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Recommended shoe size

Jacki

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2017)
Hi!
How big is TOO big when It comes to shoe sizes? Im headed for my first Camino this year and I’m having a bit of a dilemma....based on what I’ve read and been advised, one should wear a pair of shoes a size larger than normal to accommodate for swelling. I ordered a pair of La Sportiva that are SO comfy but...I ordered them just half a size larger and I’m concerned that they’re too large...my big toe is at least half an inch to the end of the toe bed... Is that too much?! I’m a regular hiker and have never worn shoes larger than my regular size so this feels weird. But then I also don’t walk 20+kms on my hikes! 🤷‍♀️
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
Hi, Jacki. I disagree with the information given to 'go up X amount of a shoe size'. The proper sizing is whatever it takes to keep your toes from even kissing the front of the shoe as you are walking downhill with a backpack. By necessity, that size may be larger by anything from 1/2 size to 1 size to 2 sizes +.

The most important factors for sizing shoes is to reproduce, as closely as possible, all of the factors that contribute to the weighting and wear on the foot to account for foot length, and to some extent width. Below is what I have posted before as a guide to help with sizing a shoe for fit and comfort.
--------------------------------------------------------------------

The most important theme for achieving a proper fit is: You do not choose a shoe based on measurements, you buy a shoe based on its Fit N Feel regardless of instrument measurements.
  1. When you go to the store, do so toward the end of the day.... you will have been up on your feet, so that will help with getting the correct fit. Additionally, you will need to wear the same backpack with the same gear you will be carrying... you want this additional weight on you as this will put the same downward pressure on the foot that you will be having while on Camino.
  2. Wear the exact same sock(s) you will be wearing while you are walking on the Camino. And if you have a special insole or orthotic, bring it with you.
  3. At the store, the measuring that will be done on your feet is only to get you in the ballpark for the correct shoe size.
  4. Start by standing up; never measure while sitting. You want the full weight of your body, with the pack on, to put the same pressure on your feet to spread them out as will happen while walking. That alone will increase the volume and size of your feet.
  5. Make sure those 'Camino' socks are on your feet; if you wear socks with liners while walking, do the same thing at the store.
  6. While standing, have someone near to you that you can use to steady yourself. With the measuring device on the ground, step onto the instrument and center all of your weight onto the foot being measured. Do the same for the other foot.
  7. Start with that size, but be aware that both the width and the length need to feel like there is adequate room for your feet. Ideally, like Goldilocks, everything will be just right. But, don't count on it. Be picky.
  8. If you have special insoles or orthotics, put them into any shoe you try on as they will take up space inside the shoe.
  9. When you find what you think will fit you well, you will need to see if your toes have enough clearance. Toes should not be able to be forced to the front of the shoe and touch the shoe. Not even a little. If they do, long walking and downhill grades on the trail or path or road will traumatize the bed of the nail, and that is when toenails can blacken and fall off.
  10. With your shoes tied securely, but not too tight, walk around the store with your pack on. Go up stairs and down stairs, scuff the shoes to the floor so that your feet are forced to do any movement they will do and see if your toes so much as butterfly kiss the front of the shoe. Kick the front of the shoe into a post or stair or wall or someone's shin.... does that make any of your toes touch the front of the shoe? That goes for all the little piggies.
  11. Next, pay attention to the width of the shoe. It shouldn't feel snug on the sides and there should be no rubbing or pressure points at all. They will not go away with "break in". They will create soreness, pain, and blistering. Even if it seems to be tolerable, it is like water torture; as your feet are continually exposed to those pressure points your feet will break down against them bit by bit, and bruising, blisters, and soreness will follow.
  12. You may need to go up a size to a size and a half in length, and go with a wider width to avoid those things I mentioned above. The notion that one avoids blisters by wearing snug footwear has been shown to do just the opposite.
 

Juspassinthrough

in our minds, we're vagabonds, you and I
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Inglés 2019
Leon-Sarria, June (2019)
Camino Aragonés (2023?)
Jacki,

One other thing, regardless of the size you choose, ask someone to show you how to tie them. Years ago I had a custom pair of Raichle boots made, when I picked them up, they spent 20 minutes explaining how to tie them, time well spent. Sadly, Raichle is no longer around.
 
