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.
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.
Table of Contents
Boots vs shoes for walking the Camino de Santiago
The quick answer – our favorite footwear for the Camino de Santiago is hiking shoes.
This is a very popular topic to discuss on Facebook groups and in online forums and you will find plenty of discussions if you search a little. Here is a quick summary of our experience with different kinds of shoes.
If you want to know the pros and cons of walking the Camino in different seasons read our post on the best time to do 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, the logic is they are light, get dry quickly, and provide enough support for the kind of terrain that you will experience on the Camino.
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 work better on the Camino. 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. We swear by merino wool socks, they are fantastic!
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.
- Altra’s Lone Peak 6 (Lone Peak 6 Ladies) – a running shoe that has since become a thru-hiker favorite. Very popular on the Camino, known for extreme comfort and thick padding. Apparently, the novel design takes time to get used to, 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.
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 a 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
- Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX Hiking Shoe (X Ultra 3 GTX Ladies) – A very popular hiking shoe known for extreme comfort, great performance, and durability. Our mid-height Ultra 3 GTX shoes are fantastic and this is just a lower-cut version. We really had only great experiences walking in Salomons, Alya walked 3000km (including the Camino Frances and the Camino Portuguese from Lisbon) in a pair of Salomon Elipse 2 Ltr. The Salomon X Ultra 4 has also been released. For a non-waterproof version with better breathability, you can also consider the Salomon Men’s X Ultra Pioneer Aero Hiking Shoes or the ladies’ version Salomon Ladies X Ultra Pioneer Aero Hiking Shoes.
- Merrel Moab 2 – Fantastic shoes we got brilliant service out of doing multiple hikes on varied terrain.
- Available in Merrell Moab 2 Goretex – waterproof version (Moab 2 GTX Ladies) and a Merrell Moab ventilation water-resistant version, better venting for air circulation (Moab 2 Ventilation Ladies). Great shoe, but a bit heavy the Salomon X Ultra 3 is significantly lighter. Merrel Moab 3 has been released.
- Oboz Sawtooth X-low (Sawtooth Ladies), a popular hiking shoe on the Camino de Santiago, is a stiff, stable hiking shoe with excellent support.
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 obviously be. Leather boots tend to be heavier and less flexible. 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.
The Camino de Santiago is not a single route, but a network of pilgrimage routes ending in Santiago de Compostela. The chosen route and season definitely influence what shoes will be suitable. I will not recommend wearing heavy, waterproof 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. We walked the Camino del Norte in October and the Camino Finisterre in November when we got a lot of rain having waterproof boots would save us a lot of trouble.
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. 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 my flip-flops on hot days on the Camino. 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 Sandals, Keen Men’s Clearwater CNX 2 Lightweight, Teva Hurricane Xlt2, and Teva Hurricane Xlt2 women.
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. After a couple of very long days (over 30 km) he got the worst blisters he has ever had and by the end of the Camino, the shoes were completely destroyed. We know some people that run the Camino and they do so in their running shoes but running and walking is different, especially walking 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 MERIWOOL make excellent quality Merino wool socks.
Questions or Comments?
Got any questions or comments? We would love to help! All questions and comments will be answered by us personally in Buy Me a Coffee. Click below and ask away.
Feel free to support our site by buying us a coffee!
The pretty half of Stingy Nomads, responsible for all our land adventures (hiking, climbing, walking the Camino) and following them write-ups. Alya loves walking since she was a child, she prefers to walk 1000 km with a backpack rather than to do a 10 000 km road trip (actually any road trip). Alya is a big fan of Latin America, the Spanish language, and dancing. Every time we go away she desperately misses our dog Chile.