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PSA: Wear Chacos!

CaminoLars

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Future Frances: August & September 2022
This is a public service announcement for any aspiring pilgrims who are considering making their journey in a pair of Chacos. DO IT!

As you prepare, you'll probably be reading the same sandal criticisms that I read on various forums. I suspect that these opinions come from sandal hating grumps forum users who are surely wonderfully pleasant walking companions, but probably did not wear sandals on The Way. I started at SJPP in the summer and ditched my shoes after awful blister problems. And by ditched, I literally left them in Pamplona (they were an old pair of trail runners).

I purchased these Chacos second hand on ebay and I brought them as a backup for the blister circumstance. As for specifics, I'd recommend you buy a pair with vibram soles. The latest productions are not made in the USA and the new production also lacks vibram soles.

I'd also note that I had no problems hiking the mountainous detours such as the alternate route from Villafranca del Bierzo.

A few suggestions:

-Size up.
This will prevent you from stubbing your toe. I didn't intend to "size up", but found this as a tremendous unintended benefit of having the larger size.

-Bring a lightweight pair of flip flops to wear around town.
The chacos will smell like crap - since you're literally walking through cow pastures - and you won't want to be the smelly pilgrim. You'll also be washing your feet thoroughly each day (see photo below).

-Go slow on the downhills.
A sacrifice, but well worth the benefits of wearing Chacos

-Wash your Chacos each day upon arrival at the albergue
Soak them in your leftover laundry detergent water.

I do think Chacos limit mileage a bit. I did 18km/day comfortably, 18-23km was tough, and 23km+ had my arches aching, but I did go up to 35km on one or two occasions.





IMG_7408.JPG



And....if you must know. I did meet a pilgrim in Astorga who had walked from SJPP in basic Birkenstocks.
 
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CaminoLars

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Future Frances: August & September 2022
I find chacos pretty heavy. I prefer Tevas, but sandals could save your Camino if it is warm weather.
Definitely heavier, but I appreciate the burly sole when walking on rocky trails (both before and during the Camino).
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
I suspect that these opinions come from sandal hating grumps who probably haven't ever walked the Camino in sandals.
I am happy that you have found the footwear that suits you so well, but wish you would not be so smug in your conclusions.

I may be a grump :mad:, but I have no hatred of sandals. I need orthotics in my shoes in order to walk long distances, and I also need a lot of cushioning to pamper my problematic feet. If I could try sandals with orthotics, I would be happy to do so, as I feel no personal animosity for sandals. But that seems unlikely to work for me.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I suspect that these opinions come from sandal hating grumps who probably haven't ever walked the Camino in sandals.


I walked in sandals on my first camino, got a blister in Pamplona that didn't heal properly for the rest of the way to Santiago, and prefer to walk in boots. They don't give me blisters.

I don't hate sandals, I just don't consider them an option any longer. I don't hate other forms of footwear either. There are many more important things to be grumpy about than that!
 
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trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
As a certified "sandalista" I mostly concur with your post.

But while I am on the Camino - not in the afternoons around town, I wear socks with my sandals (not Chacos, which don't work for me) This helps in a few ways - it greatly reduces the possibility of getting blisters from the straps, keeps my feet from turning into hooves😂, and keeps my sandals from getting stinky, though I do rinse them off often to remove dirt.

I have met several pilgrims whose Caminos were saved because they switched to sandals after experiencing blisters from their shoes or boots.

For me, the important thing is the sole of my footwear, and I prefer that it's attached with straps.
 

dick bird

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
I never get blisters. I have a theory about this (as I do about many things, including the Basingstoke ring road system). This is my theory: shoes are a mass-produced therefore standardised item and no shoes will fit your feet perfectly unless they have been custom-made (by a cordwainer, cobblers mend shoes). That is, unless, by some miraculous and improbable fluke, you happen to have feet that are exactly the same size and shape as the standardised foot for which mass-produced shoes are produced. It is mathematically highly probable that at least one such person exists, and yes, I believe I am that unique, blessed person who never gets blisters no matter what shoes I wear. As for why the rest of you sometimes get blisters and sometimes not, what can I say? Everyone must find the shoe size and shoe type that works for them, and just hope that smug people like me don't start dispensing advice about how to avoid blisters. Alone amongst people who never get blisters, I abstain from giving advice about how to avoid blisters. Buen Camino to you all.
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, Portuguese, Aragon, Norte, SJWayUK, Nive
Perhaps the real reason of your initial blisters can be found in a single phrase of yours:
they were an old pair of trail runners
Trail runners are great, but really do break down after putting some mileage on them (I get about 800 miles out of my Altras). Pilgrims who buy their shoes and then “break them in” by walking in them for months before pilgrimage are setting themselves up for sore feet, bruised heels, and blisters - possibly even shoes that literally fall apart! Trail runners should simply fit and one day of walking in them should let you know if they will work or not.

