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Running Shoes ok on Camino Frances?

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
Hello everyone, would you say a pilgrim could continue using quality running shoes and rugged sandals on the Camino Frances? Won't that work for most of the middle to the end sections in May and June? I've heard trail shoes are the way to go. In the USA a running shoe and a trail shoe are totally different. Don't have trail shoes. I've also heard waterproof shoes are necessary. Don't have those either. Don't have hiking boots either.

I'm from the USA, in Florida. I'm accustomed to walking or hiking in Brooks running shoes with Superfeet insoles for four miles to eight miles, wearing a lightweight hydration pack. I also use Keen sandals for shorter distances. I've never hiked in boots, trail shoes or waterproof shoes. I don't get blisters.

We don't have cobblestones here or uneven pavement here, except parts of St Augustine, and that's slow. We don't have rocks either. I have walked on sidewalks, which is unenjoyable. Mostly I walk in the woods, or on grass, or on sand-dusty trails; or I go barefoot on the beach or soccer fields. We don't have hills here. I normally avoid walking in mud and rain.

I am thinking of doing the Camino Frances starting in the middle of May, and ending in Santiago. I hope to do do 100 km, at minimum. I would like to do much more. I don't really know exactly where I will start. I want to walk about three or four weeks.

I'll be carrying a normal hiking backpack for low-weight overnight trips, with maybe 40 Liters capacity. Hope to limit loads to 15 pounds or so.

Perhaps you can advise, given my training habits and background, and because you are experts on the terrain and weather on Camino Frances. Thanks for any guidance and help.
 

november_moon

Veteran Member
Shoes are such a personal choice that it is hard to make recommendations for other people. Generally-speaking though, waterproof shoes will make your feet warmer and less able to vent heat and moisture, which can increase your chances of getting blisters. So, consider that carefully. May and June can be very warm on some parts of the Frances - it can also be very wet on other parts (Galicia in particular).

For me personally, non-waterproof hiking shoes were the way to go for the Camino. I had Merrill Moabs on the Camino and have been hiking at home in Solomons, which I also really like. I considered trail runners, but they just don't have enough support and stability for me when carrying a 12lb pack. I was very glad for the extra traction and beefier sole of the hiking shoes through some of the mountains and DEFINITELY in Galicia where it was rainy and muddy.
 

november_moon

Veteran Member
I got so focused on the shoes, I forgot the other topics in your question!

With 3-4 weeks to walk, you can definitely walk from Burgos - that's just under 500 km from Santiago. We did Burgos to Santiago in 23 days. I think that 150km a week is a reasonable distance to travel. That's an average of about 21 km per day or roughly 5 hours of walking each day.

A 40 liter pack sounds about right. Mine is 35 liter and was fine. a lot of people recommend keeping the weight of your pack to about 10% of your body weight. If you go with that rule of thumb (or close to it) you'll be fine. Not having hills to train on will give you a bit of a disadvantage, but it's not a deal-killer or anything. You just won't be conditioned for the hills is all, but you'll probably rock the Meseta, which is days of flatness as you go across the central plane in Spain. If you have access to some stairs, it wouldn't hurt to train on them to get your climbing muscles and cardio going.
 

Rick M

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
April ('16,'18, '19)
Hello everyone, would you say a pilgrim could continue using quality running shoes and rugged sandals on the Camino Frances? Won't that work for most of the middle to the end sections in May and June? I've heard trail shoes are the way to go. In the USA a running shoe and a trail shoe are totally different. Don't have trail shoes. I've also heard waterproof shoes are necessary. Don't have those either. Don't have hiking boots either.

I'm from the USA, in Florida. I'm accustomed to walking or hiking in Brooks running shoes with Superfeet insoles for four miles to eight miles, wearing a lightweight hydration pack. I also use Keen sandals for shorter distances. I've never hiked in boots, trail shoes or waterproof shoes. I don't get blisters.

We don't have cobblestones here or uneven pavement here, except parts of St Augustine, and that's slow. We don't have rocks either. I have walked on sidewalks, which is unenjoyable. Mostly I walk in the woods, or on grass, or on sand-dusty trails; or I go barefoot on the beach or soccer fields. We don't have hills here. I normally avoid walking in mud and rain.

I am thinking of doing the Camino Frances starting in the middle of May, and ending in Santiago. I hope to do do 100 km, at minimum. I would like to do much more. I don't really know exactly where I will start. I want to walk about three or four weeks.

I'll be carrying a normal hiking backpack for low-weight overnight trips, with maybe 40 Liters capacity. Hope to limit loads to 15 pounds or so.

Perhaps you can advise, given my training habits and background, and because you are experts on the terrain and weather on Camino Frances. Thanks for any guidance and help.
This is actually a good question. The standard response is that shoes are a personal choice, and they are. I think what you are REALLY asking is what the trail conditions are like, and if runners would be OK. The answer is that runners are OK......BUT....

You will encounter a range of trail conditions and they vary with the seasons. A bunch of the camino is through towns and villages. This is a mix of tarmac and cobble stones. Much of the trail is improved woodland trail dressed with crushed stone - perfect. Some of it is essentially a creek bed, with a mixture of gravel and larger stones. Mercifully, these stretches are short. There are a few patches that can be quite muddy when it rains. There were two horrible patches where the locals had thoughtfully installed flagstones. For a significant portion, you can choose to walk on the trail, or the road that parallels the trail on and off for almost half the distance.

The weather matters a lot. We had dry weather walking through Rioja, but I can see why its reputed to be difficult and muddy in the rain. In Galicia, some of those creek bed stretches had the creek flowing when we walked through in the rain, and you had to do some hopping to keep dry. Nobody can tell you what the weather will be when you are going, but you are more likely to see dry than wet in May. If its dry, runners are perfect for the camino......as long as you don't need any kind of support, and you are OK with stretches of uneven surfaces. I was fine with runners on all the surfaces I encountered, but I accept that not everyone will be.

