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Hiking Shoes vs. Boots -- One Experience

Glenn Rowe

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
.
Hey, all!

This has been an often-discussed topic. Based on my recent experiences in central Europe, here's something to consider. My wife and I spent 20 days walking/hiking/wandering through several central European cities on a guided tour. Since we were always in the ancient city-centers, all of our steps were on cobblestone. We both were wearing sport-shoes designed with walking/hiking in mind. We AVERAGED eight miles per day, which included stretches of standing/listening/looking.

Cobblestones are hard on the ankles and knees so, long story short, by the third day I was wishing for my good ol' Vasque hiking boots. We've been home for one week now, and my ankles/knees are still complaining. Since the Camino is by no means a smooth even track, I suspect the same may be true of it as well.

I don't know what y'all are gonna do, but next time I'll be taking/wearing my hiking BOOTS.

-- Glenn
 
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Rick M

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
April ('16,'18, '19, 21)
It IS an often discussed subject. I subscribe to the line of thinking that if you have footwear that you like, and can walk long distances in it, then its the right choice for you. That said, there are cobblestone streets in many of the towns on the Camino, but not much overall. The Camino is mostly woodland trails, improved aggregate, some tarmac, and a few stretches that are either rocky or muddy. Boots are not required. If you like them though, take them!
 
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Anemone del Camino

Guest
Standing still at the Prado will kill your feet, no matter how many layers of memory foam you are standing on. Still,doesn't make memory foam pads the right thing to wear when actually walking in the woods, on gravel, on dry tractor tracks. Oh yes, those tractor tracks.
 

Lue

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances, (2013), via de la Plata (2014),
Portuguese (2015), Camino Madrid (2017
It IS an often discussed subject. I subscribe to the line of thinking that if you have footwear that you like, and can walk long distances in it, then its the right choice for you. That said, there are cobblestone streets in many of the towns on the Camino, but not much overall. The Camino is mostly woodland trails, improved aggregate, some tarmac, and a few stretches that are either rocky or muddy. Boots are not required. If you like them though, take them!
I agree, have walked the Frances, the via de la Plata and the Portuguese (from Lisbon, tons of cobblestones along the way). Hiking shoes are adequate, make sure you don't buy waterproof shoes, more chance of blisters.
 

Glenn Rowe

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
.
Sorry; guess I wasn't clear. I was NOT stating, hinting or implying that the CF has cobblestones. Neither was I proselytizing for hiking boots.

What I meant to say was that my recent experiences have helped me to make my own, personal selection of footwear for the CF. Since it is likely to have uneven surfaces, and given my well-documented and decades-long ankle/knee difficulties, I personally plan to wear the hiking boots that I should have worn on my recent central European tour.

Everyone should, obviously, make their own choices.

Regards,

-- Glenn
 
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O-Ben

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2017
Sorry; guess I wasn't clear. I was NOT stating, hinting or implying that the CF has cobblestones. Neither was I proselytizing for hiking boots.

What I meant to say was that my recent experiences have helped me to make my own, personal selection of footwear for the CF. Since it is likely to have uneven surfaces, and given my well-documented and decades-long ankle/knee difficulties, I personally plan to wear the hiking boots that I should have worn on my recent central European tour.

Everyone should, obviously, make their own choices.

Regards,

-- Glenn
Glenn, your original post was clear to me. I'm going to wear hiking shoes, for personal preference, when I walk the CF next week.
 

KyleR

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Planning Camino de Santiago Frances Aug (2017)
So, I'm planning my first Camino so take my advice for what it's with. Given that a typical pair of running shoes is designed to last 300-500 miles, I'm planning on taking two pairs of footwear - running shoes for smooth terrain and lightweight boots for rougher ground. Some may call me crazy for carrying the extra weight, but I only have one pair of feet and don't want to mess them up. And I'm a pronator, so getting a good fit with good support is really important.
 