As for sandals, I tend to drag my feet a bit and find that they pick up every Little Rock and twig along the way, plus sometimes I stub my toes while wearing them. Just me, but it’s a no-go if it’s at all gravely or rocky. Additionally, my church-going mother would have to light a table of extra candles if she saw me entering church with them on! 😱 Finally, my feet resemble those of Frodo and Bilbo, so I’d frighten everyone I passed…

However, your post does show that there are many ways to walk a Camino and what’s really key is to discover YOUR personal way prior to embarking on it!

Buen Camino!

PS: I loved the humor of your writing 👍
 

Graeme Cook

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
23 April to 28 May 2022
Going slow on the downhills, particularly when wearing Chacos or sandals in general, may very well be sound advice. But….on the Sarria to Santiago section of our Camino earlier this year, we saw a young couple literally jogging the downhills, tacking as they went. We gave it a try - more slow skipping than jogging to be fair - and it was much easier on the toes and knees, and much faster. Obviously, you have to have the right kind of downhill as in wide(ish) path with good underfoot conditions but it worked for us, admittedly wearing boots not sandals. Get a good song in your head (Keep It Coming Love by KC and the Sunshine Band did it for me) and dance your way down the downhills.
 

Keith H

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
😱
Very funny post. I’ve been tempted by sandals and even bought Chacos. Unfortunately they pinched on the outside of my food where the strap attaches. I’m going to give them a bit more of a go. If I can’t make them work I’ll try some tevas or merrells. I do love my Altras though so might go back and forth
 
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judyhath

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Burgos to Santiago (2014)
Norte (October 2018)
I walked both the Camino Francés and the Camino del Norte in Chaco Zs and merino wool ultralight socks. I have worn Chacos for about 20 years, including during my training for the 2 Caminos. I have also worn them for most of the hiking I have done in mountains both here and abroad. They work for me, but I highly recommend wearing them to train if you are considering Chacos as your prime Camino footwear.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Francaise Spring 2022
Portuguese Winter 2022/23
Just adding my own experience to this thread. I walked my first Camino, from SJPP to Finisterre, this April through early June. I did half of it in my Chacos (with the wrap around the big toe) and the other half in my waterproof La Sportiva Spires. I can't attest to why or how, but I can say I was blister-free the entire journey and would do that combo again in a heartbeat. But, alas, each of us is built differently. So my wish to all of you contemplating your footwear choices is that you find your personal sweet spot for blister-free hiking shoes as I did.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
March 2019
April 2022
Chacos Z-Cloud sandals, often with injinji toe socks, got me through my Camino as well; I also ditched the trainers after one day and my only blister. The toe loop model works better than the one without, for me, but they have been the most comfortable sandal or shoe I've ever had. I was so grateful I had read about them here and elsewhere and was able to walk in them.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
I wore Chao Mega Z sandals for all but 20km, of the CF (SJPDP-SdC). I trained in Chaos and continue to use Chaos on my daily 8mile/12km and other hikes of various terrain (Samaria Gorge, Zion & Bryce NP). I’ve gone through 4 pair in 2.5 years.

I did not size up. I did not stub my toes, etc. I did not wear socks. I did use body glide on certain points on the top of my feet (never on the soles of feet). If a pressure point/rubbing occurred I’d slap on a piece of water proof tape. I did use a pumice stone every 5-7 days (mainly heels) so cracks would not develop, etc. (But had super glue just in case a crack split open!!)

Mega Z’s are not cheap $100 and the high arch is not for everyone. I tried a different Chaos model that had the same sole, but thinner straps and found them not as supportive & foot had more movement even though I tightened the straps. ( I tried Tevas and my toes were constantly pushing forward no matter how much I played with the straps. )

I hand washed/scrubbed them 4 times on the CF. They did not smell. I would not recommend washing them everyday.