Now my story. I like walking in runners too. I don't like hiking boots at all. I went in April-May all the way, and knew that I would encounter significant rain, which I did. I took two pairs of shoes. I hesitate to recommend this to anyone else because of the weight implications, but when I go again, I will take two pairs of shoes again. My main pair were my Saucony runners. I wore those for about 70% of the time. I also wore those walking through the town no matter what the weather, because I found paved roads to be uncomfortable any other way. I also had a pair of Gortex Merrell trail shoes, which I wore when it rained, and for the few muddy stretches we encountered. Yeah, in April, that was 30% of the time. Many times, I changed shoes during the day, with the changing weather.

When I got to my destination for the day, off came whatever I was wearing, and on went the other shoes. A change is as good as a rest for tired feet, at least for me!

Buen Camino
 

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
Thanks for responding!

It's my first reply! I don't know how to quote you, but you said it was rainy in Galicia. Ok that's great information.

Galicia is at the end, near the ocean, makes sense.

What kind of rain is it? Gentle? Torrential? Did the rain pass in ten minutes?

What kind of trail conditions happen when it rains? Did the mud dry in an hour? Does it take days? Do people just stop and wait it out?

What season gets the rain in Galicia? How is June? Or July?

You felt like you were going to lose your footing in Galicia and were glad for the traction. Good information. Was that from the rain and mud? Or is there dry slippery sliding things happening?

You said my pack size and weight seems ok. Actually I think 40L is big and 15 pounds is a lot of weight for me. I'm still experimenting and deciding what items to take. The backpack is my one piece of luggage on the flight, and I'd like to visit Europe after the walk. So... I'm not sure I trust sending stuff up ahead to wait for me at Santiago. I dunno yet.

Speaking of after the walk, what do people do? Are pilgrims sick of walking around Europe at that point? Or do they stay and go visit friends in Europe? Do they turn into tourists? Or what?

Regarding where to start for a four week walk... Bourges for 500km? You really have a lotta faith in my feet!

Thanks!
 

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
Look for trail running shoes. The major difference between trail runners and regular runners is the tread.
Wow, I had no idea. But I wonder about switching so late? But really great info there!

Question about tread for you... Isn't that mainly important for walking on rocks? Are there sharp, pointy, rocky objects and surfaces? How much surface is like that on Frances, from maybe the middle and going forward?

Sorry if I seem dumb.
 

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
This is actually a good question. The standard response is that shoes are a personal choice, and they are. I think what you are REALLY asking is what the trail conditions are like, and if runners would be OK. The answer is that runners are OK......BUT....

You will encounter a range of trail conditions and they vary with the seasons. A bunch of the camino is through towns and villages. This is a mix of tarmac and cobble stones. Much of the trail is improved woodland trail dressed with crushed stone - perfect. Some of it is essentially a creek bed, with a mixture of gravel and larger stones. Mercifully, these stretches are short. There are a few patches that can be quite muddy when it rains. There were two horrible patches where the locals had thoughtfully installed flagstones. For a significant portion, you can choose to walk on the trail, or the road that parallels the trail on and off for almost half the distance.

The weather matters a lot. We had dry weather walking through Rioja, but I can see why its reputed to be difficult and muddy in the rain. In Galicia, some of those creek bed stretches had the creek flowing when we walked through in the rain, and you had to do some hopping to keep dry. Nobody can tell you what the weather will be when you are going, but you are more likely to see dry than wet in May. If its dry, runners are perfect for the camino......as long as you don't need any kind of support, and you are OK with stretches of uneven surfaces. I was fine with runners on all the surfaces I encountered, but I accept that not everyone will be.

Now my story. I like walking in runners too. I don't like hiking boots at all. I went in April-May all the way, and knew that I would encounter significant rain, which I did. I took two pairs of shoes. I hesitate to recommend this to anyone else because of the weight implications, but when I go again, I will take two pairs of shoes again. My main pair were my Saucony runners. I wore those for about 70% of the time. I also wore those walking through the town no matter what the weather, because I found paved roads to be uncomfortable any other way. I also had a pair of Gortex Merrell trail shoes, which I wore when it rained, and for the few muddy stretches we encountered. Yeah, in April, that was 30% of the time. Many times, I changed shoes during the day, with the changing weather.

When I got to my destination for the day, off came whatever I was wearing, and on went the other shoes. A change is as good as a rest for tired feet, at least for me!

Buen Camino
Hello Rick, yes I'm asking about trail surface and weather, which create the conditions, yes. And how do people react, do they just keep walking or do they stay indoors.

I've considered taking two pairs of walking shoes also. I dread that though. And that means no crocs at night, because that would be taking three pairs of shoes. And if we take flip flops into the shower... four!

So your goretex trail shoes worked for you in the heat?

Regarding the rain, it's not organized into "the rainy season" versus "the dry season"? And it's not organized into "the 4pm daily summer shower that passes in 20 minutes"? And it's not like "this is going to be a hurricane we see coming on satellite"? It's random? The rain is random?
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
It's random? The rain is random?
Yes. Less of it and warmer in summer, more of it and colder in winter. There is no dry season or wet season, Galicia has a 'temperate maritime' climate.

Perhaps the question you need to consider is can you walk, comfortably, day upon day, carrying a 6 kg pack plus water on variable terrain in shoes designed for running pack-free on track? Loads of people walk in 'trail' sandals in the spring & summer - sometimes they get wet.
 

Rick M

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
April ('16,'18, '19)
Hello Rick, yes I'm asking about trail surface and weather, which create the conditions, yes. And how do people react, do they just keep walking or do they stay indoors.

I've considered taking two pairs of walking shoes also. I dread that though. And that means no crocs at night, because that would be taking three pairs of shoes. And if we take flip flops into the shower... four!

So your goretex trail shoes worked for you in the heat?

