What kind of footwear is best for the Camino de Santiago?

The question was:

…other sites say that hiking boots are overkill and that hiking shoes, or even a good pair of running shoes are sufficient. What do you think

Read all the good advice on hiking shoes or hiking boots on the camino de Santiago forum.

44 Replies to “What kind of footwear is best for the Camino de Santiago?”

  1. In my experience, i´ve walked the camino with hiking boots, very similar to those ones in the picture, and they worked very well for me. No blister, no pain.
    Those boots, were great in the mud and all kinds of diferent paths. And I think the protection of the ankle is very important.
    I would like to know the experience of someone who made the camino with a pair of running shoes. Where they good?

    best accomplishments


    1. I did the whole 800 km in trail runners. My feet became sore after 2 weeks on the camino. They were sore for about 18 months afterwards. My runners did not offer enough support for the weight I carried. I could feel every little rock on the ground. I survived the camino by taking naproxen every night while in Spain. I did not get blister and my ankles were fine. We had rain for 2 non-consecutive days. I did the camino in April/May.

  2. My humble opinion:
    I walked only the last two hundred km and the hiking boots was not necessary, heavy boots may even be a real burden.
    I wore the hiking boots first, but then switched to (good) trekking sandals later.

    Some light trekking shoes or even walking/running sneakers would be a better choice.

    buen camino 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience first of all.
      I have a good pair of sandals wich i use for my walkings in the summer and i would recommend them to.

      I was just wondering, if your experience of the camino was in the summer or if you had some experience in the rain.

      I would like to experience the camino with a pair of runningo shoes, but my fear is if it rains, that will mean a big cold for me because of the wet feet.

      best accomplishments


      1. I started my camino on october 2nd last year in St Jean PdP. I wore a pair of Merril hiking shoes (not boots) which were supposedly “waterproof” as they were made with Goretex material. Many days it rained, especially at the beginning in Navarra and then again in Galicia at the end. On most days, after walking less than half hour in the rain, my feet would be soaked, both because water would get in through the top even though i was wearing pants, and through the sides. I would arrive at my destination for the night with cold soggy feet and even sitting at a fireplace for an hour would not be enough to dry them (my feet and the shoes) completely. The next morning the shoes would still be damp causing problems. Damp feet=blisters. Ialso caught a cold with a bad cough at the beginning which was likely due to my cold wet feet. Sometimes you will also have to wash/scrub/wet your shoes at the end of the day in order to remove excess mud. This is something that was common for me. I remember everyone at the albergue in Pamplona washing their boots. If it rains, you will be walking through thick sticky mud!

        Whatever you do, make sure your shoes or boots ARE WATERPROOF!!! 

        By the way, I just bought a pair of shoes last night for my next Camino! Soon I will be back on the road following the yellow arrows! CAN’T WAIT!

  3. I made it from Astorga to Santiago with hiking shoes from Ecco and Salomon. My Ecco shoes were not watertight and my feet got wet in the mountian rain, also the side rubber was so low that it was sometimes abit difficult to cross through muddy patches. In Sarria I changed to a brandnew pair of Salomon, goretex and higher rubber around the edge. I swore I will never walk the with leather boots, I saw so many pilgrims who were cooking their feet (even in april) and terrible blisters. Of course boots must also fit, and perhaps people dont buy them large enough and wear them long enough before they walk the camino. But jumping into perfect fit technical footwear you don’t even need to walk them in. That is my best recommendation. The other thing is to listen to body signals (feet) even the tiniest irritation left unattended with probably cause bad damages after hours or days. Plus a third remark: Do attend properly to blisters and dont stick all kinds of tape and plaster on. Make a decent effort to groom feet every day, and wear correct socks for the season. I also recommend to pairs of thin socks (technical socks), and airing of feet and drying of socks once or twice every day during the breakes.
    Best of luck

    1. Do you really need a full uk size larger walking boot? I wear 6 to 61/2 and 71/2 seems enormous. Any ideas how to test this? Thanks Meg

  4. My choice is mid-range Meller Hiking boots but my wife did very well with her Solomons. I Walked with a pilgrim who did the whole Camino Portuguese (250km) on sandals, pretty much fallen apart with about fifty kms to go but it was his NO PAIN NO GAIN strategy. I would not do that to my feet but I respected his decision. For most of the path waterproof is not even a must for only the noses of my waterproof boots got a little wet on the rainy days I walked. I guess its better to have waterproof shoes than not having them!

