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Struggling with sock choice

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spikey

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria to Santiago October 2019
I’m currently preparing for my first camino ( Oct 03) equipment and training coming along well apart from socks.
Got a size up in solomon boots last year and they are excellent.
However recently experimented with some anti blister socks and the lining makes them too tight.
Don’t want to have to buy new boots a further size up.
Would welcome any socks recommendations particularly ones that are not too thick
Thanks
 

gerardcarey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF x2, CPL
I utilise men's woolen business socks which are readily available where I live.
Aftermarket insoles provide the required level of comfort, while the socks give the benefits of wool without the 'thickness' of hiking socks.
Regards
Gerard
 

Jbirk

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, SJPP to Finesterre April (2018)
Via Francigena Italy Sept (2018)
Del Norte Aug (2019)
I like DarnTough brand. I order the military type as they come in solid colors. There have an assortment of sizes and thickness.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
I’m currently preparing for my first camino ( Oct 03) equipment and training coming along well apart from socks.
Got a size up in solomon boots last year and they are excellent.
However recently experimented with some anti blister socks and the lining makes them too tight.
Don’t want to have to buy new boots a further size up.
Would welcome any socks recommendations particularly ones that are not too thick
Thanks
Hi, Spikey. . . It is not my intention to embarrass or irritate, but your's is a good post to help others avoid what you are experiencing. This is is not specifically addressed to you, but to Forum members who may be reading your post.

I have a couple of solutions that may help you specifically which I'll post separately in this thread

________________________________________________________________________________________
For those getting ready to purchase shoes, there are some important issues to consider that are different for hiking than for normal day-to-day home and office wear.

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.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
I’m currently preparing for my first camino ( Oct 03) equipment and training coming along well apart from socks.
Got a size up in solomon boots last year and they are excellent.
However recently experimented with some anti blister socks and the lining makes them too tight.
Don’t want to have to buy new boots a further size up.
Would welcome any socks recommendations particularly ones that are not too thick
Thanks
Hi, Spikey. ..
Thanks for lending me your thread for posting the shoe fitting guideline others might decide to use.

Here are a couple of suggestions to help you see if you can get by with your existing Solomons.

A. Socks

Any synthetic or Merino wool socks which are strong enough for trekking and hiking use, have the ability to be 'anti-blister socks'. It is how they are chosen for their fit on your feet which helps to prevent blistering.

Also, most blisters are a product of friction.... often referred to as shear force friction. The skin of your foot, and the sock that is in contact with that area of skin, are sliding and rubbing together. Here are the primary things which will help your situation.
  1. A properly fitting shoe is a must. If the reality of your situation is that your shoes are too tight, nothing is going to help. So be honest in your assessment of your shoes. Are you trying to convince yourself that they can make them work because of the expense or trouble of buying a new pair of shoe, or are you just unsure? In brief, it needs to be long enough and wide enough to accommodate any insoles, orthotics, metatarsal pads, etc, PLUS the socks that you will be wearing, PLUS the increased pressure on the feet from wearing a loaded pack.
  2. Light padded Merino wool socks designed for walking or backpacking, or the same type of sock in a good synthetic blend. These will add minimal volume to your foot taking up space in your shoes, thus making the shoe a tighter fit.
  3. A sock fit that is snug and form fitting to the foot, but not gangrene-inducing tight. You want the shear force to be between the sock and the interior of the shoe, not the sock and the skin. A snug fitting sock will help to make that happen.
  4. Allow the shoe to move over the sock a bit. By keeping the shoes a bit looser on the feet, the sock will take the brunt of the shear force. If a shoe is tied snug, then that forces the foot to move more in the sock, which means the sock and skin are absorbing the shear force. An exception occurs on long downhill grades; the shoes need to be tied tight enough to keep your toes from hitting the front of the shoe which can cause injury and trauma to the nail bed and toe joints.
B. Engo Patches

Here is a review I did about Engo Patches which will help you get an idea of their use and usefulness. Using Engo will add virtually no volume to your shoes. This means that if you are wedded to the idea of using a dual sock system, or liner sock system, the Engo patch, combined with thin socks, will give you that same effect.