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Anemone del Camino

Guest
I don't think the extra weight really is the issue, but rather wondering what you consider "rougher ground", how much you think you will encounter, and how many times a day do you plan on changing footwear back and forth?
 

KyleR

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Planning Camino de Santiago Frances Aug (2017)
My plan (subject to change based on advice and experience) was to wear the same pair of shoes all day, depending on what most of that day's walk would be. And by alternating different pairs of shoes, I'll be subjecting my feet to less repetitive stress and potential resulting injury.
 
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Anemone del Camino

Guest
My plan (subject to change based on advice and experience) was to wear the same pair of shoes all day, depending on what most of that day's walk would be. And by alternating different pairs of shoes, I'll be subjecting my feet to less repetitive stress and potential resulting injury.
Ok, so let's go back to what you consider "hardous terrain that could last for full days".
 
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March, 2017
My opinion here, based on my Camino, and you only need ONE pair of comfortable, broken-in boots, and ONE pair of sandals (optional for ultra-light hikers, but preferable for comfort after long day of hiking). You do not need two pairs of hiking boots or shoes, unless you have some real foot issues, in which case, up to you. I absolutely would have tossed out any second pair of shoes had I brought them. My Keen boots (Oakridge) were PERFECT for whole Camino, and I'm still hiking in them today.

Alternatively, you might want to consider starting off light with one pair of boots and if you really miss your other pair of shoes, then have them mailed ahead to you by a friend, or order on Amazon. Good luck!
 

Rick M

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
April ('16,'18, '19, 21)
My plan (subject to change based on advice and experience) was to wear the same pair of shoes all day, depending on what most of that day's walk would be. And by alternating different pairs of shoes, I'll be subjecting my feet to less repetitive stress and potential resulting injury.

I did more or less what you are proposing: I had a pair of running shoes and a pair of gortex trail shoes. If it would have rained every day, I would have worn the gortex shoes every day. If every day had been sunny, I would have worn the running shoes the whole distance. It did neither of course! There are a few patches of rough ground, but they tend to be short, and there are very few areas where something more than running shoes are needed. To me, its more about the weather.

So it really depends when you are going. In the summer, you will not need anything other than runners......most likely. In the other seasons, be prepared to walk in rain. Some swear by sandals in the rain, and if that suits them, then fine. Others like boots, and if they are comfortable, so bet it. I found the gortex shoes invaluable in the rain, and would take them again. In the heat though, gortex shoes are a terrible choice. Similarly, on tarmac, the running shoes are golden. When I went, the rain came and went often, and I changed shoes in the middle of the day many times. I also changed shoes a few times when my feet were complaining, and can confirm your theory that a change is as good as a rest for sore feet.

At the end of each day, I changed shoes for the afternoon/evening activities. Full disclosure, I also had a pair of crocs that I wore around the albergues. Three pairs of shoes. No blisters or injuries. Extra weight yes, but for me at least, it was the right choice.

Buen Camino
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Year of past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
I think, regardless of surface, each pilgrim should use the footwear that's most appropriate personally. Because of my ankles, for me it's army boots.

Some though with lighter foot gear would have had not so much trouble on those cobbles, and I know that for my part cobbles are the one surface where my usual boots feel uncomfortable though they're fantastic for me everywhere else, and remain indispensable in any case.
 

Peter Fransiscus

Be a Rainbow in someone else's cloud.
Year of past OR future Camino
All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
I agree, have walked the Frances, the via de la Plata and the Portuguese (from Lisbon, tons of cobblestones along the way). Hiking shoes are adequate, make sure you don't buy waterproof shoes, more chance of blisters.
Hi Lue, I'm asking you Why not ??

I'm now walking with my fourth pair of Goretex boots no problems what so ever but when I take a break I get my boots off and the insoles out. And you have to use the writh kind off socks for different types of weather.
Never had a blister.

Wish you well,Peter.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Year of past OR future Camino
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
Ok, I think I can answer the 'water-proof' concern.

