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Trail runners: Altra or Brooks, or Hoka????

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
Hello. I am VERY confused and not a little obsessed with reading reviews about trail runners. I’ll be grateful if you can help to end my torment 😀

I’m used to wearing hiking boots but they’re too sweaty for a May/June Camino Frances (just SJPP to Belorado). I have knee/joint trouble so trying trail runners makes sense. I plan to break them in during a walking holiday in the Scottish Highlands this month, then use them for weekend walks through the winter too.

I have to use an orthotic insert to raise my arches so will need to put this in whatever I buy. My understanding is that all of the shoes I’m considering will be fine with an orthotic, but maybe there are also some differences?

And my main question... I initially looked mostly at both the Brooks Cascadia and the Brooks Caldera. Most are out of stock in my size, though, and I’ve read poor reviews about their durability. Im confused because the Caldera has better cushioning but the Cascadia is more popular, and I don’t know why. After reading about these, I then repeatedly convince myself that the natural toe width of the Altras would surely be better. I have quite narrow feet (I’m a petite 5ft tall woman) but in the past have had black toe on my little toe in my hiking boots, although never yet a blister.

I suspect that the Altra’s flat sole—the zero drop—might not be good for my knees. If I did consider Altras, I don’t understand why so many people wear the Altra Lone Peaks—for the Pacific Crest Trail as well as the Camino—when the Altra Olympus offers more cushioning and still good traction/stability. Can you shed light on this? Is the Lone Peak actually really well cushioned?

Also Hokas... and… others… and I can’t get to a shop to try anything on because my family is shielding.

Any light-casting on the above mess of uncertainty will be very much appreciated! 😀🙏
 
Last edited:

Turga

Camino tortuga
Camino(s) past & future
CF (Aug/Sep 2017)
CF (Aug/Sep 2018)
First of all, don’t buy shoes because they are ’popular’ or because others recommend them. We are all different, so buy the ones that fit you well and that you feel comfortable wearing. If they are from some ‘recognized brand’ you can’t go all wrong.

When using orthotics be sure that the standard inner soles in the shoes can be removed; you will probably need to do that to make the orthotics fit in the shoes. This is usually no problem as most trail runners come with removable/replaceable inner soles.

Trail runners generally don’t need much ‘breaking in’ - in that respect they are very different from leather boots/shoes.

Buen Camino
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
Trail runners generally don’t need much ‘breaking in’ - in that respect they are very different from leather boots/shoes.

Buen Camino
What I really meant to say was that I intend to break myself into the shoes 😀 (walking in them prior to deciding to definitely use them for the Camino). Thanks for your advice!
 

Barbara

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
Find a shop (real shop, not online only) that stocks the shoes you want to try. If you can't go to them then you will have to do the testing at home. Measure your feet yourself. A specialist shop will try to help over the phone. Might ask for an outline on paper..
Wait for the post.
Try them on.
With your orthotics and walking socks.
At the end of the day when you have walked a few km.

Buy. (Or if useless, return and go back to the beginning) Try in the real world. If perfect immediately buy another pair, if not quite right then try a different make.
The nearly right ones will do for use at home.

Is only going for a walk on a path. Don't over think it.
 

Ian L

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances summer 2017 (SJPP to Fromista)
Camino Frances summer 2019 (Fromista to Santiago)
I have both Altra Timps (high cushion) and Lone Peaks (medium cushion). I like the fit and cushioning of the Timps much better, my feet seem to slide toward the front of the Lone Peaks. I haven't tried the Olympus (maximum cushion).

I think the only way to know how you like zero drop shoes is to try them. I would recommend wearing them for short periods at first to get used to them. I find myself pretty much only wearing Altra's now, even to work, because of the comfort.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
I have not owned those brands (though I've tried on the Hokas), but will muddy the water further by suggesting you look at Oboz. I am super happy with mine (Women's Sawtooth II low (not the waterproof version).

I have a hard foot to fit - super wide, needing a deep toebox on an old broken halux joint, but with a narrow heel and arch that needs an insert. These have worked very well. They did not feel as squishy as the Hokas and the zero drop of the Atra is not an issue.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Currently on a "Virtual" Camino and striding out across Castile y Leon!
Will your orthotics be made from an absorbent material? After my last free climb on the north face of the Eiger ;)I too have given up boots in favour of trail runners but swapped out the original insoles for more comfortable ones and I take a spare pair along.
I accept that my feet will get wet so, at the end of a soggy day I just hang up the wet insoles and socks and replace them with dry ones - the runners themselves dry to being just "damp" quite quickly.
I don't have experience with orthotics so not sure if you can do this too.
 

Sandra Riordan

Hobart Australia
Camino(s) past & future
Francis 2015, Portuguese 2016, El Norte 2017 & VDLP 2019.
Hello. I am VERY confused and not a little obsessed with reading reviews about trail runners. I’ll be grateful if you can help to end my torment 😀

I’m used to wearing hiking boots but they’re too sweaty for a May/June Camino Frances (just SJPP to Belorado). I have knee/joint trouble so trying trail runners makes sense. I plan to break them in during a walking holiday in the Scottish Highlands this month, then use them for weekend walks through the winter too.

I have to use an orthotic insert to raise my arches so will need to put this in whatever I buy. My understanding is that all of the shoes I’m considering will be fine with an orthotic, but maybe there are also some differences?

And my main question... I initially looked mostly at both the Brooks Cascadia and the Brooks Caldera. Most are out of stock in my size, though, and I’ve read poor reviews about their durability. Im confused because the Caldera has better cushioning but the Cascadia is more popular, and I don’t know why. After reading about these, I then repeatedly convince myself that the natural toe width of the Altras would surely be better. I have quite narrow feet (I’m a petite 5ft tall woman) but in the past have had black toe on my little toe in my hiking boots, although never yet a blister.

I suspect that the Altra’s flat sole—the zero drop—might not be good for my knees. If I did consider Altras, I don’t understand why so many people wear the Altra Lone Peaks—for the Pacific Crest Trail as well as the Camino—when the Altra Olympus offers more cushioning and still good traction/stability. Can you shed light on this? Is the Lone Peak actually really well cushioned?

Also Hokas... and… others… and I can’t get to a shop to try anything on because my family is shielding.

Any light-casting on the above mess of uncertainty will be very much appreciated! 😀🙏
I have tried many over various Caminos and walks throughout Tasmania but my favourite are Hokas.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF, Burgos-SdC (May-June 2016); CF, SJPDP-SdC (April-June 2018); Norte (June-July 2019)
Hi Lhollo, I walked my first Camino in Merrill boots and had blister and nerve troubles, even though I broke them in well before leaving home. My husband and I have since walked the full Frances and Norte in Brooks Cascadias with only 2 small blisters. So we love our Cascadias.
However, everyone’s feet are different, so as suggested above, you really need to try several. But to address your specific concerns:
-We also wear orthotics in our Cascadias, no problems. My husband left the Cascadia insert in his, I took mine out.
- I also have a pair of Altas for running around town. I like the wide toe box, and the zero gravity has not been a problem, but I too have narrow feet and the heel is a bit too big. My heels move around too much to be comfortable for a long Camino.
- Our Cascadias held up great. We continued to wear them awhile after our 500-mile walks but eventually replaced them. The non-Gortex type dry overnight, no problem.
Have fun getting ready for your walk, and Buen Camino!
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
I can only give you my personal experience. As Kanga stated all of us should only go by what our foot tells us and how we feel in them. One thing I would tell you is to size up 1 size because your foot will really expand especially if you are planning a long Camino.
My wife has very narrow feet and she wears orthopedic insoles. She has had major issues with her knees and lower back. She had operations on both knees. We have walked together in the morning especially since the pandemic. Many days after even 30
Minutes she would have pain and need to go back and not walk for a day or 2. A couple of months ago she told me she needed to try something else. After reading about so many people with similar issues she bought some Hokas. She absolutely is in love. She says it is like walking on clouds. She has not had pain since and her insoles fit perfect without any discomfort at all.
I have walked 5 Caminos and almost 5,000 kilometers. Before my first Camino I tried a light Merrill shoe. After a week of walking before the Camino I had blisters everywhere. Walked with some old sneakers after that until they fell apart. A good friend who is an triathlete took me to the running store in my town. The owner at the time was the number 3 ranked ultramarathoner in the world. When I told him that was walking the Camino he and his two salespeople all pointed exactly the same time at a pair of Brooks Cascadias. Tried them on they felt great and I have not even considered any other brand since. I was surprised that you said they they were not durable based on reviews. I think their durability is excellent. In fact a few years ago I walked from Lisbon to Santiago with one pair. Trained with them and another pair for my next Camino on the Norte. I live in Mexico and I waited to long to order a new pair for the Norte and my Cascadias got held up in Mexican customs for over a month and I had to leave before they arrived. I ended up walking about 1800k in that pair and never had a problem. Only 1 blister in all that time. I have to say I am lucky also as I have no serious hip, back or leg issues. But again this is only my experience. Good luck.
 

