How to prevent Hiking Blisters

How Can I Prevent Hiking Blisters?

Let’s not beat around the bush here. The number one enemy of the Hiker is not The Weather or the Navigation, it is of course the Blister. Blisters can turn an enjoyable hike into a period of torture and can take us out of Hiking action for weeks. You might be asking yourself, how can something so small and insignificant cause so much mayhem? Well, let’s find out how we can prevent hiking blisters.

Prevent Hiking Blisters

There’s nothing worse than spending a lovely sunny morning hiking to a wonderful secluded spot in the woods with family or close friends, only to be faced with limping back out at a snail’s pace and in pain with feet that are suffering from the effects of blisters.

How to prevent Hiking Blisters – What causes Hiking Blisters?

Hiking Blisters are caused by the friction that occurs when there is movement, friction and rubbing between your soft skin, your sock and/or your boot. Even top quality, expensive footwear will allow some movement between your socks and your feet which can, and probably will lead to the onset of hotspots and blisters. If you’re still breaking-in a new pair of stiff hiking boots the problem can be even worse. This is why you should break your boots in with small hikes first, to get the boots shaped to the contours of your feet.

Good Quality Socks Will Prevent Hiking Blisters

How to prevent Hiking Blisters - Wear Quality Hiking Socks

Purchasing and wearing good quality quick drying anti blister socks are one of the most important things to prevent hiking blisters and avoiding foot pain. Cotton, silk and wool are the traditional materials that socks have been made from for hundreds of years, but due to great leaps forward in material engineering and computer aided design, there are a lot more choices than those traditional materials these days.

New and high performance materials such as Lycra, Polyester and multiple combinations of more than one type have given us socks that can make a big difference in the battle against the morale killing blister.

How to prevent Hiking Blisters – Choose the Right Boots

How to prevent Hiking Blisters - Wear Quality Hiking Boots

Choosing the right hiking boots will also go a long way to prevent hiking blisters. You want to procure a pair that are comfortable, but also that offer high performance in areas such as anti slip, quick drying, ventilation and support. It’s true that new stiff boots will loosen off a bit when broken in, but if they are stiff when you first get them they probably will stay more or less the same.

How to prevent Hiking Blisters – Take Extra Care when Replacing your Boots

How to prevent Hiking Blisters - Straighten your Socks

If you have reason to remove and adjust your boots during your hike, maybe to cross a stream or ford, always take extra care when putting them back on to make sure you aren’t setting yourself up for blisters in the next few miles. Make sure you thoroughly dry your feet first and then double check that there are no bits in your boots or bunching up of your socks around your little toes which is common before you set off. It will only take a few minutes to affect you if you haven’t done your preparation correctly.

How to prevent Hiking Blisters – How Do I Treat a Blister while Hiking?

How to prevent Hiking Blisters - Treatment

If the worst has already happened and it’s too late to avoid a blister, there are several things you can do. When you first feel one start, remove your boot and check your foot. If it’s only a Hot Spot, adjust your footwear and carry on. If it’s too late and you have a blister, clean the area and disinfect it with alcohol or an anti-bacterial cream if you have one.

Slit the blister horizontally near its base with a heated needle or knife point and squeeze the fluid out gently but don’t remove the skin covering the blister, this will act as a barrier between your sock and your exposed and painful nerves. Then cover the area of the blister with a sticking plaster or a spray of iodine or better still artificial skin. This will allow you to carry on the hike and put you over until you are able to do a more thorough job of treating the blister on completion.

How to prevent Hiking Blisters – Avoiding Hiking Blisters Altogether

How to prevent Hiking Blisters - Avoid them altogether

So in conclusion, the best way to avoid blisters on a hike are to:

  • Wear Good Quality Boots
  • Wear Good Quality High Performance Socks
  • Ensure Boots are Broken In before your Hike
  • Ensure Boots and Socks are fitted properly and not able to move around
  • Keep debris out of Boots or remove it immediately if it gets in
  • Stay alert to the onset of Hot Spots and take preventative measures at this stage if detected.
  • Keep feet clean and dry where possible.

Simple and Common Sense. Please pass it on to more inexperienced Hikers. Unfortunately as I have seen too often, many of them will ignore this Sage advice, ruin a good hike, and put themselves out of action with the dreaded blisters.