  5. If you’re doing it between May and September the cooler the footwear the better. Lots of people wear sandals, though I would recommend extremely light, airy walking shoes as these keep stones out. You don’t need ankle support and you don’t need anything waterproof, but above all you want to keep your feet cool and not overheating as this is not only uncomfortable but also makes you more likely to get blisters. A lot of people wear trainers and are really happy with these.

  6. Hiking boots are overkill. A shoe like the Keen Ambler in mesh is perfect. Leather and nubuck will not dry out very fast if you get caught in the rain.

  7. My hiking boots killed me; way too heavy. Got more blisters tha ever. I couldn’t even think of a very much needed footmassage, sinse it was all blister. Chainged to pair of sandals halfway, and even with a hevy backpacks it was sublime compared to the hiking boots. This was in august.

  8. My experience: during my December/January Camino lightweight A/B category Hanwag Goretex boots, combined with gaiters and goretex trousers were fab. I walked 30km per day on average and the support was nice.
    In the evening remove the innersoles and let vent and dry out; usually ready by next mornings walk

  9. I agree that hiking boots are overkill – I did my first Camino (Frances) in a pair of trail-running shoes – I started it around the end of April, so it was still quite cold (sometimes close to 0 celcius in the mornings). These are basically running shoes with a sole that has better traction and is more wear resistant. They’re great because they dry quickly (no amount of gortex in a hiking boot will keep your feet dry on the camino), are light weight, and because of the mesh, they naturally expand as your feet swell (which they will, up to an extra shoe size). I found my feet were more than warm enough.

    I did the Camino Portuges (the 250KM – Porto to Santiago) in a pair of Chaco hiking sandles – They were comfy enough, no foot or joint pain at all, but I think my size was off a bit and I ended up with one nagging blister alot of the time. Also, a danger of sandles is that your feet, especially around your heels, will dry out and start to crack (to the point of bleeding) and become quite painful, so that’s something to consider. Also, as someone else noted, tiny pebbles will get in under your foot, which just drive you nuts over time, and really break your walking rhythm. On the upside, you get loads of compliments on how crazy you must be to walk in sandals 🙂

    1. I found that big pebbles cannot get under the foot, medium ones fall out from a little shake, small ones you need to take out once in a while – even if it is 10 times a day, it is much easier than lacing/unlacing/drying your feet when walking in boots. Finally, what really collects under a foot during a day of walk, is a small, sand like debris/grease. Against this, I glued a band-aid tape across my sole, just a bit south from the fingers.

  10. Mate, I’ve walked the whole Santiago way (The Camino Fracés) and in a couple weeks I’m gonna do it again… All you need is a pair of USED boots. If you buy them for the Camino, your feet will suffer ten times more.

  11. I started my walk in May with a pair of low top hiking shoes that I had been using on trails at home. My feet were covered in blisters within a few days on the Camino. I ended up buying Salomon hiking boots in Logrono. They were a bigger size which is important. They fit snuggly to my foot and the sole was stiff which was much better for the variety of trails on the Camino. So, buy shoes that are a size bigger than your usual size, a stiff sole and a snug fit around the foot.