Rex

One Step at a Time
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP to Santiago (2013)
Lisboa to Santiago (2018)
via Francigena (1st Half ~ 6/2021)
Although I hiked for years in hiking boots with no foot troubles (mostly hiking in the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific NW), my trusty boots gave me all kinds of foot problems from SJPDP to Burgos. I shipped my boots home from Burgos and bought a pair of Salomon trail shoes at an athletic shop in Burgos and started walking in them the next morning. No problems from Burgos to Santiago. Four years later, I bought a new pair (same shoe, but updated by Salomon) and walked from Lisboa to Santiago (setts and cobbles and miles of tarmac), again with no problems. Here in the USA, Zappos will send several pairs of shoes for you to try on and test and you can return what doesn't work (my wife does this all the time). Something similar might be available in your country. Good luck (and follow the advice of whomever posted the comment "buy 2 pair if you find one you like").
Buen Camino
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
Hi Lhollo, I walked my first Camino in Merrill boots and had blister and nerve troubles, even though I broke them in well before leaving home. My husband and I have since walked the full Frances and Norte in Brooks Cascadias with only 2 small blisters. So we love our Cascadias.
However, everyone’s feet are different, so as suggested above, you really need to try several. But to address your specific concerns:
-We also wear orthotics in our Cascadias, no problems. My husband left the Cascadia insert in his, I took mine out.
- I also have a pair of Altas for running around town. I like the wide toe box, and the zero gravity has not been a problem, but I too have narrow feet and the heel is a bit too big. My heels move around too much to be comfortable for a long Camino.
- Our Cascadias held up great. We continued to wear them awhile after our 500-mile walks but eventually replaced them. The non-Gortex type dry overnight, no problem.
Have fun getting ready for your walk, and Buen Camino!
As you posted this I was writing my Cascadia review! Love them and you are right about them drying. I have walked in all day rain. Put some newspaper in them and they were always dry and ready to get wet all over again the next morning.
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
Hi Lhollo, I walked my first Camino in Merrill boots and had blister and nerve troubles, even though I broke them in well before leaving home. My husband and I have since walked the full Frances and Norte in Brooks Cascadias with only 2 small blisters. So we love our Cascadias.
However, everyone’s feet are different, so as suggested above, you really need to try several. But to address your specific concerns:
-We also wear orthotics in our Cascadias, no problems. My husband left the Cascadia insert in his, I took mine out.
- I also have a pair of Altas for running around town. I like the wide toe box, and the zero gravity has not been a problem, but I too have narrow feet and the heel is a bit too big. My heels move around too much to be comfortable for a long Camino.
- Our Cascadias held up great. We continued to wear them awhile after our 500-mile walks but eventually replaced them. The non-Gortex type dry overnight, no problem.
Have fun getting ready for your walk, and Buen Camino!
Thank you! Did you size up a half size or a full size in your Cascadias? Or not at all?
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
I can only give you my personal experience. As Kanga stated all of us should only go by what our foot tells us and how we feel in them. One thing I would tell you is to size up 1 size because your foot will really expand especially if you are planning a long Camino.
My wife has very narrow feet and she wears orthopedic insoles. She has had major issues with her knees and lower back. She had operations on both knees. We have walked together in the morning especially since the pandemic. Many days after even 30
Minutes she would have pain and need to go back and not walk for a day or 2. A couple of months ago she told me she needed to try something else. After reading about so many people with similar issues she bought some Hokas. She absolutely is in love. She says it is like walking on clouds. She has not had pain since and her insoles fit perfect without any discomfort at all.
I have walked 5 Caminos and almost 5,000 kilometers. Before my first Camino I tried a light Merrill shoe. After a week of walking before the Camino I had blisters everywhere. Walked with some old sneakers after that until they fell apart. A good friend who is an triathlete took me to the running store in my town. The owner at the time was the number 3 ranked ultramarathoner in the world. When I told him that was walking the Camino he and his two salespeople all pointed exactly the same time at a pair of Brooks Cascadias. Tried them on they felt great and I have not even considered any other brand since. I was surprised that you said they they were not durable based on reviews. I think their durability is excellent. In fact a few years ago I walked from Lisbon to Santiago with one pair. Trained with them and another pair for my next Camino on the Norte. I live in Mexico and I waited to long to order a new pair for the Norte and my Cascadias got held up in Mexican customs for over a month and I had to leave before they arrived. I ended up walking about 1800k in that pair and never had a problem. Only 1 blister in all that time. I have to say I am lucky also as I have no serious hip, back or leg issues. But again this is only my experience. Good luck.
Thank you for this! Do you know which type of Hokas your wife uses? I've been looking at the Hoka One One Speedgoat but some people say that the tongue is sharp and has cut them, which… well, isn't exactly enticing, but I also know they're supposed to be very good so maybe it's worth ignoring tongue-weapon comments :D . Also, did you size up for your Cascadias, by a half or full size?
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
Thank you for this! Do you know which type of Hokas your wife uses? I've been looking at the Hoka One One Speedgoat but some people say that the tongue is sharp and has cut them, which… well, isn't exactly enticing, but I also know they're supposed to be very good so maybe it's worth ignoring tongue-weapon comments :D . Also, did you size up for your Cascadias, by a half or full size?
She has the Hola One One. She did not size up because of her insoles. But I doubt I’d she needed to either. I always go up one size. My foot is probably normal width but I always get a 2wide. If your foot is narrow the width will not be an issue. Take care.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2016 CF
2017 CF and Finnisterre
2019 CP and Muxia
I've used Hokas for years. I walk for many km at work on cement floors and I walked the Portuguese last year in them without any problems. I have the new Hoka One One. I haven't had any problems with the tongue cutting me. Though, it is shorter and feels sharper than previous models. I went up 1 size with my previous Hokas and I went up 1/2 size with the Hoka One One. I forgot my orthotics one time (high arches and prone to plantar fasciitis) and that turned out to be a great thing! I now use memory foam insoles. My feet sink into the insole, my arches are supported and there is less friction and shear from my foot moving forward and back. Everyone is so different and I am sure that you will find what works for you. If you can, wait to try them on. I tried a few variations of the Hokas until one felt just right. The vibram sole is also a huge bonus! Happy training!
 

nidarosa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Inglés 2009+2017, Francés 2012+2018, Astorga-Santiago repeatedly
I've been looking at the Hoka One One Speedgoat
Hi, I used to walk in Salomons until I developed problems with plantar fasciitis, and after a bit of trying and failing and obsessive research ended up with Hoka Speedgoats. They will suit a medium to narrow foot, mine aren't particularly narrow and they fit me perfectly. The cushioning and traction from the Vibram sole make them pretty hard wearing compared to some other Hoka models. I have never noticed a sharp tongue on a shoe though 😁 If the Speedgoats don't suit you, there is also the Mafate model, it has the same chunky cushioning and the Vibram sole but not the same 'push forward' feeling as the Speedgoats. I took a size bigger than normal and that fits just right, not sure if you need another half size to accommodate the orthotics? Well worth a try though I think. Best of luck!
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I am VERY confused and not a little obsessed with reading reviews about trail runners. I’ll be grateful if you can help to end my torment
You are overthinking this. It is not necessary for you to fully understand why other people have chosen their shoes. Each shoe company has marketing departments trying to figure this out and convince the masses to buy theirs! Trust that if a good number of people continue to buy a shoe, that it probably is an OK shoe. The important question is whether it is a good shoe for you.

The only thing that really matters is the comfort of the shoe on your foot. All those reviews can help you narrow down the field - you have now chosen several shoes. Now you must try them on and give them a good test walk. I always start with an indoor walk around a mall (or similar indoor public space), so I don't damage the shoes. Most shoes are eliminated in this first test, and are returned to the store.

Get the largest size that is not too too big on your foot. Your indoor walk is a good place to compare one shoe with the next size larger. When in doubt, buy the larger one. Try different socks to make the fine adjustments, especially if your feet tend to swell over the course of the day. (If necessary, you can wear a thicker sock in the morning and a thinner one in the afternoon.) Zero drop shoes can be a problem for some people, for various reasons, so be sure to test them out before committing.

The shoes should be comfortable right out of the box.

You have done the internet research. Now it is time to compare several shoes and sizes by wearing them!
 

JanelMcB

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (2018)
Hello. I am VERY confused and not a little obsessed with reading reviews about trail runners. I’ll be grateful if you can help to end my torment 😀

I’m used to wearing hiking boots but they’re too sweaty for a May/June Camino Frances (just SJPP to Belorado). I have knee/joint trouble so trying trail runners makes sense. I plan to break them in during a walking holiday in the Scottish Highlands this month, then use them for weekend walks through the winter too.

I have to use an orthotic insert to raise my arches so will need to put this in whatever I buy. My understanding is that all of the shoes I’m considering will be fine with an orthotic, but maybe there are also some differences?

And my main question... I initially looked mostly at both the Brooks Cascadia and the Brooks Caldera. Most are out of stock in my size, though, and I’ve read poor reviews about their durability. Im confused because the Caldera has better cushioning but the Cascadia is more popular, and I don’t know why. After reading about these, I then repeatedly convince myself that the natural toe width of the Altras would surely be better. I have quite narrow feet (I’m a petite 5ft tall woman) but in the past have had black toe on my little toe in my hiking boots, although never yet a blister.

I suspect that the Altra’s flat sole—the zero drop—might not be good for my knees. If I did consider Altras, I don’t understand why so many people wear the Altra Lone Peaks—for the Pacific Crest Trail as well as the Camino—when the Altra Olympus offers more cushioning and still good traction/stability. Can you shed light on this? Is the Lone Peak actually really well cushioned?

Also Hokas... and… others… and I can’t get to a shop to try anything on because my family is shielding.

Any light-casting on the above mess of uncertainty will be very much appreciated! 😀🙏
I used Brooks Ariel as they seemed to be the most comfortable during my training walks. Would have preferred the wide toe box of the Altra Lone Peak, but was concerned about the zero drop. Sometimes it seemed like my knees were a bit sore after a training walk. Perhaps this would have diminished if I'd done more walking in them. Brooks Cascadia were recommended by a gal who has worn them for thousands of miles of hiking all over the world. I liked them but chose the Ariel over them. I also tried Hoka Speedgoat. No complaints there; I just decided on the Brooks Ariel.

Find footwear that fits, is comfortable, and does not cause problems. That's the boot, sandal or shoe you wear regardless of whatever else you learn from others. Your feet will make the decision for you. Best wishes.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2017
Hello. I am VERY confused and not a little obsessed with reading reviews about trail runners. I’ll be grateful if you can help to end my torment 😀

I’m used to wearing hiking boots but they’re too sweaty for a May/June Camino Frances (just SJPP to Belorado). I have knee/joint trouble so trying trail runners makes sense. I plan to break them in during a walking holiday in the Scottish Highlands this month, then use them for weekend walks through the winter too.

I have to use an orthotic insert to raise my arches so will need to put this in whatever I buy. My understanding is that all of the shoes I’m considering will be fine with an orthotic, but maybe there are also some differences?

And my main question... I initially looked mostly at both the Brooks Cascadia and the Brooks Caldera. Most are out of stock in my size, though, and I’ve read poor reviews about their durability. Im confused because the Caldera has better cushioning but the Cascadia is more popular, and I don’t know why. After reading about these, I then repeatedly convince myself that the natural toe width of the Altras would surely be better. I have quite narrow feet (I’m a petite 5ft tall woman) but in the past have had black toe on my little toe in my hiking boots, although never yet a blister.

I suspect that the Altra’s flat sole—the zero drop—might not be good for my knees. If I did consider Altras, I don’t understand why so many people wear the Altra Lone Peaks—for the Pacific Crest Trail as well as the Camino—when the Altra Olympus offers more cushioning and still good traction/stability. Can you shed light on this? Is the Lone Peak actually really well cushioned?

Also Hokas... and… others… and I can’t get to a shop to try anything on because my family is shielding.

Any light-casting on the above mess of uncertainty will be very much appreciated! 😀🙏
I did not read all of the replys, so, sorry if this is a repeat.
I wear Altra Lone Peaks and so does my husband and sister. We have very different foot shapes and sizes. My sister has a very narrow, flat foot. She puts some plain old Dr Scholls inserts in to take up volume. My husband has a flat, narrow, long foot With bunions and uses the Altra LP’s without inserts. My foot has a high arch, normal width. So our experience covers much of the map. Do you feel comfortable Wearing flats? If yes, then zero drop will not take getting used to.
My 2 cents is that cushioned shoes do not help your feet or ankles get stronger And may exacerbate your knee problem. I am not a podiatrist, just someone who was able to walk out knee pain by strengthening feet and ankles. Altras really helped there. My husband, whose feet ached after 2 miles, now walks 5 miles with ease and wears altra LP’s all the time. Pretty much the only caveat I have is that these are 500 mile shoes, maybe 600, then done.
You need to walk a few miles in them. I have always found their custmer service to be extrememy helpful. Try a 1/2 To full size larger than suggested due to foot swelling and odd sizing from Altra. If you really want the exta cushioning Consider the Timps. Good luck.
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
You are overthinking this. It is not necessary for you to fully understand why other people have chosen their shoes. Each shoe company has marketing departments trying to figure this out and convince the masses to buy theirs! Trust that if a good number of people continue to buy a shoe, that it probably is an OK shoe. The important question is whether it is a good shoe for you.

