Hiking isn’t just a walk in the woods. Terrain, distance, and weather challenge your feet in ways simple walking can’t compare. Needless to say, if huge blisters pop up in the backcountry you’re in trouble. Let’s address factors that lead to foot problems and ways you can minimize and treat them.
Never ever go on a real hike in brand-new boots! Even the most expensive, top-quality boots will cause blisters if you don’t properly break them in. Wear them around town for a week or two. Wear them to work. Get some miles on them before hitting the trail.
Buy from a boot shop or outdoor retailer who can accurately measure length, width, arch, and pressure points. Get plenty of new socks at the same time you are being fitted. Make sure your boots fit to the weight of socks you’ll be wearing.
Avoid tall, heavy leather hiking boots unless the snow is deep and temperatures are icy. In most conditions, too much insulation and weight make your feet sweat and rub. Besides the obvious discomfort, hot wet feet can lead to blisters and other problems.
If you’re on an overnight trip, bring a pair of light hiking or trail running shoes, or even sandals. Give your boots and your feet ample time to dry and air out.
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Even on a day hike, carry an extra pair of socks and change them at noon. It’s amazing how a new pair will put the spring back in your step.
Even with proper boots and preparation, it’s important to carry a simple first aid and foot care kit while on the trail. Adventure Medical Kits makes a variety of items including moleskin and blister cream. Don’t wait until you have a blister. The minute you start feeling pain, a rub or a toe getting hot, tend to it immediately. A blister is already forming.
Another item to carry is duct tape. Adventure Medical Kits makes some little rolls that are handy and easy to pack. I can’t count the times I’ve had soles work loose on footwear in the backcountry. A strip of duct tape will securely wrap them up so you can make it back to camp.