The most important thing is to take steps to prevent blisters in the first place. Preventing them is all about proper footwear, proper fit, and proper break-in.
The next preventative is to pre-condition your feet to your footwear. Hike often and put on miles prior to tackling serious backpacking trip. Toughen up the skin on your feet. Break in your footwear.
Also keeping your footwear and socks dry. Avoid periods of wet or even damp feet. This can be from sweat or from water.
Avoid particles in your socks and footwear.
Simply stopping a minimum of 45-60 minutes during your hike, pulling your socks off and shaking any sand out does wonders. This includes dumping any in your boots. Rubbing off anything that may be stuck to your bare skin. You would be surprised what a few grains of sand can do to the ball of your foot, if you don’t practice this simple technique.
Inspect your bare feet during this process.
If nothing else, it will re-position everything in case something is rubbing and creating a “hot spot”. Often you will feel nothing until you have worn through a layer of skin, or a blister forms and pops. By then it is too late.
How about Products or “remedies” to prevent blisters? First be aware of the hazards of using products not made for this purpose. Many homemade remedies people recommend, don’t work. They can actually make things worse in this terrain and summer temperatures. This is not the place to be “testing” out a product either. Do that ahead in your conditioning hikes. Make sure you hike in dusty, gritty conditions. Because you will be in that mode the entire length of this adventure.
Tape products, second skin, and cushioning tapes, often start peeling off and often become a rub source that otherwise would not be there. Think long before using these. People that recommend them because the seemed to work for them…..may have simply had good fitting footwear. They may have had no trouble, even not using some type of product. These are of more use if you happen to develop a rub, or blister. Great to have in your emergency pack.
Products recommended by some, may block your pores and end up causing more problems, rather than preventing them. Both home grown, as well as commercial, may leave a layer that attracts and adheres dust and grit. I have tried both commercial, and some recommendations of home grown, through the years. I have found my method of changing socks periodically may be the most effective preventative. Taking a moment every mile to take my boots off and re-position my socks works better than anything.
For those that believe a product may be a “cure all”, here are a few to check into. I only post this as info. They come with no recommendation from our team. Remember you will often be hiking in dry, dusty, and sandy terrain. You don’t want dust and grit being stuck to your feet, socks, or the insides of your footwear.
Again proper footwear that is proper fitting, and properly broke in, is your best preventative. That does take time and money. Some people want to ignore that and shortcut things. With that said here is more info.
Check out products such as:
Two Toms Blister Shield
Many will make an extended trip in excess of 8 miles a day. In the process end up with foot injuries that range from blisters to sprained ankles. Bad footwear, and improperly fit footwear (which includes socks) will result in incapacitating blisters and popped off toenails. Any of these can result in the inability to hike. Or to hike without serious pain.
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