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Waterproof Boots?

2020 Camino Guides

Anne-Marie S.

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
My husband and I leave for Porto in a month, and are nearly done with our preparations. I completed the Frances in 2017, and it is his first camino. We plan to start from Porto on the Senda Litoral and then shift over to the central after the first day. Can anyone advise on shoes? I wore waterproof hiking shoes on the Frances, and found that they were not necessary. I have purchased some very comfortable hiking shoes that are not waterproof this time, but an second guessing myself. Is it likely that we will run onto rain? I also will be continuing to Finisterre and Muxia. Might I need them then? Thank you!


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
addicted since 1999 (Aragones, CF), lots of caminos in Spain and Portugal since then
No need for heavy boots on CPor! The landscape is only hilly, cobblestone regarded the worst ground under your feet.

We don't have a weather forecast for End of June yet, but the general idea of summer in Portugal is dry and hot. Please check one or two days before you leave.
Even Galicia is not that rainy, though 8 days of precipitation in Santiago is more than in other regions at that time. If you are having a thunderstorm it's like flooding, but normal galician rain is light.
I'd not like to walk with sponge like sneakers in heavy rain, but shoes made with some repellent upper material (e.g leather) should be enough.


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portugues Central and Coastal 2017 & 2019; Portugues Interior, Sanabres, Fisterra & Muxia 2018
We plan to start from Porto on the Senda Litoral and then shift over to the central after the first day. Can anyone advise on shoes? I have purchased some very comfortable hiking shoes that are not waterproof this time. Is it likely that we will run onto rain?
June is typically dry and hot, so wearing waterproof shoes could be a waste there. On my first Camino from Porto at the end of Apr I had to put my waterproof Salomon in the backpack and carry them most of the way as was too hot and heavy for my feet even then, instead walked in no name city shoes most of the way, was better. Last June walked the Interior route from Viseu in June, we had rain for a week, but that wasn't typical for these parts, guess climate change is here. Regular non-waterproof trail runners do fine on any of the Portugues ways and they dry fast. By the way, you've posted it under Interior route - which is a totally different Camino as it starts in Viseu - Camino Portugues Interior, my favourite so far. Bom Caminho! :)


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C Franconia 2019
Camino desde Algeciras Sevillia (2019)
There are light membrane hiking shoes which help with wet feet. My mammut worked well we’re not to heavy in hot heater but protecting my feet and ankles. They transport the sweat 💦 out and keep the rain out.
Last year I was on the costal start of April three weeks rain, but at the Atlantic there is always a chance of changing wetter.
This year mixed rainy wetter on the south but inland hot from the very South of Spain. When you start it should be nice again.
But give yourself time to adjust to unfamiliar walking conditions. It takes a couple of days just like when you surfed first time. same with walking with you pack.
Bon Camino


New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances from SJPDP April 17 2017
Waterproof boots - Lowa are really good, but anything with goretex should work.
And man did I miss those last week on the Portugues when the forecast suddenly switched to "rain all week", I was ready to quit given my light merrells moab vent soak up water very quickly.
I still think your best bet is the merrels WITH goretex waterproof socks for a chance of rain. Plus a portable hairdryer to dry your shoes at stops. That way you are wearing light summer hiking shoes, if it starts raining your feet are still always dry and shoes can be dried quickly.

Jean Ti

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

Camino Portuguese november 2019
You might consider gaters too.


New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances from SJPDP April 17 2017
The good ones are too heavy to just carry around. And still the shoes will get wet in a good rain anyway.


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
Water can enter trail runner shoes, hiking shoes, or backpacking boots through any opening during a rainstorm, when walking through wet grass and brush, or drench into them if you walk through puddles or other standing water along the Camino.

There are two potential remedies to this problem, neither of which is always effective.
  • First, you can try keeping rain pants over the tops of shoes, so the water runs down the pants past the opening. But this system can be uncomfortably hot in warm weather during rain-soaked conditions. It offers no protection for puddles or having to cross water runoffs on the pathway.
  • You can try using a footwear with a waterproof gaiter or some other waterproof cobbles -- like thick plastic bags. I have not often seen a gaiter or other waterproof trapping that would both keep the water out and keep the feet dry.
“Waterproof” shoes are a misnomer for several reasons.
  • They can fail because the materials simply don’t work over the near and long term because it is difficult to apply and cover all areas of the footwear sufficiently.
  • The waterproof coating or laminate in the shoes does not last. Some manufacturers of the lightweight trail shoes, which are usually constructed as a hybrid of fabric and leather, have treated them with a coating which can quickly wear off. It also keeps sweat in the shoe and your feet get soaked in sweat. Fairly quickly, coatings break down and will no longer be waterproof.
  • Footwear which relies on a “Gore-Tex” style of waterproof/breathable laminate will break down through both wear and tear and dirt buildup on the material which renders it ineffective.
When I’ve tested so-called waterproof / breathable fabrics in shoes for various manufacturers, their actual performance never matched what was claimed. My reports to their QA departments have always reflected these weaknesses as found during testing. Sometimes a shoe will start the test period working fairly well under a narrow range of wet conditions, but as the testing progresses the failures increase.