Regarding the rain, it's not organized into "the rainy season" versus "the dry season"? And it's not organized into "the 4pm daily summer shower that passes in 20 minutes"? And it's not like "this is going to be a hurricane we see coming on satellite"? It's random? The rain is random?
I will try and answer your questions as best I can.

The Camino goes through four separate climates. The Pyranees have a mountain climate complete with snow (although not in May!), the Meseta is a near desert, Galicia is what Tincantinker called it - pretty much the same as where I live, and then there is everywhere else. None of these are anything like the climate in Florida - No giant T-Storm every afternoon, but otherwise nice. No hurricanes.

You cannot predict the weather, but prepare for the climate. You need a rain solution that you can live with, because in all likelihood, you will get rained on. You will encounter some cool days too, so have a fleece of some sort.

Most pilgrims just keep walking in the rain. Some hole up when its really bad, but I didn't. Just took a shorter day than when it was nice. There are thunderstorms (with torrential rain) in Spain, but not like the ones in Florida, and not very often. Avoid those when they pass through, but otherwise the rain is lighter than you are accustomed too.

Full disclosure, I also had a pair of crocs (they weigh nothing) that I carried as well. These were good for hanging in the albergue, as well as the showers. Can't recommend that much footwear, but it all fit in my 40 litre 20 pound pack, which was not a burden for me. Then again, I'm a big guy, not a small woman. If I weighed 120 lbs, this would be a much harder choice.

As for the Gortex shoes in the heat, I never saw one single day over 22 C (70 F) for the entire Camino. You probably will. You might encounter much higher temperatures, which is why a lot of summer walkers like sandals. Gortex shoes are awful in the heat, so this is something to consider. I Do NOT recommend Gortex as your only footwear that time of year.
 

Hutton24

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances October 2013
Camino Frances April 2017
[QUOTE="CaminoJoy123, post: 505420, member: 69103"I've also heard waterproof shoes are necessary. [/QUOTE]
Buy waterproofing spray and spray your shoes a couple of times and then they are waterproof. Too many people suggest you 'must' have certain equipment - some advice is good and somewhere along the line you must work out what is right for you. Buen Camino.
 

Nanc

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (Sept 2016)
SDC/ Finesterre/ Muxia (2016)
"Look for trail running shoes. The major difference between trail runners and regular runners is the tread"
I ditto that comment
I found some great Brooks running shoes with enough support and able to handle my orthotic only to find on some slopes and trail grit I did not have enough traction- Had to go back and look at tread depth for the pair I ended up wearing
 

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
Yes. Less of it and warmer in summer, more of it and colder in winter. There is no dry season or wet season, Galicia has a 'temperate maritime' climate.

Perhaps the question you need to consider is can you walk, comfortably, day upon day, carrying a 6 kg pack plus water on variable terrain in shoes designed for running pack-free on track? Loads of people walk in 'trail' sandals in the spring & summer - sometimes they get wet.
 

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
Thank you for explaining the weather is a temperate maritime in Galicia. And yet it's dry and hot in the more central region right?

The rugged trail sandals are really great, and I can see why people use them. Maybe they wear socks with the sandals to keep out sand, pebbles or dirt, or perhaps there is little debris in many places.
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean 2017.
Hola @CaminoJoy123 - and welcome to the Forum.
I support what @Tincatinker said about what was the original (design) purpose of the footwear you have. If it was designed for a 3-6 mile (5km/10km) run - even cross country - 3 or 4 days a month then its performance where you walk 15-30 km (10 to 20 miles) nearly every day for 4 or 5 weeks may not meet your expectations. The one major suggestion - ensure that whatever footwear you choose ensure that it is properly broken-in (a good 3 or 4 weeks of walking in them on your training walks); waterproof them if you can - walking in wet shoes/wet socks is one way to get blisters; consider adding an extra layer of padding (cushion orthotics?) - your feet will thank you.
 

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
"Look for trail running shoes. The major difference between trail runners and regular runners is the tread"
I ditto that comment
I found some great Brooks running shoes with enough support and able to handle my orthotic only to find on some slopes and trail grit I did not have enough traction- Had to go back and look at tread depth for the pair I ended up wearing
Ok so you were slipping on slopes and trail grit. Good info. Yeh the Brooks running shoes are great... but with a pack on and facing those surface conditions, wouldn't be the best.

You were still in the states training and so you chose a different pair before leaving?
 

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
I will try and answer your questions as best I can.

The Camino goes through four separate climates. The Pyranees have a mountain climate complete with snow (although not in May!), the Meseta is a near desert, Galicia is what Tincantinker called it - pretty much the same as where I live, and then there is everywhere else. None of these are anything like the climate in Florida - No giant T-Storm every afternoon, but otherwise nice. No hurricanes.

You cannot predict the weather, but prepare for the climate. You need a rain solution that you can live with, because in all likelihood, you will get rained on. You will encounter some cool days too, so have a fleece of some sort.

Most pilgrims just keep walking in the rain. Some hole up when its really bad, but I didn't. Just took a shorter day than when it was nice. There are thunderstorms (with torrential rain) in Spain, but not like the ones in Florida, and not very often. Avoid those when they pass through, but otherwise the rain is lighter than you are accustomed too.

Full disclosure, I also had a pair of crocs (they weigh nothing) that I carried as well. These were good for hanging in the albergue, as well as the showers. Can't recommend that much footwear, but it all fit in my 40 litre 20 pound pack, which was not a burden for me. Then again, I'm a big guy, not a small woman. If I weighed 120 lbs, this would be a much harder choice.