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Sunrayrob

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 18 September - 21 October 2017
Oxfam Trailwalker 2013
My partner and I wore walking shoes (Salomon X Ultra 3) a size larger then our usual size and we didn't experience any blisters. This is recommended by most sport shoe specialist I have come across in New Zealand. The reason is that the larger size accommodates swelling as you noted which is common with long distance runing or walking. Our shoes did not have Gortex, which I personally wouldn't recommend.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
How big is TOO big when It comes to shoe sizes? Im headed for my first Camino this year and I’m having a bit of a dilemma....based on what I’ve read and been advised, one should wear a pair of shoes a size larger than normal to accommodate for swelling. I ordered a pair of La Sportiva that are SO comfy but...I ordered them just half a size larger and I’m concerned that they’re too large...my big toe is at least half an inch to the end of the toe bed... Is that too much?! I’m a regular hiker and have never worn shoes larger than my regular size so this feels weird. But then I also don’t walk 20+kms on my hikes! 🤷‍♀️
Sounds good to me -- there are some people who do not experience swelling of the feet when walking, but you won't know if you're one of those lucky so-and-sos or not 'til after a few days on the Camino.

'til then, best play it safe.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
  1. Next, pay attention to the width of the shoe. It shouldn't feel snug on the sides and there should be no rubbing or pressure points at all. They will not go away with "break in".
... unless they're good proper leather. But even then, too many of them simultaneously really does just mean they're too small. The most important things to completely avoid are no wiggle room at all for the toes, and pressure at the widest point of the foot or at the heel.
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
... unless they're good proper leather. But even then, too many of them simultaneously really does just mean they're too small. The most important things to completely avoid are no wiggle room at all for the toes, and pressure at the widest point of the foot or at the heel.
True. . but nowadays that would mostly apply to heavier mountaineering style boots. The most common leathers now used in trail style boots, like Merrill-types, use a pre-stretched leather in manufacture; it has similar characteristics to fabric materials. In other words, there is not so much stretching over prolonged wear (break-in) like with stiff heavy leathers, as there is break-down of the fiber structure in the grain.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I have short toes so always have more than a half inch of space.

Everyone talks about wearing a bigger size than "regular." I recommend larger shoes as a new regular.

Find a super comfortable shoe that feels like it was made for your feet. Then try larger sizes until you find one that is too big and sloppy. Then back down 1/2 size.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
I bought boots 1/2 size larger than my regular size based on advice given in this forum. I was already a regular mountain walker, in boots, and should have known better. Walking distances in those boots rubbed the skin off my toes. Eventually, I had to give them away to a charity (they were warm boots and still in good shape for a homeless person to wear in the winter in Calgary). I replaced them with similar boots in my regular size. Since you seem unsure about what will work for you on camino, I suggest: 1. follow @davebugg's advice for purchasing footwear. He is our forum specialist in all matters of gear. 2. Wear your camino footwear as much as you can before you leave. It may not need breaking in, but you will want to know how well it works for you on longer walks.
As a personal footnote, since you have already bought shoes, you might try adjusting the fit by inserting foam or other inserts, or wearing heavier socks, Over time, I have made numerous adjustments of this sort to adjust my footwear to my elderly feet. Good luck and buen camino.
 

c0484

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013
Hi!
How big is TOO big when It comes to shoe sizes? Im headed for my first Camino this year and I’m having a bit of a dilemma....based on what I’ve read and been advised, one should wear a pair of shoes a size larger than normal to accommodate for swelling. I ordered a pair of La Sportiva that are SO comfy but...I ordered them just half a size larger and I’m concerned that they’re too large...my big toe is at least half an inch to the end of the toe bed... Is that too much?! I’m a regular hiker and have never worn shoes larger than my regular size so this feels weird. But then I also don’t walk 20+kms on my hikes! 🤷‍♀️
I learned on my first Camino to buy my shoes 1 1/2 size larger than normal. There is a lot of uphill followed by down hill. The thing to remember is that your feet will swell more than normal and that they pound into the toe of your footwear. I broke two toes that way.
 

Dave C.

