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Best shoes for Walking the Camino de Santiago in 2024

The shoes that you walk the Camino de Santiago with are the most important gear decision you will make on your Camino de Santiago Packing list. Walking in the wrong shoes can result in terrible blisters, tired feet, and other injuries that can even end your Camino. 

Hiking shoes, Hiking Boots and Trail runners used on the Camino de Santiago
Merrel Hiking shoes, Salomon Hiking Boots, and Asics Trail runners I used to walk the Camino de Santiago.

Don´t underestimate the importance of wearing proper socks on the Camino, it can make a huge difference to the comfort of your feet. To prevent blisters good hiking shocks must prevent chafing, keep your feet dry, and provide some cushioning. See our in-depth guide to the Best Socks for Walking the Camino de Santiago.

There are so many opinions, everybody is different, and every route is different so unfortunately there is no one straightforward answer to which shoes are the best for the Camino. Alya has walked 9 different Camino de Santiago routes and Campbell has walked 7. We’ve done many other treks all over the world. In this post, I will give you my opinion on the best shoes based on our walking experience on the Camino de Santiago.

Our YouTube video on the best shoes for the Camino de Santiago

Boots vs shoes for walking the Camino de Santiago

Salomon boots Camino de Santiago
Salomon Ultra 3 GTX mid boots and North Face Smart Wool socks on the Camino de Santiago

Trail runners on the Camino

Trail runners are a very popular option for walking the Camino de Santiago. Trail shoes are similar to road running shoes, but they are built more rugged to protect the shoes and your feet from objects like rocks, and sticks, so they are light and tough. I have read so many discussions with pilgrims praising trail runners. These shoes do sound like the best choice for hiking the Camino they are light, get dry quickly, and provide enough support for the kind of terrain that you will experience on the Camino. You will mostly encounter forest trails, some rocky sections, paved roads, and depending on the Camino route cobbled stone sidewalks. 

Our experience with trail runners on the Camino was not great. We walked two shorter routes in trail runners, the Camino de San Salvador (120 km/74 mi) and the Camino de Santiago de Gran Canaria (67 km/41,6 mi). We hiked in well-worn trail shoes that we use for trail running. The shoes were comfortable on the trail, but we both had problems with blisters walking in trail shoes.

In the Defense of Trail Runners

You do get many different brands and models of trail running shoes, maybe a different trail runner would be a good idea. We have however not had any problems running with our Adidas or Asics trail runners while running. Since we bought these shoes for running they were a comfortable fit, but not large enough to wear with our thick merino wool socks that was a problem walking long distances. We swear by Merino wool socks, they are fantastic!

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Choosing the Right Trail Running Shoe for the Camino

With trail runners, the tread, fit, durability, and heel drop are important factors to consider when choosing new shoes. 

  • The durability of shoes is very important on long hikes. You do not want to walk in a pair of shoes and have them reach the end of their lifetime during your Camino. The best option is to buy one pair for training, and a second pair of the same shoe to break in a couple of weeks before you go.
  • – For proper fit of trail shoes check that there is no slipping, lifting, or rubbing in the heel, the toes have enough space, and there are no pressure points when walking

The Toe Box of the shoe is the front part of the shoe where your toes fit. A wider toe box means more room for your toes to move and a smaller chance of blisters due to friction. Check that you can wiggle your toes inside, but not so much room that your foot slides forward or back.

Heel drop – The drop of a shoe is the height difference between the heel and forefoot. The greater the drop, the steeper the angle from the toes to the heel. When standing barefoot and the heel and forefoot both touch the ground the drop is zero. When wearing high heels the drop will be very large. The drop has nothing to do with cushioning. Drop is important to match your foot strike, which part of your foot hits the ground first: the heel, midfoot, or forefoot. The more you run/walk on your forefoot the lower drop you’ll want.  A zero-drop shoe has a 0 mm drop, a low-drop shoe has 1-4 mm, and the average heel-to-toe drop trail running shoe is between 7 – 10 mm. 

