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Shoe features, with and without a pack

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RuediG

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Dovadola-Assisi-Rome (2019)
I just finished 500km on the Dovadola-Assisi-Rome cammino. The first part were mostly rough trails, made even harder by cold, wet weather. The second part included several stretches on asphalt. Overall I was very happy with my trail runners (Saucony Peregrine ISO) on any surface. Great shoes. Would take those anywhere.

But, I wonder: Does anyone have experience (or knows of research) about the difference between walking long distances on various surfaces without a pack, versus walking long distances on various surfaces with a pack? Specifically, what features of shoes become more important with / without a pack? (In my case, my pilgrim partner developed serious shin splints, so I carried part of her load as well, which brought my pack well over 20 lbs. Over long distances, that became heavy. Not a problem, except my feet felt it.)

Any insights? Suggestions?
 

Viggen

Vigo
Camino(s) past & future
CF June 2015
CP June 2017
Del Norte, Finisterre / Muxia Oct 2017
VDLP 2018
VF, SBP to Rome 2019
I always buy a couple of shoes before my Caminos, wear them a few months then decide which one will go with me. I almost always end up with either Saucony or La Sportivas, once a Salomon.
I will be doing VF in September From GSB, I too am taking the Saucony Peregrine Iso.
But to try to answer your question..
Important features in a trekking shoe are:
Comfort
Weight
Cushioning
Support
Stability
Breathability
Stiffnes
Durability
Protection
Traction,
But its the balance and compromise between all the features, that makes a shoe perfect for an individual, and that perfect shoe, may not work for another individual, with or without a backpack.
Thought I put in my 2cents before @davebugg wakes up this morning🙂. He is the gear expert.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
I'm no expert but my guess is that with a pack you will want a shoe with more lateral stability as if your foot rolls you have that extra weight to keep it rolling and possibly twist. With the extra weight you may want or need extra padding. Again considering the weight, if walking on rocky roads or trails you may want stiffer soles to prevent feeling those rocks.

To Viggen's list add lacing options. Does the boot easily allow you to try different patterns of lacing? This can make a difference with foot comfort under different conditions (such as walking downhill).
 

RuediG

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Dovadola-Assisi-Rome (2019)
Thanks to all. That's helpful feedback. A few more thoughts -
Lateral support - I think we're doing ok on that. Do a lot of barefoot running in soft sand, so our ankles are quite flexible and strong.
Extra padding - that's definitely something to think about, as well as the stiffer sole against rocks etc. I'm in two minds, though. I like my Peregrine ISO a lot. Do a lot of day hikes in them with light pack on uneven rocky, rooty, slippery ground that's rougher than most of what I found even on the northern part of the Cammino di Assisi. And I like the direct feel of the ISO and being in touch with the uneven ground that I walk on. It's not the rocks I mind. It's the asphalt. At the end of the day, walking on asphalt with a heavy pack is what makes my feet feel like they've been run over by a steamroller.
I wonder what shoe would provide the direct feel of the ISO with its amazing tread, and yet work on asphalt with a pack?
 

RuediG

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Dovadola-Assisi-Rome (2019)
Looks like a job for some insoles. You could bring a pair for different terrain.
Interesting. I never thought of that. So I could use the in-soles of the ISO for normal use, and when I go on extended asphalt, I take them out and put in a pair of gel-inserts instead. Is that what you are suggesting?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
Interesting. I never thought of that. So I could use the in-soles of the ISO for normal use, and when I go on extended asphalt, I take them out and put in a pair of gel-inserts instead. Is that what you are suggesting?
Yes. I'm saying you can do a swap but I'm not saying how well that would work. I'm just making educated guesses. You should experiment.

@davebugg does lots of hiking and takes an extra set of insoles. He has posted about how well this works when he wears the second set when drying out his only pair of shoes. If I remember correctly he walks with a pair he bought separately.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
Thanks to all. That's helpful feedback. A few more thoughts -
Lateral support - I think we're doing ok on that. Do a lot of barefoot running in soft sand, so our ankles are quite flexible and strong.
Extra padding - that's definitely something to think about, as well as the stiffer sole against rocks etc. I'm in two minds, though. I like my Peregrine ISO a lot. Do a lot of day hikes in them with light pack on uneven rocky, rooty, slippery ground that's rougher than most of what I found even on the northern part of the Cammino di Assisi. And I like the direct feel of the ISO and being in touch with the uneven ground that I walk on. It's not the rocks I mind. It's the asphalt. At the end of the day, walking on asphalt with a heavy pack is what makes my feet feel like they've been run over by a steamroller.
I wonder what shoe would provide the direct feel of the ISO with its amazing tread, and yet work on asphalt with a pack?
Hi, Ruedi, and congratulations on completing the Dovadola-Assisi-Rome Camino. Well done :)

Although I have been hired to gear test a lot of different brands and models of footwear, Saucony is not one of the companies I've worked for. I can off some insights that might be of help to you based on some research I've briefly done on the ISO.

There are specific technical issues and performance parameters that I look for in a manufacturer's descriptions to help me understand what a likely performance envelop might be. Keep in mind, though, that while the tech specs are informative, I can not confirm them by having worn the shoes.

