Camino Tip No. 49: Buy comfortable walking shoes

Camino Tip No. 49: Buy comfortable walking shoesBuy comfortable walking shoes. I recommend all-terrain shoes with thick soles, preferably slip-resistant Vibram rubber.

On the Camino, you will walk on mountain trails, country lanes, single-tracks, wide paths. You will walk on pebbles, gravel, dirt, sand, cobblestones, tarred roads, concrete, and hard pack. If it rains, the way can be muddy and sometimes slick. In the heat of the day, a thick sole can prevent scorching the bottom of your feet.

Lightweight hiking shoes are more flexible than the high-top version. Look for shoes with a rugged sole that can grip the hills but bend enough for a rolling stride on level terrain.  Consider shoes with a reinforced toe area to protect your feet from bumps against rocks and roots.

Look for shoes with air pockets in the rubber bottom of the shoe to reduce impact. This  extra cushioning can make your walk more comfortable and reduce the chance for injury.

Shoes with a mesh upper let air circulate to help keep feet dry and cool. I also recommend removing your shoes and socks whenever you stop for a break. If your feet tend to overheat and sweat, consider walking in hiking sandals. They are light weight and, if purchased correctly, can give your feet the support and traction you need. Some even have toe guards.

I carry walking shoes and hiking sandals. Which pair I wear depends on the weather, terrain, and temperature, but I tend to favor the sandals.

Other things to consider

  • For high arches, look for a thick midsole.
  • For flat feet, buy a shoe that’s firm around the heel.
  • Choose a shoe that is as wide as or slightly wider than your foot. You don’t want your toes crowding each other.
  • Can you easily bend the shoe? This is a good test for the shoe’s flexibility.

Replace your shoes after walking 350 to 600 miles.

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