  12. Well, although I haven’t walked the Camino, if I did I’d take three pairs of shoes: a pair of lightweight Asolo boots; a pair of lightweight trail runners like the New Balance minimalist with kevlar rock shields; and a pair of hiking sandals with toe coverage, probably Keens. The key is to mix it up on a very long hike since any shoe is going to create its own hot spots. But the desire to have variety has to be tempered by the desire to keep weight low; so each pair should be as light as possible. Besides, it’s not as if you’re doing Everest. No need to full leather uppers, heavy lug soles, etc.

  13. Good to see the “albergues” on teh Camino Francés. Remenber that was just the second one. The first St. James Way is the Primitive or North Way. By the time the grave was discovered Galicia as well as the whole northwest part of the Iberian Peninsula (Northern Portugal, León, Zamora, Northern Palencia, Northern Burgos, Cantabria, Basque Country and of course Asturias) belongued to the Asturian Kingdom. Asturian King Alfonso II the Chaste wanted to see what was discovered in HIS kingdom and went there. He was very religious. People started to imitate the king going along the Cantabrian Coast. Only centuries later did pilgrims start to go along the French Way, just when that area was also free from muslims. We would like to see information about the Primitive Way.

  14. This is a very personal thing, although MANY people that judge Hiking Boots maybe have never walked for day after day with pouring rain soaking up your feet when you are walking with a sports shoe…

    I have walked my first Camino in 2003 with some old hiking boots… It was kind of “ok”.

    In 2009, I walked all the way from SJPP to Muxia only with a Nike Sports shoes (the most common ones), and after 03 days of rain I made a promise to myself that I’d never walk it again without proper shoes that can overcome wetty weather, lots of mud, or ice and snow (if you walking during winter time).

    So, I’m leaving for my third Camino in 07 days, and it will be my first during winter.

    I bought some new nice hiking boots about 03 months ago… I had already broke them in when last week I noticed that I could see some glue showing on the right boot.

    Its a shame… I had to change with a new pair that I just got today… So I’m running against clock to break them in by next thursday (that, for me, means walking at least 60 kms on different types of terrain, wet or dry, and ALSO carrying extra weight with you when breaking them in).

    Most people suffer with boots for simple reasons, being some of them:

    – not knowing how to lace them properly (believe me, there are hundreds of different laces for hiking shoes, for different type of feet and for different trails).

    – not preparing your feet in the morning for the long hours ahead. Have a search on google on how to prep your feet for when you are going to do some crazy amount of hikking, climbing or Running). This is very personal… And again, there are hundreds of different “feet preparation”.

    Mine consists in just wrapping with adhesive tape both my pinky toes and the ones very next to it, also the big toe, plus LOTS os vaseline or something similar, then a liner socks and then your treckking socks. When having breaks , everytime I can, I’ll do the “boots off” deal, and maybe change socks roughtly when I’m half way on that particular day.

    – Lack of Stretching is another thing that make people have problem with their feet and make them blame the boots… Both times I’ve been in the camino I was astunished to see how few pilgrims would take 05 minutes of their time to do some proper stretching… It may sound funny but that DOES include all your toes on your feet. There are exercices you do that make your toes articulations stronger and less prone to have tendinites of any sort. Also, they WILL help you throughout the day being stronger and gicing you a much better weight distribution

    Modern Boots ARE NOT that heavy… They are heavy, yes but not as they used to be in the past… The boots I was wearing during my first camino is probably twice as heavy as the ones I got now.

    Your feet are VERY important for those who want to do crazy stuff like walking 1000’s of kms around…

    Of course… You can do it with your running shoes… You can do it with sandals… you can do it bare foot for petes sake… Thats how pilgrims used to to the Camino long ago…

    Most important thing is that after your decision on footware, you have to prepare yourself, and your feet to take the beat of your lifetime!!!

    I’m not “right” about it… Its just my humble opinion… We can see by these threads that there are tons of different opinions on this kind of questions.

    My choices are made with the experience I got on previous two Caminos, and also hikking and climbing in Peru, Bolívia, Brazil, Switzerland, Alaska so on so forth…

    One last piece of advice: Don’t worry too much… Lower your expectations and fears to zero!! The Camino WILL sort things out for you….And it’ll be all good!!

