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Blisters are sneaky. So how to prevent blisters when hiking? You must practice constant vigilance. Avoiding them can be tricky. However, there are a handful of sure-fire ways to keep those pesky blisters at bay, and your first line of defense is your pair of hiking boots.

Wear Your Best-Fitting Boots

A person is wearing an hiking boots while on the trailhead

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

According to the American Hiking Society, a well-fitting pair of hiking boots is “the most basic and essential piece of equipment that each hiker should own.”


Like Goldilocks with a bowl of porridge, your hiking boots should fit “just right.” They should be neither too loose nor too tight. A typical beginner’s mistake is getting boots that are too tight.


While your boots should be secure, they should always leave plenty of room at the top for your toes. If they’re too tight, you’re likely to experience friction between your toes. Friction is one of the main culprits behind blisters, and wearing the right type of boots can help you avoid friction.

The ideal pair of hiking boots will:

  • Hold firmly onto your heels without slipping as you walk
  • Allow you “wiggle room” near your toes
  • Support your arches and be comfortable to wear
  • Provide traction via deep treading on the sole

You want the best-fitting boots possible, and the easiest way to ensure that you’re doing that is to try, try, and try again! Try on as many different pairs of boots as you can, until you find the pair that fits you best.

When you’re hiking for several hours, your feet will naturally swell up a bit. To prepare for this eventuality, go shopping at night. Feet are at their largest in the evening, thanks to gravity’s constant pull. When you shop for hiking boots in the evening, you’re essentially mimicking the way your feet will swell after hours of hiking, allowing for a more appropriate overall fit.

If your hiking boots are well-fitted, you can significantly reduce the break-in period for them. Still, breaking in your new boots is imperative to future blister prevention. Not only do you want the shoes to become accustomed to the size and shape of your feet, but you also want your feet to become accustomed to the size and weight of your boots!

But proper footwear is only the first step to knowing how to prevent blisters when hiking. Once you’ve gotten your hands on (and your feet into) the right hiking boots, it’s time to tackle the problem of sweaty feet.

Keep Your Feet Dry

A person's feet wearing a boots and touching the dry leaves while standing in the forest

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

While exploring the trail, your feet will get sweaty. Along with your hands, your feet contain more sweat glands than any other part of your body, and it is nearly impossible to keep them from sweating while hiking. Physical exercise, snug boots and socks, and ambient temperature can all contribute to wet feet. But excess moisture around your feet can cause a litany of problems, including blisters. Fortunately, there a few things you can do to keep your feet dry. For example, you can:

  • Wear the correct type of socks for your hike
  • Use removable insoles in your hiking boots
  • Stop and change your socks if they get too wet
  • Apply foot deodorizers and antiperspirants

Though you may not be able to maintain 100% dryness throughout your hike, you can certainly get close just by wearing the appropriate pair of socks. Just like your hiking boots, your socks should fit well. If they’re a little loose, it’s time to get a new pair.

When you’re hiking in a cold climate, thick socks are a must. But those same socks will soak up and hold onto your sweat if you’re hiking in the summer. Wear socks that are appropriate for the weather and the season, and you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.

Double-layer socks are always an excellent choice. The two layers of fabric absorb excess moisture and keep your feet dry. Most are partially mesh, allowing your feet to “breathe” while you walk. But even the most absorbent socks get wet, and when your socks are wet, it’s time to stop.

Taking a Break

Lovers taking a rest and seating at the rock facing the mountain and enjoying the view

Photo by mali maeder from Pexels

Tiny rest breaks along the trail are an invaluable opportunity to dry your socks and boots. Lay out your socks as flat as you can and remove the insoles of your hiking boots. If your boots come with thin insoles, consider getting a thicker set. Not only will they provide your soles with a little extra comfort and support, but they will also absorb excess sweat, protecting your boots.


When you stop to rest or set up camp, you can remove these insoles and set them to dry with your socks. The moisture will evaporate, leaving you with a beautifully dry pair of shoes, socks, and insoles. While your gear is drying, take care to clean any dirt from your feet. When particles of sand or dust get trapped in your socks, they can eventually rub your skin raw and cause blistering. 


You can also protect your feet from sweat by using an antiperspirant designed explicitly for feet. Antiperspirants work by closing the sweat glands. If you find that your socks are getting soaked within an hour or so of hiking, using a spray-on antiperspirant may be the best option for you.

The goal is to eliminate friction before it causes blistering. But even with well-fitted footwear and dry feet, it’s still possible to get blisters.

Keep Friction Low

Hiker carrying a backpack is walking through the trailhead

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Every time you take a step you generate friction. Your feet rub against the insides of your socks, and your socks rub against the inside of your shoes. Over time, this “rubbing” can cause irritation, reddened skin and eventually, blisters. Learning how to reduce friction is one of the most important steps to learning how to prevent blisters when hiking. 


Hikers need only turn to the trio of blister-stopping, friction-lessening devices: Lubricants, powders, and tapes. All three of these products create a barrier between your skin and your socks, minimizing the friction in that area.

How to Prevent Blisters?

LUBRICANTS

POWDERS

TAPE

A Comfortable Hike

Man raising his both hands as he reach the top of the mountain

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

The goal here is to have the most comfortable hike possible. It is difficult to enjoy yourself when your feet are killing you.


That’s why it is so important to know how to prevent blisters when hiking.  You can own all the best hiking gear in the world, but if you’re not preventing blisters, you’re not going to have a good time. 


Just remember these three things, and you’ll be fine:

  • Wear boots that fit you well. They must have room for your toes and heels that don’t slip.
  • Keep your feet dry. Use the right socks, air out your footwear, use cushioned insoles, and antiperspirant if necessary.
  • Keep friction low. Lubricants, powders, and tape can all aid in keeping friction at a minimum.

Featured Image: Image via Pexels

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