Before Blisters

Nothing can take a hiking trip downhill faster than a blistered heel… or toe… or… ball of your foot. Blisters suck. Once you get one on a trip, it’s there for the duration. The good news is that blisters don’t have to happen.

Hot spot = stop! (Photo: Megan Kopp)

How to Prevent Blisters

  • Don’t plan a multi-day backpack trip and then go out and buy a new pair of boots for the adventure. Always use properly-fitted (no pinching or loose areas) boots that are broken in with at least a couple of shorter hikes.
  • Wear two pairs of socks – one thin, moisture-wicking liner sock and one regular hiking sock. This keeps your feet dry and helps prevent rubbing. Moisture and heat are the two top culprits when it comes to blisters.
  • If you get a hot spot or sore area after a few miles on the trail – stop! Really, stop NOW. Red marks – or hot spots – are precursors to blisters. Take off your boots and socks, air dry your feet, pull out your first aid kit and cover the red area with moleskin. You can also add a layer of duct tape, carefully applying without wrinkles to reduce friction and rubbing.
  • You can also apply moleskin or tape before you start hiking – but don’t put tape directly on an open blister or raw spot.
  • In sandy/rocky areas, wear low gaiters to keep the grit out of your boots.
  • At longer rest stops on hot days, take off your boots, empty any accumulated sand or rock bits and air dry your socks and feet.

© 2011

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