First, some basic assumptions about you and your feet and shoes.
  • You made no specific mention of pronation or supination or other motion control problems.
  • You stated that your ankles are well conditioned, and that you feel they do not present any issues.
  • Your feet responded well to using the ISO over varied terrain, including hard surfaces and asphalt, and you were happy with the shoe itself.
  • You made mention of rough trails or trail debris. You indicate that there was no real problem with this, which to me means that there was no significant imprinting of that debris and roughness through the sole of the shoe, thus causing pain to your feet.
  • Your said your feet "felt it" when carrying a loaded backpack.
  • You did not mention your weight, which is a factor for a trail runner's usability for backpacking.

The primary characteristics of concern for the Saucony Peregrine ISO
  • Is a neutral shoe that offers no motion control construction.
  • It is specifically designed for off road use; it is not a street running shoe
  • Setting aside the fancy marketing names Saucony calls its cushioning, the various cushioning formulations and use seems appropriate for a trail runner shoe.
  • Saucony does not specify backpacking as a use for the ISO. That's not a big deal in and of itself as an indicator of performance for backpacking. What is important is if the construction, materials, and cushioning is sufficient to support the additional weight of a backpack while walking.
  • In some quick research for subjective feedback from backpackers (carrying backpacks) who used the ISO, there was a large percentage of agreement that the shoe was excellent for that purpose.
  • There was no feedback found about backpacking on asphalt using the ISO. Nor was there much feedback about the ISO's performance for running only on asphalt-hard surfaces.
Another important factor for you, is that you already know that you like the ISO and that the ISO like you :) You know they fit well and that they are comfortable. Here are my thoughts, some of which have already been suggested in posts above.

1. Double check the fit of the shoe when you are wearing a backpack loaded with the expected weight you might be carrying, then add another 2 to 3 kg additional weight. When extra weight is added by wearing a backpack, that additional weight will put more downward pressure on your feet which may cause them to slightly lengthen and spread out wider.

If you need some tips on shoe fitting in order to make sure your current shoes fit properly you can find my guidelines in this Thread. Keep in mind, that IF you decide to purchase an additional insole insert for wearing while on asphalt as you have stated, it is best to do the fitting check while the new insert is being worn in the shoe.

2. If you decide that you want extra reinforcement against trail debris and rocks imprinting on your foot, a stiffer outer sole is not necessary to do the job; a cushioned insole (mentioned below) may be sufficient.

If you still find that you want even more shielding, then you can make a Rock Plate at home. The Rock Plate will slip under your insole and provide a very effective level of protection with out a huge penalty to the 'feel' of the shoe..

Take a thin and flexible plastic, like that found in milk jugs, or a thin plastic cutting board
59537

Using your insole as a template, mark an outline of the insole onto the plastic. Cut out the outline. Place the cut out into the shoe, under your insole. If needed, use some double surface tape, like carpet tape, to affix your new 'rock plates' to the bottom of the shoes.

3. Gel inserts are one type of cushioning insole that some folks find effective. There are also insoles with effective open cell foams and elastic polymers which also are excellent for cushioning. The extra cushioning will also provide additional support to your foot structures. As the foot slightly sinks into the cushion, it creates an impression that will slightly fill in the void under your arches. This is an example of this type of insert; there are others that can also be effective.

4. I take an extra insole with me, not an extra pair of footwear. I find that if my footwear feels good walking, it will be sufficiently comfortable for lounging around after a long day of backpacking or walking Camino. Of course, wearing lightweight trail runners rather than heavier footwear make this option easy.

I designate one insole as my walking insole. That's the one I will. . well. . do all my backpacking and Camino walking with. The extra insole is usually the one that came with the shoe, since I always replace the factory insole with a third party insole.

The factory insoles are usually very light. When I swap out insoles at the end of the day, and will be walking around the village or town seeing the sights, getting dinner, shopping, etc, the factory insoles are more than sufficient for that walking task. Swapping out insoles allows my walking insoles to air out.

5. There is an excellent chance that with a good, third party CUSHIONING insole, that you will be fine with a backpack while walking on asphalt-hard surfaces.

Should there be any questions or issue that you think I can be of help with, feel free to send me a PM. :)
 

RuediG

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Dovadola-Assisi-Rome (2019)
Hi, Ruedi, and congratulations on completing the Dovadola-Assisi-Rome Camino. Well done :)

Although I have been hired to gear test a lot of different brands and models of footwear, Saucony is not one of the companies I've worked for. I can off some insights that might be of help to you based on some research I've briefly done on the ISO.

There are specific technical issues and performance parameters that I look for in a manufacturer's descriptions to help me understand what a likely performance envelop might be. Keep in mind, though, that while the tech specs are informative, I can not confirm them by having worn the shoes.

First, some basic assumptions about you and your feet and shoes.
  • You made no specific mention of pronation or supination or other motion control problems.
  • You stated that your ankles are well conditioned, and that you feel they do not present any issues.
  • Your feet responded well to using the ISO over varied terrain, including hard surfaces and asphalt, and you were happy with the shoe itself.
  • You made mention of rough trails or trail debris. You indicate that there was no real problem with this, which to me means that there was no significant imprinting of that debris and roughness through the sole of the shoe, thus causing pain to your feet.
  • Your said your feet "felt it" when carrying a loaded backpack.
  • You did not mention your weight, which is a factor for a trail runner's usability for backpacking.

