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Strange issues with my Merrells, anyone else encounter this?

Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012)
I purchased a set of Merrell Moab Waterproof low boots. Photo below. Now I've been wearing these around town and to work and such with no issues. I encountered the problem the other day on my first hike outing with them. In order to keep my feet from moving around at all, I tied the laces to what I think is a good tightness. I didn't make it to the point where the circulation to me feet is cut off, but I made sure they were tight...probably as tight as a running shoe, or football (not american hand-egg) cleats. I started to feel pain around my ankle across the front where the knot is for the shoe. Since its a low cut shoe style boot, and not the mid there are none of those hooks which add pressure to the side of your angle as you criss-cross the laces up.

Now I went to the store and tried on some Merrel Moab mid's....same issue. The shoe itself fits good, but the ankle feels like it has way too much tension around the front where the laces are and ends up hurting a bit after walking. I've never had this issue before, though I've always wore very low cut shoes like Nike 6.0's, Etnies, etc;.

Has anyone encountered an issue like this, and somehow resolve it? And fwiw I did wear the low's with a set of Smartwool PhD's, and again with Smartwool thick hiking socks.

Thanks in advance for looking,

Bueno Camino.

My shoe

Mid with the "hooks" instead of lace holes.


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2006) Roncesvalles to Leon (2007) Leon to Compostela
I think you've answered your own question - the laces were far too tight. Try walking a couple of kms with looser laces and see how the feet feel. As the pain is in the ankle area, undo the laces and tie the knot at the next set of holes, that might do the trick.

We all have different feet and I'm sure each one of us has a different method to avoid foot pain. There is no right or wrong way to tie your shoes. I have really bad bunions so I keep the laces quite loose around the toe area, and that can cause problems walking downhill, but it's a matter of overall comfort. So try different ways of lacing the shoes and if there is any improvement.

Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012)
Trudy said:
I think you've answered your own question - the laces were far too tight. Try walking a couple of kms with looser laces and see how the feet feel. As the pain is in the ankle area, undo the laces and tie the knot at the next set of holes, that might do the trick.

We all have different feet and I'm sure each one of us has a different method to avoid foot pain. There is no right or wrong way to tie your shoes. I have really bad bunions so I keep the laces quite loose around the toe area, and that can cause problems walking downhill, but it's a matter of overall comfort. So try different ways of lacing the shoes and if there is any improvement.

Thanks for the advice Trudy, I'll give it a shot, though I had it tied at the last set of holes. I also tied it as to keep my feet from moving inside as I've been told and read thats the contributing reason to blisters, your feet moving and creating friction against the socks/socks against the inside of the shoe.

Do you have any advice on avoiding blisters? I've seen a lot of "cover your feet in vasoline" comments and as that makes sense, I can only imagine the kind of mess that would make. I have some blister supplies, but I plan on trying my best to take a 15 minute break every hour to let my feet breathe.
Camino(s) past & future
0 currently. Shooting for 2014
Lacing hiking boots is an art and not like lacing your street shoes. Hitthetrail.com has an article about tying them properly. The pictures are with a mid length boot as the example.


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IMO if you need to vasoline your feet then your shoes don't fit correctly...yet. A long hike is not the place to break in boots/shoes. Vasoline is a good technique for hot spots that develop, however, is not a replacement for properly fitting footwear.
I haven't had much luck with Merrells. They just don't seem to last that long and are about a half size too wide per size. That doesn't mean they are bad footwear, it just means they don't fit my feet. For some reason Lowas and Salomons fit my feet. You may want to try on a different brand.


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2006) Roncesvalles to Leon (2007) Leon to Compostela
Do you have any advice on avoiding blisters? I've seen a lot of "cover your feet in vasoline"
Unfortunately, I'm one of those people who actually got blisters by using vaseline, so I'm really not in a position to recommend it, but many people swear by it.

The advice I've been given in the past, and which I've stuck with, is to get shoes that are half a size larger than normal, because feet have a tendency to swell when walking. Another good tip was to wear liner socks which conform to the foot and so stop any friction between the foot, sock, shoe. Liner socks can be bought at outdoor/hiking stores, but I use thick "knee hi" style stockings, because they are much cheaper and easy to replace and I find them more comfortable than the recommended socks.