As for the Gortex shoes in the heat, I never saw one single day over 22 C (70 F) for the entire Camino. You probably will. You might encounter much higher temperatures, which is why a lot of summer walkers like sandals. Gortex shoes are awful in the heat, so this is something to consider. I Do NOT recommend Gortex as your only footwear that time of year.
Yes, I have misgivings about Goretex in the heat.
 

november_moon

Veteran Member
What kind of rain is it? Gentle? Torrential? Did the rain pass in ten minutes?
All of the above. The rain we had before Galicia was mostly intermittent and short lived. It would rain off and on, sometimes for longer periods, sometimes shorter periods. Once we got to Galicia though, it rained a lot - sometimes all day, one day the rain was so heavy that we stopped after 10km and called it a day. One day it hailed. Some days it was beautiful or only rained part of the day.

What kind of trail conditions happen when it rains? Did the mud dry in an hour? Does it take days? Do people just stop and wait it out?
It depends on the terrain, but we didn't really hit mud until Galicia. Some of the trails were very muddy and sometimes we ended up picking our way along the very edge to avoid standing water. You can't stop and wait out the rain because then you'll never get to the end. People just put on their rain gear and walk through it.

What season gets the rain in Galicia? How is June? Or July?
It can rain any time of year - here's a good link for weather in Galicia - the data is for Lugo, which is a city just a bit to the north of the Camino, but it will give you an idea. Scroll down to the Rainfall graph and click on "All" to show the rain history for the past many years. Expect 10-20 days with rain for any given June or July.

https://www.worldweatheronline.com/lugo-weather-averages/galicia/es.aspx

You felt like you were going to lose your footing in Galicia and were glad for the traction. Good information. Was that from the rain and mud? Or is there dry slippery sliding things happening?
Mostly due to the mud and the rain - also cow poop and other schmutz. Galicia is dairy country - the Camino runs through lots and lots of farmland with tons of small dairies. The cows use the trail also.

Speaking of after the walk, what do people do? Are pilgrims sick of walking around Europe at that point? Or do they stay and go visit friends in Europe? Do they turn into tourists? Or what?
Depends on how much time you have. Most people who aren't retired or on summer break from school have to go back to work, but those who are fortunate enough to have more time will often travel around more. It just depends. Those who plan to travel around afterward, but don't want to continue to wear their 2 changes of Camino clothes, will often pack a suitcase that they sent ahead to Santiago and pick up when they get there.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
I am thinking of doing the Camino Frances starting in the middle of May, and ending in Santiago. .
As many members say here, plan for the climate and be prepared for any type of weather ;)

I walked in May 2015 and only saw 3 days of light rain in 40. But it got quite hot. Up to 30 C. Some mornings were cool to start.

Similar in May last year (2016) though cooler.

Others will report walking in a much higher percentage of rainy days and dealing with clinging mud. That is an experience I still have to look forward to. :oops:

The point? Predicting the weather and hence trail conditions is almost impossible. What you can probably assume is that it will be between 15-25 C when walking in May. And some days it will rain.....probably all day. Walking in the rain can be nice, if you have the right gear.

As for the terrain. It varies a lot from asphalt roads, to cobbled Roman Roads, to senda (fine gravel tracks), woodland earth paths to rocky trails like a river bed. (in sections up and down to Cruz de Ferro for example)

Footwear is a very personal choice and depends on what you are used to and the condition of your feet. Technically you could walk barefoot if you were used to walking barefoot! Some wear runners, trail runners, trail sandals, boots......

Personally I wear mid length lightweight boots. I like the thick soles and tread. I like the ankle support. I would have twisted my ankle a couple of times without them. But that is just me. If my feet / ankles were in better shape, I would probably wear trail runners.

Oh, and my boots are Gortex ;)

My feet do tend to get warm and a bit sweaty, but no warmer than wearing runners I would think. I do make sure that every 2-3 hours I take my boots and socks off and air my feet. Maybe even change socks. A good practice I think whatever footwear is used.

Never got a blister yet...............touching wood......!
 

nycwalking

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF: (2001, 2002, 2004, 2014). Hospitalera: 2002, Ponferrada. 2004, Rabanal del Camino.
Three out of four caminos, I wore Nike running shoes. I never get blisters wearing Nikes. Winter 2014, camino number 4, I started with Nike shoes, had to switch to boots due to injury and mud. Wear whatever works best for you. I saw an American Benedictine monk wearing a cut-off sweatshirt, corduroy pants, and flip-flops.
Buen camino.
 

Jersey

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
July 2017
Three out of four caminos, I wore Nike running shoes. I never get blisters wearing Nikes. Winter 2014, camino number 4, I started with Nike shoes, had to switch to boots due to injury and mud. Wear whatever works best for you. I saw an American Benedictine monk wearing a cut-off sweatshirt, corduroy pants, and flip-flops.
Buen camino.
Im assuming what we call sneakers here in America are called running shoes in Europe?
I walk about 15 miles a week here in New Jersey, almost always in sneakers but right now I'm walking in a pair of North Face Storm hiking shoes and I'm thrilled with them. To me they are the same as a running shoe but much better made and waterproof.
 

Introibo

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances ( March 2015 )
Camino Portugues ( September 2015 )
Pack weight can make a real difference. When I walked the CF I was really comfortable in my
Salomon Speedcross 3's, a cross country running shoe, when I was carrying my own pack. On
the penultimate day I ended up carrying a friends pack which probably weighed twice as much
as mine. I could feel the soles of the shoes bottoming out and I ended up with a blister.

The shoes weren't waterproof which made them cooler and when they did get wet they dried
out amazingly quickly. I switched to shoes after having endless problems with my ankles when
I walked in boots.
 

nycwalking

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF: (2001, 2002, 2004, 2014). Hospitalera: 2002, Ponferrada. 2004, Rabanal del Camino.
Im assuming what we call sneakers here in America are called running shoes in Europe?
I walk about 15 miles a week here in New Jersey, almost always in sneakers but right now I'm walking in a pair of North Face Storm hiking shoes and I'm thrilled with them. To me they are the same as a running shoe but much better made and waterproof.
I used "running" for Europeans on Camino forum. But, yes, I meant sneakers. On winter Camino I was happy with boots, Nike sneaks could not stand up to mud. But, this summer VDP, it will be Nike sneaks, and my boots to trade off with.
 
