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shoes!! important

2020 Camino Guides

right to water

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
norte
hi! please be careful with shoes. i walked the camino del norte, august/sept. from irun. many mountains. i bought gortex. my shoe size is 37. i bought 37. don’t do that!! it will kill your feet. always, for the camio, buy 1 shoe size more than your real size. i should have bought 38. also, the camino del norte has many mountains. mang people walked with soft mountain running shoes. their feet were in uch better shape. gortex is hard and kills your feets. great against rain but very, very hard - your feeet downhill will keep hitting the front of your gortex shoes. i reccomend soft moubtain running shoes. i thin salomon is very good.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
Certainly the recommendation to take care buying footwear is worth repeating. There are several good threads on this that address how to make sure that footwear fits correctly, as well as threads about the type of footwear one might buy, its composition and construction. My observation is that as far as fitting goes, there is little disagreement. The other matters are more vexed, and opinions vary.

A search using 'boots shoes sandals fitting' returns a wealth of threads to peruse. I am not going to try and list them individually here.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
Hi, right to water, and a warm welcome to the Forum.

Thank you for sharing your observations an experience, there is a lot of truth to your post. Let me share something about size recommendations that may be of help.

The first thing is to NEVER purchase a shoe based on size. That includes the oft heard suggestion to buy a shoe one size larger than your normal size. One needs to purchase a shoe based on its Fit and Feel.

That can mean that what feels and fits well happens to match your shoe size, or one size larger. But it could also mean a shoe that is 1.5 sizes larger or 2 sizes larger or going up a width or two.

In other words, if a person wears a US size 9 do not automatically assume that a size 10 will be sufficient. Here is a re-post of a shoe fitting guideline I wrote to help understand WHY this is the case :)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
There is one further suggestion to add to @davebugg's pretty comprehensive advice. It assumes that you have followed the advice to wear the sock combination you intend to use, or at least socks of equivalent thickness. When you want to check the amount of clearance for your toes, remove the liner from the footwear you are trying on, and stand up with you foot on it and your heel aligned to the rear of the liner. You can then readily see the distance between your longest toe and the front end of the liner. If you don't have a centimetre, be cautious. Be cautious about having too much as well, but there will be other indications that footwear is too long.

ps - I like to have about a thumb's width, but I appreciate that is a measure that would vary widely!!
 
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Frostwood

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portugal September 2019
There is one further suggestion to add to @davebugg's pretty comprehensive advice. It assumes that you have followed the advice to wear the sock combination you intend to use, or at least socks of equivalent thickness. When you want to check the amount of clearance for your toes, remove the liner from the footwear you are trying on, and stand up with you foot on it and your heel aligned to the rear of the liner. You can then readily see the distance between your longest toe and the front end of the liner. If you don't have a centimetre, be cautious. Be cautious about having too much as well, but there will be other indications that footwear is too long.

ps - I like to have about a thumb's width, but I appreciate that is a measure that would vary widely!!
Yes, taking the liner out & standing on it s exactly right. That is also the fastest way to find the correct fit. It will immediately eliminate boots that are not right! I cannot stress this tip enough.
 

DrVJMJ

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
October (2017)
Lots of good advice here. Thanks to all who speak from experience. Especially avoid snugness on the sides. And Goretex IS STIFF. I am taking two pair, to trade off as needed. ON Cloudaces AND Adidas Terrex GTR2 (Goretex) for rough and rain. Lather your feet with Vaseline under your socks.

My advice is pretty simple. Buy your shoes and wear them with everything (or as much as possible of what you plan to take with you) while you train with them for a week or two. Nothing quite like it.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
Lather your feet with Vaseline under your socks.
This moves the thread into the realm of blister prevention, and using a petro-chemical lubricant is just one of several approaches you will see promoted here.

I don't use this approach, but have walked foot blister free for many years using a combination of waterproof boots, prophylactic taping, double socks and a light dusting of an anti-fungal foot powder shaken gently into the liner sock.

Have a look at https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/sock-recommendations.44457/ for an appreciation of the many different approaches that different forum members have found worked for them.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
Multiple Caminos and I have never worn shoes one size larger. Never had a problem.
Never wore boots one size larger in the army for ruck marches and the like. No problems.
Never wore boots one size larger when I used to wilderness backpack. No problems.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
Multiple Caminos and I have never worn shoes one size larger. Never had a problem.
Never wore boots one size larger in the army for ruck marches and the like. No problems.
Never wore boots one size larger when I used to wilderness backpack. No problems.
Yours is a great example of why the advice to automatically purchase shoes that are "one size larger" is incorrect. :)
 

alhartman

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Hope so!
"You do not choose a shoe based on measurements, you buy a shoe based on its Fit N Feel regardless of instrument measurements."