The only thing that really matters is the comfort of the shoe on your foot. All those reviews can help you narrow down the field - you have now chosen several shoes. Now you must try them on and give them a good test walk. I always start with an indoor walk around a mall (or similar indoor public space), so I don't damage the shoes. Most shoes are eliminated in this first test, and are returned to the store.

Get the largest size that is not too too big on your foot. Your indoor walk is a good place to compare one shoe with the next size larger. When in doubt, buy the larger one. Try different socks to make the fine adjustments, especially if your feet tend to swell over the course of the day. (If necessary, you can wear a thicker sock in the morning and a thinner one in the afternoon.) Zero drop shoes can be a problem for some people, for various reasons, so be sure to test them out before committing.

The shoes should be comfortable right out of the box.

You have done the internet research. Now it is time to compare several shoes and sizes by wearing them!
Thank you for this advice. I can assure you that this is something I always do, and I enjoy it! It's a good type of obsession ;) I was joking above about the torment.

The problem is we are shielding and I can't go into indoor public spaces, etc, nor can I afford to order lots of shoes to try on, so it's one at a time, and hopefully I'll find a good pair that way within two weeks! It isn't really a case of buying into this or that—marketing, other people's ideals, etc—but rather that I have a medical condition so do need to try to bear that in mind and make an informed decision. but I think I'll get there. I had a long chat on the phone today with Brooks (waiting on a response from their tech teams), and am also still bearing in mind Hokas as a possibility to try, given the above comments.
 

Holly Mitchem

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2016, del Norte 2019
I did my first two caminos in Oboz (Lunas, no longer made, then Sawtooths) but have switched to the Hoka One One Speedgoats. Right now I am doing local hiking only in them (6-10 miles at a stretch on rugged rocky trails sometimes) but they certainly are comfortable. I used orthotics with my Oboz but am using the insoles that came with my Hokas and they are excellent. I find that they run larger for me. I bought a regular pair of trainers at my normal size and at first went up a full size for the trail runners, but returned them as my feet were swimming in them even with wool socks and liners. I then got a half size up and they are perfect, even when hiking in a very hot California summer. Good luck!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (Aug 1, 2019)
I used to wear Brooks Cascadia but my foot doctor recommended Brooks Ariel instead for arch support. She has me remove the factory inserts and use an orthotic arch support inside the shoe as well. Her test for arch support: hold the shoe perpendicular to the ground and press the toe against the ground as hard as you can. Only the toe should bend, not the middle of the shoe. Cascadia bends in the middle while Ariel only bends at the toe. Both have the wide toe box and though Ariel is a running shoe, it grabbed the trail better than my Cascadias. SJPDP to Finesterre no problema. ✅
 
Camino(s) past & future
Spring 2016: Camino Frances, Finisterre and Muxia
April 2019: Frances, Salvador, Primitivo
A note about the zero rise: I've worn Altra Lone Peaks and Timps for a few years now. I never had an issue with zero rise. A friend of mine, however, bought some and had much discomfort in them. She too them back to the sports store and they asked her to break them in. She began wearing them 15 minutes a day and increased her time walking in them. This worked for her, and she still wears zero drop with no problem.
 

MartaM

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués costal (Sept. 2020)
I too have obsessed over choosing trail runners, needed something to think about during quarantine! Had to cancel our plans for our first Camino - Portugues Coastal this Sept. I bought the Altra Timp 2 after trying on Lone Peak, Salomon, & LaSportiva at REI. Wore them for a few hikes and them went back to compare to Lone Peak which felt less cushioned and had too much volume for my foot. Have worn them well over 100 miles now but after walking with my loaded pack I decided to try something with a bit more cushion and sturdier sole. Now trying the Topo Terraventure. Don’t forget there are different ways of lacing to help get a good fit- YouTube has videos. When I first put on the Topos my heel felt a bit loose but now they’re perfect.
 

walknotbike

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2018)
Hello. I am VERY confused and not a little obsessed with reading reviews about trail runners. I’ll be grateful if you can help to end my torment 😀

I’m used to wearing hiking boots but they’re too sweaty for a May/June Camino Frances (just SJPP to Belorado). I have knee/joint trouble so trying trail runners makes sense. I plan to break them in during a walking holiday in the Scottish Highlands this month, then use them for weekend walks through the winter too.

I have to use an orthotic insert to raise my arches so will need to put this in whatever I buy. My understanding is that all of the shoes I’m considering will be fine with an orthotic, but maybe there are also some differences?

And my main question... I initially looked mostly at both the Brooks Cascadia and the Brooks Caldera. Most are out of stock in my size, though, and I’ve read poor reviews about their durability. Im confused because the Caldera has better cushioning but the Cascadia is more popular, and I don’t know why. After reading about these, I then repeatedly convince myself that the natural toe width of the Altras would surely be better. I have quite narrow feet (I’m a petite 5ft tall woman) but in the past have had black toe on my little toe in my hiking boots, although never yet a blister.

I suspect that the Altra’s flat sole—the zero drop—might not be good for my knees. If I did consider Altras, I don’t understand why so many people wear the Altra Lone Peaks—for the Pacific Crest Trail as well as the Camino—when the Altra Olympus offers more cushioning and still good traction/stability. Can you shed light on this? Is the Lone Peak actually really well cushioned?

Also Hokas... and… others… and I can’t get to a shop to try anything on because my family is shielding.

Any light-casting on the above mess of uncertainty will be very much appreciated! 😀🙏


As an alternative to trail runners, I suggest you look at some Vasque low hikers. I did a full Camino in a pair of Vasque Mantra 2.0s and had no foot problems. They had the perfect ratio of toe room to heel fit. Very comfortable. I taped my toes each morning and put Engo Blister patches directly on the pressure points of my shoes. (Look them up on the forums. They are very popular with pilgrims.) I had no blisters or toenail issues. The Mantras have been discontinued, but are generally available on Amazon, etc until they're gone. The company says the Talus XT Low is the replacement model.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
Hello. I am VERY confused and not a little obsessed with reading reviews about trail runners. I’ll be grateful if you can help to end my torment 😀

I’m used to wearing hiking boots but they’re too sweaty for a May/June Camino Frances (just SJPP to Belorado). I have knee/joint trouble so trying trail runners makes sense. I plan to break them in during a walking holiday in the Scottish Highlands this month, then use them for weekend walks through the winter too.

I have to use an orthotic insert to raise my arches so will need to put this in whatever I buy. My understanding is that all of the shoes I’m considering will be fine with an orthotic, but maybe there are also some differences?

And my main question... I initially looked mostly at both the Brooks Cascadia and the Brooks Caldera. Most are out of stock in my size, though, and I’ve read poor reviews about their durability. Im confused because the Caldera has better cushioning but the Cascadia is more popular, and I don’t know why. After reading about these, I then repeatedly convince myself that the natural toe width of the Altras would surely be better. I have quite narrow feet (I’m a petite 5ft tall woman) but in the past have had black toe on my little toe in my hiking boots, although never yet a blister.

I suspect that the Altra’s flat sole—the zero drop—might not be good for my knees. If I did consider Altras, I don’t understand why so many people wear the Altra Lone Peaks—for the Pacific Crest Trail as well as the Camino—when the Altra Olympus offers more cushioning and still good traction/stability. Can you shed light on this? Is the Lone Peak actually really well cushioned?

Also Hokas... and… others… and I can’t get to a shop to try anything on because my family is shielding.

Any light-casting on the above mess of uncertainty will be very much appreciated! 😀🙏
C clearly has the best advice, all that matters is how they fit and feel on your foot.
I read all the reviews and had a podiatrist recommend shoes. None fitted well, or at all, and I wasted 6 weeks running around trying to locate all the models. Went back to my Brookes - which I had to order out of Sydney - perfect. (Then found hiking sandals which were much better and I wore those in Spain instead)
Your feet, knees and legs are unique to you - comfort and fit is everything
 

NualaOC

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few and hopefully lots more. See signature.
Hi @Lhollo, it's so easy to go down that rabbit hole of shoe obsession! I've been there many, many times.

As others have said - it's all about what feels right for you, regardless of what manufacturers or wearers say about their shoes.

For what it's worth, here's my experience of some of your specific points:
  • Brooks Cascadia - have a have a nice wide fit, but the toe box isn't particularly generous. I've worn them for walks at home, but not on the Camino. As regards their popularity - it's probably helped by the fact that Scott Jurek (famous ultra-runner) was involved in their development.
  • Don't confuse cushioning with comfort. I'm very blister-prone and my feet are usually happier in a less-cushioned shoe. I've no idea why.
  • Zero drop shoes - feel quite weird to me, but less so when I use orthotics.
And just to confuse you even more - don't rule out the idea of hiking in sandals 😀

Happy planning and Buen Camino!
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
I too have obsessed over choosing trail runners, needed something to think about during quarantine! Had to cancel our plans for our first Camino - Portugues Coastal this Sept.
Clearly we are two of a kind 😀 Yes, after re-booking our Camino Frances for next May/June—a long process because we’re booking private rooms for the whole stretch—I found it almost impossible to switch off from the excitement of it, nor did I want to, and it’s not as though my usual hobby of reading the news is comforting at the moment! I hope you can do your Camino soon.
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
An update… I’ve ordered Brooks Cascadias in two sizes, a half size apart, and a pair of Hoka Speedgoats. So, some will certainly go back, perhaps all, but I think that by trying these I’ll have a better idea of what will suit me. I am bearing in mind all of your comments, including the recommendations for shoes I haven’t previously heard of. If these don’t work out for me, I may well turn to those.

On a side note, relating to the Altras… I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome which makes my connective tissues super-elastic and causes joint dislocations and partial dislocations. I’ve spent a few days walking around in zero drop deck shoes with my orthotics. After a while, they send my knees out of place, so I’m pretty sure the Altras won’t be a great option for me, much as I really like the idea of a more natural walking gait.
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
Will your orthotics be made from an absorbent material? After my last free climb on the north face of the Eiger ;)I too have given up boots in favour of trail runners but swapped out the original insoles for more comfortable ones and I take a spare pair along.
I accept that my feet will get wet so, at the end of a soggy day I just hang up the wet insoles and socks and replace them with dry ones - the runners themselves dry to being just "damp" quite quickly.
I don't have experience with orthotics so not sure if you can do this too.
I thought I’d replied to you… sorry! My orthotics are probably absorbent, yes, and your advice to take an extra pair is very helpful!
 