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis (2016)
SJ to Santo Domingo (2017)
Santo Domingo to Fromista (2018)
SJPdP to Burgos (2019)
As you can tell, it is different for everyone. The only way to find out what works best for you, is to purchase the footwear that feels the best for you. Then walk several kilometers several days in a row over varying terrain. Then adjust if necessary.
As for me, I wear my normal size shoe with no swelling (Sorry JabbaPapa, I guess I am a "so-and-So).
:)
 

Paul Corrin

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria-Santiago (2017)
Santiago-Muxia-Fisterra (2017)
Porto-Santiago (2018)
Ferrol-Santiago (2019
Hi!
How big is TOO big when It comes to shoe sizes? Im headed for my first Camino this year and I’m having a bit of a dilemma....based on what I’ve read and been advised, one should wear a pair of shoes a size larger than normal to accommodate for swelling. I ordered a pair of La Sportiva that are SO comfy but...I ordered them just half a size larger and I’m concerned that they’re too large...my big toe is at least half an inch to the end of the toe bed... Is that too much?! I’m a regular hiker and have never worn shoes larger than my regular size so this feels weird. But then I also don’t walk 20+kms on my hikes! 🤷‍♀️
Take those & a decent pair of trainers. Swap them depending on weather 😊 buen Camino
 

Jacki

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2017)
Hi, Jacki. I disagree with the information given to 'go up X amount of a shoe size'. The proper sizing is whatever it takes to keep your toes from even kissing the front of the shoe as you are walking downhill with a backpack. By necessity, that size may be larger by anything from 1/2 size to 1 size to 2 sizes +.

The most important factors for sizing shoes is to reproduce, as closely as possible, all of the factors that contribute to the weighting and wear on the foot to account for foot length, and to some extent width. Below is what I have posted before as a guide to help with sizing a shoe for fit and comfort.
--------------------------------------------------------------------

The most important theme for achieving a proper fit is: You do not choose a shoe based on measurements, you buy a shoe based on its Fit N Feel regardless of instrument measurements.
  1. When you go to the store, do so toward the end of the day.... you will have been up on your feet, so that will help with getting the correct fit. Additionally, you will need to wear the same backpack with the same gear you will be carrying... you want this additional weight on you as this will put the same downward pressure on the foot that you will be having while on Camino.
  2. Wear the exact same sock(s) you will be wearing while you are walking on the Camino. And if you have a special insole or orthotic, bring it with you.
  3. At the store, the measuring that will be done on your feet is only to get you in the ballpark for the correct shoe size.
  4. Start by standing up; never measure while sitting. You want the full weight of your body, with the pack on, to put the same pressure on your feet to spread them out as will happen while walking. That alone will increase the volume and size of your feet.
  5. Make sure those 'Camino' socks are on your feet; if you wear socks with liners while walking, do the same thing at the store.
  6. While standing, have someone near to you that you can use to steady yourself. With the measuring device on the ground, step onto the instrument and center all of your weight onto the foot being measured. Do the same for the other foot.
  7. Start with that size, but be aware that both the width and the length need to feel like there is adequate room for your feet. Ideally, like Goldilocks, everything will be just right. But, don't count on it. Be picky.
  8. If you have special insoles or orthotics, put them into any shoe you try on as they will take up space inside the shoe.
  9. When you find what you think will fit you well, you will need to see if your toes have enough clearance. Toes should not be able to be forced to the front of the shoe and touch the shoe. Not even a little. If they do, long walking and downhill grades on the trail or path or road will traumatize the bed of the nail, and that is when toenails can blacken and fall off.
  10. With your shoes tied securely, but not too tight, walk around the store with your pack on. Go up stairs and down stairs, scuff the shoes to the floor so that your feet are forced to do any movement they will do and see if your toes so much as butterfly kiss the front of the shoe. Kick the front of the shoe into a post or stair or wall or someone's shin.... does that make any of your toes touch the front of the shoe? That goes for all the little piggies.
  11. Next, pay attention to the width of the shoe. It shouldn't feel snug on the sides and there should be no rubbing or pressure points at all. They will not go away with "break in". They will create soreness, pain, and blistering. Even if it seems to be tolerable, it is like water torture; as your feet are continually exposed to those pressure points your feet will break down against them bit by bit, and bruising, blisters, and soreness will follow.
  12. You may need to go up a size to a size and a half in length, and go with a wider width to avoid those things I mentioned above. The notion that one avoids blisters by wearing snug footwear has been shown to do just the opposite.
That is such awesome advice! Thanks so very much.
 

Jacki

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2017)
My partner and I wore walking shoes (Salomon X Ultra 3) a size larger then our usual size and we didn't experience any blisters. This is recommended by most sport shoe specialist I have come across in New Zealand. The reason is that the larger size accommodates swelling as you noted which is common with long distance runing or walking. Our shoes did not have Gortex, which I personally wouldn't recommend.
Gortex ISN’T recommended? Uh oh....I thought that would be preferable.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Gortex ISN’T recommended? Uh oh....I thought that would be preferable.
I would have thought so, too. What I've read a lot from people with more experience than I is that feet still get wet in Goretex shoes, either because it isn't good enough in keeping out the water from outside or it isn't good enough in wicking out water from the inside. At the same time, they take longer to dry. Better, they say, to have non-waterproof but quicker drying shoes.
 

