Camino Gear

Camino Footwear…Again

April 22, 2014

Sometimes comfort doesn’t matter. When a shoe is freakin’ fabulous, it may be worth a subsequent day of misery. Soak in Epsom salts and take comfort in the fact that you’re better than everyone else.” ― Clinton Kelly

I have to say, I completely disagree with Clinton Kelly’s quote. Most of my life, I’ve been more into comfort than style. I still miss my Birkenstocks (I lost one to the sea while climbing aboard a catamaran in the Caribbean when I was 24 and never bought a new pair). But I needed a good quote for this post and I knew that one would be, if nothing else, eye-catching. ; )

Just so you know, I really hesitated to write yet another page about footwear. After all, I’ve already written three or four other posts on this topic. But then I realized that if you didn’t want to read about shoes again, you’d just skip it. And, when preparing to walk 550 miles, footwear is a big deal.

The good news is that I am fairly certain I have found my main walking shoes for the Camino; a pair of Brooks Cascadia trail runners, size eleven. I walked with them all weekend with no issues. The Hallux Rigidus (otherwise known as turf toe or Winkle Pinkler’s) in my right big toe still hurt but that’s nothing new. I’ve learned to live with that pain, which is really the only option since I am unwilling to go under the knife, at least for the time being. (You may have read in a previous post that I bought special insoles to combat this; unfortunately, they didn’t work out.)

So the next issue concerns footwear for the evening. Evening wear on the Camino is quite different the evening wear in California. (Or maybe not, come to think of it). Of course opinions vary greatly on this topic but my impression is that a majority of peregrinos favor Crocs, which are lightweight, comfortable, and waterproof. So, I have tried on about six pairs of Crocs, in an attempt to overcome my distaste for their appearance. Sadly, each time I don these shoes, I am even more convinced that I don’t want them.

Flip flops are another favorite of many pilgrims but not only do they aggravate the Hallux, I find that my feet actually have to do too much work to keep them on. At the end of a 20-25 kilometers day, I am quite certain that my poor feet won’t want to do any work at all.

Are they really 20?!? I can’t trust my memory….

Enter my 20-year-old Teva (Hebrew for “nature”, pronounced ‘teh-vah’) Hurricane sport sandals, which I purchased when I was leading hiking and biking trips for Backroads, an active travel company. I suspect that I have walked thousands of miles in these sandals over the course of the past two decades. And they have served me well, taking me through rivers and streams, over rocks and roots, and across hill and dale. Though I still hike in them, the tread is all but gone making traction less than ideal and not very safe.

So now my thoughts have turned to a new pair of Tevas for my trip because they are comfortable, waterproof, cute (oh wait, I do care about how my shoes look), and, I can wear them to hike in if I run into any problems with the Cascadias (or just need a break from them). Of course, since buying the Hurricanes in the nineties, Teva has created a multitude of models, complicating my decision. Do I go with another pair of Hurricanes? Or do I try the Terra Fi Lite (which looks a lot like the Hurricane but is more expensive)? Perhaps the Tirra, which is a decidedly more feminine-looking sandal? It’s a total head trip.

At the end of the day, I have decided to follow in the footsteps of a 2013 pilgrim and simply order some of each from Zappos, which has free shipping both ways! I admit, I feel rather guilty about this as it’s increasing my carbon footprint. But then again, with the exception of the plane flights to and from Spain, my carbon footprint for six weeks this summer will be relatively small…

Addendum: I spent a day at work wearing a Tirra on one foot and a Terra Fi Lite on the other. The Terra Fi didn’t fit me at all. The Tirra was a maybe but I didn’t care for the color. Back to the drawing board. (Currently feeling like I just want to take my old Teva Hurricanes since I know they work.)

To Teva or not to Teva, and if so, which Teva?


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