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by coureurdebois

Tips for avoiding hiking blisters

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If you have trouble avoiding hiking blisters, a hike in God’s Country can easily be soured. Tip: Walk on four skins.

hikers clear a hill
hikers clear a hill
Your first skin is your skin: Start by making sure your feet are clean and dry. This will help stop foot fungus, and wet skin is also more susceptible to friction damage.

Your second skin: Slide on a thin pair of socks. I use form-fitting fitting silk or synthetic dress socks. They should be snug, but should not bind your toes tightly.

Your third skin: Now pull on thicker hiking socks. The friction of a moving foot will be between your rougher hiking socks and the slippery inner socks – instead of directly against your skin. Make sure there are no wrinkles or folds in either pair of socks. These can become blister starters.

Your fourth skin: Now pull on your lace-up hiking boots/shoes. These should fit firmly on your foot, but should not fit too tightly around the toes. If you're going down steep terrain, it’s good to have a little extra length in the toe.

More Tips for Happy Hiking Feet:

  • Trim your toenails. Uncontrolled toenails can bite into neighboring toe skin.
  • Sometimes I sprinkle on a little foot powder. This soothes and dries the skin, and the antifungal powder puts you a step ahead of foot fungus. But don’t overdo the powder so that it gets cakey. I normally only use foot powder on long hikes away from home.
  • Take action at the very first sign of a blister forming. Don’t try to tough it out. Unless you are close to your destination, the blister will usually win. A moleskin kit is the best remedy. In a pinch, use band-aids, duct tape, or cut a hole in your sock – whatever it takes – to create a blister cushion.
  • Extra pairs of socks allow you to rotate. Socks that are aired out will be more comfortable, less stinky, and less likely to harbor fungus.
  • For happy feet after a day of hiking, slip on a pair of lightweight tennis shoes or moccasins for around camp. This relieves your feet and can lift your spirits.