Popular Trail runners for walking

camino de santiago men trail running shoes
MEN’S TRAIL RUNNERS Hoka Speed Goat 4 | Brooks Cascadia 16 | Altra’s Lone Peak 6

Popular Trail runners for walking

  • Hoka Speed Goat 4 (Speed Goat 4 Ladies) – You see Hokas everywhere on the Camino nowadays. These super cushioned, trail runners have become extremely popular on the trail. Most pilgrims walk in the Hoka Speedgoat, with lots of cushioning; grippy outsole, and a quality upper. The Speed Goat 5 is the latest release. This is a low-drop shoe (4mm). The toe box on the Speed Goats got a bit more roomy with every new addition released but is still relatively narrow. 
  • Altra Lone Peak 6 (Lone Peak 6 Ladies) – a running shoe that has since become a thru-hiker favorite. These shoes are well known for their zero-drop design and large toe box. Very popular on the Camino with extreme comfort and thick padding. Unique design. The zero drop is similar to walking barefoot. If you have never walked in no-drop shoes before this can be time to get used to this type of shoe, so make sure you walk them in beforehand.
  • Brooks Cascadia 16 (Cascadia 16 Ladies)- very popular with through hikers, feels like a comfortable road shoe, with good underfoot protection. Light quality built trail runners. These shoes have an 8mm drop
trail runners camino de santiago ladies
LADIES TRAIL RUNNERS Hoka Speed Goat 4 | Brooks Cascadia 16 | Altra Lone Peak 6

Walking the Camino in hiking shoes

Hiking shoes are designed for hiking. With a lower cut, they are more agile and lightweight than hiking boots. Many boots are also available as lower-cut hiking shoes. For Alya and myself, we found hiking shoes to work the best and have worn several different shoes in the 16 Camino de Santiago’s we have walked between the two of us. We found shoes to be fairly lightweight, comfortable, stay relatively dry, and do not take too long to dry when getting wet. Hiking shoes have a stiffer sole which we found to be great on Camino where you spend a lot of time walking on cobblestones such as the Camino Portuguese.

Popular hiking shoes for walking

hiking shoes men camino de santiago
HIKING SHOE MENS Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX | Merrell Moab 2 | Oboz Sawtooth
hiking shoes women camino de santiago
HIKING SHOES for LADIES Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX | Merrell Moab 2 | Oboz Sawtooth

Wearing hiking boots on the Camino de Santiago

The two biggest problems many people have walking the Camino de Santiago in boots are weight and breathability. The higher the cut of the shoe the heavier it will be. Leather boots tend to be heavier and less flexible. With boots there are many different choices, the height of the boot and the material used for construction make a massive difference. Old-style, heavy, leather boots do not work well for us.

SALOMON HIKING BOOTS CAMINO DE SANTIAGO
Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid Gore-tex Hiking Boots. LADIES | MENS

We both love our Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX (LADIES) mid-length, Gortex boots. Modern, light, and super comfortable we have done some distance in conditions varying from snow to hot dusty trails and have only had a great experience! Light and athletic with a mid-length design. I find them very comfortable and do not have a problem with breathability. I wear them with thick Merino wool socks.

Sandals for walking the Camino de Santiago

Most people pack sandals to wear around the Albergues after a long day on the road. I love my Havaianas flip-flops and have walked long stretches in these sandals on hot days on the Camino. They are not the lightest flip-flops, but they are super comfortable and I find them a good choice to carry in my backpack for wearing in the albergues and walking on the route. I have met people walking the whole Camino in hiking sandals and saying after switching from shoes to sandals they will never go back! Packing sandals to alternate with your shoes is not a bad idea to keep your feet dry and blister-free. Walking your Camino in sandals is mainly an option if you walk in the dry season. Some popular sandals we have seen are made by KEEN and Teva; Keen Ladies Whisper SandalsKeen Men’s Clearwater CNX 2 LightweightTeva Hurricane Xlt2, and Teva Hurricane Xlt2 women.

SANDALS FOR THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO Teva Hurricane Xlt2 | Teva Hurricane Xlt2 women | Keen Men’s Clearwater 2 CNX | Keen Ladies Whisper |

Walking the Camino Wearing Waterproof Shoes/Boots (Gortex)

Walking the Camino in Waterproof shoes is usually not recommended. Waterproof material does not only keep water out but also keeps water in. If your feet sweat a lot, leather or Gortex is less breathable and your feet can be wet in any conditions. If it rains enough any shoes will get wet. Waterproof shoes take longer to dry and are not a good option. Changing wet socks during the day in the warmer months is a good way to prevent blisters. Many Gortex shoes do claim they are well-ventilated. We have never had a problem with extensive sweating in our Salomon Gortex shoes. 