After, I feel, the sole is not as grippy due to trend wear, I wash them and they become a nice pair of kick around sandals.

Fall 2023, when I walk the CP from Lisbon & continue on to Finisterre & Muxia, I will not bring my trail runners. Only my almost new Chaos Mega Z sandals. My feet love them. Your feet might or might not. Buen Camino!
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
After, I feel, the sole is not as grippy due to trend wear, I wash them and they become a nice pair of kick around sandals
You can have your Chacos resoled.

 
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Slkalina

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Septembre 2023
This is a public service announcement for any aspiring pilgrims who are considering making their journey in a pair of Chacos. DO IT!

As you prepare, you'll probably be reading the same sandal criticisms that I read on forums. I suspect that these opinions come from sandal hating grumps who probably haven't ever walked the Camino in sandals. I started at SJPP in the summer and ditched my shoes after awful blister problems. And by ditched, I literally left them in Pamplona (they were an old pair of trail runners).

I purchased these Chacos second hand on ebay and I brought them as a backup for the blister circumstance. As for specifics, I'd recommend you buy a pair with vibram soles. The latest productions are not made in the USA and the new production also lacks vibram soles.

I'd also note that I had no problems hiking the mountainous detours such as the alternate route from Villafranca del Bierzo.

A few suggestions:

-Size up.
This will prevent you from stubbing your toe. I didn't intend to "size up", but found this as a tremendous unintended benefit of having the larger size.

-Bring a lightweight pair of flip flops to wear around town.
The chacos will smell like crap - since you're literally walking through cow pastures - and you won't want to be the smelly pilgrim. You'll also be washing your feet thoroughly each day (see photo below).

-Go slow on the downhills.
A sacrifice, but well worth the benefits of wearing Chacos

-Wash your Chacos each day upon arrival at the albergue
Soak them in your leftover laundry detergent water.

I do think Chacos limit mileage a bit. I did 18km/day comfortably, 18-23km was tough, and 23km+ had my arches aching, but I did go up to 35km on one or two occasions.





View attachment 135053



And....if you must know. I did meet a pilgrim in Astorga who had walked from SJPP in basic Birkenstocks.
Those are some well traveled feet!
 

jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2021, Norte/Primitivo 2022, VF 2023
As you prepare, you'll probably be reading the same sandal criticisms that I read on forums. I suspect that these opinions come from sandal hating grumps who probably haven't ever walked the Camino in sandals.
This is the only part of your post I completely disagree with. I know, I for one, LOVE to hike in Sandals (shorter distances) and I LOVE Chacos. But Chacos and other hiking sandals do not love my feet for long distances day after day. Regardless of whether or not I wear socks or size up or or go slower or shorter distances (18km/day is WAY too short of a walking day for my liking). I also don't like all the rocks slipping between my foot and the sandal while walking and I don't like taking the chance I will stub my toes while walking. To that end - I found the perfect trail runner and sock combination for my feet and that will always be my FIRST choice shoe for long distance hiking. That said - I refuse to bring "flip flops" or "crocs" or other sandals to wear in the evenings - unless they are hiking sandals. Chacos are too heavy to carry in your pack while hiking (in my opinion). I prefer either Tevas or Xero Sandals as my backup shoe. Both have a bit of grip in the outsole. Both have quality toe and heal straps. Both can be worn in the shower. Both are adjustable in case your feet swell. Both can be worn with socks (I almost always wear socks with sandals on the Camino). Difference? Teva is more cushioned. I brought Tevas in 2021 and Xero Sandals in 2022. Going forward - I will probably stick with Xero Sandals unless the soles of my feet are more tender before starting the Camino as they were last year - when I needed more cushioning for my trail runners.

BTW - you can keep your Chacos from smelling by wearing a thin hiking sock with them. That would also save you from having to wash them every day. Last thing I want to do is add one more thing to hand wash daily!

Anyhow - I am not some "Sandal hating grump", and I have walked the Camino twice (800+km both times) and travelled extensively after both Caminos with lots of additional walking. I love Chacos, but will never advocate for sandals to be the primary shoe for anyone. By that - I don't mean I would talk Sandal loving hikers out of bringing their sandals. If that works for them, fine - they should wear their sandals. But I will always recommend to those who are undecided to pick a lightweight pair of trail runners and a good sock combination for their feet - and to bring a hiking Sandal as an evening shoe/backup hiking shoe.
 

