If we are looking for the best footwear for the Camino de Santiago, it is because it will probably be the first question when deciding to undertake this adventure. Knowing how to take good care of your feet is vital and the right shoes help you enjoy this experience, as we will need them in good condition for many kilometers and several days.
Although there is no such thing as the perfect shoe, there are some important things to consider when choosing walking shoes. And, above all, you have to pay attention to the advice to avoid injuries or wounds.
How to choose the best?
There is no general recommendation for a certain brand or type of shoe, but there are some good techniques to find the one that best suits you.
The size must be perfect, neither too big nor too tight. A size that is too large can cause the foot to move inside the shoe and cause injuries, and if it is too tight, it can cause chafing that can make the experience bitter.
It is recommended to get a pair that is one-half to one size larger than what we normally wear. The hiking sock that we will wear will be padded and a bit bulky. Also, the feet will swell when walking. We won’t rule this out even if we haven’t experienced it yet. Even if we are in good shape, the physical activity of walking long distances on hard ground makes most people’s feet bigger.
It is advisable to wear low or medium-cut hiking boots, if we want the ankle to be completely protected. If we opt for medium-length boots, the ideal is for the ankle to be inclined so that we can walk without discomfort.
The use of high-top boots is not recommended because, in addition to being very rigid, they tend to be heavier. However, if we are going to do the Camino de Santiago in winter and we hope to pass through mountain passes where we will find snow, the use of high mountain boots is recommended, to protect the feet from the cold.
The boots must have a lacing system that allows us to fit the footwear well to the feet, and thus avoid the uncomfortable chafing that many pilgrims suffer on the Camino de Santiago. In the same way, we will make sure that the tongue of the boot is padded, since this type of system provides comfort to the foot, when walking, and protects the instep from blows.
It is also recommended that the boots have rubber reinforcements on the toe and heel. A heel that is too soft can cause Achilles heel injuries. Shoes with carbon rubber soles generally grip the ground better and are much more durable. Having good shock absorption is also vital.
waterproof and breathable
Ideally, footwear should have a membrane that is waterproof and breathable. If we are going to do the Camino de Santiago in summer, breathability is essential to prevent blisters from forming.
The heat at this time of year makes the feet sweat more and it is necessary to have this perspiration system to avoid discomfort. Many pilgrims hesitate to wear this type of footwear on the Camino de Santiago in summer, due to the heat that is concentrated in the feet. However, there are hiking boots specially designed for summer that are much lighter and more breathable.
Waterproof footwear is especially important if we are going to do it in winter or at times when the probability of rain is high.
Along the many kilometers that we will travel we will find all kinds of terrain. That is why it is important that we choose resistant footwear with a good sole that adapts to the different routes. However, it is a personal choice and each option has its pros and cons. The most important thing is to always choose the option with which we feel most comfortable.
Mountain boots provide greater support in the ankle area. They usually have more robust soles, especially suitable for steep or very rocky terrain. They are the warmest option in case we go for a walk in a cold or rainy season.
The bad thing is that in summer or very hot areas they are not recommended since they increase the temperature of the foot and are less breathable. They are the heaviest type of footwear and this is another factor to take into account when we are going to walk so many kilometers.
This is the most recommended option, since it has all the characteristics that we can ask of a shoe to make the route: they are light, have a firm sole, have a more cushioned tread than mountain boots and are also more flexible. and comfortable. Additionally, it can include a breathable layer of Goretex that gives it a waterproofing point for light rains.
In contrast, in very cold, rainy or high mountain areas it may be more appropriate to use a warmer waterproof boot.
They are the freshest type of footwear, the lightest and the one that takes up less space in the backpack. It is always advisable to wear a pair of shoes as secondary footwear so that the foot can rest and breathe after the stage. They can be uncomfortable to walk long distances, so they are more recommended as secondary footwear.
However, more and more pilgrims are using sandals to complete the Camino de Santiago in summer. This type of footwear is only recommended for the hottest months (July and August), where the risk of precipitation is very low. If there is a route in which trekking sandals are especially recommended, it is on the coastal Camino de Santiago. Much of the route is done on walkways, so technical footwear is not required.
Even so, not just any type of sandal can be used, but rather ones specifically designed for walking. The advantage of this type of footwear is that it is much lighter and avoids having to keep your foot locked up during the entire Camino de Santiago.
Once we have bought our chosen footwear, we must take into account some recommendations so that the experience is as successful as possible.
New or used?
As in many aspects of life, the balance is somewhere in the middle. It is not recommended, much less, to wear new boots or sneakers the same day that one begins to do the Camino de Santiago, which does not mean that it is forbidden to wear new shoes.
It is convenient to try the shoes several days before to confirm that they fit us well and that they are comfortable. If we choose to wear shoes that we already have, it is recommended to check the condition of the sole by pressing the front and back inwards. If those parts are softer than the sides, it is best to opt for new ones.
The shoes to do the Camino de Santiago must be worn at least a couple of weeks before the trip for a simple reason: we are going to walk hundreds of kilometers with them, and the feet must be used to these shoes before embarking on this adventure.
It is very important to bring, in addition to the main one, at least one extra shoe such as slippers or sandals. After the long walk that the pilgrim will do every day, the feet will need to rest from these shoes. It is highly recommended to wear one more open or loose to give our feet a break in the hours after the stage and at night.
It is essential to bring flip-flops to use in the showers and to be in the hostels.
Choose your socks well
Many times it is not important, but socks are as basic as good shoes. They must be breathable, so that the humidity does not soften the skin, and without seams. Lately anti-blister socks have become famous, thanks to their double layer they achieve greater sweat drainage and keep feet dry, an essential aspect when it comes to avoiding blisters.
It is necessary to be far-sighted and also be provided with a protector from scratches and blisters that will save pilgrims from many troubles between kilometer and kilometer.