Juspassinthrough

in our minds, we're vagabonds, you and I
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Inglés 2019
Leon-Sarria, June (2019)
Camino Aragonés (2023?)
Raichle is still around and manufacturing boots. . . but not as Raichle :) Mammut bought the brand and absorbed it and rebadged it, but they still use the same processes and equipment and employees.

So if you liked Raichle, don't despair :)
Yes, but sadly not the same IMHO.
 

TAF

Member
Camino(s) past & future
July/Aug 2019 Logrono to Sahagun
May 2020 SJPP to Logrono
Most shops will let you take a pair home and wear them for a couple of days around the house. As long as you don’t go outside they will accept them if you need to return them (check this with the shop beforehand). Wearing them for a full day or so going up and down the stairs frequently will give you a good idea whether or not they are the correct size. Doing this made me go up a size in Salomon ultra Pro 3d’s to get the width in the toe box and I subsequently walked with no blisters at all.
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
Yes, but sadly not the same IMHO.
That's not an unreasonable opinion. Sometimes internal changes can be implemented which just make a difference, even if subtle, to what we are familiar with.

As far as I know, the same foot lasts, manufacturing and assembly machinery, and personnel were making the boots. However, as with all the footwear manufacturers - from those producing running shoes to those producing mountaineering boots - materials and their usage do change.

Differences in compounds used in outer soles and mid soles, replacing stitching with effective adhesives, going from full hide leathers to split leathers and pre-stretched leathers, or even replacing some areas that had leathers with fabrics. Switching to different styles or types of insoles, the addition or subtraction of stabilizing structures. . . . All of these things have changed over the last ten years, and have been evolving over the last 40 years.

Sadly, even if Raichle had not been absorbed by Mammut's corporate umbrella and rebadged under their brand, I suspect that a Raichle of today would have boot and shoe products that would feel and act different than the Raichle of old.

The above is one of the reasons that, if I find a shoe or boot I am loving on my feet, I purchase multiple pairs.
 

Lindor

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Starting Camino 02/04/2020
Most shops will let you take a pair home and wear them for a couple of days around the house. As long as you don’t go outside they will accept them if you need to return them (check this with the shop beforehand). Wearing them for a full day or so going up and down the stairs frequently will give you a good idea whether or not they are the correct size. Doing this made me go up a size in Salomon ultra Pro 3d’s to get the width in the toe box and I subsequently walked with no blisters at all.
I have never heard of a shop where I live doing this? Maybe they do, I've just never thought to ask. It would be great if they did, as I will be purchasing new boots in the next couple of weeks (giving myself plenty time to break them in before my April camino), and have been worrying about the boots not being right for my feet. I obviously won't know this til I wear them, but won't have another €150-€200 to buy another pair if I make the wrong decision. I might ask in the outdoor specialist shop if they might let me take them home for a few days. Thinking of getting Solomon boots, but will see what feels good on the day. I currently have cheap Karrimor boots that cost less than €50, that I've never had a bother with, but I don't think they'd be good enough for the Camino.....
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
I have never heard of a shop where I live doing this? Maybe they do, I've just never thought to ask. It would be great if they did, as I will be purchasing new boots in the next couple of weeks (giving myself plenty time to break them in before my April camino), and have been worrying about the boots not being right for my feet. I obviously won't know this til I wear them, but won't have another €150-€200 to buy another pair if I make the wrong decision. I might ask in the outdoor specialist shop if they might let me take them home for a few days. Thinking of getting Solomon boots, but will see what feels good on the day. I currently have cheap Karrimor boots that cost less than €50, that I've never had a bother with, but I don't think they'd be good enough for the Camino.....
In America, it is common practice for shoe shops to allow an at-home trial. REI and a few other stores that also have an online presence, also allow a 1 year return/exchange even if worn outdoors and used regularly.

Why are you concerned that your current boots are not sufficient for a Camino? It might be that you do not need to spend additional money for footwear.
 

Juspassinthrough

in our minds, we're vagabonds, you and I
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Inglés 2019
Leon-Sarria, June (2019)
Camino Aragonés (2023?)
T
That's not an unreasonable opinion. Sometimes internal changes can be implemented which just make a difference, even if subtle, to what we are familiar with.

