The big decision here is hiking boots or hiking shoes. For me, based on my own personal experiences, when I walk with a backpack in hiking shoes, I occasionally will roll my ankles (not a good thing to happen on the Camino). I guess I have weak ankles… weird since I played ice hockey for 30+ years. So, I will be wearing hiking boots.
I have been wearing Asolo hiking boots for decades and love them for the following reasons:
- They are super comfortable and require no break-in time. I once hiking across the Grand Canyon with my son (~15 miles – 25 km) in a brand new pair of Asolo boots and never got a blister.
- They are reasonably priced. You can get them on sale at Sierra Trading Post for ~$125.
- They are still made in Europe (Romania) and are super high-quality and very durable.
- The only downside is they are a little on the heavy side.
I did a little research on the effects of boot weight and found several interesting studies including one done by the US Army. Below are their findings:
- Weight on the feet is disproportionately more exhausting than weight carried on the back.
- Carrying an amount of weight on the feet required between 4.7 and 6.4 times as much energy as carrying that same weight on one’s back.
- Bottomline: 1 pound on the feet imparts the same amount of fatigue as if they were 5 pounds on the back!
After learning this, I searched for lighter alternatives to my Asolo boots and ended up buying a pair of Salomon XA Pro 3D MID Boots
They get great reviews and saved 1 pound off my feet (5 pounds on my back):
- Asolo boots (pair) = 48oz (1.4 kg)
- Salomon Boots (pair) = 31oz (.88 kg)
- Weight Savings = 17 oz (.52 kg)
I have already put about 25 miles on them (with a 25 lb pack) and find them very comfortable and lightweight (and no blisters)! I plan on doing most of my training hikes with my Asolo boots to save the Salomons for the Camino (plus the heavier Asolo might help me get in better shape?)
The other big decision concerning footwear is waterproof OR not waterproof. I decided on getting the NON-waterproof (no Gore-tex) version of the Salomon boots for the following reasons:
- Gore-tex waterproofing adds a little extra weight to the boots.
- Although Gore-tex is waterproof, it is also not as breathable as non Gore-tex boots.
- I figured that I will be hiking in warm/hot weather far more often than in the rain and if the rain is too much, I will not walk that day.
- If my boots do get drenched, I can always hike in my sandals (see below for details) which are sturdy enough for some limited hiking.
- Bottomline: I place a higher value on keeping my feet cooler over keeping them dry for the few times it might rain. And as an added bonus, I have a lighter boot.
I plan on walking ~15 miles each day, which means I will be traveling in my hiking boots for ~6-8 hours a day. If I sleep for 8 hours a day, I will have 8-10 hours a day to explore/rest/blog… and I don’t want to be wearing my sweaty boots during these times (plus my boots need time to dry out). This is why you need a second pair of footwear.
I am bringing a pair of Eddie Bauer Bump Toe Sandal for the following reasons:
- They have a thick/supportive sole.
- They are very comfortable to wear.
- I can wear them in the showers.
- I can hike in them if my boots are wet.
- FYI, they weigh (pair) 23 oz (652 gm) Not the lightest, but not the heaviest.
Here’s what they look like:
I thought about bringing a pair of “flip-flops”, but decided on sandals for the following reasons:
- Yes, I know they are lighter than sandals, but I can’t see myself hiking in them (not enough support)
- Plus, I hate wearing them. I have tried to wear flip-flops over the years, but find them uncomfortable. Maybe because they don’t have anything on the back of the heel and flop all over the place?
I’m planning on bringing 3 pairs of socks. Since I will be hiking late-May-June, the weather will be warm/hot. So, I decided on lightweight socks that are designed for warmer hiking. I settled Terramar Midweight Cool-Dri Pro Hiker socks:
The bottom of the socks are very thick and cushiony (the black parts). But the cool part (pun intended) is the socks are much thinner on the top of your foot (white parts), which allows for more cooling. I have hiked in them and find them very comfortable. They are also lightweight – only 3 oz per pair (85 gm)
Although I generally don’t get blisters, it is a different story when you are walking 15 miles a day… day after day. So, I plan on bringing a couple pair of sock liners just in case blisters become a problem. These are super thin socks that you wear under your regular hiking socks. The idea is that they will reduce the possibility of blisters because they reduce the friction between the boot/hiking sock and your foot. This has worked well for me in the past. (weight = 1.5oz per pair)
As I mentioned earlier, I usually don’t get blisters, they can really be devastating on a hike like the Camino so I am bringing one additional piece of “insurance” (an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure) to fend off blisters. I am bringing a stick of Body Glide Outdoor Anti Chafe Balm just in case I have problems with blisters. I have never used this stuff, but it gets great reviews. So I figure why not bring it… plus it only weighs 1.4 oz.
Hopefully, I will never have use this stuff!