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How To Avoid Blisters When Hiking

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 30 Mar 2015 | comments*Discuss
Hiking Walking Blisters Hiking Boots

It is a fallacy to believe that getting blisters whilst hiking is inevitable. In fact, blisters are quite easy to avoid if you follow the two golden rules of testing and choosing the most appropriate hiking boots and by taking some simple precautions when walking.

Taking Care With Hiking Boots, Shoes And Hiking Socks

Hiking boots, shoes and hiking socks are all likely to be the biggest cause of blisters when out hiking if you don't choose them wisely. And, with many people now opting to buy hiking boots or shoes via the internet these days, in other words without having tried them on first, this can be one of the main causes of blisters and other foot conditions. The fact is that your footwear is the single most important item of your clothing apparel given that it will be your feet which bear the brunt of the stresses and strains that come with walking as an activity. Therefore, even if it costs a little more, you should really visit an outdoor store where you can seek professional advice from staff who are often outdoor enthusiasts themselves who will be able to answer any questions and also you'll be able to tell them the kind of hiking you will be mostly doing so that they can suggest a selection of hiking boots or shoes as well as hiking socks that are likely to be most suitable for you. Additionally, unlike buying sight unseen from the internet or a catalogue, you'll also be given the opportunity to try on a selection of footwear first before deciding on which ones to buy. The key is that the hiking boots or shoes should feel completely comfortable worn with the correct hiking socks whose material should be thick to avoid blisters. Because of that, you'll probably find that you may need to buy a hiking boot or shoe size which could be half a size to a size greater than what your everyday shoe size would be. Thick hiking socks are important for a number of reasons:

  • They provide extra padding for your feet
  • They reduce the friction between your feet and the boots themselves
  • They wick away the sweat

And it's all three factors here that are crucial when it comes to the prevention of blisters.

Breaking Your Hiking Boots In First Before Hiking

One you've decided on a combination of hiking boots and hiking socks, you need to break them in first. Don't simply assume that because they felt comfortable when you tried them on in the store that you're now prepared to tackle a 10 mile hike straight away in new boots. Break them in on shorter walks, even if that's initially just a 5 minute walk each day to the shops. You'll soon get to know what combination of socks and the way you lace up your boots feels most comfortable and it's only by knowing this that you'll be prepared for when you actually venture out on a proper hike. Additionally, the more you wear them for everyday use initially, the quicker the boots will mould to accommodate the shape of your feet.

The Importance Of Keeping Your Feet Aired And Dry When Hiking

No matter what hiking boots you buy, it's inevitable that with the walking you're doing as well as the thick hiking socks which are designed to protect your feet, they will get sweaty and hot so whenever you take a rest during your walk, it's important to remove your boots and socks and give your feet a chance to dry off and cool down, which helps prevent blisters. In fact, carrying a small flannel or hand towel or some wet wipes will help with this and, ideally, you should bring at least one additional pair of hiking socks with you. It shouldn't be too heavy a burden on what you're carrying to pack 3 or 4 pairs of thick hiking socks which you can use throughout the day's hike and it's the changing out of sweaty socks and putting fresh dry ones on as well as airing your feet that is one of the best methods of preventing blisters from occurring.

Recognise Foot Irritation At The Earliest Opportunity To Avoid Blisters

Before blisters even get a chance to form, you'll almost certainly recognise some kind of minor irritation that your feet are experiencing when hiking. As soon as you feel that, stop and remove your hiking boots and socks. It may well be that a piece of grit has got into your boot or sock or your feet are sweating that much that you need to dry them off and change into a fresh pair of hiking socks. Many hikers suffer from blisters because of their sheer determination to cover a certain amount of ground before their next rest stop. However, they're not doing themselves any favours by adopting that mentality as by the time they reach their next scheduled rest stop, it may be too late and the blisters will have formed already.

Therefore, by using your own common sense when it comes to buying hiking boots and hiking socks that feel comfortable as opposed to choosing them solely on the basis of style as well as understanding how and why blisters form and by taking preventative action first, you should always be able to enjoy your hikes without suffering from the discomfort of blisters.

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[Add a Comment]
Feet are the most important things to look after.I think 3-4 pairs sounds a lot however if it worksfor you then why not?I am off again next week and for the first time ever I am going to try a creamcalled Gerlach's Gehwol footcream to prevent blisters and sore feet.I don't get many blisters really but always wanted to try a preventative method so I will be applying the cream to my feet for a few days before I start my walk and then daily.I will post results when I return on April 12th
Superdee - 30-Mar-15 @ 10:01 AM
Blisters can be filled with blood or with pus, there are many simple home remedies for blisters that can help to ease the pain and speed healing. You can search "how to treat blisters" with google.
wleene1971 - 16-Mar-15 @ 11:41 AM
I have hiked for most of my life.Socks are very important.Many times I double my socks.I love wool socks, but one of my secrets to not getting blisters is to rub in a lot of petroleum jelly or vicks chest rub on my feet before putting on my socks.Also, I always purchase my hiking sneakers one size larger.If you're doing a long hike, you may even consider stopping after a few hours and reapplying one of the rubs.And don't forget to bring extra socks so the socks you wore that day have a chance to air out and dry.Happy hiking.
LandBHiking - 14-Apr-13 @ 12:52 AM
Agreed with the guaranteed no blisters sock comment. They’re quite expensive, but they do exactly what it says on the tin. I’ve had mine six years, go hiking often and I’ve never had a blister. Also, wearing them at home in winter, they keep the feet toasty warm, which is a huge plus – more good wear out of them.
Walker - 24-Sep-12 @ 11:00 AM
I bought a pair of '1000 mile' socks, which were supposed to prevent me getting blisters. Igo hill walking roughly once a week and within 2-3 miles of starting the hike, i began to get blisters. Is there anything i can do to prevent this? As far as i know my boots are the right size, so i don't think that is the problem.. i have a couple of serious walking events coming up in the next month, and the last thing i want is to get blisters! Help!
Bryan - 19-Jun-12 @ 9:58 PM
Why not buy socks that guarantee no blisters? I have two pairs of them and they've never let me down yet, no matter what kind of boot or shoe I've worn them with. They're expensive, and usually have a lining, but for comfort and durability they're worth every penny. Much better than the hassle of two pairs of socks if you ask me.
Tim - 30-May-12 @ 11:19 AM
looking forward to the next hill walk
gerry - 7-Jul-11 @ 9:26 AM
Overkill. Buy a good quality boot, don't scrimp on price. 2 pairs of socks (one pair on, one pair in your pack). And have fun.3-4 pairs of socks for a days hiking. ridiculous.
Andy - 17-Mar-11 @ 4:34 PM
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