Gortex shoes can be the right footwear in the rainy season. I will not recommend wearing heavy, waterproof hiking boots on a hot dry Camino in summertime (July/August). Walking in the shoulder season (May, June, and September), can be good, but rain is possible. We walked a very wet Camino Primitivo during this time and waterproof boots worked fantastically. Walking the Camino del Norte in October and the Camino Finisterre in November when we got a lot of rain. Our hiking shoes got very wet on most days. We managed to dry the shoes on most nights by stuffing our shoes with newspaper (great tip for drying shoes). Struggling a lot we felt waterproof shoes would have been a good idea. If they would have stayed dry in these very wet weather conditions is of course not certain. 

Choice of Camino Shoes for different Camino Routes

The Camino de Santiago is not a single route, but a network of pilgrimage routes ending in Santiago de Compostela. None of the routes are extremely rugged and they can all be walked in most kinds of shoes. No crazy mountaineering is involved, mostly hiking on relatively good trails and roads. On the different Camino routes, you will walk on many different types of terrain, a mix of sand, boardwalks, concrete, asphalt, Roman roads, rocks, rain, and mud.

  • The Portuguese Camino involves a lot of walking on cobblestones. We live in Portugal and walk parts of the trail regularly. The cobblestones can make your feet very tired and this surface gets slippery when wet. We prefer walking with a shoe with a stiffer sole for this terrain, hiking shoes are the best choice. The Merrell Moab 3 (Merrell Moab 3 Ladiesis a good shoe for the Portuguese Camino.
  • The Camino Primitivo is probably the most rugged trail you will hike on any Camino. It can be walked in any footwear, but we have walked a very wet Camino Primitivo with long stretches of mud. Our mid-length Gortex boots worked fantastically. Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX (LADIES) is a nice shoe, perfectly suited for the Camino Primitivo. This nice, short, flexible, light boot is waterproof and we both find them very comfortable. 

Walking in Running Shoes

We walked our first Camino after coming to Europe following a hiking season in Nepal. It was summer and Campbell decided to walk in his road running shoes rather than in his trekking boots. He has done a lot of running in the shoes (more than 1000 km) blister-free. He walked in his running footwear, thin running socks, and his Asics road running shoes. This was the wrong choice of footwear. After a couple of very long days (over 30 km) he got the worst blisters he has ever had. By the end of the Camino, his feet and the shoes both were destroyed. Walking and running are very different, especially long walks with a heavy backpack.

Good socks for the Camino

We are firm believers in Merino wool socks, this is a game changer. Hiking many thousands of kilometers on a variety of budgets we have used probably about every kind of sock you can imagine. Nothing comes close to Merino wool socks. They are simply fantastic at keeping your feet dry and blister-free. They just take much longer to start smelling bad than even the fanciest synthetic hiking socks. DARN TOUGH and Danish Endurance make excellent quality Merino wool socks.

Buen Camino! Good luck and take care of your feet!

Questions or Comments?

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Gavin Ayre

Wednesday 12th of June 2024

Hi Nomads, My wife & I have just finished the Camino Frances, walking SJPDP to Santiago de Compostela and as I type are walking to Fistera and then finishing up at Muxia.

We used Lowa boots because of the ankle support and goretex. I have a very bad ankle, so I have the very high Z8-s gtx (a military style boot) while the wife is using a lady Mauria EVO gtx.

Neither of us have had a single blister or even a hotspot, and our feet have been dry the whole way despite extensive stretches of sloppy mud and some very warm days. I suspect the latest boots have come long way since the old days of leather clod-hoppers and are well worth testing if you are heavy & old like us !

The other key has been socks - we’ve both used injini toes socks and they are part of why our feet stayed dry & blister free.

Stingy Nomads

Thursday 13th of June 2024

Hello Gavin, thanks for your comment. It is great to hear your choice of footwear was so successful. Enjoy every minute. Buen Camino!