Is all you need to know: except to break them in before you go. And may mean shopping in a brick and mortar shop so you can try and return easily.
 

Karl G

Member
Camino(s) past & future
August and September 2019 - Arles
Lots of good advice here. Thanks to all who speak from experience. Especially avoid snugness on the sides. And Goretex IS STIFF. I am taking two pair, to trade off as needed. ON Cloudaces AND Adidas Terrex GTR2 (Goretex) for rough and rain. Lather your feet with Vaseline under your socks.

My advice is pretty simple. Buy your shoes and wear them with everything (or as much as possible of what you plan to take with you) while you train with them for a week or two. Nothing quite like it.
I’ve concluded that Gore-Tex is very much a personal thing. Some people complain about it making their feet too warm and sweating and others talk about it’s stiffness. I have had multiple pairs of shoes with Gore-Tex and they have not created a single problem for me. On the contrary they have kept my feet dry during an all day rain and in wet conditions.

There is a reason it is popular and people keep buying shoes with Gor-Tex. For many of us they are a fantastic way to go.

Shoe choices are hard to get right without some trial and error - although sizing advice can help with that aspect.
 

El Cascayal

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo (2019)
Ah, if only I had a store to go to. I use Amazon.
I agree. Prior to walking the Primitivo this past May, while training predominantly on pavement, I developed Achilles tendinitis that actually improved on the Camino trails. Doing rehab and planning Invierno in November, my living room now looks like a shoe store, trying to find something that lessens the hurt. Buying online & returning which is what I’m doing is so nuts.
 

cbacino

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte - Primitivo (2018)
Via Francigena (2017)
Appalachian Trail (2016)
hi! please be careful with shoes. i walked the camino del norte, august/sept. from irun. many mountains. i bought gortex. my shoe size is 37. i bought 37. don’t do that!! it will kill your feet. always, for the camio, buy 1 shoe size more than your real size. i should have bought 38. also, the camino del norte has many mountains. mang people walked with soft mountain running shoes. their feet were in uch better shape. gortex is hard and kills your feets. great against rain but very, very hard - your feeet downhill will keep hitting the front of your gortex shoes. i reccomend soft moubtain running shoes. i thin salomon is very good.
Not a good idea to rely on manufacturers’ sizing. It varies from one company to another. Best to find a size and width that works for you. No need to break in shoes that fit (from experience). I put on a pair of New Balance trainers, just out of the box, and walked the Via Francigena, 1400 miles, without a blister.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
No need to break in shoes that fit (from experience). I put on a pair of New Balance trainers, just out of the box, and walked the Via Francigena, 1400 miles, without a blister.
I am now more cautious about this. It was my experience in the past that mesh, fabric and suede/fabric have required little effort to break in. Over the past 18 months or so, I have purchased new ASICs for competition walking, a pair of Sportiva boots for trekking, and a pair of Hoka OneOne Challenger ATR5s for trail walking. The first two have been good. The Sportiva did become more comfortable with use in a very short time, and the ASICs worked straight out of the box.

But the Hokas have been a disaster for me, and I haven't been pain free wearing them for any extended period. They appear to have a very inflexible strapping arrangement for the toe box underneath the mesh outer that doesn't have any give, and continues to rub on my slightly wider right foot even after several months of somewhat regular wear. I will continue to use them for shorter walks to get some return on the purchase, but I am losing hope that they will break in for my feet for longer walks when my feet begin to swell more.
 

Jean Ti

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Norte, Primitivo, Frances,Via de la Plata

Trying to do one camino every year
For my first camino i purchase a pair of Vasque Mantra 2. Very solid and very confortable too,

For this year camino I purchase the Vasque Mantra 2 GTX for the Via de la Plata. These shoes include goretex. For me it was a bad mistake to purchase them because the shoes does not bread well and my feet were wet at all time compared to my first pair.

I will never purchase another pair of shoes or boots with goretex.

I almost flet i was walking with rubber boots for the camino....
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
I am now more cautious about this. It was my experience in the past that mesh, fabric and suede/fabric have required little effort to break in. Over the past 18 months or so, I have purchased new ASICs for competition walking, a pair of Sportiva boots for trekking, and a pair of Hoka OneOne Challenger ATR5s for trail walking. The first two have been good. The Sportiva did become more comfortable with use in a very short time, and the ASICs worked straight out of the box.