CaminoLars

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Future Frances: August & September 2022
Going slow on the downhills, particularly when wearing Chacos or sandals in general, may very well be sound advice. But….on the Sarria to Santiago section of our Camino earlier this year, we saw a young couple literally jogging the downhills, tacking as they went. We gave it a try - more slow skipping than jogging to be fair - and it was much easier on the toes and knees, and much faster. Obviously, you have to have the right kind of downhill as in wide(ish) path with good underfoot conditions but it worked for us, admittedly wearing boots not sandals. Get a good song in your head (Keep It Coming Love by KC and the Sunshine Band did it for me) and dance your way down the downhills.
Sarria to Santiago you say. Hmmmmm.

In the spirit of 'do as I say and not as I do'. I, too, jogged the downhill into Triacastela in my Chacos.
 
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ranthr

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
C Frances 2005, 2007
Le Puy en Velay -SdC 2009
Via de la Plata 2011
gr 653 from Oloron to Puente la Reina 2012
Gr65 from le Puy to Figeac 2013
Irun to Santander 2013
Porto to SdC 2014
Astorga to SdC 2015
Has anybody tried the Hoka Hopara WS sandals, I am not a person for sandal walking, in my opinion they are for beaches, but the Hoka ones seems an option.
 
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CaminoLars

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Future Frances: August & September 2022
Perhaps the real reason of your initial blisters can be found in a single phrase of yours:

Trail runners are great, but really do break down after putting some mileage on them (I get about 800 miles out of my Altras). Pilgrims who buy their shoes and then “break them in” by walking in them for months before pilgrimage are setting themselves up for sore feet, bruised heels, and blisters - possibly even shoes that literally fall apart! Trail runners should simply fit and one day of walking in them should let you know if they will work or not.

As for sandals, I tend to drag my feet a bit and find that they pick up every Little Rock and twig along the way, plus sometimes I stub my toes while wearing them. Just me, but it’s a no-go if it’s at all gravely or rocky. Additionally, my church-going mother would have to light a table of extra candles if she saw me entering church with them on! 😱 Finally, my feet resemble those of Frodo and Bilbo, so I’d frighten everyone I passed…

However, your post does show that there are many ways to walk a Camino and what’s really key is to discover YOUR personal way prior to embarking on it!

Buen Camino!

PS: I loved the humor of your writing 👍
perhaps not. Old, but not that old, perhaps well-worn. I definitely wasn't doing 13 mile runs in them before the Camino though.
 
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Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, Portuguese, Aragon, Norte, SJWayUK, Nive
I hike around yosemite in my sandals, but with a pack it is completely different for me. That extra weight and change of balance really changes the dynamics of my footwear. Before heading to the Camino, definitely trial run whatever shoes you will use while wearing whatever pack you will be taking. It makes a huge difference
 

Graeme Cook

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
23 April to 28 May 2022
Sarria to Santiago you say. Hmmmmm.

In the spirit of 'do as I say and not as I do'. I, too, jogged the downhill into Triacastela in my Chacos.
For the avoidance of doubt, the Sarria to Santiago section that took us five days. Walking. Skipping. Dancing. Hmmmm.
 

david marquez

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte-Primitivo April-May 2018
I have been a Sandalista for many years. However when I walked the Camino del norte in April-May of 2018 I made the mistake of going with trailrunners. I had 2 pairs, from different manufacturers. One ended up being too small in the toe box and I lost a couple toe nails. The other pair blew up after less than 300 km of walking
I wore Chacos for years but gave them up because they were too heavy and to tall. I have discovered that the main reason for a lifetime of ankle sprains is the typical elevation lf the heel in most athletic shoes, that causes my flat feet to be unstable and I turn my ankles very easily. This elevation is an accommodation for people who are heel strikers!
I now wear bedrock sandals almost everywhere almost all the time. They are probably thinner in the sole than most care for, and the 3 point attachment system appears a bit less than stout, but based on thousands of miles walking in them, I can confidently say that they stay on my feet better than any other brand of sandal I have tried, and I have tried most name brand sandals over the years.
i plan to do another camino in the next couple years. My choice of footwear will be a pair of bedrocks and a pair of Altra lone peaks
an added bonus, the bedrocks wear like iron, can be resoled, and are available with vibram soles
check them out!
 
