By: Meg Atteberry
Nothing stops a hike quite like a gnarly blister. In fact, blister prevention is an essential hiking skill that everyone needs to know. There are several different ways to prevent blisters while hiking. However, sometimes you can’t prevent blisters but you should know how to treat them. This guide to preventing and treating blisters while hiking gives you the inside scoop on keeping your tootsies in tip-top shape for your next hike.
Fancy Footwork: Choosing the Right Hiking Shoe
The best way to prevent blisters while hiking is to have the right footwear. Footwear from boots to shoes is an essential piece of hiking gear. Ensure that you don’t get blisters by getting properly fitted for your hiking boots or shoes. Go into a store and try everything on, using socks you would typically hike with.
Walk up and down stairs, move around, jump, stomp your feet, and try to get as much movement as possible (yes, you should look weird in the store). Some outdoor retailers have special areas where they simulate trail conditions. Try to use these unique areas. You’re aiming for a snug fit with no pain points. Your foot should only move about an eighth of an inch in the shoe.
Remember, everyone’s foot is different, so don’t skip this essential step. Online reviews can tell you if a shoe is durable or performs as advertised, but nothing can substitute getting fitted properly before you buy.
Wear Proper Socks
Just like footwear, you want to ensure that you’ve got the right socks for your next hike. Choose non-cotton socks dedicated to hiking. Wool and moisture-wicking synthetics work best. You may opt for extra cushion (such as trekking or mountaineering weight) for added warmth.
If you’re particularly prone to blisters, pick up a pair of silk sock liners to keep the moisture wicked away from your feet. Silk liners actively work to keep your feet dry, letting you go further without fear of blisters.
Have you ever been on a hike and gotten a pesky pebble in your shoe? Or maybe you’re hiking in the desert and you can feel the sand seeping into your footwear. It happens more frequently than you would think.
If you notice something in your shoe, or you’re traveling over dusty and sandy terrain. Stop to remove the object from your footwear. For desert or beach hiking, stop every mile or so to empty out your shoes. Otherwise, you’ll get a blister simply from rubbing against another object. This can quickly result in a bigger injury than you want to deal with miles from your car.
How to Treat a Blister While Hiking
As well as wearing the right socks and footwear work to prevent blisters, sometimes a blister is inevitable. If you do notice a blister, or even a hot spot (a blister in the making), stop and address the issue.
The best way to combat a blister on the trail is to use a specific blister band-aid. These band-aids have gel-like padding that protects the blister and keeps it from spreading. Typically they can be left on for a couple of days before they need to be replaced.
First, wipe away any dirt or debris on the blister area so the band-aid sticks and you don’t get an infection. Then apply the band-aid (sizes vary) so that the gel pad covers the blister. Put your socks and shoes back on and you’re ready to hike.
Never try to pop a blister while on the trail. Wait until your home and you can properly wash and clean your wound. If you notice an infection, get medical help.
Overall, blister prevention while hiking starts with proper footwear. If you find yourself with a blister on the trail, it’s best to deal with the situation as soon as possible so the blister doesn’t get worse. Treat your feet like royalty and you can hike endless miles on your favorite trails.
About the Author:
Meg ditched the 9-5 world as an architect in pursuit of adventure. Now a freelance writer for the outdoor industry, she’s made it her life’s work to inspire others to say “yes” to adventure. From the remote wilderness areas of Colorado, to exploring a foreign country, Meg specializes in off-beat destinations for the intrepid soul. You can find her in the backcountry searching for the perfect camp spot in her home of Colorado.