M

Mark Lee

Guest
Many, many (probably thousands) of pilgrims walk the entire Camino every year, successfully wearing running shoes. I recommend trail runners, but I saw lots of pilgrims wearing non-trail running shoes, and you don't have to have waterproof ones.
The walking terrain on the Caminos Frances consists of a lot of improved roads like blacktop and concrete. It's hardly a wilderness trek, but the traction the soles of trail-runners provide does help on the downhills and uphills on the non-improved sections. Don't approach walking it like a traditional backpacking trip through the mountains or woods. It's nothing like that, and keep you pack as small and light as possible. If you forget something you can buy it in Spain. No big deal.
I never encountered any huge climate condition differences from one end of the Camino Frances to the other, or big differences in weather. Sure, you go up in the higher elevations and it gets cooler, but nothing drastic. The meseta section is nothing like a desert (I know people like to say it is). It's just flat farmland.
Basically the Camino Frances is hilly in some sections, flat in others. That's it, but sometimes people get pretty poetic and mystical in its description, ha ha.
If you find a pair of trail runners you like, wear them. If they are trashed by the time you reach Santiago, you can always throw them away and buy some new shoes there.
ultreia
 

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
As many members say here, plan for the climate and be prepared for any type of weather ;)

I walked in May 2015 and only saw 3 days of light rain in 40. But it got quite hot. Up to 30 C. Some mornings were cool to start.

Similar in May last year (2016) though cooler.

Others will report walking in a much higher percentage of rainy days and dealing with clinging mud. That is an experience I still have to look forward to. :oops:

The point? Predicting the weather and hence trail conditions is almost impossible. What you can probably assume is that it will be between 15-25 C when walking in May. And some days it will rain.....probably all day. Walking in the rain can be nice, if you have the right gear.

As for the terrain. It varies a lot from asphalt roads, to cobbled Roman Roads, to senda (fine gravel tracks), woodland earth paths to rocky trails like a river bed. (in sections up and down to Cruz de Ferro for example)

Footwear is a very personal choice and depends on what you are used to and the condition of your feet. Technically you could walk barefoot if you were used to walking barefoot! Some wear runners, trail runners, trail sandals, boots......

Personally I wear mid length lightweight boots. I like the thick soles and tread. I like the ankle support. I would have twisted my ankle a couple of times without them. But that is just me. If my feet / ankles were in better shape, I would probably wear trail runners.

Oh, and my boots are Gortex ;)

My feet do tend to get warm and a bit sweaty, but no warmer than wearing runners I would think. I do make sure that every 2-3 hours I take my boots and socks off and air my feet. Maybe even change socks. A good practice I think whatever footwear is used.

Never got a blister yet...............touching wood......!
Ok, so you've got the waterproof boots with goretex and you have had no blisters. And you air your feet throughout the day, when you take a break. Good information.

Lots of variety in surfaces on Camino. Good info.

As for the temperatures, I thought people were saying it's already hot right now? But if my math conversion is right, you're saying Camino Frances doesn't even get to 80F in May. Es correcto? For the central part and forward? I thought there was a big desert.

I'm assuming June temperatures are above 82F but not in Galicia.
 

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
Many, many (probably thousands) of pilgrims walk the entire Camino every year, successfully wearing running shoes. I recommend trail runners, but I saw lots of pilgrims wearing non-trail running shoes, and you don't have to have waterproof ones.
The walking terrain on the Caminos Frances consists of a lot of improved roads like blacktop and concrete. It's hardly a wilderness trek, but the traction the soles of trail-runners provide does help on the downhills and uphills on the non-improved sections. Don't approach walking it like a traditional backpacking trip through the mountains or woods. It's nothing like that, and keep you pack as small and light as possible. If you forget something you can buy it in Spain. No big deal.
I never encountered any huge climate condition differences from one end of the Camino Frances to the other, or big differences in weather. Sure, you go up in the higher elevations and it gets cooler, but nothing drastic. The meseta section is nothing like a desert (I know people like to say it is). It's just flat farmland.
Basically the Camino Frances is hilly in some sections, flat in others. That's it, but sometimes people get pretty poetic and mystical in its description, ha ha.
If you find a pair of trail runners you like, wear them. If they are trashed by the time you reach Santiago, you can always throw them away and buy some new shoes there.
ultreia
The maseta is not a desert? ok that's good to know!

You say it's not a traditional hike in the woods. Yet people do recommend trail runners or boots because of the occasional sections with natural surfaces and weather conditions.

That's a great reminder about buying something in Spain if one forgets an item at home.

I'm sorry I dont know how to do quotes...
 
M

Mark Lee

Guest
Ok, so you've got the waterproof boots with goretex and you have had no blisters. And you air your feet throughout the day, when you take a break. Good information.

Lots of variety in surfaces on Camino. Good info.

As for the temperatures, I thought people were saying it's already hot right now? But if my math conversion is right, you're saying Camino Frances doesn't even get to 80F in May. Es correcto? For the central part and forward? I thought there was a big desert.

I'm assuming June temperatures are above 82F but not in Galicia.
Depends on what you consider hot temperatures....
I see you are from Florida where it can get damn hot and humid. I've lived in south Louisiana and Texas for most of my life and it gets way hot and humid, too. I've done the Camino Frances multiple times between June and September. The only time I experienced temps in the 90's (F) was last July-August when I was on it. Hot and dry. Other times on it I found the weather to be very nice. Cool in the mornings and evenings. Sunny days. Wore shorts everyday on the Camino. I never walked with long pants on any of them.
If you are walking it between May-June I would be very surprised if the temps went higher than the 80's, and low humidity. That like Christmas day in the south, ha ha.
Not one lick of desert on the Camino Frances. Zero. The Meseta ain't desert. Here's a couple of my photos of it:
El Camino de Santiago numero quatro 2016 031.jpg El Camino de Santiago numero quatro 2016 021.jpg
kinda cool, huh? Like Kansas or Nebraska.
ultreia
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
Test your footwear before you leave. Running shoes are too light for me, but many use them. Walk several days in a row with your backpack on. Try for varied terrain. Don't learn new things about your footwear on the Camino! :)

Ok, so you've got the waterproof boots with goretex and you have had no blisters. And you air your feet throughout the day, when you take a break. Good information.