Douglas Gray

Monday 22nd of April 2024

Excellent site. Well done.

I walked the last leg of the Spanish camino (Sarria to Santiago about 8 years ago - 120 km)

I am 82 years of age. Live in Vancouver, B.C. Canada.

Planning on doing a guided highlights of the camino this Fall, 2024.

My 23 year old cousin from Vancouver leaves in 2 weeks time to solo walk the classic Spanish camino. If he can, he will try to walk the full 830 km route. That is his plan He has the Merrell Moab 3 boot (not waterproof and the low rise version).

Please put me on your newsletter list.

Thank you.

Douglas Gray

Stingy Nomads

Monday 22nd of April 2024

Hello Douglas, thanks for reading, I am glad you enjoy our website. If he is comfortable hiking in the Merrell Moab 3 boots it would certainly be a good choice of shoe for the Camino. He is planning a long pilgrimage, so one bit of advice would be that he uses a pair of shoes that is still fairly new so that they will last to the end of his Camino. Buen Camino

JohnB

Saturday 20th of April 2024

Doing a 1000km in any pair of running shoes is a major no-no. The cushioning in running shoes is completely worn out by 500 miles. Depending on one's weight, running shoes that have 350-500 miles are worn out for running. You can use them for casual shoes, but the best thing is to donate them. Runners make this mistake all the time and wonder why they have foot injuries. Worn out shoes are especially bad for people over age 60.

Campbell's experience using running shoes for the Camino, should have been expected. I have done long distance hikes, but not the Camino. I would never recommend anyone using older shoes for the Camino. Buy a couple pairs for training and break-in prior to your Camino. Having 2 pairs of shoes is the best situation. Alternating shoes gives them a chance to dry out. Also if one gets wet in the rain, you can use the other pair. I know the extra weight of another pair of shoes is not ideal, but your feet will thank you in the end.

KW

Thursday 11th of April 2024

I am looking at the altra peak 6 shoe. Really like the shoe. Would you recommend the waterproof weather 2 or the altra 6 that is not waterproof but would dry faster. Doing the last leg of the Portuguese end of Sept 24.

KH

Friday 7th of June 2024

@KW, Hi, my 2 cents… I walked the Portuguese in the Altra lone peaks July 2023. Great light weight and roomy. As SN said do not do Gortex. I was not used to the zero drop and walking on the sand where the boardwalk was broken or covered puts your foot at an angle like you are doing a steep incline. My calves got over stretched and the heel pressure & shifting sand gave me heel blisters. I used Compeed, no blister popping and healed while walking. I still like shoes, though the tread won’t do for rougher terrain or multiple Camino. My best to you!

Stingy Nomads

Thursday 18th of April 2024

Hello KW, the Altra 6 is a good choice for the Portuguese in September. I would go with the normal Altra 6.

LyP

Monday 25th of March 2024

Hello Thank you for reading my comment in advance and help me choose shoes for my first Camino I’m walking the coastal Poruguese route end of April. I own a pair of Hoka speedgoat 5 but after training with them for a few months, I think the cushion part aren’t cushioning anymore Reading your blog, I’m considering either the Salomon Ultra or Pioneer. I have troubles finding them in the non GTX versions with my size. Will it affect my feet a lot if I have to go with the GTX versions? Would you recommend to size up one or half size to compensate for the swollen feet at the end of the day? Thank you so much

Stingy Nomads

Tuesday 26th of March 2024

Hello, thanks for reading. If you were happy with the Hoka´s I would just buy the same shoes now, they are a good choice for the Camino Portuguese with a lot of cushioning on the cobblestones and boardwalks. The problem people have with Gortex is sweating in the shoes not drying. In May you should get some hot days. Personally this has not been an issue for either of us walking in Salomon Ultra Gortex boots. Regarding size you should wear hiking shoes that are a half or one size up since your feet will swell after days of hiking. A finger behind your heel is recommended if you move your toes to the front of the shoe. Don’t buy to big, if you get heel lift when walking on your toes it can cause blisters. Wear similar socks to what you are going to hike in when trying on the shoes. A professional in a sport shop should be able to assist you with choosing the correct size. Buen Camino

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