But the Hokas have been a disaster for me, and I haven't been pain free wearing them for any extended period. They appear to have a very inflexible strapping arrangement for the toe box underneath the mesh outer that doesn't have any give, and continues to rub on my slightly wider right foot even after several months of somewhat regular wear. I will continue to use them for shorter walks to get some return on the purchase, but I am losing hope that they will break in for my feet for longer walks when my feet begin to swell more.
I do not if you have tried taking them to a shoe repair shop to try and have them stretched; sometimes that can help. Your concerns are valid. . . the synthetics do not really break in the way leather products do. The ATRs do come in a wide width, but that may be what you already have.

Did the ATRs feel comfortable out of the box, without the rubbing when you tried them on, Doug? My wife is using the same shoe and developed a similar issue. Fortunately, she was able to return them and exchange the regular width for the wider width. The wider width is feeling a tad too wide for her, but they are much more comfortable.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
I do not if you have tried taking them to a shoe repair shop to try and have them stretched; sometimes that can help. Your concerns are valid. . . the synthetics do not really break in the way leather products do. The ATRs do come in a wide width, but that may be what you already have.

Did the ATRs feel comfortable out of the box, without the rubbing when you tried them on, Doug? My wife is using the same shoe and developed a similar issue. Fortunately, she was able to return them and exchange the regular width for the wider width. The wider width is feeling a tad too wide for her, but they are much more comfortable.
Thank you for the suggestion. I do already have the wide fitting, but it is really only a 2E from what I can tell, not any wider than that. They have gone past the 'use only in the house' stage where most Australian retailers will exchange as I have been working on wearing them in, and they are now full of good central Australian red dust!!

I was happy to use them on longer walks thinking they might stretch, but that doesn't seem to have happened. They will revert to being short walk shoes unless something dramatic happens. At worst they will become 'urban chic' - good only for a walk around the local shopping centre where everyone can admire their wonderful colour!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, Madrid (2019) Portuges (2020)
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



Out of all of Dave Bugg’s truly excellent advice this part is (IMHO) the most important and the least appreciated.

The only thing I can add is that the temperature in which you are walking may be significantly different to the one you’re used to. If your feet - or other body parts - swell up in the heat it may influence your choice of footwear or other clothing.,
 

GorskiSkrat

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
April 2019
Hi, I walked my first camino this April/beginning of May. I bought hiking shoes (adidas terex low one) already in last summer and walked in them all the time - on training hikes and walks. No problems at all, great shoes. But problems started on 3th day, Larrasoaña - Zariquiegui. Even before I reached Pamplona, my feet, toes were in full pain, didn't know how to walk furder. But somehow I did it and I did it furder for several days. No blisters, no nothing, just pain. It was a struggel every day since that 3th day, but I am persistent, stubborn and I walked and walked. One day all of my hiking pairs of socks were dirty, I had 3 pairs of hiking socks with me and one paar of everyday socks for any case. So I put on those, WHAT A RELIEF!!! :D:eek::D I think that happend in Azofra, cca. 130km after the Pamplona, 4 days. So after one week of walking I realised that hiking socks are too thick, at home I didn't have that kind of problems. So maybe sometimes we don't have shoes problems but just socks problems ...
 

Karl G

Member
Camino(s) past & future
August and September 2019 - Arles
Your post reminds me of another shoe consideration - the ability to modify your lacing pattern to customize the fit when helpful. One thing I like about my Asolo EVO GTX shoes is the section of eyelets covers a longer length of my foot. This gives me more options to use a “window lace” if needed to loosen up a specific section. See this link for some practical advice on lacing alternatives: https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/lacing-running-shoes.html. For more than you’ll ever need to know about alternate lacing patterns check out this link: https://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/luglacingmethods.htm.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
Your post reminds me of another shoe consideration - the ability to modify your lacing pattern to customize the fit when helpful. One thing I like about my Asolo EVO GTX shoes is the section of eyelets covers a longer length of my foot. This gives me more options to use a “window lace” if needed to loosen up a specific section. See this link for some practical advice on lacing alternatives: https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/lacing-running-shoes.html. For more than you’ll ever need to know about alternate lacing patterns check out this link: https://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/luglacingmethods.htm.
REI also have a page of good advice on hiking boot lacing here.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
Another reason I never buy/wear shoes larger than normal when walking the Camino is because if I did, I would be less likely to wear them when not on the Camino. Every Camino pair of shoes (Merrell Moabs, Oboz Sawtooths) I have worn I continued to wear all the time when at home after a good wash down. Worn them until they fell apart and got binned and time to buy a new set.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
I also wear the same shoes on or off the Camino. I'm not sure if this makes them my normal/real size, or if it makes my normal/real size one size smaller than I actually wear.:cool:

It seems to me that my size is the size that I find appropriate for the shoe that I wear.
 

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