Lots of variety in surfaces on Camino. Good info.

As for the temperatures, I thought people were saying it's already hot right now? But if my math conversion is right, you're saying Camino Frances doesn't even get to 80F in May. Es correcto? For the central part and forward? I thought there was a big desert.

I'm assuming June temperatures are above 82F but not in Galicia.
It can be hot on the Camino any day from April to November! Even Galicia can be quite hot. The middle section is desert-like, and can be extremely hot in the summer. Walk early, stop early; carry enough water. Don't expect much shade.

Have fun, but be weather/temperature safe. ;)
 

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
Depends on what you consider hot temperatures....
I see you are from Florida where it can get damn hot and humid. I've lived in south Louisiana and Texas for most of my life and it gets way hot and humid, too. I've done the Camino Frances multiple times between June and September. The only time I experienced temps in the 90's (F) was last July-August when I was on it. Hot and dry. Other times on it I found the weather to be very nice. Cool in the mornings and evenings. Sunny days. Wore shorts everyday on the Camino. I never walked with long pants on any of them.
If you are walking it between May-June I would be very surprised if the temps went higher than the 80's, and low humidity. That like Christmas day in the south, ha ha.
Not one lick of desert on the Camino Frances. Zero. The Meseta ain't desert. Here's a couple of my photos of it:
View attachment 33175 View attachment 33177
kinda cool, huh? Like Kansas or Nebraska.
ultreia
Wow, southern boy, looks like you may be right. The Meseta is not really a desert after all.

Las Vegas and Death Valley are in the desert. El Paso is desert.

When temperatures are in the 75-82 range, with humidity below 55%, this is called paradise. Not desert.

Of course Goretex boots are totally fine when temps are below 80 with low humidity. You won't get jungle rot!

Certainly temps at 85 and above will absolutely affect physical labor. And goretex waterproofing sounds disastrous then. But you're saying very unlikely to see that temperature range when I'm going.

I thought people were nearly getting heat stroke last year or the year before? Temperatures about 90?
 

Jersey

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
July 2017
With so many people on here from different parts of the world it's almost useless using the words hot, cool, cold & pleasant. LOL
On the other hand "people are getting burned and it's raining " we all understand
What I'm doing is putting a few of the cities I'll be walking through on my weather app.
 
M

Mark Lee

Guest
I thought people were nearly getting heat stroke last year or the year before? Temperatures about 90?
Like I said, late last summer (July-September) it was very hot in northern Spain, and if one wasn't careful one could easily have been a heat casualty. A couple of days just plain kicked my ass, but of all the times I have been on the Camino that was the worst. No doubt one could seriously hurt oneself walking long distances with a pack anywhere in any temps if oneself doesn't hydrate, dress properly and use common sense. I'm not downplaying that need or that possibility.
Another great thing (though some would disagree ha ha) about walking the Frances is the abundance of wi-fi. You can easily check local weather on an app or site.
If you want to check past year's weather along northern Spain, check out www.wunderground.com.
ultreia
 

jo webber

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sept 9th 2017
I too have only the city to walk in. Pavement and sidewalks, with a short dirt walking path of about 1/2 mile. No hills. :(
What I would suggest is to wear your shoes for a 10 mile walk with a fully loaded pack. Walk from park to park or coffee shop to restaurant to mall, whatever will give you a break every 3 to 5 miles. Try for a 6 hour walk. If your feet are happy, wear the shoes.
Shoes will dry if it rains. There are water proof socks that weight much less than water proof shoes. If you have time, walk in the heat and go someplace to walk in the cool. Figure out socks. For me, the shoes were easy - the socks were difficult.

1. does it work for you?
2. does it weight less than another item.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
Like I said, late last summer (July-September) it was very hot in northern Spain, and if one wasn't careful one could easily have been a heat casualty.
I started walking August 23 last year, and it was definitely HOT. A couple of days it was up to 95F/35C. Fortunately, not much humidity. I did know a couple of people who had to take a rest early on because of the heat. I stopped walking each day by about 1:00 pm when it was that hot, and I was sweaty, but fine. Now I'm confident that I'll be able to handle the weather during my walk this year in July.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
Ok, so you've got the waterproof boots with goretex and you have had no blisters. And you air your feet throughout the day, when you take a break. Good information.

Lots of variety in surfaces on Camino. Good info.

As for the temperatures, I thought people were saying it's already hot right now? But if my math conversion is right, you're saying Camino Frances doesn't even get to 80F in May. Es correcto? For the central part and forward? I thought there was a big desert.

I'm assuming June temperatures are above 82F but not in Galicia.
Sorry, I was kind of intentionally being vague about the weather, because it can vary so much. Last year in May the temps were around 65-75F. In 2015 more like 70-80F (peaks at 85F). June would start to get hotter....

As others have said....The Meseta is not exactly a desert in the true sense... More a flat / open area with fewer trees........
 
Camino(s) past & future
March, 2017
Hello everyone, would you say a pilgrim could continue using quality running shoes and rugged sandals on the Camino Frances? Won't that work for most of the middle to the end sections in May and June? I've heard trail shoes are the way to go. In the USA a running shoe and a trail shoe are totally different. Don't have trail shoes. I've also heard waterproof shoes are necessary. Don't have those either. Don't have hiking boots either.

