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Footwear, Foot Care And Blisters

Discussion in 'What equipment should you use and take' started by Greg Canning, Apr 7, 2017.

  1. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Well-Known Member

    Sep 7, 2015
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    Hi all,

    I thought I might update you all with some information on how my feet got on on Camino:)

    This time I stuck with the Merrell GTX shoes. I had to replace my pair from last year just a few weeks before we left but there was no real need to break them in. They fit so comfortably and are so light. I again used Superfeet insoles (blue) for some extra support.

    My big discovery this time was Smartwool PhD socks (why the PhD? I dunno, maybe they're very smart). I still brought one pair of double lined socks to compare but these lasted only one day after I had experienced the comfort of the Smartwool socks. Rubbing Glide on the parts of the feet most likely to blister and wearing the Smartwool socks I barely experienced even a hot spot in over 220 kms of walking on all types of terrain and up and down steep inclines.

    The socks are not cheap (around €20 a pair) and they take a bit longer to dry when hand-washed but they really worked for me.

    Health warning - In the almost 400kms of the Camino walked to date and the many more hundreds of Kms I've walked in preparation I haven't had any blisters. But I have had quite a lot of hot spots and this time was the longest continuous number of days walking so I think the results were pretty good. Of course everyone's feet are different and require different supports etc.

    Finally I did try the Smartwool hiking sock which was very good but being made of more pure wool than the PhD they tended not to keep their shape as well and were more prone to bunching around the heel.

    Hope this info helps.

    Buen Camino


    PS - the shop recommend getting the PhD in the size range most closely matching your shoe size and the hiking sock possibly in a size below. My experience would seem to support that advice.
  2. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

    Mar 1, 2016
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    Upstate New York
    Hey Greg - We must have been brothers in an earlier life: Merrell Moab GTX hiking shoes, Superfeet insoles, high quality wool socks, and Body Glide. The stars were aligned perfectly for healthy feet on this Camino! No blisters; no hot spots!

    The only two differences seem to be that because I had the time, I did break in my Merrells. For anyone crossing the Pyrenees on their first day of the Camino, I'm not sure that they want to do it in a new shoe. I also had great success with the Injinji toe-socks. They feel a little odd at first, but they keep your toes from rubbing together. Last year, my first blister was on a toe. I also had a high quality, medium thickness wool running sock by Balega that I alternated with. We also prepared our feet well by applying Body Glide every morning. Seems to be a winning combo!

    Glad you, too, had happy feet! Makes a difference, doesn't it? Buen Camino!
    hindsfeet and UnkleHammy like this.
  3. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2014
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    Cumbria UK
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    Some good info Greg :)

    I have tried several different boots over the years with varying degrees of success; probably the best that I have used are Lowa Gortex as these were light and very comfortable and need very little maintenance on “The Way”

    Also sock combinations, I settled for many years on Bridgedale Inners with Thulo outers – That was until I was given some “1.000 Mile” socks when I walked my Big1.000 Mile Camino from my home in Cumbria to Santiago de Compostela - 1.000 Mile’s and not a single blister !!

    So – On reflection, I no longer recommend a particular manufacturer of boots or sock combination as, I now believe that it is the fit that is the most important thing and as we all have slightly different feet, what is pure perfection for one pilgrim could well be absolute torture for another.

    One thing I do (Personally) recommend is boots over trail runners / trainers and (Personally) I would suggest the lightweight fabric Gortex type as they need very little maintenance and they will keep your feet dry when it rains (As long as you wear gaiters to stop the rain wicking down your socks) and allow them to breath when the weather is hot :)

    Good Luck and Buen Camino


  4. Jacob

    Jacob New Member

    Jun 18, 2018
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    Try Chacos. You’ll thank me!!

    My suggestion is to ditch the boots totally unless you’re walking in the dead of winter where snow is a possibility.

    Instead get yourself a pair of Chacos Z1 sandals with Vibram soles (www.chacos.com). Wear these with Injinji toe socks. There’s no need to even take ANY other shoes at all. I’ve done the Camino Frances twice wearing thing but this with NO blisters at all, ever.

    But didn’t your feet get wet? In a downpour everybody’s feet get wet, no matter what you’re wearing. The only difference is that in Chacos your feet dry out very quickly.

    But what about ankle support? Well, if you have weak ankles I suppose an ace bandage of some sort might be useful. But only a small part of the Camino is really “ankle treacherous” and if you’re careful and use poles ankle support shouldn’t be a problem.

    Z1 Chacos have VERY strong and supportive soles — better than virtually any other hiking sandals and at least as good as most boots.

    The number of discarded boots on the Camino is testimony to the fact that virtually everyone whowears them gets blisters. Want to avoid blisters?Wear Chacos with toe socks. And be thankful thatyour load is lighter!!!

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