The primary characteristics of concern for the Saucony Peregrine ISO
  • Is a neutral shoe that offers no motion control construction.
  • It is specifically designed for off road use; it is not a street running shoe
  • Setting aside the fancy marketing names Saucony calls its cushioning, the various cushioning formulations and use seems appropriate for a trail runner shoe.
  • Saucony does not specify backpacking as a use for the ISO. That's not a big deal in and of itself as an indicator of performance for backpacking. What is important is if the construction, materials, and cushioning is sufficient to support the additional weight of a backpack while walking.
  • In some quick research for subjective feedback from backpackers (carrying backpacks) who used the ISO, there was a large percentage of agreement that the shoe was excellent for that purpose.
  • There was no feedback found about backpacking on asphalt using the ISO. Nor was there much feedback about the ISO's performance for running only on asphalt-hard surfaces.
Another important factor for you, is that you already know that you like the ISO and that the ISO like you :) You know they fit well and that they are comfortable. Here are my thoughts, some of which have already been suggested in posts above.

1. Double check the fit of the shoe when you are wearing a backpack loaded with the expected weight you might be carrying, then add another 2 to 3 kg additional weight. When extra weight is added by wearing a backpack, that additional weight will put more downward pressure on your feet which may cause them to slightly lengthen and spread out wider.

If you need some tips on shoe fitting in order to make sure your current shoes fit properly you can find my guidelines in this Thread. Keep in mind, that IF you decide to purchase an additional insole insert for wearing while on asphalt as you have stated, it is best to do the fitting check while the new insert is being worn in the shoe.

2. If you decide that you want extra reinforcement against trail debris and rocks imprinting on your foot, a stiffer outer sole is not necessary to do the job; a cushioned insole (mentioned below) may be sufficient.

If you still find that you want even more shielding, then you can make a Rock Plate at home. The Rock Plate will slip under your insole and provide a very effective level of protection with out a huge penalty to the 'feel' of the shoe..

Take a thin and flexible plastic, like that found in milk jugs, or a thin plastic cutting board
View attachment 59537

Using your insole as a template, mark an outline of the insole onto the plastic. Cut out the outline. Place the cut out into the shoe, under your insole. If needed, use some double surface tape, like carpet tape, to affix your new 'rock plates' to the bottom of the shoes.

3. Gel inserts are one type of cushioning insole that some folks find effective. There are also insoles with effective open cell foams and elastic polymers which also are excellent for cushioning. The extra cushioning will also provide additional support to your foot structures. As the foot slightly sinks into the cushion, it creates an impression that will slightly fill in the void under your arches. This is an example of this type of insert; there are others that can also be effective.

4. I take an extra insole with me, not an extra pair of footwear. I find that if my footwear feels good walking, it will be sufficiently comfortable for lounging around after a long day of backpacking or walking Camino. Of course, wearing lightweight trail runners rather than heavier footwear make this option easy.

I designate one insole as my walking insole. That's the one I will. . well. . do all my backpacking and Camino walking with. The extra insole is usually the one that came with the shoe, since I always replace the factory insole with a third party insole.

The factory insoles are usually very light. When I swap out insoles at the end of the day, and will be walking around the village or town seeing the sights, getting dinner, shopping, etc, the factory insoles are more than sufficient for that walking task. Swapping out insoles allows my walking insoles to air out.

5. There is an excellent chance that with a good, third party CUSHIONING insole, that you will be fine with a backpack while walking on asphalt-hard surfaces.

Should there be any questions or issue that you think I can be of help with, feel free to send me a PM. :)
Thanks, davebugg. That's very helpful info. I'm ok with the shoes I have, but my partner will need new ones, so we'll follow your shoe fitting guidelines for that.
BTW, I'm 135lb., so it should be possible to wear a pack in trail runners.
I love your homemade rock plates. Not sure I want a pair, but just the thought of being able to make these so simply is great!
I also like the idea of inserts, but have a question. The ISO has a drop of 4mm. The inserts you linked look like they have a drop of 10-12 mm. Did I see that right? and if I did, won't it make a huge difference in how the shoe feels and fits if I go from a 4mm drop to a 14-16mm drop in them? I mean, the shoe is built for a 4mm drop and a very thin insole, and all of a sudden my heel is 1cm higher up!? How have you experienced this?
 

alipilgrim

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2005, 2007; Madrid/Frances 2011; 1/2 VdP 2012; Portugese Litoral 2019; Finisterre/Muxia 2019
Personally I found walking on asphalt roads in my Merrell hiking shoes with a pack tends to give me shin splints which I attribute to the lack of flex of the stiff sole. I don't find this happens with my trail running shoe. On the other hand, when packing heavier loads my feet notice the weight much more in the trail running shoe. So my preference is a lighter load and trail running shoes with plenty of cushioning, ie. Hoka ATR5 Challenger.
 

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