Here I go...

Finding magic under the stars of the Camino Santiago de Compostela

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Which Shoes Annie is Wearing This Year

My advice about shoe hasn't changed a lot over the years, but it has changed a little.

I'm still wearing New Balance Trail Runners.

I have wide feet and so I look for those shoes built on a shoe-last with a deep, wide toe and a narrow heel.  When you try on your shoes, be sure your toes have a LOT of wiggle room. Otherwise, when they swell and sweat, they'll rub together with each step and you'll have horrible, painful blisters. Those tosies need space to breathe!

I look for a rugged but flexible sole. One that will protect my feet from rocks but will get good traction on slippery rain-soaked trail. As far as I'm concerned, there aren't a lot of places on the Camino that are so rocky it's an issue, but there are a few. Coming down the hill from Alta Perdon is one place you need to not be gawking scenery, but watching your step! Most of the trail is easy on the feet, in my opinion.

I look for a shoe that can BREATHE (no gore-tex for me!) and that will dry overnight if my feet get wet.  I usually walk the Camino in mid-April, early May and though I see quite a few rainy days, I've never had my feet so soaked it was uncomfortable. This could be because when it is raining, I wear an ALTUS poncho, which goes down between my knees and ankles and does a good job of keeping my feet dry.

I buy my shoes 1 to 1.5 sizes larger than I normally wear because my feet do swell after walking 6 to 8 hours each day. My feet aren't used to that kind of pounding.

Most trail runners have an extra "eye" up around the ankles that you can lace snugly to keep the shoes from moving forward and backward. Adjust this so as to create a "heel lock" and you're in great shape!  Here is a link to an article with video:

Learn to use this to your advantage.

I still take out the inner sole and put in a pair of New Balance Motion Control Inserts. These are very cushy with great support in the instep.  They keep my feet cooler, and make it so I never even feel those small rocks under my feet and also helps keep my ankle from rolling.

These run around $39.

Pay attention here!!!  If you have to cut these to size, DO IT VERY CAREFULLY. Any tiny space between the insert and the shoe is a potential blister-making pinch spot. So don't be sloppy. Take extra care. You SHOULD be able to find inserts that will exactly fit the size shoe you purchase.

I no longer wear two pair of socks unless my shoes are absolutely feeling too large. I always buy SMARTWOOL socks, and if the weather gets hot while on the trail, I stop into one of the China Stores (like a Dollar Store) and I buy thinner, cooler cotton socks and wear those.

This year I bought New Balance 1340v2. (I'm assuming this means "version 2")  I wore this shoe last time on the Camino and it's still holding up well. I use it for training walks still.  This purple pair was all that was in stock in my size so I bought it, but it also comes in grey and blue, I believe.  One nice thing about the purple is they're less likely to get nabbed as they're pretty easy to identify. But I do suggest you write your name in fingernail polish or put some type of identifying mark on them. I'll probably put fabric paint dots on mine like I did my pack!

Here is a 710 version for men that looks good! See the good tread?

New Balance used to make all of their shoes in the USA, and one issue I've had the last two years with their shoes is the lining wearing out around the ankle. Though the advertising says the shoe is made in the USA, what they don't tell you is that some of the materials are imported from Vietnam. And this particular lining material is CRAP!  One trip I ended up putting duct tape around the ankle, which worked fine.

That said, the shoe is still the most comfortable and sturdy I've found, so I will continue to buy it until they come up with something better.

This year, I paid around $139 for my shoes. They're always about that much. Shoes and your pack are your two most expensive pieces of equipment and I suggest you get what you pay for. Don't skimp when it comes to your shoes!

Boots?  I still say unless you have very weak ankles or are very used to wearing boots, boots are overkill. The Camino is not a mountain hike, it is an overland trek. There are maybe two short stages on the entire trek that MIGHT warrant boots.  A good walking stick and paying attention will get you safely through those areas, and your feet will thank me the rest of the 6 weeks of walking!

If you have a New Balance store in your area, ask them for a trail running shoe. Sometimes REI carries New Balance also.

If you have narrower feet, you might like looking at other brands of shoes, such as Solomon or Merrill. But I've never found a pair that fits my hobbit feet!

I hope this information will help.
Please let me know if you have questions.

Buen Camino!


  1. I have Keen feet (short, wide, high volume) so when I was shopping I did try other brands including NB but kept coming back to Keens. At the time the lightest weight ones 1.5 sizes larger than my normal were the Verdi II's. I bought a pair the year before my camino for training and had a fresh pair ready for fall of 2014 when I went. They've been discontinued but I have in my stash another fresh pair for 2016. My feet swear by Wrightsock Quarters. Buen Camino!!

  2. Annie, I have had good luck with the Vasque Trailbender shoe only available at REI. Wide forefoot and tight heel. The tread is not aggressive but thick sole for walking on hard trail and pavement. Size up at least one size. But as always, fit is a personal thing. You must try on at the store.


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