C. Pre-Taping.

Pre-taping involves the protection of your feet BEFORE walking. You identify places on your feet which may be at risk for blistering, and apply a barrier to that spot(s). . .. Heels, forefoot area of the sole, etc.
  1. For prophylactic protection from shear force friction to blister prone areas on the feet, a long lasting barrier tape or covering is the better option than are the short duration products of goo like vaseline and Body Glide type products. The placement of tapes, like Leukotape P, or moleskin-type products, if adhered correctly, will last the whole day. Goo products can also make it more difficult for adhesive products to stick if needing to treat a blistered area.
  2. To apply tapes and moleskin type products,
    1. Clean off the area of application with a bit of alcohol to remove grease, dirt, and body oils. A bit of regular hand sanitizer works for this, in addition to hand cleansing.
    2. Cut a piece of your chosen barrier material to fit the area you want protected; be sure to cut rounded corners rather than square in order to help the material from rolling up away from the skin.
    3. Apply a thin smear of Tincture of Benzoin to the skin area where the adhesive will stick. This will increase the holding power of the tape or moleskin.
      1. If the tape or moleskin, etc. is going on top of a blistered area, avoid getting the Benzoin on the roof area of the blister, and add a thin coating of ointment/vaseline onto the blister roof, avoiding the surrounding skin area. This will allow removal of the product without hurting the blister wound.
    4. Place the barrier on the area, taking care to not handle the adhesive; spend a bit of time rubbing the material to create friction so that the adhesive will heat up and adhere more firmly.
    5. At the end of the day, remove the barrier and use some alcohol to wipe the area that was covered.
      1. Since fungus (athletes foot) and pathogens splash around in showers, shower shoes are not necessarily preventative to one's feet being exposed or infected. It is helpful to use an alcohol or astringent product applied to the feet after showering.
D. Goo/Lubricants

These products include HikerGoo, Vaselines, Body Glides, etc. As I mentioned above, their effectiveness is not as long lasting as a barrier tape. When used correctly and applied periodically, they can be effective for many people. These products do not add to the volume of your feet, however, which makes it a good strategy to try out when you have shoes that are a tighter fit.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
Your boots sound like they will work fine, and the problem is in those socks. Do not ditch the boots, simply ditch the socks. They're the wrong socks for the job.
Examine the socks that are too tight for the boots. Examine their thickness. Get a couple of pairs of different socks, can be wool/wool blend or simply synthetic (no cotton) that are thinner and you think will do the job. If they feel good, test them out on at least a 5 kilometre walk. That walk is the only way to know. That walking brings out the problems if any. No other thinking or research is necessary beyond that.
While on the Camino inspect your feet everyday, massage them and even apply a little bit of vaseline jelly on any problem areas. It helps reduce the friction and helps your feet overall.
 

jostony

Camino del Vino
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015
Finisterre/Muxia 2015
Portugues/F'tre 2017
Ingles 2018
Primitivo 2019
Norte 2020
I’m currently preparing for my first camino ( Oct 03) equipment and training coming along well apart from socks.
Got a size up in solomon boots last year and they are excellent.
However recently experimented with some anti blister socks and the lining makes them too tight.
Don’t want to have to buy new boots a further size up.
Would welcome any socks recommendations particularly ones that are not too thick
Thanks
In my previous Caminos I always suffered from blisters. Partly because I was lacing my boots too tightly and not stopping regularly enough to air my feet during day's walk. I am sure I also wasn't drinking enough water too! This year for first time I used Injinji socks (like a glove for feet/Toes) people who run use them. Certainly helped reduce my blisters to only 2 - which is a massive improvement. Also drank more water, aired my feet during walk and tied up boots better.
 