Waterproof/breathable membranes, like Gore-Tex, are only marginally breathable — water vapor from perspiration does not pass through the fabric as efficiently as is claimed. It can't. Unlike outerwear, the shoe material radically inhibits the ability of the membrane to allow water vapor to escape, thereby trapping it in the shoe.

So, on warm days the experience of having sweat being trapped in the shoe is common. Combined with the fact that the fabric waterproofing is quickly damaged by dirt, sweat, grime, and abrasion and it’s only a matter of time before exterior moisture begins penetrating the fabric and allowing feet to get wet from outside moisture as well.

This is why most experienced trekkers and backpackers no longer go to great lengths to keep feet dry. They accept that when the weather is wet, feet will also get wet. Even the US military uses footwear for wet conditions which is not waterproof. The strategy is how to minimize any problems when feet are wet.

In working with folks new to backpacking who ask about waterproof footwear recommendations, I have asked why they wanted waterproof shoes. Sometimes, they will look at me as if I had spaghetti sticking out of my nose. Most will answer that they think their feet will stay dry, and that having wet feet is akin to getting into horrible trouble.

This post is meant to help inform, reassure, and give a different line of thought and reasoning to this issue.

I like to have dry feet. I always try to avoid wet feet. I have tried many ways to keep my feet dry:

  • “Waterproof” shoes, which, as I’ve said, don’t work well.
  • “Waterproof” socks, which don’t work for similar reasons: shoes still get wet, and feet soak with sweat. However – In cold weather these soaks can be the basis for using vapor barrier warmth conservation of the feet.
  • Wearing multiple pairs of socks, frequently changing from wet to dry, which eventually all get wet.
  • Carrying multiple pairs of shoes, which eventually all get wet, too.
I have never had total success at keeping my feet dry in very wet conditions, which led me to research what has been done to develop effective strategies. If I can’t keep my feet dry, then I need to try and eliminate or minimize the risk of any of the bad things that could occur to my wet feet when walking.

Some of these lessons I learned while in Vietnam…. Like the fact that our boots had fabric tops and numerous holes in the thin leather bottom portions so that water drained out quickly and never sat in the boots.

What are the most frequent and problematic 'bad' things?
  • Maceration is the medical term for pruning, where the skin’s outer layer absorbs a lot of moisture and gets “soggy” from that moisture. The skin gets sore and extremely soft which makes it more prone to blistering and developing other problems.
  • Cracking of the skin when the macerated feet dry. The natural moisture and oiliness of the skin is gone. The severity depends on how much stress the skin is exposed to after it is dried out.
So, what does work for me, and others, if I am going to be walking or backpacking in wet weather?
  • Apply a good, thick coating of a Goop (ointment or salve) to my feet and between toes before putting on socks and shoes in the morning. If rain occurs later in the day, then remove shoes and socks and do the same. This helps protect from external moisture.
Goop which has a high content of wax – either bee or paraffin – is most ideal, especially if it also has a high lanolin content.
  • Wear non-waterproof shoes which can drain and then dry out quickly. This minimizes the amount of puddling in the shoe that bathes the feet in moisture. Modern trail running shoes, and trail shoes often have nice open mesh fabric which is terrific for draining water.
Non-waterproof shoes will also eliminate moisture from sweaty feet. Remember, it doesn’t matter what the source of the moisture is that feet are exposed to: be it rain or sweat, each can cause the same problems.
  • Wear thin, light-cushioned merino wool socks, which don’t absorb as much water as thicker socks. Merino wool will also keep wet feet warm and comfortable in most seasons and temperature ranges, unless the weather is frigid winter-cold.
  • Take off shoes and socks to let feet air dry during rest stop that will be longer than 20 minutes.During this time, I will wring out any excess moisture from the socks, but I will not put on either of my dry pairs (I take three). I will also wipe off moisture on my feet and then reapply a goodly amount of Goop to my feet to help keep them from becoming macerated.
  • When stopping for the day, apply Goop to the bottoms of feet, both before and after showering.
  • Carry an extra pair of insoles. These insoles do not have to be your preferred “walking” insoles that you may have purchased separately. These can be the lightweight pair which came with your shoes. These will be the barrier between your wet footwear and your dry socks when you are done for the day and if your shoes are a bit damp come morning.
I find that at days end, I can remove the wet insoles and use absorbent paper or toweling to sop up as much moisture as is possible while I am showering and dealing with end of the day chores.

When I get ready to go to dinner or wander around town, I put on a pair of dry Merino wool socks, insert the extra pair of dry insoles into my shoes, and put the shoes back on to walk around in. This accelerates drying out the shoes. Depending on the shoe’s material, within a couple of hours the shoes are mostly dry.
  • At bedtime, I remove the insoles and stuff absorbent material into the shoes to continue the drying out process, if need be, during the night.
  • Apply more salve or ointment and wear dry and warm socks at while sleeping; this gives feet 8-9 hours of recovery.


Camino(s) past & future
St Jean to Burgos '17
St Jean to Fisterra '18
St Jean to Fisterra '20
Portuguese '20
Norte '21
Dave, you are an encyclopedia of outstanding information, always tempered by "this works for me and may not for you" I deeply appreciate your efforts here.



Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
Just as a hint - The original question was posted in MAY - The weather/climate is very different now ;-) BC SY

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