JoEllen

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
2019
Hello. I am VERY confused and not a little obsessed with reading reviews about trail runners. I’ll be grateful if you can help to end my torment 😀

I’m used to wearing hiking boots but they’re too sweaty for a May/June Camino Frances (just SJPP to Belorado). I have knee/joint trouble so trying trail runners makes sense. I plan to break them in during a walking holiday in the Scottish Highlands this month, then use them for weekend walks through the winter too.

I have to use an orthotic insert to raise my arches so will need to put this in whatever I buy. My understanding is that all of the shoes I’m considering will be fine with an orthotic, but maybe there are also some differences?

And my main question... I initially looked mostly at both the Brooks Cascadia and the Brooks Caldera. Most are out of stock in my size, though, and I’ve read poor reviews about their durability. Im confused because the Caldera has better cushioning but the Cascadia is more popular, and I don’t know why. After reading about these, I then repeatedly convince myself that the natural toe width of the Altras would surely be better. I have quite narrow feet (I’m a petite 5ft tall woman) but in the past have had black toe on my little toe in my hiking boots, although never yet a blister.

I suspect that the Altra’s flat sole—the zero drop—might not be good for my knees. If I did consider Altras, I don’t understand why so many people wear the Altra Lone Peaks—for the Pacific Crest Trail as well as the Camino—when the Altra Olympus offers more cushioning and still good traction/stability. Can you shed light on this? Is the Lone Peak actually really well cushioned?

Also Hokas... and… others… and I can’t get to a shop to try anything on because my family is shielding.

Any light-casting on the above mess of uncertainty will be very much appreciated! 😀🙏
I walked my second Camino in Brooks Caldera trail runners. They were great....I had only one very small blister on the outside of my left heel (used Compeed and it was gone in like 4 days). They wore out pretty significantly (tatters and wear on the uppers - not the soles) and I was concerned when I was in Sarria that I might need a new pair of shoes to complete the remainder to Santiago. I worried needlessly - but I did toss the Brooks in the trash at my Santiago hotel.
 

Moorwalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
The Saint's Way, Cornwall
Buy whichever fit best. Other people's experiences aren't really a good guideline for you because we all have different shape feet and different gaits. It really is important to try them on unless you already know that a particular style suits you. And even then they sometimes change the last as happened to my beloved Innov8 trail runners.

If you use orthotics it is doubly important to try the shoes with the orthotics in place.

Some people like heavily padded shoes, others don't. It depends quite a lot on your gait, if you strike heavily with your heel you will probably get on better with padded shoes with the heel slightly higher than the front.

You will see a lot of stuff about "zero drop" shoes which just means that the heel is not raised at all. Again it suits some people better than others, but it's very much worth trying out before you commit to a long walk because for some people zero drop causes all sorts of problems, especially with the Achilles tendon and calf muscles. It takes a bit of walking to become accustomed to them if they are a new thing for you.

Since you have EDS it might well be worth considering very light boots. Old fashioned heavy leather ones aren't necessary for the terrain, but there are now boots available that are effectively trail shoes with a higher top.
 

Eric G

Member
Camino(s) past & future
1st timer
Hello. I am VERY confused and not a little obsessed with reading reviews about trail runners. I’ll be grateful if you can help to end my torment 😀

I’m used to wearing hiking boots but they’re too sweaty for a May/June Camino Frances (just SJPP to Belorado). I have knee/joint trouble so trying trail runners makes sense. I plan to break them in during a walking holiday in the Scottish Highlands this month, then use them for weekend walks through the winter too.

I have to use an orthotic insert to raise my arches so will need to put this in whatever I buy. My understanding is that all of the shoes I’m considering will be fine with an orthotic, but maybe there are also some differences?

And my main question... I initially looked mostly at both the Brooks Cascadia and the Brooks Caldera. Most are out of stock in my size, though, and I’ve read poor reviews about their durability. Im confused because the Caldera has better cushioning but the Cascadia is more popular, and I don’t know why. After reading about these, I then repeatedly convince myself that the natural toe width of the Altras would surely be better. I have quite narrow feet (I’m a petite 5ft tall woman) but in the past have had black toe on my little toe in my hiking boots, although never yet a blister.

I suspect that the Altra’s flat sole—the zero drop—might not be good for my knees. If I did consider Altras, I don’t understand why so many people wear the Altra Lone Peaks—for the Pacific Crest Trail as well as the Camino—when the Altra Olympus offers more cushioning and still good traction/stability. Can you shed light on this? Is the Lone Peak actually really well cushioned?

Also Hokas... and… others… and I can’t get to a shop to try anything on because my family is shielding.

Any light-casting on the above mess of uncertainty will be very much appreciated! 😀🙏
My daughter started with Altra lone peaks last year. She loved them during her training but in Santo Domingo she switched to Keen sandals as she had some serious ankle and Achilles issues. I know everyone in the states swears by them but I don't see it either. I always wear boots on the Camino. Hokas, Altras are all comfortable for the first few miles but after that they hurt my feet as they seem too soft and not enough stability. I wear custom orthodics as well. This past Camino with my daughter I took a pair of Altras to wear in the evening so I could get out of my boots. That was the best move I made.
Good luck with your hunt for shoes. Buying shoes/boots for me is always a pain in the butt so I understand your struggles..
Buen Camino
 

Redvespablur

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte/Primitivo April/May 2016
Voie Littorale May 2020
We walked Norte in 2016 with Scarpa Rapid LT with superfeet insoles. Training for Le Puy route using Hoka Speedgoat 3 waterproof mid (avail in clear out from their website) for my wife and Hoka waterproof hiking shoes for me Toa’s. Have both been running in Hoka Cliftons and they have been transformational in preventing wear and tear.
If you want a very light shoe they have the Torrent that we also tried and liked.
No going back for us. Good luck!
 

BombayBill

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2017) GR10 TransPyrenees, Inland Portugese,(2018) Le Puy-Pamplona,(2019) Norte-Santander. Portugese
Hello. I am VERY confused and not a little obsessed with reading reviews about trail runners. I’ll be grateful if you can help to end my torment 😀

I’m used to wearing hiking boots but they’re too sweaty for a May/June Camino Frances (just SJPP to Belorado). I have knee/joint trouble so trying trail runners makes sense. I plan to break them in during a walking holiday in the Scottish Highlands this month, then use them for weekend walks through the winter too.

I have to use an orthotic insert to raise my arches so will need to put this in whatever I buy. My understanding is that all of the shoes I’m considering will be fine with an orthotic, but maybe there are also some differences?

And my main question... I initially looked mostly at both the Brooks Cascadia and the Brooks Caldera. Most are out of stock in my size, though, and I’ve read poor reviews about their durability. Im confused because the Caldera has better cushioning but the Cascadia is more popular, and I don’t know why. After reading about these, I then repeatedly convince myself that the natural toe width of the Altras would surely be better. I have quite narrow feet (I’m a petite 5ft tall woman) but in the past have had black toe on my little toe in my hiking boots, although never yet a blister.

I suspect that the Altra’s flat sole—the zero drop—might not be good for my knees. If I did consider Altras, I don’t understand why so many people wear the Altra Lone Peaks—for the Pacific Crest Trail as well as the Camino—when the Altra Olympus offers more cushioning and still good traction/stability. Can you shed light on this? Is the Lone Peak actually really well cushioned?

Also Hokas... and… others… and I can’t get to a shop to try anything on because my family is shielding.

Any light-casting on the above mess of uncertainty will be very much appreciated! 😀🙏
I have worn Altra Lone Peaks for 4 Caminos now. I tried out Altra TMPs for comparison. More cushioned. However they just didn’t fit my foot! So back to LP

The LP is perfect for me , at some point it becomes a personal preference not a question of who’s best.
 

KariC

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Caminho portugûes (2016)
Le Puy 2021 or 2022 ??
Hello. I am VERY confused and not a little obsessed with reading reviews about trail runners. I’ll be grateful if you can help to end my torment 😀

I’m used to wearing hiking boots but they’re too sweaty for a May/June Camino Frances (just SJPP to Belorado). I have knee/joint trouble so trying trail runners makes sense. I plan to break them in during a walking holiday in the Scottish Highlands this month, then use them for weekend walks through the winter too.

I have to use an orthotic insert to raise my arches so will need to put this in whatever I buy. My understanding is that all of the shoes I’m considering will be fine with an orthotic, but maybe there are also some differences?

And my main question... I initially looked mostly at both the Brooks Cascadia and the Brooks Caldera. Most are out of stock in my size, though, and I’ve read poor reviews about their durability. Im confused because the Caldera has better cushioning but the Cascadia is more popular, and I don’t know why. After reading about these, I then repeatedly convince myself that the natural toe width of the Altras would surely be better. I have quite narrow feet (I’m a petite 5ft tall woman) but in the past have had black toe on my little toe in my hiking boots, although never yet a blister.

I suspect that the Altra’s flat sole—the zero drop—might not be good for my knees. If I did consider Altras, I don’t understand why so many people wear the Altra Lone Peaks—for the Pacific Crest Trail as well as the Camino—when the Altra Olympus offers more cushioning and still good traction/stability. Can you shed light on this? Is the Lone Peak actually really well cushioned?

Also Hokas... and… others… and I can’t get to a shop to try anything on because my family is shielding.

Any light-casting on the above mess of uncertainty will be very much appreciated! 😀🙏
It really depends on your feet. The right trail runner for you is the one that fits your feet best. I love my hokas for walking around town, but I don't think they would be enough support for the Camino. Hundreds if not thousands, think they're perfect for the Camino. The right answer is which one fits your feet the best and gives you the kind of support that your feet need.
Buen camino,
Kari
 

Moorwalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
The Saint's Way, Cornwall
My daughter started with Altra lone peaks last year. She loved them during her training but in Santo Domingo she switched to Keen sandals as she had some serious ankle and Achilles issues. I know everyone in the states swears by them but I don't see it either. I always wear boots on the Camino. Hokas, Altras are all comfortable for the first few miles but after that they hurt my feet as they seem too soft and not enough stability. I wear custom orthodics as well. This past Camino with my daughter I took a pair of Altras to wear in the evening so I could get out of my boots. That was the best move I made.
Good luck with your hunt for shoes. Buying shoes/boots for me is always a pain in the butt so I understand your struggles..
Buen Camino
For me, boots are far too heavy and uncomfortable, I only use them in really bad winter conditions. My shoes of choice have been Innov8 trail runners but sadly they have changed their cut and the latest ones are too narrow. So most of the time I walk in sandals.

It's very much personal choice, and what your feet are used to. I've seen people run into trouble by changing the style of footwear they are using and trying to do long distances immediately. Switching to a zero drop style in particular causes some people problems, it takes quite a while for your feet and legs to adjust to them if you've always worn shoes with a raised heel. It takes about 3 months for ligaments and tendons to adapt.