As the above poster said, try another brand. I had 4, yes FOUR different Merrell models and none worked for me - all low. The first pair I wore from St. Jean to León. I had bought a size that fit perfectly walking in temperate weather (about 1/2 size larger) but due to the daily walking in July my feet swelled and it was a horror! In León bought a different model (Salomon doesn't fit my feet properly) but only could get a size 1 1/2 x larger than needed so added a second sock. Blisters just keep coming and in the end I accepted that I was doomed to have problems, accepted it and after an hour walking didn't feel the pain any more.

So before the start of Camino #2 I bought a third Merrell (?!?!?!?), I had thrown out #1 and #2 by now. This model was with Gortex which was a mistake as I walk in the summer and my feet got way too hot in them. Kept those at home and opted for a similar model without Gortex. Foot full of blisters already during week one although my walking buddy was carrying 16 kilos and I had 7! By this time I became a walking pharmacy and expert in treating blisters.

So what did I do for #3? Dump the Merrills (duh!), dumped Vibram soles, dumped walking shoes and bought a pair of Brooks running shoes. Only walked a week this year but km per day was similar, weight pack too + one pair of smartwool socks and a bit of vaseline around my heels and toes (same routine as 2 previous Caminos). Not one blister! And it was heaven putting on my shoes on in the morning without a grimace.

Next year it is definately running shoes again for me.

p.s. I am convinced that some people are more prone to blisters than others (skin?). I have no ankle issues so I do not need the extra support. In my case Vibram is stiff and unforgiving.
I had trouble finding my preferred style of Salomons earlier this year so bought my first pair of Merrell boots. They were mids which is the style I usually wear but I had to lace them up so loosely to avoid sore shins that my feet were slopping around in them. Wore them a few times and then passed them on to a friend who absolutely adores them. Sometimes they just don't suit your feet. Happily for me I was able to replace them with the Salomons that make my feet smile.

Some people find Vaseline works for them, others like the two sock routine. Some take off their boots regularly, others find it actually makes their feet worse. Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer. You just have to find what works for you.

The most important thing is to listen to your body and, if you feel a hot spot, stop and treat it - cool your feet, rest, Compeed, Vaseline, lambswool (whatever works for you). The only guarantee is that a hot spot is not going to improve if you ignore it.
Well I haven't walked the Camino yet, I am prepping in Yunnan later this year. The Merrell Sandal I have, my foot slips to the inside and my Merrell boots are comfortable for the first hour and then my toes go numb and cannot work out why. Have tried different methods of tying laces and none seem to work. I am now wearing Lowa and they are great, I will probably walk in Salamons on the Camino also great as they are lighter. A pair of Teva sandals and I feel set up. I will wear in all but the Merrells are not doing it. , the sandals and the boots, just the wrong foot shape, there little zip up slip ons in merrell, fit fantastically and used them last year for hours of site seeing and wore them out walking. My foot shape is very high arch, wide in the foot part and OK at the heal. I wear 2 pairs of socks, both lambs wool, one are liners, great on their own, and medium outer socks. They were not cheap but I love them. Haven't got to the need for Vaseline yet, but another blog mentioned Nok cream as non greasy, and I have also purchased out of New Zealand lambs wool, which is used for wrapping hot spots sore toes etc and works a treat. Have just purchased a fabulous longer line gortex jacket from LL Bean, it's light weight and reasonable in price. I haven't tried it out but think it's great. Hope this helps.


Camino(s) past & future
Camino Ingles - twice
I wear Merrells exclusively for hiking. Have done two Caminos Ingles with them with no problems at all. It sounds like yours may be a bit large if you are having to lace them tight to "keep your feet from moving around."
Suggestion: Use a thin liner sock - Injinji are great, with a medium weight hiking sock. Consider using BodyGlide for lubrication and avoiding hot spots. That works great for me. Have NEVER had a blister!


no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
Body Glide ingredients:
Active Ingredients: Allantoin (Comfrey Root) (Skin Protectant)
Inactive Ingredients: Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Extract, C18 36 Acid Triglyceride, Capric/Caprylic Stearic Triglyceride, Tribehenin, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E)
All the inactive ingredients will add moisture to your feet, the opposite of what you want to do.
Comfrey is a particularly valuable source of fertility to the organic gardener. Comfrey as a compost activator - include comfrey in the compost heap to add nitrogen and help to heat the heap.
That will reduce friction?
Contemporary herbalists view comfrey as an ambivalent and controversial herb that may offer therapeutic benefits but can cause liver toxicity.

