camino is being paved over and some of the most challenging muddy spots in the past are now pavement<sigh>.
There are a couple of other things you may want to consider as well when making your decision on this. In addition to what has been said above - how is your weight (rhetorical question)? if you are carrying a few extra pounds already, remember that you're suddenly going to gain 7 to 10 kilos when you're carrying your pack with water and occasionally food. What do you think your feet will think of that? Do you have a tendency to get sore arches after walking a full day? Your feet may need some extra arch support. Just a consideration, not a recommendation. I find boots to be really stable on the rocky parts and definitely prefer them but as has been said - people have worn every kind of footwear.
It's definitely worth figuring out the best possible thing for YOUR feet- you're asking a lot of them. Buen camino, Cecelia
 

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#6
Please also take the unpredictability of the weather into account. Wet feet = blisters inevitably. Last week in Santiago itself there were two days of monsoon like conditions and pilgrims reported real difficulties in the last few days of their pilgrimage.
 

evanlow

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances06
Primitivo07
Plata08
Norte12
Levante(14-15)
Vasco16
Mozarabe(16-17)
Madrid17
Portuguese18
#7
I would really like to be able to go on the camino with running-style tennis shoes, but have not done so because...

1. Any wet weather will soak up the shoe.
2. Mud on the trail. Much worse than just wet shoes.
3. One misstep and a twisted ankle will probably end your camino.

It's rains a lot in Galicia. So it's a big risk to be going on running shoes.
 
#8
boots support your ankles, tennies don't. However, New Balance has several styles that can be called "Hybrids"--they look like hiking boots, but are lighter weight & you can wear them like tennies.

Kelly
 

evanlow

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances06
Primitivo07
Plata08
Norte12
Levante(14-15)
Vasco16
Mozarabe(16-17)
Madrid17
Portuguese18
#9
Hybrids?

I googled it and saw a model of the New Balance hybrid. Extremely colorful, looks a look lighter than a regular hiking boots. May not be very water resistant though.

Have you tested it on the camino Kelly?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 will be Camino #14.
#10
There is a plus and negative to water resistance.

If my New Balance shoes got wet on the Camino, they were perfectly dry by next morning.
Many people who wore hiking boots had damp shoes to put on next morning.
 
#11
On my first 2 caminos, I used the New Balance 976. They are water-resistant (I think) At any rate, May 2007 was very wet & muddy. I did not have problems with my feet getting wet, except the day we had to walk through puddles that came up over our ankles.

They no longer make the 976. It was replaced with the 977, which I'm wearing right now to get used to them. :)

For regular wear, I have another pair of New Balance shoes that look more like hiking boots than cross-trainers. I had considered using them, but don't feel they'll support my wonky ankles on the downside of the Alto. :)

Kelly
 

evanlow

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances06
Primitivo07
Plata08
Norte12
Levante(14-15)
Vasco16
Mozarabe(16-17)
Madrid17
Portuguese18
#12
Thanks Annie and Kelly for your experience on the shoes.

The 976/977 looks just right for the balance between being light and ankle protection. Will definitely consider that or equivalent for my next camino.
 
#14
Three questions, y'all:

1. I'm planning on hiking the Portuguese route (+/- 2 weeks) in late-June. Should I be posting on threads specific to that trail?

2. Am I naive in thinking I might do this in my tennies (with a daypack)? It's "only" two weeks, after all.

3. Am I asking for disparaging comments (see question 2)?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014 Camino Portugues 2016
#15
My daughter walked in running shoes and had no problems. I wear New Balance 966, which are waterproof. The only problem with them is that if water gets into the shoe, it can't get out, which I found out on a training walk in heavy rain. It never rained that hard when I was on the camino, but now I have rain pants that cover the tops of my shoes and hopefully will keep the inside of the shoes dry.
 

Abbeydore

Veteran Member
#16
Personally, my ankles will 'go-over' if in shoes, I just know it! not worth the risk, one day they may not come back. :lol:

I walk with confidence in my (good)boots.
 
