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What shoes type during full winter?

Febs

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
9 february
Hello everyone!

I am going to start on 9 February and I am still undecided about which shoes to use. Actually I have 2 types: normal hiking shoes (first pic) and alpine shoes (second pic).

The formers, which I am used to use during spring-summer-autumn, are very comfortable and should keep warm if paired with nice winter hiking socks; however, as you can see the pic, I am afraid they will break down very soon and they are not very waterproof anymore (they have more than 5 years).
The latters are newer (4/5 outings) and much more rigid than previous. I am used to wear them during alpinisme outings (they are cramponable shoes) or snowshoeing. They are excellent waterproof shoes and perfect in winter/snow conditions; however, I have never walked long trails with those shoes and I am afraid they will cause many blisters.

What shoes do you suggest to wear?

Reading the following thread https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/winter-walking-shoes.60780 I'm more inclined to bring the former because of flexibility, but I have seen from several nice pics in this forum in which there is snow in many places.
Should I bring both of them, thus additional weight in the backpack?

Thank you very muuuuch!
 

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If I had to choose I’d use the first; possibly with some (allegedly) waterproof socks. I categorically wouldn’t use a B2/3 rated boot designed to take a crampon. I’ve got a pair for climbing in sustained snow and ice conditions which are far more extreme than you will encounter. They’re not designed for long distance walking.

I would, personally, have bought a new pair of lightweight boots a couple of weeks ago; but that’s clearly not helpful.
 
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I walked the Camino in snow with no-longer-waterproof light hiking boots and found that I was fine as long as I kept walking or went indoors. My boots basically acted like a wetsuit -- my feet were wet but quickly warmed the water sloshing around inside. Just be sure to wear synthetic or wool socks and do your best to dry them out overnight. Mine definitely got stinky from being continuously damp but baking soda did the trick.

I would, personally, have bought a new pair of lightweight boots a couple of weeks ago; but that’s clearly not helpful.
This was my first thought as well and perhaps not entirely unhelpful. If you doubt your lightweight boots will make it all the way to Santiago, I suggest buying a new pair that you can break in along the way. Pamplona, Estella, Logroño, Burgos, León, and possibly other towns all have large outdoor equipment stores where you could look for replacement boots. I'd choose the weight of a second pair of shoes over the blisters of rushing the transition.

Lastly, the Camino francés has a lot of pavement, so if your midsoles (cushioning) are shot, I'd recommend insoles or getting new boots sooner rather than later. For me, the impact on the bottoms of my feet was by far the biggest challenge of the Camino.
 
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I wear the same brand as my summer trail runner Camino shoes with the same last. My winter Camino boots are mid-height gortex boots. Put newspaper in them at night to absorb any foot sweat. I wear La Sportiva. My husband wears Lowe Renegades which are also waterproof.
 
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Walking late autumn/winter I carried simple sandals for relaxing and wore Gore-tex lined hiking boots from Decathlon . Each pair easily lasted 2 caminos walking from SJPdP to Santiago plus either out to Finisterre/Muxia or down to the Portuguese border at Valenca do Mino. Thus the boots easily covered 2000 km before the sole showed wear.... Best of all I never had a blister.
 
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They both look good, though for 2-3 weeks I'd suggest the lighter pair, unless your doubts about waterproofing are more than just doubts. Overall, it's still dry in Southern Europe (forest fires near Perpignan right now), but the current weather is still wet over there on the Francès.

So I dunno, maybe take the mountain pair for as far as you get, then if you're planning to do the rest at a later date, bring the other pair or their identical replacement ?

Either pair looks like the right sort of boot for the Winter conditions.
 
I live in Ottawa, Canada. I did the Via in March/April last year. I trained for that Camino in January and February at temperatures up to -20C and in slush and I used the trail running shoes I walked with in Spain. I have also trained for marathons in the winter in normal running shoes. The action of hiking and running has always kept my feet warm even in the coldest conditions. I wouldn't let winter temperature or conditions affect my choice of footwear.
 
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If the Way over the Pyrenees is too snowy, you will be strongly urged not to go that route. You may be directed over the Valcarlos which is more protected weather-wise.
I would not use waterproof socks. Go for wool, of course!
I'd be inclined to go with the more broken in boots, and I like the suggestion of good insoles.
Do not take both.
 
If the Way over the Pyrenees is too snowy, you will be strongly urged not to go that route. You may be directed over the Valcarlos which is more protected weather-wise
The Napoleon route is closed between November and April, so there's no decision to be made - the Valcarlos way is the only option.
 
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Thank you everyone for useful suggestions!!
I will go definitely on the first pair of shoes, as most of you suggested.
I will bring myself in case of break down another pair of shoes which are barefoot and weight as slippers while looking for an outdoor equipment store (or alternatively I will keep these small shoes if they won't be so bad along the trail, since they are very comfortable)

The Napoleon route is closed between November and April, so there's no decision to be made - the Valcarlos way is the only option.
Where is Napoleon route located? Is it the fucsia-coloured route? Thus will I go for the grey track?

Screenshot_20230207-100218_Explore.png
 
My first Camino was in mid-May about a decade ago. I had planned to do the Napoleon but it was closed due to snow. So, I walked the Valcarlos. Although I've done both now, the Valcarlos has a special place in my heart. I walked from SJPdP to Roncevalles in one day on that first trip.

It was a gentle uphill, but it was uphill the entire day (until the very very end). I did take a purposeful detour or two without losing time or getting lost. The sound of the cowbells in the valley were too irresistible!

Many parts follow the road so there may be some traffic but nothing as dangerous as on other parts of the CF.

As an out-of-shape beginner, the Valcarlos was a wonderful first day on the Camino.

Buen Camino!! I'm excited and happy for you!

PS - What guidebook are you using? You DEFINITELY want to clarify where the routes are before you take off.
 
Thank you everyone for useful suggestions!!
I will go definitely on the first pair of shoes, as most of you suggested.
I will bring myself in case of break down another pair of shoes which are barefoot and weight as slippers while looking for an outdoor equipment store (or alternatively I will keep these small shoes if they won't be so bad along the trail, since they are very comfortable)


Where is Napoleon route located? Is it the fucsia-coloured route? Thus will I go for the grey track?

View attachment 141084

On this map it's the solid red line, while the dotted line is the (closed in winter) Napoleon route.

Screenshot_20230207-082828.png
 
Buen Camino!! I'm excited and happy for you!

PS - What guidebook are you using? You DEFINITELY want to clarify where the routes are before you take off.
Thank you very much! I'm very happy to start the camino, I've been wanting to do this for a long time.

I'm using an italian guide. Actually it talks about the Napoleon road but without showing the track. I have downloaded the track from a precious post found here.
 
Where is Napoleon route located? Is it the fucsia-coloured route? Thus will I go for the grey track?
The gray track is Route Valcarlos, but you will need to be careful. I note that closer to Roncesvalles, it splits, with one branch going in a more easterly direction. I suspect this will take you towards Ibaneta. The section of the Route Napoleon that you would then link up with may well still be closed. To avoid that, where the Route Valcarlos branches, continue in a southerly direction. It is not quite as clear on the image you have provided, where it is obscured by the pins, but it can be seen if you magnify the image a little.
 
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. Actually it talks about the Napoleon road but without showing the track. I have downloaded the track from a precious post found here.
But you won't be taking the Napoleon route in February, since it is closed.

Download a Camino app like Buen Camino or Wise Pilgrim and you will have GPS tracks of the entire route via Valcarlos.
 

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