Boots are like journeys on the Camino de Santiago. Every one is different and it depends on the preference of the individual. Sometimes, the choice of boot is influenced by a previous experience—possibly a bad experience. On this post, I’ll discuss my boots as I prepared to get ready to walk a difficult route of the Camino de Santiago: the Camino del Norte. I hope this helps those about to shop, but your choice of boots is dependent upon many factors. These include cost, walking or hiking experience, shape of your feet, and, very importantly, the strength of your ankles.
I had left myself with less than two weeks to prepare for my next Camino de Santiago on the Camino del Norte in the summer of 2012. I was lucky that I had my boots already chosen. As opposed to when I had walked the French Way in 2010, this time, I didn’t have to spend hours and hours trying on boots and then deciding. I actually bought my new boots months before. I always knew I would walk the Camino de Santiago again, I just didn’t know when. I even surprised myself when I went on a such short notice.
I had been asked a few times why I didn’t wear my old boots. After walking about 1000 kilometers in Europe and probably about 50 after I returned, the boots were well-worn. Since the French Way has approximately 70% (depending where you read) on pavement or hard track, tread wears easily during the journey. I wasn’t so concerned with the uppers, which looked fine, but I had to feel comfortable with the tread. I certainly didn’t want to fall flat on my face, no matter how funny that would look to others (yes, I have done that). It’s so easy to fall and get hurt while walking, especially after consuming a nice glass of Albariño or Estrella (or both). I need the best tread possible at all times.
My boots, or hiking shoes, for the Camino del Norte were Merrell Moab XCR with Gore-Tex uppers. I may have been fine without the Gore-Tex in the summer, but I didn’t want to take a chance in case it rains. I certainly don’t want to walk with wet boots. Although they don’t sponsor me and I pay for my boots, I choose Merrells’ for all my hiking needs. I currently have four pairs that I wear depending on the trail and terrain. However, if Merrell came by with an offer of free boots, I wouldn’t pass it up. Of course, I would let you know.
These were my brand-new Merrell Moab XCR in walnut. I prefer hiking shoes and these are very light. I don’t like to feel the weight of boots on my feet.
The boot from the Camino Francés is on the top.
As I hope you can see (you can click this photo for a larger view), the tread is well-worn on the old boot. These old ones are now in semi-retirement, and used only on easy scrolls.
I saw this scene a few times along the French Way. I wrote on page 60 in my book, Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, “…A pair of leather boots sat beside the road. One had its sole completely separated from the upper, while the other was filled with stones. I wondered if the owner had an extra pair of shoes, because it was still some eight kilometers to Los Arcos. And good luck finding boots in any of these villages.”
I hope you enjoyed this post. I know there are a multitude of different opinions for boots. Listen to others but take the ones that you feel are best suited for you. You’ll learn soon enough whether you made the right choice.
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