#17
I just used everyday walking shoes. In fact, they were an old pair and on the very last day, at Santiago, I threw them out. When I hiked the Appalachian Trail I used hiking boots and they proved very worthwhile, but they're useless (at least to me) on the Camino. The Camino, with a few short exceptions, is mostly walking on dirt roads, sidewalks or small sections of paved roads.

There are a few sections around Ste. Jean Pied du Port-Roncevalles and in Galicia that were mountainous, but only because they're steep, not because they're rock climbs or anything of the sort. In fact, my wife Jane, walked a good portion of the Camino in her sandals, I did some as well. I've attached a URL for a photo of the shoes the day I discarded them.



Dennis "K1" Blanchard
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
#18
One more issue. There are a number of sections where you walk on medium-sized stones. Whether you choose boots or shoes, make sure the sole is tough enough so the bottoms of your feet do not feel every stone - if not, your feet will feel every single stone and will be bruised. Very painful.

So - sturdy sole. A must.

lynne
 
Camino(s) past & future
2001 CF, 04-6 LP, 07 Port, 08-10 Arles, 11 Mozá,12-13 Gen-LP. 00-10 PCT, 15 Norte, 16 Primi
#19
I've hiked thousands of miles using running shoes, and have used boots on rare occasions. If you are going to be walking in the rain for weeks, then lightweight Gortex boots are useful if you also wear rain pants. For normal intermittent rain conditions, running shoes work best for me, but they must NOT be waterproof or Gortex. Your feet will get wet sometimes, but will dry quickly if your shoes allow the water to get out. If you have to ford a stream, it helps to wring out your socks after a few hundred yards unless you expect to cross another stream shortly. For an overgarment, by the way, I use a Packa, which I don't think is available in Europe. http://www.thepacka.com
 

mmm042

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VDLP 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014
#20
I've used hiking boots and running shoes. I like my running shoes the best. I recommend using them with a good pair of wool running socks. Wool is warm, and wool running socks dry really, really quickly, even if you've just submerged your entire foot in a puddle.

Melanie
 

Aussiemum

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Starting my 1st from Leon in Sept (2012)
#21
Dennis K1
I was so pleased to see your post.
I have a brilliant pair of New Balance running shoes that are kind to my feet. I will now consider wearing these instead.
Over the last 2 months I have been preparing for my Sept 2012 Camino and bought two different pairs for Keen's hiking shoes. I get sore feet with both if I walk longer than 2 hours and yesterday I got my first blister.
I will only be walking from Leon to SdC and think I sould go back to using what I know works for me. With a couple more weeks to prepare I hope the New Balance prove up to the task.
I have also taken note of the good advice to stop and rest frequently and to air my feet and shoes. I will trial some different wool socks too. I wonder if my explorer socks contributed to my getting a blister?
Less than 3 weeks to go for me. Yay
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
#22
Aussiemum said:
I will trial some different wool socks too. I wonder if my explorer socks contributed to my getting a blister?
Socks are another topic with many viewpoints ;-)- but I think they can often be an overlooked factor in the blister equation. I found that a thin polyester liner together with a lightweight woollen sock worked well for me. The theory is that friction then rubs between the liner and the sock rather than on your foot.
I just got blisters once when walking on hard tarmac all day, ten days into my recent Camino. A Frenchman told me then that he used Nok cream before he put on his socks. I tried some of this and loved it. It helped the feet to 'glide' a little, and meant that the feet did not become so tender on hard surfaces. Some people use vaseline for the same purpose, but I loved the Nok cream as it was non-greasy.
Margaret
 

backpack45

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Vezelay (2017, in progress); Primitivo & Norte; Geneva/LePuy; Arles; Portuguese; Francés + more
#23
When I wore hiking boots on our first Camino hike, I had endless problems with blisters. My boots were definitely broken in--I had just hiked the last 60-miles of the John Muir Trail. Both Ralph and I switched to trail runners in about 2005 and have worn them on the LePuy route, Arles route, Porto, Camino Mozarabe, and about 90 miles out of Geneva-- all told probably 1,500 miles. Almost all of these trips were in the spring. We also completed the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail--which includes river crossings, snow, days on end of rain in Washington--in trail runners. The PCT's terrain is much rougher than anything you will find on the Camino Frances.

