New Boots, Old Boots: Preparing For The Camino De Santiago

June 29, 2012 — 6 Comments

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.”

Photo of broken down old boots, stones, gravel path Camino de Santiago

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.

If you have my book, Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, or have ordered it, I really appreciate your support. It’s also out on Kindle and Kobo. My Goodreads and Amazon pages have reviews and more information. Please share this post, and thanks for your time.

About Randall St. Germain

Randall St. Germain, author of Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, is a middle-aged Canadian Boy who is passionate about nature, photography, hiking, music, and self-improvement. After the death of his mother, he chose to walk the famous pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago, across the north of Spain, despite knowing little about it. He certainly didn’t plan to write a book until the latter days of his Camino. Similar to walking the Camino, writing and publishing a book was a learning experience. It was also very rewarding, and part of his ongoing journey. Please join him as he takes you along on his journey in Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, and on his blog Camino My Way.


6 responses to New Boots, Old Boots: Preparing For The Camino De Santiago

  1. Hi Randall, when are you heading back to the Camino? How exciting! Looking forward to more photos and stories.

    • Thanks Karina. I’m back now and trying to adjust to work and not walking all day long. The Camino Del Norte was much different, and tougher. Hope your book is doing well.

  2. Just beginning to plan a Camino walk. We can only do about 10 days and am wondering if that’s enough time? Also, what is the best time to go weather-wise? We were thinking February/March 2013.

    • Kathryn, sorry to take so long. I’m back from the Camino Del Norte now. I would just take a section of the Camino and complete it during the time you have. It’s not enough time to walk 800 kilometers. You just have to decide if you want to arrive in Santiago and then try to figure out your pace and go back where you think 10 days would be. Make sure you give yourself enough time to enjoy Santiago and in case there are any problems or delays during your journey. Otherwise, start in St. Jean Pied de Port and go as far as you have time for. I would expect the weather to be cold and rainy during February or March. May or September would be better. Buen Camino.

  3. hello Randall. My brother and I are beginning to plan a trip to the Camino del Norte. I am 75 and he is 72. WE only have 7 days schedule for this trip. We would like to end up in Santiago de Campostela. the question is at which point we should start. After the walk we are planning to go to Aulesti, the place where my ancestor come from.
    I like the Merrels. I walk in Ecuador with those shoes.

    • Victor, it really depends how far you walk each day. The easiest part of the walk is the last 40 kilometers along the Camino Francés from Arzúa. The rest of Galicia is difficult with steep climbing most days, and many ups and downs. The most popular starting point for the Camino del Norte in Galicia is Ribadeo but it’s still about 200 kilometers from Santiago. I would think it may be a little far for you. I would suggest starting in the town of Vilalba which is about 125 kilometers from Santiago. I didn’t know about Vilalba before I walked but it is also a popular starting point so you can get your Compostela. I’m not sure of the transportation there but would imagine a bus stops in the town. If you plan to stay at the municipal albergue, I recommend getting there when they open to reserve your beds. It can get crazy busy and I was lucky to get a bed. I hope this helps. May you and your brother have a most pleasant journey. Buen Camino 🙂

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