One of the most common uses of Comfrey extract is as a skin treatment. The plant contains the small organic molecule allantoin, which is thought to stimulate cell growth and repair while simultaneously depressing inflammation.
I think it is good to know what you put on your feet! If you want to prevent friction, use something that prevents friction. Petrolatum, silicone, and talc do that. If you want to moisturize, that is different. :wink:


Jakobsweg Junkie
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy 2010-11, Prague 2012, Nuremberg 2013, Einsiedeln 2015, Geneva 2017-18
falcon269 said:
If you want to prevent friction, use something that prevents friction. ... talc do(es) that.
Just to give talc some love here ... I have used Gold Bond Foot Powder (talc + menthol + mint) on every walk as a dry lube - it it has worked wonderfully. No mess, no smell, keeps feet drier also. I sprinkle on my tootsies, turn the liner socks inside out, sprinkle powder into the liner socks, then don the liners and the heavier socks.


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2011 Camino Frances
2012 Porto
2013 Le Puy
2014 Francigena
2015 - 2018 More ...
I also wear the exact same low cut Merrell, I buy mine one size large although Merrell does run a little small. If your feet roam a little in your shoes then I have the perfect solution. Put in another pair of insoles. This will give you a nice cushion and a nice fit. The beauty of it is when your feet start to swell, and they will, you now have an option of taking out one on the pair of insoles. This flexibility keeps wiggle room for the feet and reduces rub blisters from a tight fit.

Shoes, insoles and socks need to be the right combo for you and requires some experimentation over some kilometers. Good luck, Buen Camino!


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (Spring 2013), Francés (Spring 2016), Galician Francés (Oct. 2018), planning Francés 2020
Everybody is different.

On the advice of a friend and numerous people here, I bought a pair of Merrel mids and could not get them to lace correctly, no matter what I did. The more I wore them, the worse it got. Although they were great in the store - and I wore them there for about an hour - once I'd had them for several days, they actually became quite painful.

I finally had to exchange them for a pair of Keen Siskiyous (which were perfect for me, by the way).
Interesting advice here, for everyone. One thing does not work for everyone! We're all different.

My first camino was 10 years ago, I had been trekking in Nepal and wore the same leather boots. No problems in Nepal but as soon as I started from SJPdP I had horrendous trouble with blisters for the next 4 weeks. I wore 2 pairs of socks, thin liner (bridgedale) and outer hiking socks

I am currently sitting in the sun in Cee, 1 day away from Finisterre, 2 from Muxia, my feet are fine!! Stupidly I started out the same way, 2 pairs of sock - a liner and mid weight hiking - a few small blisters by the end of the first day 35km. The next day it rained the entire day and although my boots were waterproof, water just ran down my legs into my boots and I was sloshing in water for the next 8 hours - more blisters and worse. In my experience Compeed does nothing except make your socks messy, as it did this time. I met a Polish girl who had been walking 2 weeks longer than me and spent time in hospital with her blisters, yes, the pharmacy sent her to hospital. After soaking our feet in a cool stream I was invited to try her remedy; a cooling gel, then some talc and finally some (not too much) Vaseline over the entire foot. I tried it with and without the liner socks, and for my feet it works perfectly with the liner socks. My blisters have all hardened up and no new ones have come. Sometimes I need to reapply, maybe every 10-15 kms, after bathing in a stream, or if you're feeling a hotspot. And NO, your socks aren't in the least bit messy, to be honest you can't even tell that you had anything on your feet.

This works for me, probably not everyone, but for all of my future camino pilgrimages, this is what I'll swear by. Just like me, another friend swears by Nivea cream, I gave it a shot too, and it's actually pretty good. Coat your feet until they are white . . . again no messy socks (or smelly with the Nivea) ;-)

Try a few different things and see what works best for you

Good luck,
Buen Camino
Camino(s) past & future
2002 solo and 2013 with wife and toddler
I wore Merrell hiking shoes and never had an issue or blister in 500 miles. Also, I used a heel insert - not sure how much that contributed to success. Only issue I had was a lack of ankle support - this next camino I am considering a lightweight boot.
Camino(s) past & future
Walked Chemin Piemont to Pamplona 2010/2012.Pamplona to Santiago 2013/2015
I've worn Merrell gore tex walking shoes for a few years and thought that they did a job for me although I always developed sore but not blistered feet from them and other boots after two or three days walking.This year,walking from Oloron to Pamplona in September,I switched to a pair of Saucony Hurricane running shoes with no gore tex and had no problems with sore feet.