As far as I know, the same foot lasts, manufacturing and assembly machinery, and personnel were making the boots. However, as with all the footwear manufacturers - from those producing running shoes to those producing mountaineering boots - materials and their usage do change.

Differences in compounds used in outer soles and mid soles, replacing stitching with effective adhesives, going from full hide leathers to split leathers and pre-stretched leathers, or even replacing some areas that had leathers with fabrics. Switching to different styles or types of insoles, the addition or subtraction of stabilizing structures. . . . All of these things have changed over the last ten years, and have been evolving over the last 40 years.

Sadly, even if Raichle had not been absorbed by Mammut's corporate umbrella and rebadged under their brand, I suspect that a Raichle of today would have boot and shoe products that would feel and act different than the Raichle of old.

The above is one of the reasons that, if I find a shoe or boot I am loving on my feet, I purchase multiple pairs.
The custom made aspect may also be coloring my opinion 😎
 

Lindor

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Starting Camino 02/04/2020
In America, it is common practice for shoe shops to allow an at-home trial. REI and a few other stores that also have an online presence, also allow a 1 year return/exchange even if worn outdoors and used regularly.

Why are you concerned that your current boots are not sufficient for a Camino? It might be that you do not need to spend additional money for footwear.
I'm in Ireland, and I would be doubtful I would get a a 1 year trial here. I'd imagine that the huge population of America means there is a lot more competition between suppliers, so they attract customers by offers like this. To be honest, my current boots are well worn so need replacing anyway. They have served me well on short weekend hikes (15km or so), and I've never got blisters from them, but would usually be hill-walking on grass/bogland, and have found that when I walk on gravel tracks/forest roads with them, which a fair proportion of the Camino appears to be, the soles of my feet get sore and I can feel the stones slightly pushing into my feet. I can handle this once a week on my long hike but I'd imagine it would become a serious issue doing it day after day for weeks on end.
I have always assumed this is because the boots were cheap and have quite a thin sole.
I currently wear trainers when I go on my daily walk of approx 40mins on pavement, and boots on my longer 15k hike on the weekends. Planning to up this to 1hr daily walk Mon-Fri/ 15k Sat & 15k Sun once I get my new boots
Do people think this is adequate training? Would also appreciate recommendations for a boot with a good thick cushioned sole?
Will be starting the Camino on 3rd April 2020 from either Pamplona or St Jean Pied De Port, depending on the weather in the Pyranees at that time
 
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D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
I'm in Ireland, and I would be doubtful I would get a a 1 year trial here. I'd imagine that the huge population of America means there is a lot more competition between suppliers, so they attract customers by offers like this. To be honest, my current boots are well worn so need replacing anyway. They have served me well on short weekend hikes (15km or so), and I've never got blisters from them, but would usually be hill-walking on grass/bogland, and have found that when I walk on gravel tracks/forest roads with them, which a fair proportion of the Camino appears to be, the soles of my feet get sore and I can feel the stones slightly pushing into my feet. I can handle this once a week on my long hike but I'd imagine it would become a serious issue doing it day after day for weeks on end.
I have always assumed this is because the boots were cheap and have quite a thin sole.
I currently wear trainers when I go on my daily walk of approx 40mins on pavement, and boots on my longer 15k hike on the weekends. Planning to up this to 1hr daily walk Mon-Fri/ 15k Sat & 15k Sun once I get my new boots
Do people think this is adequate training? Would also appreciate recommendations for a boot with a good thick cushioned sole?
Will be starting the Camino on 3rd April 2020 from either Pamplona or St Jean Pied De Port, depending on the weather in the Pyranees at that time
Personally, I would skip the boots (for a variety of reasons) and use trail runners or street runners. A thick sole is not needed, just one that is adequate for support. A thin rock shield will keep trail debris from impacting the sole of the foot. Many trail runners have such features built in.

Alternatively, there are highly cushioned shoes, like Hokka One One models, which incorporate high amounts of cushioning so that a rock shield is unnecessary.

Shoe or boot recommendations are highly subjective because, like snowflakes, no two feet are alike, and no two perceptions of comfort or fit are alike. There are folks who love Merrills or Salomons, others who can't stand either. The same applies to Hokka, Brooks, Nike, or Altra, or name your manufacturer.

I have gear tested shoes and boots for manufacturers whose 'feel' I hated. I had to separate that subjective bias from my objective observations: performance, durability, quality control issues, etc. I would create the necessary reports with the thought, "How are they ever going to sell these shoes/boots"; but knowing that there are people for whom those shoes or boots will feel great.