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Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, Portuguese, Aragon, Norte, SJWayUK, Nive
It’s simply this: try your shoes before you go…REALLY try them! Not walking around the carpeted REI or your living room, but a multi-day hike. It’s not the fault of the shoe/sandal that it’s too small/tight/whatever, it’s YOURS for not actually trying to walk in them before you leave on a multi-week walk in a foreign country!!!!

Seriously, folks spend more time trying to find the “perfect” albergue or the best credential stamp or the cheapest flight then they do actually earring the shoes that will be their best friends or worst enemies for 40 days of walking!!!

For ALL PILGRIMS: your shoes are THE most important piece of equipment you will take. Whatever you decide to take, definitely give them a trial run of MULTIPLE hiking days before you go!
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
For ALL PILGRIMS: your shoes are THE most important piece of equipment you will take. Whatever you decide to take, definitely give them a trial run of MULTIPLE hiking days before you go!
Make that multiple consecutive days. The real test of your footwear comes from day after day walking. A few long hikes on weekends won't give you the full picture.

You really need to try out all of your gear before leaving home.
 

Steve Smith

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Plan Camino Frances in 9/22
This is a public service announcement for any aspiring pilgrims who are considering making their journey in a pair of Chacos. DO IT!

As you prepare, you'll probably be reading the same sandal criticisms that I read on various forums. I suspect that these opinions come from sandal hating grumps forum users who are surely wonderfully pleasant walking companions, but probably did not wear sandals on The Way. I started at SJPP in the summer and ditched my shoes after awful blister problems. And by ditched, I literally left them in Pamplona (they were an old pair of trail runners).

I purchased these Chacos second hand on ebay and I brought them as a backup for the blister circumstance. As for specifics, I'd recommend you buy a pair with vibram soles. The latest productions are not made in the USA and the new production also lacks vibram soles.

I'd also note that I had no problems hiking the mountainous detours such as the alternate route from Villafranca del Bierzo.

A few suggestions:

-Size up.
This will prevent you from stubbing your toe. I didn't intend to "size up", but found this as a tremendous unintended benefit of having the larger size.

-Bring a lightweight pair of flip flops to wear around town.
The chacos will smell like crap - since you're literally walking through cow pastures - and you won't want to be the smelly pilgrim. You'll also be washing your feet thoroughly each day (see photo below).

-Go slow on the downhills.
A sacrifice, but well worth the benefits of wearing Chacos

-Wash your Chacos each day upon arrival at the albergue
Soak them in your leftover laundry detergent water.

I do think Chacos limit mileage a bit. I did 18km/day comfortably, 18-23km was tough, and 23km+ had my arches aching, but I did go up to 35km on one or two occasions.





View attachment 135053



And....if you must know. I did meet a pilgrim in Astorga who had walked from SJPP in basic Birkenstocks.
I walked my first 10 days in Merrill Moabs then tried my Chaco Z1 sandals. Never put my hiking shoes back on for the next 26 days! I didn’t have any particular issues with the shoes but felt so much better in the sandals. No blisters and my feet felt fine even walking 18-20 miles. Occasionally slight irritation on the back of the heels but comped worked charms to avoid any blisters or skin breakdown. I did get my size in wide and they were a bit big but it prevented any stumped toes or strap irritation. You can call me a nerd but I worn liner socks and darn tough smart wool as well. Was even amazing in the rain. It was rare for my skin to even get wet. And then no issue with shoes that are slow to dry. Also no issues with smelly sandals. So this 73 year old has a thumbs up for Chacos but do what is right for your feet! We’re all different. The main thing is pay very close attention to your feet and deal with minor issues early so they don’t become major ones….buen camino
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
This is a public service announcement for any aspiring pilgrims who are considering making their journey in a pair of Chacos. DO IT!

As you prepare, you'll probably be reading the same sandal criticisms that I read on various forums. I suspect that these opinions come from sandal hating grumps forum users who are surely wonderfully pleasant walking companions, but probably did not wear sandals on The Way. I started at SJPP in the summer and ditched my shoes after awful blister problems. And by ditched, I literally left them in Pamplona (they were an old pair of trail runners).

