1,000,000 steps - footwear (04)
Updated: Sep 23
You NEED good footwear, boots n socks.
Photo: Often albergues will have a special place to leave your boots, it's in a shed or by a window because the smell from twenty pairs of sweaty pilgrim boots is eye watering.
This is not a suggestion or advice it is a command. On my second Camino I weighed in at 92 kilos, and walked about 870 km and that means each foot hit the ground approximately 500,000 times. All that weight transferred from my hips down through my knees in to my heal, 500,000 times.
Badly fitting footwear can cause you anything from uncomfortable aches to painful blisters and even serious injury. So please please please read the following carefully.
The joy of walking a Camino should not be robbed from you because your feet are killing you. They will hurt anyway but there is no need to make it worse.
The Camino Francés is not a wilderness trail, you will be walking on some grassy paths, sanded tracks, roads, pavements, and agony inducing cobbled streets. You do not need expensive technical gear but you do need decent footwear.
Photo: Sebastians boots were soaked in the rain, so he dried them out by leaving them in the late afternoon sun. We went out for dinner and on our return his boots were soaked, again.
Note ... Watch out for lawn sprinklers.
Good strong sole protects the feet from stones.
A good upper will offer a high level of rain protection.
A high ankle design offers good stability and extra support for the ankle.
Weight, they tend to be heavy
Not so easy to dry out if they do get a good soaking, and wet boots cause blisters.
On sunny days pounding over hard ground, the feet can get uncomfortably hot.
Not really needed for most Caminos, simply overkill.
Photo: My first pair of hiking shoes lasted about 1000 km. Here they are, as far from my bed as possible, outside in the late afternoon sun.
A good brand will have a Gore Tex upper, so excellent rain protection, not waterproof.
A good brand will have a Vibram sole, so good tread, and okay protection.
Cooler on hot days but on cold days it can feel like you are wearing a pair of socks.
No ankle support
I found, that after 300 km the sole was less grippy and less protective over sharp objects.
Socks need to do a number of things and ideally
should be purchased at the same time as your boots. If you already have boots then take them for the sock fitting. This is a complimentary team, they have to work together.
Fitting - Socks must fit your feet, no heel up the ankle, no lumps in the toe area, an exact fit.
Sweat - Socks have to take sweat away from your feet to avoid blisters, so a high wool content with a mix of man made fibres eg wool 61%, nylon 36% and spandex 3% is best.
Seamless - No seams. Bumps, lines, folds in the sock have to be eradicated, any unnatural lump will be a source of friction which means heat and blisters.
Same - Once you have got your perfect socks buy three pairs all exactly the same. This way you don’t need to match pairs and you know they all fit exactly the same.
I would choose hiking shoes and socks at the same time, and purchase the best brand name that I could afford.
I would go to a decent outdoor shop, and ask for the most knowledgable assistant and tell them I am walking a Camino and ask for their advice.
Try the footwear, you are looking for an itight fit on the sides or toes, and a loose fit behind the heel. Tight or loose fitting footwear generates heat and blisters, take your time and buy wisely.