Yes, they get wet, but boots get wet too and take much longer to dry. Even if your shoes are wet, you can change your socks and keep your feet reasonably dry. If the mud is deep enough to be classified as "boot-sucking," which we have had many times in France and southern Spain, boots are even heavier to lift out of the mire.

There have been times that I wished I had boots, but overall, they have been much better for us because they are lighter and cooler. Ralph wears Asics; I wear men's (because they have a wider toe) Brooks. They are not waterproof--we like the fact that they breathe well.

We definitely carry hiking poles--not particularly because we fear turning an ankle, but because they add to our general stability on hills and any stream crossings. They also give your lower body a break and exercise your upper body a bit.

That said, everyone's feet are different and what works for one may or may not work for another.
Buen Camino
Susan "backpack45" Alcorn
 

sdn8tiv

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
April/May (2016)
#24
When I wore hiking boots on our first Camino hike, I had endless problems with blisters. My boots were definitely broken in--I had just hiked the last 60-miles of the John Muir Trail. Both Ralph and I switched to trail runners in about 2005 and have worn them on the LePuy route, Arles route, Porto, Camino Mozarabe, and about 90 miles out of Geneva-- all told probably 1,500 miles. Almost all of these trips were in the spring. We also completed the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail--which includes river crossings, snow, days on end of rain in Washington--in trail runners. The PCT's terrain is much rougher than anything you will find on the Camino Frances.

Yes, they get wet, but boots get wet too and take much longer to dry. Even if your shoes are wet, you can change your socks and keep your feet reasonably dry. If the mud is deep enough to be classified as "boot-sucking," which we have had many times in France and southern Spain, boots are even heavier to lift out of the mire.

There have been times that I wished I had boots, but overall, they have been much better for us because they are lighter and cooler. Ralph wears Asics; I wear men's (because they have a wider toe) Brooks. They are not waterproof--we like the fact that they breathe well.

We definitely carry hiking poles--not particularly because we fear turning an ankle, but because they add to our general stability on hills and any stream crossings. They also give your lower body a break and exercise your upper body a bit.

That said, everyone's feet are different and what works for one may or may not work for another.
Buen Camino
Susan "backpack45" Alcorn
I will be starting the Camino Frances in April and have been going through so many trials in mid-level boots, trail shoes, etc. I run and have 3 different types I run in; all comfortable. But, I'm at a loss on this whole hiking in boots thing. I've tried 5 different mid-level boots and I can't wait to take them off; all make my leg hurt right above my ankle. I have very strong ankles and feel support is unnecessary but I keep reading about rain/mud in April and May on the Camino.
Also, for the whole sock issue? I purchased 'blister-free' socks and I'm quite vexed about wearing two pair of socks. I'm vegan and don't use wool...yes, I know I'll probably starve to death on the Camino. :) I like the socks I've been wearing but then again I haven't worn them for mile upon mile upon mile. I don't get blisters when running but it seems it is a concern with all the friction on the Camino. Also, I will not be using a pack other than my camelback; using a transport service.
Any advice?
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata.
#25
@sdn8tiv some people walk in hiking boots. Some people walk in army boots. Some people walk in trail walkers or trail runners. My husband walks in ordinary lightweight Jacoform leather shoes. I know of people who have walked in flip flops. Last September I walked for a while with a girl who was dong the Camino bare footed.

You run and have 3 different types of shoes you run in. They are comfortable. You like the socks you already have. Why are they insufficient for the Camino? I walked the Camino Francés three times, from SJPDP to Santiago, each time in ASIC lightweight joggers. When they got wet and muddy, I washed them and they basically "walked dry". I never had to put on wet shoes in the morning. I don't like cotton socks, because they don't wick at all, but there are numerous brands of technical socks that do, and that do not contain wool (try Thorlos).

I now walk in hiking sandals, with no socks. I am a happy chappy in my sandals. I wade through the water and do not worry if my feet get wet. If it is really, really cold, I wear Sealskinz waterproof socks. It would not suit lots of people, but it suits me.

Find what is comfortable for you.
 

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