So, as recommendations are offered, my advice is to use the recommendations not as and endorsement of equal comfort, or even performance. Look at the offerings as a place to start. . a list of footwear to investigate to determine how they work and feel and fit for you.

If there is any question or followup that I can help with, feel free to send me a private message. :)
 

Jacki

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2017)
I have never heard of a shop where I live doing this? Maybe they do, I've just never thought to ask. It would be great if they did, as I will be purchasing new boots in the next couple of weeks (giving myself plenty time to break them in before my April camino), and have been worrying about the boots not being right for my feet. I obviously won't know this til I wear them, but won't have another €150-€200 to buy another pair if I make the wrong decision. I might ask in the outdoor specialist shop if they might let me take them home for a few days. Thinking of getting Solomon boots, but will see what feels good on the day. I currently have cheap Karrimor boots that cost less than €50, that I've never had a bother with, but I don't think they'd be good enough for the Camino.....
After reading the info and valuable opinions given here, I returned the boots for a smaller pair that Im going to keep for scrambling the mountains here. MEC has a guarantee that they will accept returns if you’re unsatisfied even after you’ve worn them outside several times. The hunt for Camino shoes goes on.....non waterproof, cushioning (for the cobblestones), supportive and just a little bigger to accommodate swelling....gets a little overwhelming trying to make the right decision!
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
My shoe buying process is very similar to everything Davebugg lays out above. I start by buying at the end of the day, when my feet are likely swollen a little from me being on them. Then, I put on the two EXACT pairs of socks I plan to wear while on Camino. I also bring a fully loaded backpack, or use a store backpack with their sandbags in it to simulate my carrying / walking weight.

I start with a shoe or boot in a size one full size larger than my street size. I can adjust up or down from there.

I know from personal experience that the two pair of socks, end of day swelling, and carrying the weighted pack will push my feet up in size about one full size. This all serves to get me near to the solution.

Then I adjust the lacing so that the following exists:

1. No matter how my feet move, my toes NEVER contact the inside / front of the toe box. This commonly occurs on downhill walking and is the root cause of toe blisters, "black toe" and lost toenails.

On my six Caminos, every time I have helped someone with lost nails, black toe or toe-tip blisters they have told me that their hiking shoe or boots were either the same size as their street shoes or only half a size larger. My advice is always the same, get to the nearest shoe store where they sell hiking footwear and upsize. I carry a Decathlon directory for Spain on my iPhone for just such a situation. I also check they are not using cotton socks...too many do...and advise getting microfiber liner socks.

2. My toes must have enough room in the toe box (front chamber of the shoe) so I can at least wiggle my toes, if not cross them. More space is better in my experience. Not all makers produce boots or trail runners with adequate toe boxes, You need to shop around.

3. My feet MUST NOT slide side-to-side in the shoe / boot. The width of the footwear is equally important. Both comfort and support come from the shoe / boot holding your foot in a firm but gentle grip. If your foot slides either forward and backwards or sideways, you will get blisters and not enough support.

4. The heels of my feet are supposed to move up and down slightly, perhaps a thumb's width, but no more. Too much vertical improvement also causes both calluses and blisters.

I have a congenitally misaligned right foot (off center outwards and tilted 5 degrees) that is prone to getting thick calluses on the heel because of the odd geometry. So, I am highly sensitive to this fitting provision. Still, I have had to seek on-Camino podiatrists and in-office surgery on calluses twice in six trips...

Also, if you search for it, there are various websites and You Tube videos that will show you how to lace boots or shoes in a wide variety of alternative ways, intended for both practical and purely cosmetic results. There are even apps for smartphones. Check it out.

On balance, do whatever Davebugg says and you will be okay. My advice is intended to emphasize what he likely already said.

Hope this helps.
 

cbacino

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte - Primitivo (2018)
Via Francigena (2017)
Appalachian Trail (2016)
Hi!
How big is TOO big when It comes to shoe sizes? Im headed for my first Camino this year and I’m having a bit of a dilemma....based on what I’ve read and been advised, one should wear a pair of shoes a size larger than normal to accommodate for swelling. I ordered a pair of La Sportiva that are SO comfy but...I ordered them just half a size larger and I’m concerned that they’re too large...my big toe is at least half an inch to the end of the toe bed... Is that too much?! I’m a regular hiker and have never worn shoes larger than my regular size so this feels weird. But then I also don’t walk 20+kms on my hikes! 🤷‍♀️
You do not want oversized shoes; your feet will slop around and get blisters. Make sure they are wide enough and no pinching with the socks you plan to wear.
 