I purchased these Chacos second hand on ebay and I brought them as a backup for the blister circumstance. As for specifics, I'd recommend you buy a pair with vibram soles. The latest productions are not made in the USA and the new production also lacks vibram soles.

I'd also note that I had no problems hiking the mountainous detours such as the alternate route from Villafranca del Bierzo.

A few suggestions:

-Size up.
This will prevent you from stubbing your toe. I didn't intend to "size up", but found this as a tremendous unintended benefit of having the larger size.

-Bring a lightweight pair of flip flops to wear around town.
The chacos will smell like crap - since you're literally walking through cow pastures - and you won't want to be the smelly pilgrim. You'll also be washing your feet thoroughly each day (see photo below).

-Go slow on the downhills.
A sacrifice, but well worth the benefits of wearing Chacos

-Wash your Chacos each day upon arrival at the albergue
Soak them in your leftover laundry detergent water.

I do think Chacos limit mileage a bit. I did 18km/day comfortably, 18-23km was tough, and 23km+ had my arches aching, but I did go up to 35km on one or two occasions.





View attachment 135053



And....if you must know. I did meet a pilgrim in Astorga who had walked from SJPP in basic Birkenstocks.
Im a fan of sandals myself - there are many brands, and I'd recommend checking out different types if you're considering sandals.
Mine are a German brand which have a removable insole to allow me to walk with orthotics. They also have a curved front sole like a 'rocker' which works well for my arthritic big toe. I also offend the fashion police by wearing socks with mine.
Sandals may not work for everyone, but are worth considering.
 
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Anamiri

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
I am happy that you have found the footwear that suits you so well, but wish you would not be so smug in your conclusions.

I may be a grump :mad:, but I have no hatred of sandals. I need orthotics in my shoes in order to walk long distances, and I also need a lot of cushioning to pamper my problematic feet. If I could try sandals with orthotics, I would be happy to do so, as I feel no personal animosity for sandals. But that seems unlikely to work for me.
I found a German brand "Dynamic; by Waldlaufer, that allow for an orthotic insole to be fitted. They are a walking sandal (as opposed to a fashion sandal) with a nice cushioned sole, and adjustable straps. I wear socks as I find the straps irritate after a while. (that's not unusual for me, I seem to have more sensitive skin than most).
They may not work for everyone as they are a wide fit, I dont know if the brand also makes a narrower fit.
They arent cheap, and in NZ are difficult to get, but worth it for me with my foot issues.

Edited to add that the search for the perfect sandal took months! almost a year.
 

Mg. McKay

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Sept 2016
This is a public service announcement for any aspiring pilgrims who are considering making their journey in a pair of Chacos. DO IT!

As you prepare, you'll probably be reading the same sandal criticisms that I read on various forums. I suspect that these opinions come from sandal hating grumps forum users who are surely wonderfully pleasant walking companions, but probably did not wear sandals on The Way. I started at SJPP in the summer and ditched my shoes after awful blister problems. And by ditched, I literally left them in Pamplona (they were an old pair of trail runners).

I purchased these Chacos second hand on ebay and I brought them as a backup for the blister circumstance. As for specifics, I'd recommend you buy a pair with vibram soles. The latest productions are not made in the USA and the new production also lacks vibram soles.

I'd also note that I had no problems hiking the mountainous detours such as the alternate route from Villafranca del Bierzo.

A few suggestions:

-Size up.
This will prevent you from stubbing your toe. I didn't intend to "size up", but found this as a tremendous unintended benefit of having the larger size.

-Bring a lightweight pair of flip flops to wear around town.
The chacos will smell like crap - since you're literally walking through cow pastures - and you won't want to be the smelly pilgrim. You'll also be washing your feet thoroughly each day (see photo below).

-Go slow on the downhills.
A sacrifice, but well worth the benefits of wearing Chacos

-Wash your Chacos each day upon arrival at the albergue
Soak them in your leftover laundry detergent water.

I do think Chacos limit mileage a bit. I did 18km/day comfortably, 18-23km was tough, and 23km+ had my arches aching, but I did go up to 35km on one or two occasions.