I also dislike shoes that are too soft and padded. There is now quite a bit of evidence that very padded shoes can cause injuries in some people because they are less stable. But if you aren't accustomed to less padded shoes again, it takes time to adapt.
 

Susan M Fron

SusanM
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (August 2019)
I wore Brooks Caldera on my Camino. I use a hard orthotic. Soles come out to put orthotic under. I have a narrow heel and my second toe is longer than the others, so I may have gone up a size. I wore injinji toe socks under my wool blend socks that were not too thick. I didn't have any blisters. I bought them at a local store that had a 60-day return policy. I bought them less than a week before my Camino because the merrills I was wearing did not work out.
I am now wearing Altra Olympics. I have had them since last fall after I returned home, but I'm still not sure about them. It seems like a lot of height or cushioning to deal with. But I keep wearing them without any other problems. Find a store that allows greater than a two-week return policy if you are going to buy in a local store. Buen Camino!
 

Herndon

Self Proclaimed Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
France 2016
Portuguese 2017(Porto to Santiago)
Ingles 2017
Portuguese 2019(Lisbon to Porto)
I hiked the Camino Frances in 2016 with boots the whole way...had nasty blisters from about day 3 to day 17...After Leon my feet toughened up, however I made the switch to Hoka Ones when I did Porto to Santiago in 2017, and Lisbon to Porto last year....also used them for hiking portions of the John Muir Trail in the Sierras...Love them...I always thought I would need a hiking boot to avoid rolling my ankles but the trail runners are great...of course I started wearing silk liners with hiking socks so that is probably another reason why I haven't had blister problems the last couple of big hikes...I finally tossed them this year and replaced them with another set of Hokas, which unfortunately and sadly are sitting new and unused in the box...everyone once in a while I think they are calling to me...wanting to get to a Camino as much as I do...
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2020? Looks like.... nowhere! 😁
I have tried many over various Caminos and walks throughout Tasmania but my favourite are Hokas.

My favourites now too and I have worn lots of others. BUT it doesn’t mean anything, for instance that make doesn’t suit my husband because the fit is too narrow (apparently). The only thing that matters - as others have already pointed out - is what fits your feet best.
 

Antonix101

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Newby getting ready for Camino Portugues
I got hoka bondi 6 as my friend who did Portuguese camino from Lisbon recommended them and they felt really good trying them on. I got half size up and wide to alow me space for swelling. They are very cushioned and that's a life saver on cobblestones...keep in mind to adjust backpack weight to runners you choose as more cushion and super wide might not be a good match for heavy backpack. I took them for a 30km city to city walk and i absolutely love them. Also, Bondi 7 is just out so you might find a good deal on 6 now... merino wool socks are great choice for long walks and the lightest ones work really well with any hokas.
 

Moorwalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
The Saint's Way, Cornwall
I always thought I would need a hiking boot to avoid rolling my ankles

Someone keeps records of what foot wear people use on the Appalachian Trail in the USA and there is no difference in the number of ankle injuries between those who wear trail runners and those who wear low boots. For ankle protection you need a proper high boot.
 

Tingeling

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (March 2016)
Camino Portuguese (April/May 2017)
Camino Frances 2021
For people with wide feet - Hoka bondi 6 wide version is veryvery good for trekking in dry weather (they also dry very fast). I used Hoka Bondi 6 in 1.5 size larger than my normal size for trekking - and I also have some for work. I also bought the mens' wide version as it is slightly wider than the womens' version. Perfect on roads and paths like the Camino Portugues.

I recently ordered and got Bondi 7 that has a memory foam in heel-area - and is meant to be slightly more durable than Bondi 6 - but feels almost the same - I have only used it for walks in the woods as I got it a few days ago.
I also have bunion on one foot (hallux valgus) - and the wide version for men works well with that without getting blisters or feel pain. Still, as I see it - the best to use for wet and snowy winter camino (frances) was the Hanwag Alta bunion lady GTX (goretex). Fantastic feel with extra room for the bunion - the boots doesn't look fancy, but I like the look and most importantly - I had dry feet all way and no blisters and changed socks a few times every day. So - thats an advice for peole with wide feet and bunion(s).
Good luck on your desicion!
 

Lady M

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
September - October (2019)
Hello. I am VERY confused and not a little obsessed with reading reviews about trail runners. I’ll be grateful if you can help to end my torment 😀

I’m used to wearing hiking boots but they’re too sweaty for a May/June Camino Frances (just SJPP to Belorado). I have knee/joint trouble so trying trail runners makes sense. I plan to break them in during a walking holiday in the Scottish Highlands this month, then use them for weekend walks through the winter too.

I have to use an orthotic insert to raise my arches so will need to put this in whatever I buy. My understanding is that all of the shoes I’m considering will be fine with an orthotic, but maybe there are also some differences?

And my main question... I initially looked mostly at both the Brooks Cascadia and the Brooks Caldera. Most are out of stock in my size, though, and I’ve read poor reviews about their durability. Im confused because the Caldera has better cushioning but the Cascadia is more popular, and I don’t know why. After reading about these, I then repeatedly convince myself that the natural toe width of the Altras would surely be better. I have quite narrow feet (I’m a petite 5ft tall woman) but in the past have had black toe on my little toe in my hiking boots, although never yet a blister.

I suspect that the Altra’s flat sole—the zero drop—might not be good for my knees. If I did consider Altras, I don’t understand why so many people wear the Altra Lone Peaks—for the Pacific Crest Trail as well as the Camino—when the Altra Olympus offers more cushioning and still good traction/stability. Can you shed light on this? Is the Lone Peak actually really well cushioned?

Also Hokas... and… others… and I can’t get to a shop to try anything on because my family is shielding.

Any light-casting on the above mess of uncertainty will be very much appreciated! 😀🙏
I walked the camino last year and wore Salomon’s X-Mission 3. I broke my ankle in three places in 2010 and also wear an orthotic. I liked the fit and weight of the shoe. They are not waterproof. Another big selling point for me is the lacing system on the shoe. This year I had planned to walk again and needed to replace my shoes. I stuck with Salomon and switched to the Speedcross 5 W trail runner. So far I like them very much. I tried other brand (I’m not familiar with the ones you mentioned) and again the lacing system is what tipped my decision. I bought my shoes from REI and then bought a back up pair from amazon. REI has an excellent return policy. They will take anything back within a year no matter how much wear and tear. Good luck and buen Camino!
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
Someone keeps records of what foot wear people use on the Appalachian Trail in the USA and there is no difference in the number of ankle injuries between those who wear trail runners and those who wear low boots. For ankle protection you need a proper high boot.
I think you may be referring to this site, but their conclusion is that trail runners are preferable, and this view is backed up by many others: https://thetrek.co/appalachian-trail/top-footwear-appalachian-trail-2019-thru-hiker-survey/.
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
I walked the camino last year and wore Salomon’s X-Mission 3. I broke my ankle in three places in 2010 and also wear an orthotic. I liked the fit and weight of the shoe. They are not waterproof. Another big selling point for me is the lacing system on the shoe. This year I had planned to walk again and needed to replace my shoes. I stuck with Salomon and switched to the Speedcross 5 W trail runner. So far I like them very much. I tried other brand (I’m not familiar with the ones you mentioned) and again the lacing system is what tipped my decision. I bought my shoes from REI and then bought a back up pair from amazon. REI has an excellent return policy. They will take anything back within a year no matter how much wear and tear. Good luck and buen Camino!
So many times, I wish we had something like REÍ in the U.K.; there are some shops that have similar policies but really nothing as comprehensive and as flexible.
 

Natcats

Veteran | author | graphic designer | walker
Camino(s) past & future
Chemin des Outaouais (2014)
Le Puy 1 of 2 (2015)
Le Puy 2 of 2 (2022)?
Camino Francés (2022)?
Hello. I am VERY confused and not a little obsessed with reading reviews about trail runners. I’ll be grateful if you can help to end my torment 😀
I have hiked for years in big military boots and I swore as soon as I could, I'd wear lighter shoes. I personally wear road runners with a wide toe box. It’s been my personal experience that I need cushion and lightness of feet more than the protection afforded by a more built-up shoe like a trail runner. I don't wear hiking boots so don't have an opinion on them.

Currently, I walk/hike in Topo Athletic Magnifly 2 (they’re up to Magnifly 3 now). I bought and used at home a pair of Hoka One One Bondi 6 a few months ago and returned them to the store. I found them to be, I don't know, flimsy? And slippery, very slippery! Cushion was amazing though.

That said, I would love to try on a pair of Altra because they have that big toe box that I like. They seem less cushiony than the ones I have now, but with a thicker/softer insole, maybe? The Escalante and Paradigm seem to have massive cushioned soles and only weigh 260g. My Magnifly weigh 235g, so that's my range.

Over the years, I have developed Morton’s neuromas on both feet from wearing too-narrow footwear in my civilian life, so I have become a bit paranoid with shoes. Some people are with backpacks, me, it’s shoes.;)

Have you ever visited Outdoor GearLab? They have wonderful reviews of pretty much everything. Good luck!
 

Natcats

Veteran | author | graphic designer | walker
Camino(s) past & future
Chemin des Outaouais (2014)
Le Puy 1 of 2 (2015)
Le Puy 2 of 2 (2022)?
Camino Francés (2022)?
I recently ordered and got Bondi 7 that has a memory foam in heel-area - and is meant to be slightly more durable than Bondi 6 - but feels almost the same - I have only used it for walks in the woods as I got it a few days ago.
Oh, I'd be very interested in knowing how you find the Bondi 7. Like you, I bought men's Bondi 6 for my duck feet (narrow heel, wide forefoot) but sadly found them too slippery. And somehow flimsy? I didn't trust the build of them. Was this your experience? I exchanged them for a pair of Topo Athletic Magnifly (in men's, too) and LOVE those. Not the same walking-on-a-cloud as Bondi, I'm sure ☁
 

Betsy Blackburn

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Fall 2017
Hi,
I walked Camino Norte 2017 in Altra paradigms with orthodics and had no problems. I too bought a full size larger and used compeed when necessary. The one thing I would do in the future is send a second pair to a nice hotel halfway through the walk. By the last 100 KMs my feet started to hurt. Good luck and Buen Camino.
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
I have hiked for years in big military boots and I swore as soon as I could, I'd wear lighter shoes. I personally wear road runners with a wide toe box. It’s been my personal experience that I need cushion and lightness of feet more than the protection afforded by a more built-up shoe like a trail runner. I don't wear hiking boots so don't have an opinion on them.

Currently, I walk/hike in Topo Athletic Magnifly 2 (they’re up to Magnifly 3 now). I bought and used at home a pair of Hoka One One Bondi 6 a few months ago and returned them to the store. I found them to be, I don't know, flimsy? And slippery, very slippery! Cushion was amazing though.

That said, I would love to try on a pair of Altra because they have that big toe box that I like. They seem less cushiony than the ones I have now, but with a thicker/softer insole, maybe? The Escalante and Paradigm seem to have massive cushioned soles and only weigh 260g. My Magnifly weigh 235g, so that's my range.