I'm from the USA, in Florida. I'm accustomed to walking or hiking in Brooks running shoes with Superfeet insoles for four miles to eight miles, wearing a lightweight hydration pack. I also use Keen sandals for shorter distances. I've never hiked in boots, trail shoes or waterproof shoes. I don't get blisters.

We don't have cobblestones here or uneven pavement here, except parts of St Augustine, and that's slow. We don't have rocks either. I have walked on sidewalks, which is unenjoyable. Mostly I walk in the woods, or on grass, or on sand-dusty trails; or I go barefoot on the beach or soccer fields. We don't have hills here. I normally avoid walking in mud and rain.

I am thinking of doing the Camino Frances starting in the middle of May, and ending in Santiago. I hope to do do 100 km, at minimum. I would like to do much more. I don't really know exactly where I will start. I want to walk about three or four weeks.

I'll be carrying a normal hiking backpack for low-weight overnight trips, with maybe 40 Liters capacity. Hope to limit loads to 15 pounds or so.

Perhaps you can advise, given my training habits and background, and because you are experts on the terrain and weather on Camino Frances. Thanks for any guidance and help.
Yeah, this is a personal choice and one that I fretted about too before the Camino: Go with low-top, light-weight trail shoes like some of the ultra-light trekkers on the Pacific Crest Trail out here in CA, or sturdier, heavier boots? In the end I stuck with a brand that I'm familiar with and whose boots have been consistently reliable for me in all kinds of hikes: Keen. You mentioned that you own their sandals. I've hiked in their non-waterproof low-tops and waterproof versions as well. It's true that the non-waterproof versions breathe nicer, but on the Camino you'll probably get wet at some point (I went in March, so check around the forum here for summer weather, especially in Galicia where I'm sure it rains anyway). I experienced a little of all weather, including snow and ice. The Keens I chose for the Camino were their Oakridge Waterproof boot. They performed perfectly and I highly recommend them. Also, consider Superfeet inserts and wearing two pair of socks, and lotion or vaseline on your toes -- I didn't get a single blister the whole trip. Good luck and Buen Camino!
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
Yeah, it can be handy.
I looked up Leon, Spain (about the halfway point of the CF sort of) for this month so far. Damn nice....40's-70's (F) and pretty dry.
https://www.wunderground.com/q/zmw:00000.1.08055
Good point Mark.
@CaminoJoy123, if you want to get a more objective view of what weather you might encounter, using weather websites helps a lot. I tend to use them by looking back over previous years to get a 'rough' idea of what to expect. At least in terms of broad temperature ranges.

This is another useful site. https://www.yr.no
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
When temperatures are in the 75-82 range, with humidity below 55%, this is called paradise. Not desert.
Sure it's not that hot. We hit 115 F in Sydney this year. But I didn't go walking around for hours in it!

5-10 hours walking in just 80 F gets 'warm'. You will go through plenty of water and sun protection is essential, even in overcast weather.

But if you are used to long walks in warm/hot weather, you'll find it easy to cope with ;)
 

november_moon

Veteran Member
Keep in mind that because the Camino Frances covers several hundred miles, you will encounter a lot of different terrain and various weather. So you need to be prepared for that - you'll need shoes that your feet really like that you can comfortably wear on roads, gravel paths, and trails in a variety of weather conditions.
 

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
I too have only the city to walk in. Pavement and sidewalks, with a short dirt walking path of about 1/2 mile. No hills. :(
What I would suggest is to wear your shoes for a 10 mile walk with a fully loaded pack. Walk from park to park or coffee shop to restaurant to mall, whatever will give you a break every 3 to 5 miles. Try for a 6 hour walk. If your feet are happy, wear the shoes.
Shoes will dry if it rains. There are water proof socks that weight much less than water proof shoes. If you have time, walk in the heat and go someplace to walk in the cool. Figure out socks. For me, the shoes were easy - the socks were difficult.

1. does it work for you?
2. does it weight less than another item.
This is really great advice! Thanks so much
 

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
Sure it's not that hot. We hit 115 F in Sydney this year. But I didn't go walking around for hours in it!

5-10 hours walking in just 80 F gets 'warm'. You will go through plenty of water and sun protection is essential, even in overcast weather.

But if you are used to long walks in warm/hot weather, you'll find it easy to cope with ;)

Once it gets much above 82 with our high humidity and blazing sun, I start to head home. Low humidity is completely fine.

I can't imagine walking for ten hours. Do people really do that? I was thinking a six hour day.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese.
@CaminoJoy123 I have worn lightweight runners on the Camino Frances twice (from SJPDP to Santiago) and I was fine. The water pours through but they walk dry. The one thing to watch is that the sole is hard wearing - mine were Asics, which I knew from experience at home would last the distance, whereas my Brooks would not, the rubber on the sole seems to be softer and wears down faster.
I've also worn Ecco hiking sandals for three Caminos, twice on the CF, and once on the Norte. Again, they were fine. In fact the latest pair have now taken me about 3000 km.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
I can't imagine walking for ten hours. Do people really do that? I was thinking a six hour day.
It's a very personal thing. How fit you are, if you have any injuries, how far you 'want' to walk.

I'm not that fit (over weight) and carry chronic tendon injuries so I walk very slowly. (av 3 kms / hour including breaks). So if I want to walk 20 - 30 kms in a day, I need to walk 7-10 hours. Simple maths.

I take lots of breaks though. At almost every village for a coffee and to elevate my feet. Certainly every 2-3 hours.

Though I average 6 hours a day. 20 kms per day is comfortable for me. As I get much above 24-25 kms my tendon issues won't recover overnight, and I start a downward spiral. I learnt that in 2015, as I was down to 10-15 kms a day at the end. Three or Four 30+ km days were just too much for my feet and they never really recovered.

