Friday, February 8, 2013

Hiking Boots

The most important piece of equipment that we need to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela is a very good pair of hiking boots. When we were researching information we learned that this is one of the hottest topics - boots - shoes - sandals - barefoot? Yes we have read that every once in awhile someone attempts to walk the Camino barefoot. Unless you have been raised all your life going barefoot - or are one of those African runners who have unbelievably well conditioned feet - I would not even think about going barefoot on the Camino. Over the course of 790 kilometers - i.e. 500 miles - we will walk on asphalt (in the hot sun - need I say more) - gravel - grass - mud - and everything in between. We will walk on flat terrain - hilly terrain - over streams - wooden walkways - rocky mountains. If we were much younger - we might attempt this walk with a good pair of athletic shoes - but alas - we are older - and hopefully wiser. The shoe of choice by the majority of older peregrinos - is hiking boots. Even in this category - there is a choice between lo-cut, mid-height - full height. To make it more interesting you also have backpacking boots - hiking boots - trail boots and lightweight and heavyweight. As you can see - this is not a choice made lightly or quickly. We did know we wanted a boot that would give us ankle support for going up and more importantly going down hills - also with a hard sole - i.e. Vibram - that would be able to stand up to the varying terrain and last the entire 500 miles.  

Luckily we were aimed at REI - what began as a group of 23 mountain climbing buddies is now the nation's largest consumer cooperative - focusing on outdoors sports - equipment - supplies. The one thing about REI that we have grown to love is their 100% satisfaction return policy. This means that although both of us are now on our third pair of hiking boots - we have not lost any of our investment in this particular item. There are other products that we have purchased - took home - weighed - packed into our backpack - and decided to return - either for a different model - size - brand - or just decided that we really didn't need it in the first place. Equipping yourself for the Camino is a lot of trial and error - we are learning quickly - how much trial and error. 

At this time we both ended up with Vasque Breeze 2.0 Mid GTX Hiking Boots which seem to be working out just fine. 
Along with the hiking boots we purchased wool socks. I had no idea that wool - especially merino wool - is the preferred sock that hikers wear. For especially long hikes - like the Camino - it is recommended that you wear a thin wool liner sock inside the wool hiking sock. So far - so good. As soon as the temperature gets a bit warmer we can resume our outdoors training - so for the time being - we wear them around the house - and spend our walking time on the treadmill at Planet Fitness.

Buen Camino
Dale and Arlene