View attachment 135053



And....if you must know. I did meet a pilgrim in Astorga who had walked from SJPP in basic Birkenstocks.
Keens are also very good sandals. Rugged. Can walk wet without blistering. Never stink.
 

Darlene C

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Portuguese (2020) sigh ...
This is the only part of your post I completely disagree with. I know, I for one, LOVE to hike in Sandals (shorter distances) and I LOVE Chacos. But Chacos and other hiking sandals do not love my feet for long distances day after day. Regardless of whether or not I wear socks or size up or or go slower or shorter distances (18km/day is WAY too short of a walking day for my liking). I also don't like all the rocks slipping between my foot and the sandal while walking and I don't like taking the chance I will stub my toes while walking. To that end - I found the perfect trail runner and sock combination for my feet and that will always be my FIRST choice shoe for long distance hiking. That said - I refuse to bring "flip flops" or "crocs" or other sandals to wear in the evenings - unless they are hiking sandals. Chacos are too heavy to carry in your pack while hiking (in my opinion). I prefer either Tevas or Xero Sandals as my backup shoe. Both have a bit of grip in the outsole. Both have quality toe and heal straps. Both can be worn in the shower. Both are adjustable in case your feet swell. Both can be worn with socks (I almost always wear socks with sandals on the Camino). Difference? Teva is more cushioned. I brought Tevas in 2021 and Xero Sandals in 2022. Going forward - I will probably stick with Xero Sandals unless the soles of my feet are more tender before starting the Camino as they were last year - when I needed more cushioning for my trail runners.

BTW - you can keep your Chacos from smelling by wearing a thin hiking sock with them. That would also save you from having to wash them every day. Last thing I want to do is add one more thing to hand wash daily!

Anyhow - I am not some "Sandal hating grump", and I have walked the Camino twice (800+km both times) and travelled extensively after both Caminos with lots of additional walking. I love Chacos, but will never advocate for sandals to be the primary shoe for anyone. By that - I don't mean I would talk Sandal loving hikers out of bringing their sandals. If that works for them, fine - they should wear their sandals. But I will always recommend to those who are undecided to pick a lightweight pair of trail runners and a good sock combination for their feet - and to bring a hiking Sandal as an evening shoe/backup hiking shoe.
Curious ... what trail runner / sock combo worked for you?
 

Sparleb644

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Via Podiensis 2017
del Norte 2018
Primitivo 2019
I may have a weird walking movement, but I always collect pebbles and grains of sand between my feet and the soles of the sandals. I need to stop at least once a km and sometimes more often. Even on asphalt, I seem to collect whatever is loose. I only saw one post mentioning that. Do you sandal lovers just accept that, or not have this problem?
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
I may have a weird walking movement, but I always collect pebbles and grains of sand between my feet and the soles of the sandals. I need to stop at least once a km and sometimes more often. Even on asphalt, I seem to collect whatever is loose. I only saw one post mentioning that. Do you sandal lovers just accept that, or not have this problem?
In general I don't tend to collect a lot of stones in my sandals. It does happen occasionally, but they are usually pretty easy to remove. Often I can kind of kick them out without taking off my sandals.
 
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Steve Smith

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Plan Camino Frances in 9/22
In general I don't tend to collect a lot of stones in my sandals. It does happen occasionally, but they are usually pretty easy to remove. Often I can kind of kick them out without taking off my sandals.
I walked 700 km in in my Chacos and only three times had to stop to get small stones out. Could most always dislodge them with a little foot shake. I was wearing socks so don’t know if that kept them out. I walked the first 10 days in merrel hiking shoes and also had to occasionally stop and take them off to remove stones. So for me, stone problems and sandals is way over rated. Buen camino
 

jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2021, Norte/Primitivo 2022, VF 2023
Curious ... what trail runner / sock combo worked for you?
Altra Lone Peaks which I size up 2 sizes and fill them with Injinji Toe Sock Liners and a medium cushion merino wool hiking sock. No blisters with that combo. The double socks take up a bit of the space (especially since since with my normal sneakers in my normal size I wear a thin athletic sock) and then I tie them in a way that is more snug around the ankle area. This was recommended to me to do by a local podiatrist who walks the Camino frequently with his family and it works great for me. My feet don't slide around but I have plenty of toe space. If I don't go a full 2 sizes up I blister and if I try to change the model shoe or brand of shoe I blister.
 

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