Steven Light

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (May - July 2018)
Meseta (October 2019)
Norte (Summer 2020)
I also recommend Darn Tough socks. I used 2 pair on the CF last year. They felt great and I had not-one-blister. Plus they have a lifetime guarantee - return a pair with hole or rip, etc. (which is very unlikely) and get a new one!
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2015) Frances
(2018) Portuguese
(2019) VdP Seville to Salamanca
(2020) VdP Salamanca to Santiago
I struggled with this for quite awhile and then stumbled on 1000 mile socks out of the UK. After I started using those, no blisters, no worries. They may not work for you so I'd try one pair first (they are a bit pricey but seem to last many washings and over a 1000 miles of Caminos so far. They have a synthetic liner with an outer layer of merino wool. You can build this yourself with two similar layers but I find the combo just easier.
 

lbrown498

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
October 2012 done 2015 planning
I’m currently preparing for my first camino ( Oct 03) equipment and training coming along well apart from socks.
Got a size up in solomon boots last year and they are excellent.
However recently experimented with some anti blister socks and the lining makes them too tight.
Don’t want to have to buy new boots a further size up.
Would welcome any socks recommendations particularly ones that are not too thick
Thanks
Smart Wool. That's the only sock I wear since my first Camino in 2012.
 
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP to Najera Sept. 2017; Najera to Astorga Oct. 2018; SJPP to Pamplona May 2019
I use Wigwam, Darn Tough and Icebreaker. They are all wool or wool blend and very comfortable. Each brand comes in a variety of thicknesses and lengths. But IMHO wool is the best!
 

crbonade

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Primitivo (2020)
This year for first time I used Injinji socks (like a glove for feet/Toes) people who run use them. Certainly helped reduce my blisters to only 2 - which is a massive improvement.
I tested the Injinji liners on the Inca Trail last year and had mixed results. On the days with no steep descents they worked great, but on days with a lot of steep descents they *really* hurt in between my toes. I suspect the problem was that the toes of the socks were a tad too long for my actual toes. Instead of pressure from the socks being on the tips of my toes, it all wound up in between the toes. Someone with "normal" size feet would probably have better luck, both with toe length and with the liners fitting more snugly in general=less slippage/pressure going downhill (for reference I'm 5'0", around 100 lbs, and have narrow feet).

They also make 2 styles (or did when I bought them): Injinji Liner Crew Socks and Injinji Nuwool Liner Crew Socks. I personally found the originals much more comfortable and form-fitting; the Nuwools were definitely looser and iirc a little thicker. If anyone plans to try them, I suggest buying a pair of each to test out first and make sure you test them going downhill.

I'll probably stick with my tried-and-true nylon knee-highs for liners on the Camino. Virtually no volume added inside my shoes, and they never slip on my foot. I used to wear full pantyhose on army ruckmarches - those prevent chafing between pants and thighs too! (But I hike in yoga pants, so don't need that level of anti-chafe :p ) I use Smartwool for my actual socks. I usually use their ultralightweight ones, but with all of the paved roads I think I'll need to use lightweight cushion for the Camino.

I also use Darn Tough socks for wearing with my uniform, and they always did well on ruck marches (Darn Tough Hot Weather Light Cushion Plus Boot Sock). I never tried their hiking-specific socks, but given how comfortable and durable their boot socks are they'd be worth a try (I may pick up a pair to see if I like them better than the Smartwools )
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
I tested the Injinji liners on the Inca Trail last year and had mixed results. On the days with no steep descents they worked great, but on days with a lot of steep descents they *really* hurt in between my toes. I suspect the problem was that the toes of the socks were a tad too long for my actual toes. Instead of pressure from the socks being on the tips of my toes, it all wound up in between the toes
Last year I wore Injinji toe socks until I discovered a blister in the webbing at the between my big toe and second toe.
 

crbonade

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Primitivo (2020)
Last year I wore Injinji toe socks until I discovered a blister in the webbing at the between my big toe and second toe.
Yeah, for me I think it was between my 3rd and 4th toes that the socks really started to hurt. I tried taping between the toes but that wasn't really successful, so I wound up ditching the liners for the rest of the hike, slapping some leukotape on my toes and heels, and calling it good. Wish I'd brought my nylon liners with me as a backup that trip, but oh well...
 

