I need to buy a new pair of shoes soon as my current pair are a little run down. I embark on the Kerry Camino in May. And there is no better place for hiking shoes/boots than the Great Outdoors on Dublin’s George’s Street. I usually buy shoes at the start of the year and they last me 12-18 months.
My preferred brand is Salomon. I have worn shoes from North Face, Colombia, Meindl, and Merrell, but Salomon X Ultra GTX is the most comfortable for me so far. There are people that can walk a full Camino with a pair of €20 tennis shoes or even sandals(!) however I would prefer not to take my chances having experienced blisters and sore muscles on previous Caminos.
Here are just a few tips before you consider buying a pair of new shoes/boots:
- Be sure what you need. What is the type of terrain of the route you are taking? Is it flat or rocky with ascents and descents or a mixture? Are boots really needed?
- What season will you be walking in? If you are walking in March or April, you may need to choose boots instead of shoes. If you are walking in Summer, boots might be too heavy.
- Practice, practice, practice. When you buy your shoes/boots, wear them as much as possible, break them in, get used to them. They will be your best friends on the Camino.
- Buy a 1/2 a size extra. On the Camino when you walk, your feet will expand due to heat so the extra space is helpful.
- Talk to an assistant in the store and have your feet fitted. Listen to the advice. Try on as many shoes/boots as you can. It’s probably a good idea to buy insoles with them too. Superfeet is a good brand.
So have you any stories or advice you want to share about buying footwear? Let me know in the comments!
After much trial and error over the years I’m a committed Merrell fan. My weapon of choice is the Merrell Moab 2 .I prefer the Mid Boot version rather than the Shoe as I just like the added feeling of protection around my ankles. Equally as important for me is my choice of sock , the 1000 MILE Fusion Sock , very comfy, hard wearing , wash well (NB: do not tumbledry !!) and no need to wear liner socks with them. The worst mistake I made over the years was buying a pair of (NON Merrell) walking shoes online. Disaster with the sizing and terrible follow up service. Best advice I can give is to only ever buy after you have tried on your prospective new boots and try to wear your hiking socks on the day of purchase. Also not to get too hung up on size number as while technically you might be say a size 8.5 some branded boots that are listed as 9 or 9.5 might feel a much better fit.
What is great is that everyone is different and there is no right or wrong choice when it comes to shoe or sock, as long as it is comfortable and worn in. I have worn a Merrell Moab shoe for 2 weeks in 2015 and got bad cramps in my legs at the end of my Camino. A few weeks after I arrived home I bought Salomon and I haven’t looked back. I have to agree with you about buying shoes/boots online. You shouldn’t do it. Great Outdoors are fantastic and have great after-care.