I also dispensed with outer socks and wore only Bridgedale inners and changed the socks at lunchtime everyday,hanging the used ones on my bag.They wash out and dry overnight or on the bag the next morning.

The best advice I ever had about footwear was that half the time it's the socks which are the problem,not the boots and that the biggest enemy is sweat.The combination of mesh running shoes and thin liners worked for me because my feet were kept cool and the sweating that I think caused footsoreness in me and causes blisters in others by soaking their socks and creating friction against the foot was eliminated.My wife got the same results from Merrell gore tex shoes with thin liners because her feet don't sweat as much as mine.

The trouble is that trainers aren't shoes for all seasons and weathers. If I could get the same results from gore tex walking shoes,I'd wear them but I personally wouldn't bother with boots for much of the Pilgrim Route that we've walked at the time of year we've walked it.


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2005), Frances (2007), Madrid/Frances (2011), 1/2 VdP (2012),
YES! I have a similar problem with my Merrells, but since my Camino in April it has now extended to wearing my running shoes too. I believe it is something called "lace bite" which apparently is common to hockey players. Wikihow.com describes it: "Lace bite is sharp pain or pressure along the extensor hallucis longus tendon, which runs from the front of the lower leg to the base of the big toe." And one solution they suggest is: Many pros wear 'bunga pads' or other silicone product that will help reduce the pressure and pain on the front of the ankle."

And this website, http://www.nhimassageblog.com/2008/08/18/lace-bite/, describes a cause as inflamed tendons. I'm sure further googling online can provide some solutions....

Good luck...


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VDLP 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014
Basically what you're describing is a form of tendonitis. I've had it in various places on the top of my foot when I've done the Camino. My sports medicine doctor said they call it "shoelace tendonitis."

I just came back from doing 300km on the VDLP using two different pairs of running shoes with two different length tongues. In the past, when I used a pair with longer tongues that hit the place where the top of your foot meets your leg, and I got bad tendonitis there. Switching shoes every day helped avoid tendonitis in that spot. But on a few days I could feel the start of irritation in a different spot -- on the top of my foot more toward the toes -- so I'd loosen the laces a bit. Normally that would make my shoes slip all over, but they didn't -- probably because my feet had swollen by then.

Another trick if they're irritating you back on that spot where the top of your foot meets your leg -- lace them in the previous hole, and tie them so that you're tying the tongue up off your foot a little.

In the end, you really need to do two things:

1) Listen to your body, and as soon as you feel some irritation coming on, switch things up. If you wait until you're really in pain, it'll be too late.
2) Try everything and anything. As lots of people have said, no one thing works for everyone.



Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2005), Frances (2007), Madrid/Frances (2011), 1/2 VdP (2012),
You're right Melanie, I've tried almost every combination of lacing techniques I could think of, including cutting up a cheap insole and stuffing it between the tongue & my foot thinking extra padding would help - of course it didn't. What did help was switching to my Teva hiking sandals for a few days. Not for everyone, I know, buy my feet loved walking in sandals...


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VDLP 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014
Yes! I should have added that when I had two really long days to walk (25 and 28 miles), and I was worried that even re-lacing wouldn't work, I did strap my hiking sandals onto my pack, and put those on for the last 7-ish miles when my foot was starting to hurt despite re-lacing. They worked perfectly.

Camino(s) past & future
Caminos Frances (x4), Finisterre, Aragon, Via de la Plata, Portuguese 2011 -2015. Hospitalero 2015
Yes, I had the same last year and I thought that after a few days of worsening pain I would have to finish my Camino. My boots are not Merrells, but La Sportiva mid- boots but I don't think the problem is the make of boot. I found that by loosening the laces at the painful area so that they are VERY slack, and tightening the laces right at the top, the pain disappeared, to my great relief. I should add that I had already walked over 200 kms of the Camino before the pain started, and before starting the Camino I had walked about 300 kms back home.
Had much of the same problem. The REI gal at Roundrock relaced them like this.
Tighten them a little looser than soccer cleats :) and double tie the bow. Now slip your finger between the two twisted sections and pull. This will tighten the lower and higher section of the lacing but loosen the bridge of the foot. I don't slide around and my feet hurt less. Happy feet equal a happier hiker.


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