Hiking is one of the most exciting activities you can do that will never run out of new places to explore. But, this enjoyment can quickly fade if you get a blister. By knowing the cause of blisters and their prevention techniques, you will no longer let those tiny blisters stop you from enjoying nature’s beauty.
Your Footwear can Prevent Blisters
Before choosing a pair of hiking boots, think through factors such as, terrain, weather, and if you’ll be wearing a backpack (the way your feet pivot in your hiking boots will be affected by the weight of your backpack). Leave enough time to shop for the right boots before hiking season or a planned trip. I went through three pairs before I found the right ones. (Gotta love REI as they took each of them back and let me exchange them for a new pair even though I wore them for a while).
A good practice when buying boots is to purchase them a few weeks ahead of the trip. This will not only give you time to practice walking around in them, but will allow you to break them in. Wear the boots with your backpack, and go run errands or take on a few practice hikes just for test purposes.
If you’re hiking in boots that give your feet friction, moisture, pressure, and heat, then you’ll likely develop blisters. The kind of hike that you are doing can also contribute towards developing blisters, such as a hot trek that is muggy and elevated or treks that take you through water, such as, rivers and streams.
Focus on purchasing the correct pair of shoes and follow these tips (see below), you will be blister-free and enjoying more hikes.
I recommend to purchase shoes that will give your feet room to swell - boots with a relatively wide toe box. Such shoes will give your feet room to grow with the heat and hiking, thus minimizing blisters because blood rushes to your feet when you’re on your feet for long hours. Since I started hiking my shoe size has gone up a half size, so I buy a whole shoe size larger and they are a perfect fit.
If you already have purchased boots that are giving you blisters, get hiking boots inserts that will get rid of the dead space in your boots.
Get a Nice Pair of Socks for your Feet
After focusing on your boots, look to getting yourself a nice pair of socks. A pair of socks will help you prevent any future blisters by wicking moisture away and minimizing friction.
When deciding on the best fabric for socks, focus on socks made from wool or synthetic. Avoid purchasing cotton socks. Cotton holds moisture in and will cause blisters much faster than wool or synthetic socks would.
Even if you do bring wool and synthetic socks, it is important to bring some extra pairs if you sweat a lot or they get wet so that you can change during the day. I hang them on the outside of my pack to dry as I hike so I always have a dry pair to rotate.
Use moleskins to prevent once blisters have started
Moleskins are bandages used for blisters. These are the best invention ever and I carry them in my first aid kit even for the shortest hikes. These can go a long way in preventing you from developing blisters while hiking. When you feel hot spots or blisters developing on your feet, simply place a moleskin on the area to prevent it from getting any worse. This will help prevent your boots or socks from rubbing against the already hot spot or inflaming a blister.
The good news about moleskins is that they are not expensive. They are worth the investment and easy to find (purchase from Amazon here) That said, it should be on your packing list at any time you are out hiking, especially on a long trail hike.
No one likes blisters. They are painful and annoying and hinder you from being adventurous. Do not let blisters stop you from your next hike. By knowing how and where blisters develop, you will be able to properly prevent any future blisters.
Get the right set of boots or hiking shoes a few weeks or even a month before a big hike. Do some practice hikes with them on. When you practice, try walking up and down the stairs, put a heavy backpack on, and spend multiple hours in them.
After getting the right shoes, focus on your pair of socks. Avoid packing cotton socks and get wool or synthetics. Lastly, put some moleskins on the hot spot if you start feeling a blister starting up.
These are just a few steps to help save you from ruining those exciting hikes. Blisters will no longer hinder you from seeing great sites and spending time with nature.