Research is important when one is going to walk 10-30 kilometres every day for a month or longer. Most important of all are backpacks, hiking boots and socks. Before my first camino, Camino Frances, I did a lot of buying and trying out many kinds of socks. I had read on many blog posts about which socks keep your feet comfortable, dry and blister free. I bought Tilley socks, Bridgdale socks and Smartwool liners. I read about people who swore by the liners. Wear the liners and a pair of good hiking socks over the liners. Well, I will tell you my story and give you my conclusions.
The two pairs of Tilley socks were not suitable for hiking, even around St. John’s and Torbay. At least that is my opinion after trying the socks in my Merrell hiking boots. My feet got sweaty. I got blisters. I was not happy with wearing just one pair of socks at a time, and the recommended Tilley socks were too big and bunched up. So I decided to order the Bridgdale socks and this time I tried a small size Smartwool liner pair of socks. While expensive to think I’m wearing nearly $50 worth of socks in my hiking boots, my feet were cool and comfortable. I didn’t get any new blisters and I was foot happy!
Now to relay my experience with my Bridgdale socks on my first camino. I had some Vaseline which I used religiously. I stopped every 1-2 hours to remove the liner and heavier Bridgdale sock. I allowed my feet to breathe and then I lambasted them with Vaseline, put on a new liner(I had two pairs of Smartwool liners) and then placed the Bridgdale socks over the liners. Voila! 550 kilometres later I was still blister free walking into Santiago. I helped some walkers with their feet. I shared sheep’s wool I had been given by my Aussie friend Judy. And I even gave one hiker some of my coveted skin type layer(bought along the camino). But in all, I was gifted by the universe and one forgetful hiker with some salve(green) and another tube of Vaseline. It was sitting all unattended on a picnic table outside one café. I trusted that it was good ointment and perhaps it was it, and not the socks, which kept me blister free.
On my second camino I mailed all my new heavier Smartwool socks home, after a week of very hot weather, and wore my Smartwool liners by themselves on several days, or with the Bridgdale socks when the weather turned cooler. I took Penaten cream, a cream used mainly on babies’ bums in Canada, and it worked wonderfully. I thank my friend Carolyn for telling me about this cream. I probably would not have thought about it myself. I would have stuck with the Vaseline.
While I have considered buying the 1000 mile socks, I think I will stick with my Bridgdale and Smartwool ones for the next camino. If you would like to leave a comment about your socks, please do so below. My friend who walked Camino Portugues with me this year had many blisters, but she did not complain. She had bought cheaper socks at the Dollar Store and found them very comfortable. I might try the cheap ones just around home, but when it comes to a long camino in Spain or Portugal or the Via Francigena I would use my expensive socks.