Hiking shoes, hiking boots, running shoes, sandals…which ones are the most suitable? I have read a lot of conflicting information about that. Some hikers say a good pair of hiking boots is required, especially if you are walking from October to March. Others claim that hiking boots are overkill and that hiking shoes or even a good pair of running shoes are enough.
The truth is that we each have to work out for ourselves what is the best. All depends on the distance you are walking, on the times you have already walked the camino or on your own physical condition. At some postings, experienced hikers have told to walk the way of Saint James from Sarria to Santiago in sandals in summertime very easily.
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Everybody agrees that the most experienced you are the lighter and lighter footwear you choose. However if you are a beginner, I would go to a reputable shop that sells hiking footwear and discuss this matter with them. Try out some models and it is also very important not to use the selected footwear for the first time in the camino. You should train some hiking with you newbrand footwear before attempting the camino. If you feel indecisive about which ones you should choose and you don´t want to carry several pairs in case of changing weather, there is also a range of hybrid or mid ankle shoes which can serve well in summer and winter. Providing you are going to hike from winter to spring, I guess a good piece of advice may also be to purchase waterproof boots or non-slip Vibram soles. This kind of soles will help you keep safe on muddy hills and paths.
Remind blisters and ankle sprains will become your worst nightmare if you don´t care about footwear in advance. You may moderately these inconveniences carrying some plasters with you to cover and protect “hot spots” as soon as you feel them becoming tender before a blister appears. Another point is to check your socks as well as your insoles and shoes. Moisture makes blisters and there are thin synthetic liners to wear under socks which are designed to wick away moisture. Moreover, blisters come with rubbing as well. I would say, you would need at least one or two sizes bigger than your normal shoe size since you have to take into consideration the thick trekking socks and the swelling of your feet towards the end of the day. Finally, don´t forget to check out the insoles, they should be perfectly aligned in the bottom of your shoes.
I hope this small outline helps you to have a nice hiking.
I do extensive hinkig backpacking and in various wilderness areas.And as one of the contributors mentioned. You get what you pay for. If your just going to be hinkig “around” town. Or own relatively short treks. On relatively flat terrain then even a good pair of tennis shoes will work fine. For more arduous hinkig, then invest in a more expensive pair. And on rocky or solid terrain then vibram soles are a good idea. If-however you will be in mud. Then not a good choice. Mud will definitely ball up on your boots. And your in for a less than pleasant trek.