    Ultreya and Buen Camino everyone.


  15. Well worn-in hiking boots with Gortex material to keep dry. High enough to support ankles. Low flex thick soles.
    The many very stony trails will bruise feet that are encased in running shoes or sandals,
    On my first Camino, I was advised to use a light weight shoe or even a running shoe. That was a serious mistake. My feet were constantly hurting and there was insufficient support for the load I was carrying on my back.
    My second Camino I was wearing a fairly heavy hiking boot. It was mid-summer and my feet were hot; however, not so hot that my overall comfort was affected.
    Learn the Pilgrim’s knot! A special shoelace tying technique that prevents the toe area from being too tight, but allows the top and ankle area to be nice and snug.
    Two hiking poles will also relieve the stress on the feet and provide balance.

    1. After walking camino from SJPdP to SdC in sandals, I have not noticed any stone trying to damage my “unprotected” feet. In October, the most dangerous thing are the chestnuts falling directly onto you. Hit my arm once, had to pull 8 needles out. Fully agree about hiking poles though.

  16. Its true its very personal thing,i’m havent walking on Camino but on Pyrenees with walkingshoes Merrel,they are light enough for stones compare my walking boots Meindl longer and much harder model.Now I am going to Turkey and will take both ones with me,easy because we are doing just daytrekking on mountain.Happy walking and Camino!

  17. I traded my boots in for good hiking shoes while on the Camino. The boots were too small, I bought a pair of hiking shoes a full size larger than my normal size… your feet swell THAT much! I would get a good pair of hiking shoes early and waterproof them.

  18. We did our Camino in August 2011 in running shoes. If I did it again, I would have I problem wearing the exact same thing. I suspect actual proper hiking boots would be much to heavy… At least for us.

    1. We did our Camino in May 2013. I tried training in hiking boots and found them too heavy. I bought running shoes and they worked great. I had only 2 small blisters. However, it is very easy to sprain an ankle on the rocky trails, so you must look where you step at all times.

  19. I was thinking of hiking the camino in my chacos hiking sandals in June. The plus is sandals for the hot weather, but its not the best for keeping stones out. Has anyone hiked in chacos sandals?

    1. My little sister is 5 days away from finishing her camino in chacos and she loves them! She says she loves having a breeze around her toes. 🙂

      1. Maybe because sisters are usually not as heavy as brothers :).

  20. While preparing for my 2006 camino, someone talked glowingly about his Mephisto low boots. I checked it out, splurged on a pair of Mephisto Battler ($400!), and it was wonderful. I felt as if my feet were getting a big comfortable hug. I did almost 400 miles and got only one blister. I still have the shoes, have had it resoled twice, but the shoe itself is still in very good condition. Battler is still available, which means people are still buying it.

  21. What about good and comfortable Blundstones? See many on the trail?

    1. I saw one young girl who did the camino frances with Blundstones and she said they were super comfy to the end!

  22. I just finished the Camino Frances wearing la sportiva wildcats with only a pair of darn tough socks (no liners and no vaseline). BUT…. everyone is different. I did get two small blisters. I know people who wore the same thing and got no blisters and people who wore hiking boots and were riddled with blisters. The important thing is to check out every possibility beforehand. Trial socks with liners, socks without liners, hiking boots with and without sick liners…. etc.

  23. i wore Low Rise Lowa hiking shoes (Come in GTX as well). The people I met/walked with wore everything from nothing (barefoot) to high top GTX hiking boots. The people who had the biggest issues were people who walked at a fast pace in high top boots, and the people who did the best were wearing trail running shoes. However, if it were to storm, they would have to stop. I walked the full 500 miles (SJPP to Santiago) and here is the truth: Your feet are going to swell no matter what you wear. When you arrive at your destination, clean up, stretch, and nap while using the pillow to elevate your feet above the rest of your body. Every 2-3 days soak your feet and ankles for 15 minutes (no more than that!!!) in cold water. If you are okay walking without ankle support, I wore flip-flops or hiking sandals for the last 2-3 miles just to relieve my inevitable foot pain. It also gave you this mindset of a fresh start.