Ernesto.IT

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Hi!
How big is TOO big when It comes to shoe sizes? Im headed for my first Camino this year and I’m having a bit of a dilemma....based on what I’ve read and been advised, one should wear a pair of shoes a size larger than normal to accommodate for swelling. I ordered a pair of La Sportiva that are SO comfy but...I ordered them just half a size larger and I’m concerned that they’re too large...my big toe is at least half an inch to the end of the toe bed... Is that too much?! I’m a regular hiker and have never worn shoes larger than my regular size so this feels weird. But then I also don’t walk 20+kms on my hikes! 🤷‍♀️
Hi Jacky, by my experience, 2 size bigger and make sure that they are also the right width.
Buen camino
Ernesto
 

Sunrayrob

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 18 September - 21 October 2017
Oxfam Trailwalker 2013
Gortex ISN’T recommended? Uh oh....I thought that would be preferable.
If you're walking in Summer or hot conditions your feet will overheat and you'll get blisters. If you walk when there is likely to be heavy rain your feet will get wet anyway and this can cause friction and blisters as well. We walked in September/October and experienced both conditions and managed to avoid blisters. Your sock choice is important too - look at moisture wicking styles recommended by ultra distance runners or walkers.
 

ManShootsSnaps

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
VDLP (Spring2020)
Jacki,

One other thing, regardless of the size you choose, ask someone to show you how to tie them. Years ago I had a custom pair of Raichle boots made, when I picked them up, they spent 20 minutes explaining how to tie them, time well spent. Sadly, Raichle is no longer around.
On the subject of Lacing... The Topo Athletic Shoe/Trainers website has a very clear and helpful section in how to tie/adjust your laces depending on your foot shape/gait .... I wasnt aware and the information and pictures are VERY helpful
I can post a link my self at the moment, but if you Google their website you will easily find the page on their site
 

bobbogram

Member
Camino(s) past & future
El Norte San Sebastián to Santiago; Portuguese Lisbon to Porto; Porto to Santiago; Geneva west
I switched to Solomon Ultra with the advice of friends who have completed more than a dozen Caminos and other long hikes.
i bought a pair 1/2 size larger than my previous good pair that gave me blisters for several years.
i coated my foot skin lightly with Vaseline to reduce rubbing.
i trimmed my toenails short - particularly the large toes - before and during the hike and didn’t lose any toenails last year on the Via Francigena, a first after five years of hikes.
i have feather light deck shoes for use at the end of the day and backup when my Solomon hiking shoes get wet.(not a sandal guy)
I break in new shoes on hikes near home for a test drive, not too much or it might dampen my enthusiasm for my next hike.
Good luck.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
I have always just worn my regular size shoes/boots when I walked the Camino multiple times. I cannot say I experienced any really noticeable feet swelling while doing it. I never did as well while in the army on long marches/hikes. I would say take that whole bit of getting footwear one full size larger with a grain of salt. Just wear what's most comfortable, supportive etc.
If anything, I would say if your feet were to swell they would get wider not longer. So perhaps footwear in one width wider would work.
 

ManShootsSnaps

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
VDLP (Spring2020)
Yup, with footwear .. the proof is often in the walking ... Wider footbox helps avoid friction, but sizing up and having your feet slide around is going to hurt a lot also if you go too far .. I think a lot of hikers/walkers used to walking on soft trails/paths ought to consider the impact of gravel and tarmac sections when deciding on footwear ...

Good to see the healthy debate and advice on these forums
 

Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
Hi,

one to 1 1/2 cm of space in front of your toes (or 1/2 inch) is appropriate. Depending on the fitting of the shoes this can be 1/2 to 2 sizes bigger than your normal size.

I have done 10 Caminos so far and still my feet swell in the heat and when I walk longer distances (20+ km on several subsequent days). If you walk 30km+ your feet even need more time to recover and additional space is wellcome. Nevertheless, the lacing of the shoes should allow you to adjust them, so that you are not slipping around and touching the front when walking downhill.

My mum tended to buy too small shoes and she lost several toenails on every camino.