Over the years, I have developed Morton’s neuromas on both feet from wearing too-narrow footwear in my civilian life, so I have become a bit paranoid with shoes. Some people are with backpacks, me, it’s shoes.;)

Have you ever visited Outdoor GearLab? They have wonderful reviews of pretty much everything. Good luck!
Outdoor Gearlab… yes, I’ve been reading their site a lot 😬 🙏

I’m interested in particular in your using runners without problems on the type of terrain of the Camino. When I spoke with Brooks, the advisor said her instinct was that their Adrenalin GTS would suit me best because they’re very supportive and cushioned, and even though they are runners, but she also advised that she doesn’t know about trails so I should speak to their tech advisors about that aspect. I wasn’t sure how big an issue not having the best grip might be. The last multi-day walk injury I had was from slipping on gravel so I’m cautious, but also suspect that like you, the lightness and cushioning, as well as general comfort, will be most important.

Update... I haven’t received the Hoka Speedgoats yet (not sure how they’d compare with Bondi). The half size up Cascadias did arrive and are very comfortable but I’m waiting for the full size up to arrive to compare them (I think I’ll need the full size up because when I kick, my toe is near the end, although otherwise they’re like gloves). I also thought they might have been more cushioned than they are. Super-stable, though.
 
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Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
I used Brooks Ariel as they seemed to be the most comfortable during my training walks. Would have preferred the wide toe box of the Altra Lone Peak, but was concerned about the zero drop. Sometimes it seemed like my knees were a bit sore after a training walk. Perhaps this would have diminished if I'd done more walking in them. Brooks Cascadia were recommended by a gal who has worn them for thousands of miles of hiking all over the world. I liked them but chose the Ariel over them. I also tried Hoka Speedgoat. No complaints there; I just decided on the Brooks Ariel.

Find footwear that fits, is comfortable, and does not cause problems. That's the boot, sandal or shoe you wear regardless of whatever else you learn from others. Your feet will make the decision for you. Best wishes.
Could you tell me more about the Brooks Ariel? I had some Cascadia delivered and like them but am waiting on a slightly larger size in them, and wonder whether they’re cushioned enough. They feel so stable though! I also tried a pair of Hokas that weren’t suitable because of my knees but which were more cushioned than the Cascadias. It’s caused me to start considering the Ariels but before I pay out on ordering a pair I’d like to know more from someone who’s actually held a pair and worn them. I say this largely because I can’t order many more pairs (waiting on refunds… bank balance not too happy!).
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
I used to wear Brooks Cascadia but my foot doctor recommended Brooks Ariel instead for arch support. She has me remove the factory inserts and use an orthotic arch support inside the shoe as well. Her test for arch support: hold the shoe perpendicular to the ground and press the toe against the ground as hard as you can. Only the toe should bend, not the middle of the shoe. Cascadia bends in the middle while Ariel only bends at the toe. Both have the wide toe box and though Ariel is a running shoe, it grabbed the trail better than my Cascadias. SJPDP to Finesterre no problema. ✅
I wonder whether you could answer the same question I asked @JanelMcB above! I’m interested in the Ariels.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Not the Ariels, but last October I walked about 200 km, wearing Brooks Ghost 11s with my custom orthotics. They come in Wide, which is important to me. They already had about 800 km on them, so I think the cushioning and grip were less than ideal. Even so, I was very happy with them, so next time I will start my camino with a new pair. I am not sure what kind of grip would help much to prevent slipping on gravel, but slipping is certainly a concern to me. The Ghost 11s probably had better traction than a typical road runner, and I was satisfied with it. You will encounter almost every type of surface condition, so it is not possible to find a single best shoe for all purposes.
 

Shona

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2018)SJPP to Santiago Sep/Oct 2018
Hi, Lhollo,
I walked SJPP to SdC in Hoka Speedgoats Sept/Oct 2018 and, for the last hour or so of walking would take shoes and socks off and change into sandals. Just ordinary Regatta walking sandals with a good grip. The only blister I had was a tiny one on top of one of my toes and it had gone in a couple of days. The days were usually hot and I’m sure changing into sandals made a big difference, my feet sure appreciated it and so did I.
Like you, I enjoyed reading the sound advice of the Peregrinos on this site before doing the Camino and learnt a huge amount from the wisdom here. Still do!
We’ve been having some good weather here in Scotland which I hope you are enjoying. Hope the midges haven’t found you.
Buen Camino!
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
Update: I’m not having much luck so far. Can you recommend other options that have particularly good arch support along with cushioning and grip?

To summarise, I’ve ordered and tried:
  • Brooks Cascadia 14, UK size 5.5
  • Brooks Cascadia 14, UK size 6
  • Hoka Speedgoats.
  • I also have a pair of Brooks Caldera on the way, size 6, direct from Brooks so I can test those outdoors, unlike the others.
  • I’ve ordered a pair of Altra Olympus 4.0… out of desperation. 😂
Results so far

Brooks Cascadia 14, UK size 5.5: fit like gloves and feel really nimble but when I kick, my toes are against the end so I figure I need more toe space. I wish there was just a bit more cushioning.

Brooks Cascadia 14, UK size 6: I expected these to be a perfect fit but my feet seem to want to roll in in them, not sure why because I use the same orthotic all the time and the half size down don’t have this problem. The heel is slightly loose if I don’t pull the laces tight. At one point I felt that the ankle part may rub my ankle bone over time.

I’ve tried these pairs both with my own insoles as well as their own, and without theirs, and also with various lacing configurations. The smaller size only fit if I remove their insole, the larger size just fit differently. I’ll keep returning to them because they are close to being right and I’m testing them over time: when my feet are hot/more or less swollen, and with and without a backpack. It’s hard to test them really well because I can’t go outdoors in them.

Hoka Speedgoat: I sent these back quite quickly because my foot was rolling in, even with the orthotics. Now I’m wondering whether I was hasty and maybe need to try different orthotics, even though my physio has approved my own and I use them all the time.

I’m hoping the Brooks Caldera will work out but if they don’t… not sure where to look next. Do you have any further thoughts, in light of this update?
 
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Turga

Camino tortuga
Camino(s) past & future
CF (Aug/Sep 2017)
CF (Aug/Sep 2018)
Do you have any further thoughts, in light of this update?

I won't give any recommandations as we are all different and have different preferences. I can say that I personally have had good experiences with
the New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro. They are well cushioned (but not too much so they feel 'mushy') and have good Vibram outher soles. They have a medium+ width toe box and a good heel grip. They are quite sturdy; I have walked more than 1000 km in mine and there are still some distance left in them. Perhaps worth a try?
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
I won't give any recommandations as we are all different and have different preferences. I can say that I personally have had good experiences with
the New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro. They are well cushioned (but not too much so they feel 'mushy') and have good Vibram outher soles. They have a medium+ width toe box and a good heel grip. They are quite sturdy; I have walked more than 1000 km in mine and there are still some distance left in them. Perhaps worth a try?
Thank you. I understand about recommendations being impossible, but I appreciate the information about what’s suited you and the reasons for that. I’ll bear these in mind as options because they do sound possible for me.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
I wore lightweight ASICs happily for a couple of 800km caminos, before I swapped to sandals. Good cushioning, good grip, and they lasted the distance. I have a narrow heel and a very wide forefoot, if that is any help (like a duck).
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
I'm with @Kanga about Asics - I went through many pairs as a runner and bought nothing else. But then I have the same kind of feet as she - a narrow heel, and a widewidewide forefoot. I've never walked a camino in them, always going with Keens. It sounds like your feet are narrower, so Keens might not suit you, but have you considered them?

I sent these back quite quickly because my foot was rolling in, even with the orthotics. Now I’m wondering whether I was hasty and maybe need to try different orthotics, even though my physio has approved my own and I use them all the time.
Probably not. Hokas are super cushioned - I found them squishy, and it felt like there was no motion control, which it sounds like you need. These two things have an inverse relationship - high motion control means less cushioning and vice versa.
I’m hoping the Brooks Caldera will work out but if they don’t… not sure where to look next. Do you have any further thoughts, in light of this update?
Well, I'll repeat my shout-out for Oboz. After Keen discontinued my favorite shoe, I tried something similar in their line-up last year but was not as happy with them. So I was a bit desperate too, and tried on a bunch of other brands - and did not like anything else as much as the Oboz (Sawtooth II low).
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
For me, getting a pair of well fitted shoes in a wider size, rather than going up a full size, works better. My feet swell but don’t get longer. I’ll go a half size bigger and 2e wide.
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia (May 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2017)
Camino Portugues (June 2019)
Those three are all good. Pick the one that fits the best.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
What shoe do you currently use for walking everyday at home?

options that have particularly good arch support
I think you want a neutral shoe, since your custom orthotic will provide the correct arch support.
The smaller size only fit if I remove their insole
I think it is normal to remove the manufacturer's insole before inserting a custom orthotic.

Brooks Cascadia 14, UK size 6: I expected these to be a perfect fit but my feet seem to want to roll in in them, not sure why because I use the same orthotic all the time and the half size down don’t have this problem. The heel is slightly loose if I don’t pull the laces tight. At one point I felt that the ankle part may rub my ankle bone over time.
What do you mean by roll? Sideways? Have you tried a thicker sock? I have had shoes where I was concerned with the looseness/movement on the heel but they turned out to be fine. Try wearing them all day at home, and see if you can forget about them.
 

DevereUx

Devereaux
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Sept-Oct 2018
I'll throw one more option out. I, like you, tried on many different pairs; most of those mentioned above. None worked for my feet and legs. As someone noted above, everyone's feet and legs are different.
I ended up wearing New Balance trail runners-Gobi 2. I had to get used to the color, but did the CF from SJPdP and no blisters or sprains. I had a second pair which I shipped to Leon for the last half.

1598151629272.jpeg
I still wear these shoes!!
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
What do you mean by roll? Sideways? Have you tried a thicker sock? I have had shoes where I was concerned with the looseness/movement on the heel but they turned out to be fine. Try wearing them all day at home, and see if you can forget about them.

Thanks for your points of focus, in your whole reply. Regarding the questions you asked here about ‘roll’, I thought I’d clarify that I mean that the arch support isn’t quite enough, even with my orthotic. If I get this part of a shoe wrong it causes my knee to dislocate, and I tend to pick up on the feel of shoes like this quickly. But in the case of these larger Cascadias, I’m reluctant to give up on them yet, because I know that the smaller pair have good arch support. I’m going to try them with a larger insole (my current ones are up to size 5, not up to size 6). I wear thick socks already (Smartwool PhD usually) so adding more bulk there isn’t an option.
 

DevereUx

Devereaux
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Sept-Oct 2018
Oh, and on those Gobi-2's, I went up one size. your feet will flatten over the miles.
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia (May 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2017)
Camino Portugues (June 2019)
Oh, and on those Gobi-2's, I went up one size. your feet will flatten over the miles.