For 2018 I'm planning to reduce my body weight a fair bit (15-20 kgs). That should make a huge difference to how long I can walk and what shape I am in at the end of the day. I hope ;)

In 2018 my wife will walk with me again. She is even slower (about 2.5 kms / hour) :) Due to plantaar Faciitis :( We 'get by' on Cortisone shots just before we leave. And self treatment along the way (long story)

From St Jean to Santiago I've allowed us 50 days.... If she builds up slowly, Pat should be able to handle 20 km days. (8 hours walking including breaks)

So apart from all the discussions on boots, weather, distances, packs .... IMHO the most important thing is to be aware of your own capabilities and how your body is 'holding up'. Warming up, warming down, hydration, foot care.

Each morning as soon as I get up I do a short routine of stretching. And I would go though little pre-flight checks as I started to walk in the mornings and after each break. Really feeling how things were going. Feet, ankles, shins, knees, back..... For example, If I have shin pain I know that as I warm up it should disappear within the first 30 mins. If it doesn't, I stop and work out what's wrong. I might try taping my shins. If I get some lower back pain I'll stop and do some stretches. If I feel a hot spot on my feet, I might stop and change socks or put some sheep's wool on the hot spot.

Wherever you start on your Camino, it's usually going to be a long walk, even if you are only walking for a week. So you need to be very 'body aware' to avoid any injury that could put a stop to your Camino.... Little 'niggling' things can soon become 'big' things if not dealt with.

Sorry. Rambled on a bit.... :oops:

Of course that's just the physical component of the Camino.
The emotional and spiritual challenges can be much tougher. ;)
 
Last edited:

alipilgrim

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2005), Frances (2007), Madrid/Frances (2011), 1/2 VdP (2012),
The heavier your backpack the more support your shoes should give you.
 

Bryan Ritter

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013, 2017)
Camino Portugues (2017)
Yes, you can use trail running shoes on the Camino. You won't have to worry too much about wet conditions given your time frame (but showers can happen). Using hiking poles will help compensate for the lack of ankle support.

I used La Sportiva trail running shoes in 2013 and they worked well for me. This year I'm using Salomon trail running shoes, which are even lighter. I like trail running shoes because they breathe better and I get fewer blisters.

Whatever shoe you decide, test them out with your full pack before you leave home. Find some stairs so you get the feel of ups and downs.
 

Old Gringo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2004 and Via de la Plata 2015
Alright. I’ll throw in my five cents.

I’ve done two Caminos, VdlP and Frances.

The number one issue I observed, by far, that caused people to drop out of the Caminos were foot problems.

After about five miles your feet will start to swell. How much depends on the person so you’ll want to have your footwear well broken in and worn for a ten to fifteen mile test to see how much your feet swell. Some people buy a size bigger, some a half size bigger, some stick with original size.

Personally I think people who do a large piece of the Camino in running shoes or trail runners and carry a pack are exposing themselves to ankle issues, arch problems and just having the things not holding up and denigrating (seen it twice). The footwear is simply not designed for that kind of use and believe me you don’t want to be looking for new footwear in the middle of your Camino.

For my Caminos I used full boots (you could go with low cut but I like the ankle support and without gaiters- another piece of equipment to haul- you have exposure to getting wet in rain). Gortex I found optimal, seemed to breathe adequately and kept out the moisture from creek crossings, rain and mud.
 

Donna Sch

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdLP-Sanabres-Fisterra (Summer 2015); Levante-VDLP-Invierno (Feb/Mar 2019);
I started walking August 23 last year, and it was definitely HOT. A couple of days it was up to 95F/35C. Fortunately, not much humidity. I did know a couple of people who had to take a rest early on because of the heat. I stopped walking each day by about 1:00 pm when it was that hot, and I was sweaty, but fine. Now I'm confident that I'll be able to handle the weather during my walk this year in July.
The worst surface to work on in the heat is road on a hot day. Sometimes, however, it is unavoidable. But remember you will get a hot sun burning down on you and the road itself will be very hot and there is some glare as well. When you can feel the heat coming through the soles of your shoes it is not pleasant especially if you have several km to go. and this tends to happen almost inevitably in the last 5 km of the day. 35C on road on a sunny day is when I tend to haul the hiking umbrella out because it is really unpleasant and I need to take the temperature down a degree or 3. And I live in the Tropics so am present used to hiking in the heat. BTW, it's a dry heat usually so it is pretty rare to get drenched with sweat. But a lot of people don't realise how much fluid they lose as a result. And if you are mildly dehydrated with the wrong shoes, that is asking for blisters.
 

november_moon

Veteran Member
Personally I think people who do a large piece of the Camino in running shoes or trail runners and carry a pack are exposing themselves to ankle issues, arch problems and just having the things not holding up and denigrating (seen it twice). The footwear is simply not designed for that kind of use and believe me you don’t want to be looking for new footwear in the middle of your Camino.
I think that this is a very important point. I walk a ton at home in trail runners and tennis shoes and I love them, but the minute I put on a pack, my feet and ankles want the support of at least hiking shoes, if not boots. And I want my feet and ankles to hold up well - not just for the Camino but for the next 50 years.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy route (2010 - 2014)
Português (09/2015 & 09/2016)
Primitivo from Oviedo (08/09 2017)
CaminoJoy123, you have raised some really nice interesting questions. My wife and I live in Northern Ireland and so are used to walking in a very temperate climate. Our Camino experiences have taken place over the past 7 years. We have walked from Le Puy to Santiago and then the Camn Portugues, always through late August and September.
I have found the best shoes to be Merrell Moab Ventlators with no GoreTex, these let my feet breathe and are comfortable all day.
Each year we have found days when temperatures rise to over 30C, in fact last year it hit 38C as we arrived in Santiago. I drank nearly 5lt of water over the 28km that day.

Good luck with your Camino and all your decisions as you prepare.

In the meantime I have to buy my next pair of Moabs as we prepare to walk the Primitivo staring in late August.
 

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