Some shoes are better in keeping rain etc out than letting the 'steam' of your feet escaping, some people have more sweaty feet than others and, in general, Goretex membrane need a temperature difference (higher inside the shoe than outside) to work properly.

If a person has very sweaty feet and walk in hot weather and the shoe is one the cheapish/not well build/lower quality site than this can lead to the feet being in an hot-humid sauna all day ;-)

Hope that helps, Buen Camino, SY
 
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Glenn Rowe

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
.
I think, regardless of surface, each pilgrim should use the footwear that's most appropriate personally. Because of my ankles, for me it's army boots.

Aaah! Someone who understands! If I could find a good pair of 1950s/1960s Corcoran jump boots in 13 wide (a pair that I wouldn't have to mortgage my house to afford), that's what I'd be wearing --- weight-be-danged. Unfortunately.... :(

[BTW, if you look up the term "old f*rt" in the dictionary, there's my picture!]
 
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Glenn Rowe

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
.
Have to spend a bit more money at the boots / shoes , they have to " breathe " in a good way.

Wish you all well,Peter.

One should never overlook or underestimate the "temperature gradient" that @SYates mentioned. Simply speaking, if it ain't there, Gore-Tex just won't work as advertised. I found this out on a mid-1990s July trip through the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota. After a full day of canoeing in the rain, I was just as sweat-wet under my Gore-Tex jacket as I was rain-wet from jacket downwards.
 
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Glenn Rowe

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
.
... If I could find a good pair of 1950s/1960s Corcoran jump boots in 13 wide (a pair that I wouldn't have to mortgage my house to afford), that's what I'd be wearing --- weight-be-danged. Unfortunately.... :(

Update: I discovered that Corcoran jump boots are still being made. They look very much like the originals and can be found online at a reasonable price. I ordered a pair of 13-wides and will commence field-testing in a day or so.

Yes, I know that many will say boots are significant overkill for the Camino, and for the majority that is accurate. My 71-year-old, sorely-abused-in-my-youth, ankles and feet see it differently. ;) My similarly-abused knees may have something to say about it as well. :cool:
 
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hotelmedicis

Commercial Interests
Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2001 (+more)
VDLP 2013, 2018
The CF is mostly asphalt or well packed dirt trails and roads. I would not wear hiking boots of any sort on the CF. Insoles, however, I find invaluable. Inexpensive (Dr. Sholl's Active Sport are about 16 euros) and providing wonderful cushioning between the feet and the ground, these are key for my comfort hour after hour on the CF or VDLP. I prefer running shoes that are not waterproof and I bring waterproof socks for those heavy rain days. Many people I spoke with send home or threw away their hiking boots in favor of sandals after suffering blisters or other injuries. Find what works for you and go for it. Enjoy the walk.
 
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Sv1dkr

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Want to once in my life
Aaah! Someone who understands! If I could find a good pair of 1950s/1960s Corcoran jump boots in 13 wide (a pair that I wouldn't have to mortgage my house to afford), that's what I'd be wearing --- weight-be-danged. Unfortunately.... :(

[BTW, if you look up the term "old f*rt" in the dictionary, there's my picture!]

I am currently wearing for all my hiking activities a pair of USMC boots (bellevilleboots) with drain holes on the side that are perfect for hot weather (living in Greece) and am sure will be the same for north Spain during Spring - SUmmer
hope when I make the CF will have a well broken pair and go for the 800kms
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
Although this is an old thread, I found it interesting as I was walking the Camino Frances on and after that exact date.
I wore runners with a wonderfully cushioned sole, and flip-flops for after.
I experienced some rain, not much - mainly hot fine weather, The path on the Frances is very easy going with the exception of a couple of days. Much easier walking than I would normally hike on.
I NEVER once wished I had hiking boots, but would have liked some sandals.
Each to his own - if it works for you that's all that matters.
 

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