Then you want em wider, not just longer. If you have wide feet, the Altra Lone Peaks are good (the other Altras, at least in the past, were not wide enough for me).
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
Update:

(Edit to the update…
the below, which I wrote earlier, needs to be read in the context of what’s happened since, which is that my knees have been inflamed and going out of joint all day, and I’ve been in denial about the Altras being the cause of this. So, it’s all actually just a sad romance…)…

I am in love with the Altra Olympus 4! I hadn’t expected the zero drop to work out for me but these are are sooo comfortable: cushioned but not unresponsive, my feet feel naturally positioned in them, everything seems to fit as it should.

All this being said, I still need more arch support, not because my feet are uncomfortable but because I can feel my knee starting to slip. I absolutely don’t want this to be a deal-breaker with the Olympus because I haven’t ever felt shoes this perfect in terms of everything else.

I usually wear these Wellbeing-Pro 11 insoles with high arch support. Wondering whether these Superfeet Green insoles will be even higher or just more expensive 😂 Have any of you found insoles with very high arch support? Maybe there are good cheap options?

Yesterday, I had concluded that the Brooks Cascadia 14 size 6 were probably the ones for me, because they’re comfortable with the new insoles I ordered in the correct size and are supportive too, but they’re nothing like these Altras in terms of feeling like bouncy foot-gloves.

The Brooks Adrenaline 20 GTS also arrived and are wonderfully cushioned in a soft but not squishy way, but don’t feel sturdy enough for long walks, and when I add the weight of a pack, the cushioning somehow just feels compressed, and the responsiveness of the Cascadia seems preferable.

I’m still waiting on the Brooks Caldera 4 (direct from Brooks and being shipped from Germany… not the fastest but hey ho, it is what it is given the current situation and they seem really good in terms of customer service).

I’ll be wearing the Olympus for much of the day. Hoping my knees behave themselves 🍀

(I just want to add that I don’t want these posts to seem self-absorbed… I’m hoping that maybe this thread will help other people too).
 

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Theresa Brandon

Artist, photographer, dreamer
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Inglés (2018), Camino Ingles (from La Coruña, 2019), Camino Portugues (2020)
Try Hoka Challenger, with Tread Labs insoles, either high arch or extra high arch.
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Have any of you found insoles with very high arch support? Maybe there are good cheap options?
I got some that had little inserts that you can switch out depending on your arch height.
Check these out:
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I have to use an orthotic insert to raise my arches so will need to put this in whatever I buy.
As I understand it, you purchase a ready-made insole. My feet have high arches and a lot of mobility. I use an "orthotic" that is custom-made from a mold of my feet, so that I get exactly the arch support that I need. Unfortunately, they are quite expensive, and they are not useful for everybody. However, I have found that they help my feet significantly. Given your more serious situation, have you consulted with your doctors to see if custom orthotics might be appropriate?
 

Pablo37

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012 SJPP to Santiago (75th birthday!); 2017 SJPP to Pamplona (80th birthday!); thinking of 2021!
Hello. I am VERY confused and not a little obsessed with reading reviews about trail runners. I’ll be grateful if you can help to end my torment 😀

I’m used to wearing hiking boots but they’re too sweaty for a May/June Camino Frances (just SJPP to Belorado). I have knee/joint trouble so trying trail runners makes sense. I plan to break them in during a walking holiday in the Scottish Highlands this month, then use them for weekend walks through the winter too.

I have to use an orthotic insert to raise my arches so will need to put this in whatever I buy. My understanding is that all of the shoes I’m considering will be fine with an orthotic, but maybe there are also some differences?

And my main question... I initially looked mostly at both the Brooks Cascadia and the Brooks Caldera. Most are out of stock in my size, though, and I’ve read poor reviews about their durability. Im confused because the Caldera has better cushioning but the Cascadia is more popular, and I don’t know why. After reading about these, I then repeatedly convince myself that the natural toe width of the Altras would surely be better. I have quite narrow feet (I’m a petite 5ft tall woman) but in the past have had black toe on my little toe in my hiking boots, although never yet a blister.

I suspect that the Altra’s flat sole—the zero drop—might not be good for my knees. If I did consider Altras, I don’t understand why so many people wear the Altra Lone Peaks—for the Pacific Crest Trail as well as the Camino—when the Altra Olympus offers more cushioning and still good traction/stability. Can you shed light on this? Is the Lone Peak actually really well cushioned?

Also Hokas... and… others… and I can’t get to a shop to try anything on because my family is shielding.

Any light-casting on the above mess of uncertainty will be very much appreciated! 😀🙏
I did the Southwest Coast path In 2017. Bought Hoka and pleased. I prefer the fabric boot rather than leather. I wear Hoka running shoes routinely and would never buy anything else! I love them. Hoka web site will mail to you.
buen Camino, Pablo
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
As I understand it, you purchase a ready-made insole. My feet have high arches and a lot of mobility. I use an "orthotic" that is custom-made from a mold of my feet, so that I get exactly the arch support that I need. Unfortunately, they are quite expensive, and they are not useful for everybody. However, I have found that they help my feet significantly. Given your more serious situation, have you consulted with your doctors to see if custom orthotics might be appropriate?
The reason is because my physio and consultant both actually approved this type for me and they have kept my knees in place for three years now (I couldn’t walk unaided in 2017 but now do long hikes and can even bounce around a bit so something is working!). I did ask about having custom ones made but they suggested it wasn’t necessary because the ones I use are fine. Because of this, it seems strange that the shoes I’m trying now aren’t working well with my insoles, but I suppose this may be connected to my sizing up in anticipation of foot swelling etc, and to give my toes more room. I really don’t want to return to wearing my hiking boots which are my usual solution and ok in the colder U.K. but which are heavy and hot for Spain. Plus, surely, surely I will find something that will work, it can’t be that hard! 😃

You asked earlier about what I wear at home, and the answer is these Hi-Tec hiking boots for walks, these attractive orthotic flip flops around the house, or North Face camp slippers with 3/4 size orthotics, and LA Gear gym shoes, lightweight type Doctor Martens, etc, for other outdoor stuff, all again with my orthotic insoles.

Thanks for your ongoing thoughts and help, I appreciate it!
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Maybe you are a case where hiking boots instead of shoes is the best idea. For May-June, it might be better to have non-waterproof ones, which are likely to be less hot and sweaty. Or, consider different socks. I usually wear wool socks around home, but for long walks I find that thin synthetic ones are less likely to cause blisters on my feet.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
Three camino so far, and I've combined Keen boots with Keen sandals for each one. My feet are ageing though, and I have some arthritis starting in my right foot. It's not horrible, but I noticed that my boots were not helping much and that my sandal straps could be aggravating to my out joints.
I'm a big fan of Efren Gonzales' videos and noticed that for his Francigena he chose Altra Lone Peaks and that his foot structure is similar to that of mine, and of my husband's.
I was very lucky to find a pair of Lone Peak 4.5's in my size on a discount site here in Canada (The Last Hunt for any Canucks out there -- it's great).
I've not gone on more than a 15K day with them yet just because I'm busy, but I've been very impressed and I think I would happily take them on a warm-weather camino.
I have a pair of Scarpa trail shoes too, but they are now just my "city sneakers" because I find the sole a bit unforgiving for longer treks.
I agree that you have to know your own foot, and choose your own gear to suit. I absolutely cannot wear a Vasque boot, and my Merrils are an emergency back-up that I'd rather not wear.
As a point of reference though, comments can help.
Here for your information is the information about my feet:

age: 53
size: 6.5 women's
width: extremely narrow heel, wider toe
Medium instep width and high arch.

I seem to be the only person on the forum who *down-sized* for hiking. I used to wear a size 7 dress-shoe (before camino changed my aesthetic). I probably still wear that size, but I rarely put on heels anymore.

All of my hiking footwear is 6.5.

I had one minor blister early in my first camino (near Estella, I think). I ditched some things I did not need, and had no more troubles). My pack weight now starts the trip at about 11% of my bodyweight and even though I dump stuff from my pack, it usually is about 14% of my bodyweight by the end.

Zero blisters on my second one.

1 blister on my third because I was carrying a heavier winter pack that was more like 14% of my weight at the start.

Blister prevention seems to have more to do with how dry and protected from chafing your feet are than strictly about the fit of your shoes. I will say that shoes that are too big create a lot more friction than a shoe that holds your foot firmly in place.

The nurse in Cizur Menor who runs the albergue with footsore teaches those with feet that lean toward the sweaty to put panty liners in their boots. That seems an excellent idea. Other helpful things:

Change your socks, and wear hiking specific socks. My favourites are Icebreakers and Wright "no blister" double layered socks.

Use a non-chafing stick applied to your feet before you put on your socks. I really like the Compeed stick, but in Canada I buy Life Brand Diabetic foot care, or the GLIDE foot stick.

And because my toe that gets the minor blister is inclined that way because it did not set properly after being broken many years ago, I now wrap it in hiker's wool. The wool is expensive and I can only order it in from New Zealand, but one pack lasts me about 400km.

Hope this information is helpful.

I danced "en pointe" as a young person and that is why I have some arthritis now, but I was taught to care for my feet above all when spending my clothing budget. A poorly fitting dress won't break your back... but bad shoes will destroy your life. Same thing applies with hiking. footwear and the pack are key. Everything else is "nice to have".
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
Whatever footwear sock combination you contemplate or decide upon you will never truly know if it is the right one until you walk several minimum five to ten kilometre walks while wearing them. Advice and discussions simply doesn't matter until your feet hit the ground.
 

GaTeach

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP to SdC 2017,
Considering same route in 2021 after swearing NEVER AGAIN.
Thanks for the gouge! My Cascadias came in last night and I'm wearing them today with some extra thick socks!
I ordered them a full size up and yay! for Brooks for having women's 11.5. Very unusual.
 

Iriebabel

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2018
Camino Del Norte & part of Lebaniego 2019
Extremely high arch and regular width foot 7.5 (38 European) using Merino wool injinjii toe socks or Wright socks merino wool socks. 4 surgeries left knee (heavy custom knee brace) and now 2 surgeries right heel/foot

First camino I used Lowa Innox https://www.lowaboots.com/womens/all-terrain-sport. Great shoe no blisters but I needed more cushion due to my foot/knee issues . I would recommend these But On the camino Norte I used the HOKA One One Tor Hi and they are amazing, could not have walked without them with a very bad heel spur and plantar faciitis

Fast forward 2 foot surgery since January last one In June, the removal of the bone spur as of today I am still on crutches, twice a week physio... the bone and surgical incision heals slowly and definitely not looking forward to possible another knee surgery as recommended bu the podiatrist and the physio but will know more next week on this. When it rains it pours down in buckets....