    All this said, enjoy the pain and don’t rush. Learn from it and appreciate the imperfection of your body. We are not invincible, but we can do so much when we set our mines to it. It is okay to struggle because you can then overcome.

  24. It is definitely a personal thing. I walked last year, and I’m going back this year and I will be taking boots, not heavy duty or leather ones, but lightweight, waterproof ones (Scarpa Cyclones.) I thought they were ideal for the varied terrain and weather and would at least guarantee dry feet! Having said that, many others would swear by trail shoes or sandals (keen or teva were the most common) – a bit of trial and error pre-camino will save a lot of discomfort in the long run!

  25. I walked the Camino the last 10 years and I started off with boots. Like most beginners I wanted high boots to protect my ankles and GoreTex to protect from rain. What a mistake! I learned a few lessons along the way, as “boiling feet” and blisters were daily problems. And when you feel a blister it’s already too late. You can only puncture it and buy a lot of Compeed. With boots you have no control over foot health. And sprained ankles occur even with high boots.

    Weight – each time you lift your foot there’s about 0.25 kilo extra weight, and I used 1.4 million steps on Camino Francés. Do the maths, it’s 350 tons of unnecessary weight! That equals 3-5 extra kilos in your backpack according to experts.

    Goretex – not once I got wet during all treks, not even in heavy rain. Yes, I had to step in some deep water (where goretex wouldn’t help), but the feet dried in 10 minutes due to the warm feet forcing water out from the inside. Water is harmless and not a problem in Spain, except in winter. Boots are the only alternative in snow.

    The solution – friendly French alpinists recommended buying Salomon ventilated shoes. The next day I bought my first Salomon X Ultra with the quick-lace system, which allows for simple adjustment in seconds and easily removing the shoes each time you pause. This way you have perfect control over the health of your feet. Protection is better than boots because Salomon soles have extended “wings” that give you a wider footprint. Salomon also use a design with an extra “inner shoe” that reduces friction, just like athletes using 2 layers of thin socks. I had zero blisters the last 6 years, so it seems to work.

    The additional solution – this year I noticed several pilgrims were using a new type of lightweight shoe for the shower and relaxing in the evening. It’s Salomon’s RX with open mesh and a trekking sole. First day I walked 22 kms in mine, so they are a good alternative to trekking sandals. The mesh also protect you from the little stones entering.

    I should mention that I don’t work for Salomon, I’m just a very happy customer, but I actually went to Annecy for a guided tour around their R&D department. Wow! I’m convinced that they are the most advanced sports equipment manufacturer today, and their shoes are the top product line. The other brand I use for underwear and multi-layer clothes is CRAFT.

    I hope my experience will help you to decide against wearing boots and open your eyes for some alternatives. Terrain running shoes will do fine on the Camino, but be sure to pick high quality brands. Nike don’t have proper outdoor shoes, so far, and a lot of pilgrims threw away their broken Nike jogging shoes.

    Other recommendations – learn to hydrate scientifically. Use an internal water tank with a suction tube. Do not drink a lot at the time, as the body can only absorb 10 centiliters fluid per hour. The rest is useless, and will only stay in your stomach or fill your bladder. Better to drink one sip of water each 500 meters, just enough to wet your mouth and your throat. Using this method I never need to carry more than 1.5 liter of water for a full day. Old recommendations to drink 2-3 liters of water per day is now considered bad for you.

  26. Just returned from walking my Camino. I put a lot of time into researching shoes and settled on the Altra Timp. They were perfect! No foot problems at all. I loved the wide foot box.

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