Terry Callery

Chi Walker
Camino(s) past & future
"Portuguese Camino - In Search of the Infinite Moment" Amazon/Kindle books authored
"Slow Camino"
Smart wool is basically an ALPACA sock wannabe. The reason that alpaca is so great is that the fleece of an
alpaca is just 20 microns thick! Lots of trapped air with super fine fibers. Better for insulation. A fairly thick sock works better for me in preventing blisters. Alpaca is also naturally antibacterial so they don't stink after two days like cotton. Finer fibers are used in modern textiles (microfiber) because we are copying the ancient technology of the Inca - alpaca!
Why is "baby alpaca" better that alpaca? It is finer! Human hair is about 100 microns thick. Baby alpaca is just 16-20 microns thick. More surface area, more trapped air, better wicking. I took four pair of alpaca socks on my Portuguese Camino from Lisbon when I went in February and March.
 

moxy

May your search through nature lead to yourself.
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Português 2019
I’m currently preparing for my first camino ( Oct 03) equipment and training coming along well apart from socks.
Got a size up in solomon boots last year and they are excellent.
However recently experimented with some anti blister socks and the lining makes them too tight.
Don’t want to have to buy new boots a further size up.
Would welcome any socks recommendations particularly ones that are not too thick
Thanks
DarnTough are really good. I also use Injinji which are not as thick but you can’t go wrong with any of them. Note that as you hike your feet will swell so if your boots feel tight now, you could potentially still have discomfort on the trail.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
I wear merino wool socks (mostly Darn Tough) for day to day wear. However, for long walks - e.g. on the camino - I find that a fairly thin synthetic works better. The wool is too soft and moves.

I only post this to show that you must try many different socks to find the one that works best for you.
 

Peligro

Member
Camino(s) past & future
St. Jean to Sarria the slow way
(Aug'15, Aug'17, Jan'18, Aug'18, Jan'19) Sarria to SdC (Jul'19)
I cannot wear wool, smart wool, virgin wool, merino wool etc. Everyone tells me how great wool is and I am just not using the right kind of wool but please believe me, I can't wear wool. So I wear double layer Wright Socks and I have been very happy with them. I've been very lucky but with Wright Socks I've had pretty much no blisters.
 

K Turner

One step at a time
Camino(s) past & future
14 August 2019 (SJPdP 16 August)
I have been wearing Smart Wool for years and love them. My husband wears them as well. I recently got some wool socks by Bridgedale. They seem fine so far and I do believe I will bring them on my Camino next month. I nearly always try out items from a previous year from an online gear store with overstock and discontinued models. I don't care about having this year's hot color. It's a great way to find what works best for you and not break the bank in the process.
 

zrexer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014, 15,16 & 19 Camino Frances
2017 Camino Portuguese
2018 Camino Primitivo
I have had good success with the 'Wright Sock' brand, they are lined socks. They come in different weights to suit the season or individual prefference.
Since using this brand, I have not had any blister issues. In my first couple of Camino's I had horrible issues with blisters, thought it was my shoes, but turned out to be a sock issue.
 