Maybe in another 3 weeks I will be able to walk without the use of said crutches. Surgical Incision is still healing So cannot wear closed shoes but you can see below these feel really good and unnoticeable pain standing on the right leg without my crutches. I will use my own inserts due to my ultra high arches and foot/knee issues but this is a viable option for anyone who needs More cushion in a lower Trail runner shoe And balanced stability. I prefer the Hoka One One Tor for camino due to the ankle support but they no longer make them I think they were replaced with the HOKA Kaha gore-tex So this will be my replacement when needed for the camino..

Find what suits your needs and your foot best !!! But yes i would recommend these

HOKA Stinson ATR6 trail runners.
B213C9CC-1B87-4AD7-8CDF-6828DA54B1E1.jpeg
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
@Iriebabel, I love Hoka One One's. In addition to walking on marshmellows/pillows, they had very good grips on wet rocks for me on the Le Puy route. I did notice another person on this thread did not think they worked as well on wet rocks...our opinions are as varied as the wind.
 
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Iriebabel

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2018
Camino Del Norte & part of Lebaniego 2019
@Iriebabel, I love Hoka One One's. I adoion to walking on marshmellows/pillows, they had very good grips on wet rocks for me on the Le Puy route. I did notice another person on this thread did not think they worked as well on wet rocks...our opinions are as varied as the wind.
The Hoka One One Tors worked great for me Especially with all my foot and knee issues and I had to scramble quite a few times on the Norte (alternatives)
yes depends on the feet and depends on the style Of the shoe also.. These Stinson ATR 6 trail runner had great reviews and I decided Going away from the Bondi 6 because some reviews said they were slippery. The Hoka speedgoat and Clifton don't have enough marshmallow. This will be used For daily use as rehab for me, Therapy to get walking again. Normally I use Birkenstock’s as Florida is too hot for non sandal use But i need a bit more Cloud action hugging my arch On the surgery foot at the moment. I prefer the hi tops for hiking gives protection from ankle rolls. I am In love with HOKA And so are my feet
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
The Hoka One One Tors worked great for me Especially with all my foot and knee issues and I had to scramble quite a few times on the Norte (alternatives)
yes depends on the feet and depends on the style Of the shoe also.. These Stinson ATR 6 trail runner had great reviews and I decided Going away from the Bondi 6 because some reviews said they were slippery. The Hoka speedgoat and Clifton don't have enough marshmallow. This will be used For daily use as rehab for me, Therapy to get walking again. Normally I use Birkenstock’s as Florida is too hot for non sandal use But i need a bit more Cloud action hugging my arch On the surgery foot at the moment. I prefer the hi tops for hiking gives protection from ankle rolls. I am In love with HOKA And so are my feet
"It's all about the feet". 🦶
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
Update: I’m about to leave this afternoon for the Cairngorms, Scotland, and am taking with me…

Altra Lone Peak 4.5
and Cascadia 14

Who’d have thought it? … That I should plump for the two most popular thru-hiking shoes 🤣

The Lone Peaks arrived two days ago and are, at last, perfect. 🌟 With my 2/3 size orthotics, they fit like slippers. I love how nimble my feet feel in them, that they have plenty of cushioning and are more stable than the Altra Olympus. They’re more stable also than the Brooks Caldera 4, which I tried outside and found wobbly on grassy slopes (thanks to Brooks 90 day no quibble guarantee and v helpful advisors).

I’m keeping the Cascadia 14s too, because the fit is so different to the Lone Peaks but they’re still comfortable. They feel to me more like an ordinary shoe, with quite firm support. They’re not quite as marshmallow nor as flexible as the Altra but do strike quite a balance with all these aspects and are comfy in a different way. I got them at a very good sale price so don’t feel too concerned about seeing how they compare with the Altras outside on longer walks.

My thinking is that I will use both shoes no matter what, but with some time to try out both on hikes I’ll have a better idea of which type will suit me in the longer term, both for my Camino and going forward for future years.

I may update this again after my Highland adventures.

Thank you again for all your input. This was actually a difficult process, because I couldn’t go to shops so had to rely on research and trial and error at home, and you’ve been brilliant on this forum!
 

Bohemiana

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
First Camino will be April 2015
Lots of comments but here's my two cents...

I wore Hoka shoes on my first Camino and I HATED them on the hills and mountain trails. For me, the height was very unstable. At that time in my life, I was an avid trail runner but I got plantar fasciitis while training for the Camino so I assumed more cushion would be better. Again, for me it was like walking in high-heeled shoes on mountain trails. Fortunately I brought a second pair of shoes on the Camino. However, I liked the HOKA on the concrete and flat parts of the Camino.

I have also worn Altra. I liked Altra but they are not durable. I have had three pairs and all of them fell apart at the seams between the sole and the upper, so I don't buy them anymore.

I currently have Nike trail runners that I use for hiking and they are like zero drop. I feel more stable the closer my actual foot is to the ground.

If you are in the United States, Roadrunner Sports allows you to try shoes for 90 days and then you can return them if you don't like them. I never buy running/hiking/walking shoes anywhere else. (You have to join their membership but it's totally worth it.)

I have only done two Caminos but I take two pairs of walking shoes just in case.
 

Suzanne H

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Baztan and Frances 2017, Le Puy 2018, Porto 2019
Lots of comments but here's my two cents...

I wore Hoka shoes on my first Camino and I HATED them on the hills and mountain trails. For me, the height was very unstable. At that time in my life, I was an avid trail runner but I got plantar fasciitis while training for the Camino so I assumed more cushion would be better. Again, for me it was like walking in high-heeled shoes on mountain trails. Fortunately I brought a

I have also worn Altra. I liked Altra but they are not durable. I have had three pairs and all of them fell apart at the seams between the sole and the upper, so I don't buy them anymore.

I currently have Nike trail runners that I use for hiking and they are like zero drop. I feel more stable the closer my actual foot is to the ground.

If you are in the United States, Roadrunner Sports allows you to try shoes for 90 days and then you can return them if you don't like them. I never buy running/hiking/walking shoes anywhere else. (You have to join their membership but it's totally worth it.)

I have only done two Caminos
Update: I’m about to leave this afternoon for the Cairngorms, Scotland, and am taking with me…

Altra Lone Peak 4.5
and Cascadia 14

Who’d have thought it? … That I should plump for the two most popular thru-hiking shoes 🤣

The Lone Peaks arrived two days ago and are, at last, perfect. 🌟 With my 2/3 size orthotics, they fit like slippers. I love how nimble my feet feel in them, that they have plenty of cushioning and are more stable than the Altra Olympus. They’re more stable also than the Brooks Caldera 4, which I tried outside and found wobbly on grassy slopes (thanks to Brooks 90 day no quibble guarantee and v helpful advisors).

I’m keeping the Cascadia 14s too, because the fit is so different to the Lone Peaks but they’re still comfortable. They feel to me more like an ordinary shoe, with quite firm support. They’re not quite as marshmallow nor as flexible as the Altra but do strike quite a balance with all these aspects and are comfy in a different way. I got them at a very good sale price so don’t feel too concerned about seeing how they compare with the Altras outside on longer walks.

My thinking is that I will use both shoes no matter what, but with some time to try out both on hikes I’ll have a better idea of which type will suit me in the longer term, both for my Camino and going forward for future years.

I may update this again after my Highland adventures.

Thank you again for all your input. This was actually a difficult process, because I couldn’t go to shops so had to rely on research and trial and error at home, and you’ve been brilliant on this forum!

I note that I’m coming in VERY late. I’ve worn Lone Peaks on three Caminos. Two lessons I’d like to share:
1-Practice, practice, practice. Put some miles on them before you go to assess how they affect your feet over miles. I’ve found they feel great until the end of a 20k day, especially on pavement. The last couple miles can be difficult
2- Pay attention to your ankles and calves. The zero drop can take a toll when/if you’re not accustomed to the new gait and you may find tightness in the calves and/or aches/tears in the Achilles.
Enjoy your trip!!
 

Mariy

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese Camino 2019
Yes, this is late but I used Altra Lone Peak 4 on my Camino with no issues. Socks are also very important, I got a blister not from my shoes but by wearing the wrong socks.

I was constantly looking at shoes worn in the Camino and I saw many wearing Salomon, Hoka One One and Merills.
 

Isca-camigo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Various ones.
I purchased the Olympus 2.5 in May 2018 at a sale price, I really liked it so took a chance on the Olympus 3.5 last November before my December Camino, it felt so comfortable. I have been living in both Altras for the last few months and they are looking a bit knackered now. So a few days ago I took a chance on the Timp2, I read the reviews and realised it has a smaller last than previous timps and most other Altras but thought I give it a go. It arrived today, I took out the insole and replaced it with the Olympus 3.5 one which has less thickness and I changed the lacing to a style that is more friendly to wider feet, no good, the Timp2 doesn't just have a little bit less width, volume and length it has considerably less and was less friendly to my deep foot volume and wide forefoot, so much that even just standing in them for a minute I realised that they would lead to tears. I returned them, I will probably buy the Olympus 4 in the run up to my Camino next year, if I can get a pair at my size. Like a poster said above he now lives in his Altras, leisure or work the same for me, I was hoping to use the timps for work and just knocking about.
 

BombayBill

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2017) GR10 TransPyrenees, Inland Portugese,(2018) Le Puy-Pamplona,(2019) Norte-Santander. Portugese
Interesting, I’ve done 4 walks in Lone Peaks over 4 different editions. 3,3.5,4 etc.

Love them, no blisters. I thought I’d try Altra TMPs at store, that lasted 2 minutes, way too tight. Back to Lone Peaks , fit like a glove.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Spring 2016: Camino Frances, Finisterre and Muxia
April 2019: Frances, Salvador, Primitivo
I too am an Altra person: I changed from Lone Peaks to Timps (1.5 in 2019) upon the advice of my sports/foot specialist. I've read reviews of the Timp 2's and I already know they are not for me, they would be too tight.

I'm not sure where to go from here. Plus, with winter coming and I've got my eye on a pair of snowshoes, I have no idea what to do about boots. I have a pair of Altras (3.5 gtx), but they are too tight as well. I asked them whether newer boots would be wider, they said it's the same last. And the boot reviews on the Altra website are not good.

Suggestions welcome.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2016; Mansill de las Mulas to Finisterre/Muxia 2017; Aragones 2018; Suso/Yuso, Meseta 2019
Priscilla, If you have not at least tried on the Timp 2.0 I suggest that you give it a try. I have worn both the Timp 1.0 and 1.5, size 7 on two Caminos and just last week bought a pair of 2.0 size 7, have worn them once already with back pack on natural path with some steep slippery elevation change. Of course we will each have a different experience, but so far the 2.0 works for me. On me they are not as sloppy across the top as the 1.5 though the length seemed a bit long.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Spring 2016: Camino Frances, Finisterre and Muxia
April 2019: Frances, Salvador, Primitivo
Thanks, Sparrow (in TX) -- I do have a very wide toe box, and so many reviews give the Timp 2.0 a negative review because it's narrower. I don't live anywhere near a retailer that sells these, but I am a member of REI and can return. So maybe I will give them a try. Thanks!!
 

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