BC
Alexandra
 

Moorwalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
The Saint's Way, Cornwall
Hi!
How big is TOO big when It comes to shoe sizes? Im headed for my first Camino this year and I’m having a bit of a dilemma....based on what I’ve read and been advised, one should wear a pair of shoes a size larger than normal to accommodate for swelling. I ordered a pair of La Sportiva that are SO comfy but...I ordered them just half a size larger and I’m concerned that they’re too large...my big toe is at least half an inch to the end of the toe bed... Is that too much?! I’m a regular hiker and have never worn shoes larger than my regular size so this feels weird. But then I also don’t walk 20+kms on my hikes! 🤷‍♀️
Feet do tend to swell a little on a long multi-day walk, but often it's width as much as length. A larger size wil give you a fraction of extra width as well as length of course. What is very important is that the larger size doesn't then make your heel too loose in the shoe because that's a recipe for blisters.

I'd say that half an inch of spare space is fine provided your heel is stable in the shoe. It gives space for a little swelling, and it will also stop your toe from contacting the front of your shoe on steep downhills, and that is the cause of black toenails and blisters on the ends of your toes.
 

joshua987

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2020)
Hi, Jacki. I disagree with the information given to 'go up X amount of a shoe size'. The proper sizing is whatever it takes to keep your toes from even kissing the front of the shoe as you are walking downhill with a backpack. By necessity, that size may be larger by anything from 1/2 size to 1 size to 2 sizes +.

The most important factors for sizing shoes is to reproduce, as closely as possible, all of the factors that contribute to the weighting and wear on the foot to account for foot length, and to some extent width. Below is what I have posted before as a guide to help with sizing a shoe for fit and comfort.
--------------------------------------------------------------------

The most important theme for achieving a proper fit is: You do not choose a shoe based on measurements, you buy a shoe based on its Fit N Feel regardless of instrument measurements.
  1. When you go to the store, do so toward the end of the day.... you will have been up on your feet, so that will help with getting the correct fit. Additionally, you will need to wear the same backpack with the same gear you will be carrying... you want this additional weight on you as this will put the same downward pressure on the foot that you will be having while on Camino.
  2. Wear the exact same sock(s) you will be wearing while you are walking on the Camino. And if you have a special insole or orthotic, bring it with you.
  3. At the store, the measuring that will be done on your feet is only to get you in the ballpark for the correct shoe size.
  4. Start by standing up; never measure while sitting. You want the full weight of your body, with the pack on, to put the same pressure on your feet to spread them out as will happen while walking. That alone will increase the volume and size of your feet.
  5. Make sure those 'Camino' socks are on your feet; if you wear socks with liners while walking, do the same thing at the store.
  6. While standing, have someone near to you that you can use to steady yourself. With the measuring device on the ground, step onto the instrument and center all of your weight onto the foot being measured. Do the same for the other foot.
  7. Start with that size, but be aware that both the width and the length need to feel like there is adequate room for your feet. Ideally, like Goldilocks, everything will be just right. But, don't count on it. Be picky.
  8. If you have special insoles or orthotics, put them into any shoe you try on as they will take up space inside the shoe.
  9. When you find what you think will fit you well, you will need to see if your toes have enough clearance. Toes should not be able to be forced to the front of the shoe and touch the shoe. Not even a little. If they do, long walking and downhill grades on the trail or path or road will traumatize the bed of the nail, and that is when toenails can blacken and fall off.
  10. With your shoes tied securely, but not too tight, walk around the store with your pack on. Go up stairs and down stairs, scuff the shoes to the floor so that your feet are forced to do any movement they will do and see if your toes so much as butterfly kiss the front of the shoe. Kick the front of the shoe into a post or stair or wall or someone's shin.... does that make any of your toes touch the front of the shoe? That goes for all the little piggies.
  11. Next, pay attention to the width of the shoe. It shouldn't feel snug on the sides and there should be no rubbing or pressure points at all. They will not go away with "break in". They will create soreness, pain, and blistering. Even if it seems to be tolerable, it is like water torture; as your feet are continually exposed to those pressure points your feet will break down against them bit by bit, and bruising, blisters, and soreness will follow.
  12. You may need to go up a size to a size and a half in length, and go with a wider width to avoid those things I mentioned above. The notion that one avoids blisters by wearing snug footwear has been shown to do just the opposite.
Thank you for posting this. This is one of the most detailed posts that I've ever read about shoe fitting.

Thanks again!
 

Jacki

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2017)
Just want to thank everyone for the overwhelming response and valuable opinions and advice! This forum is an amazing source of information and support and am so grateful for it. Cannot WAIT to hit the trails in Sept/Oct and finally be able to contribute with my own experiences! 🥾👣
 

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