Dandabika

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Completed GR65 (2016)
I’m currently preparing for my first camino ( Oct 03) equipment and training coming along well apart from socks.
Got a size up in solomon boots last year and they are excellent.
However recently experimented with some anti blister socks and the lining makes them too tight.
Don’t want to have to buy new boots a further size up.
Would welcome any socks recommendations particularly ones that are not too thick
Thanks
Smartwool merino socks specifically this model is the best: https://www.smartwool.com/phd-outdoor-socks.html
I used this particular model for the GR65 Compostelle, GR70 Stevenson, Del Norte, Primitivo and part of the Frances. I also used them to climb Mount Marcy. Over thr past 45 years I tried all kinds of other "hiking socks" but nothing comes close to the Smartwool socks. I use the medium weight because after trying the lightweights I found the lightweights couldn't absorb as much moisture as the medium and it's the moisture that will promote blisters. I hike with 3 pairs. Change them every 2 hours and let the damp pair dry on your pack as you walk. The third pair is insurance should the pair pinned on the pack doesn't get a chance to dry for whatever reason.
 

mdelag

Member
Camino(s) past & future
**CAMINO FRANCES: LEON-SANTIAGO sept. (2015)
**CAMINO FRANCES SJPP-SANTIAGO 2017
I’m currently preparing for my first camino ( Oct 03) equipment and training coming along well apart from socks.
Got a size up in solomon boots last year and they are excellent.
However recently experimented with some anti blister socks and the lining makes them too tight.
Don’t want to have to buy new boots a further size up.
Would welcome any socks recommendations particularly ones that are not too thick
Thanks
I’m currently preparing for my first camino ( Oct 03) equipment and training coming along well apart from socks.
Got a size up in solomon boots last year and they are excellent.
However recently experimented with some anti blister socks and the lining makes them too tight.
Don’t want to have to buy new boots a further size up.
Would welcome any socks recommendations particularly ones that are not too thick
Thanks
Hi Spikey...I took Smartwool hiking socks did buy very thin liner socks at REI....my advice would be to try to look for those. The problems you have is in the boots, don’t try to adapt your socks to your boots, you need to adapt feet to socks and then boots to feet with socks. A pair “good” size boots makes the WHOLE difference about your walk. Buen Camino !!!
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
...I took Smartwool hiking socks did buy very thin liner socks at REI....my advice would be to try to look for those.
You can use cheap nylon ankle socks like these as liner socks. I also saw them in the "bazar" stores in Spain.

Screenshot_20190713-085033_Firefox.jpg

 

GingerHaddad

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
September (2018)
I’m currently preparing for my first camino ( Oct 03) equipment and training coming along well apart from socks.
Got a size up in solomon boots last year and they are excellent.
However recently experimented with some anti blister socks and the lining makes them too tight.
Don’t want to have to buy new boots a further size up.
Would welcome any socks recommendations particularly ones that are not too thick
Thanks
I used Smartwool sock LINERS - nice and thin. Never had blisters.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 was Camino #14
On my first few Caminos, I worried about clothing.
Now I just wear whatever underwear and socks I have.
No need for special expensive gear... honest.
 

Jodean

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
22 Sept. to 21 Oct. 2015, Pamplona to Santiago
6-23.04 Porto to Santiago 2018
17.09-30.09 CF 2018
I wear nylons with my socks too. Works great, no blisters, no gunking up of socks with vaseline, no need for tape, no need to switch socks halfway through the day or let my feet air out. This even worked the day I fell in a creek and had to walk another 5 hours with boots that had been filled with water. No blisters.
Tried those super cheap nylons from the China bazaars and they don't work at all as they won't stay up. Mostly wear compression knee highs. About 2€ a pair in Germany.
 

crbonade

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Primitivo (2020)
I wear nylons with my socks too. Works great, no blisters, no gunking up of socks with vaseline, no need for tape, no need to switch socks halfway through the day or let my feet air out. This even worked the day I fell in a creek and had to walk another 5 hours with boots that had been filled with water. No blisters.
Tried those super cheap nylons from the China bazaars and they don't work at all as they won't stay up. Mostly wear compression knee highs. About 2€ a pair in Germany.
Yeah, I couldn't do the super cheap ones. I actually use a pair of Wolfords! :eek: I should probably find a middle ground lol. Haven't tried compression ones, I might have to pick up a pair to try when I start training this fall.
 

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