It’s amazing how a tiny bubble on your foot can turn into a huge disaster on a hike. There are plenty of ways to deal with blisters and to accelerate the healing process, but your best bet is to stop them from forming in the first place. Here are some ways to prevent blisters from forming on your next hike.
1. Prevent Wet Feet
Wet feet and blisters go hand in hand. Once your boots get wet on the inside, you’re on your way to blister territory. Solution: come prepared.
Start by wearing socks that will keep your feet dry (see below). Next, bring an extra pair of socks to change into in case you step in a puddle, walk through some soggy brush, or just happen to get your feet soaked.
When you stop hiking for the day, get your boots off quickly and do your best to dry them out as much as possible. If you’ve got newspaper handy, shove some inside the shoe to absorb moisture. You can also try drying them off by a campfire; just don’t get them too close or you risk the flames.
2. Invest in Good Socks
A good pair of socks can go a long way in preventing blisters. If your feet tend to get a little sweaty on hikes, find a pair of socks made with moisture-wicking fabric to keep your tootsies dry and comfortable. Merino wool socks are great for comfort, won’t rub harshly against the feet, and dry quickly.
When you’re shopping for hiking socks, you’ll find that they come in a variety of thicknesses. Thick versus thin socks usually comes down to personal preference. Consider whether you’ll benefit from a little extra cushioning, and also how the thickness of the sock will impact the fit of your boot.
3. Pick Boots That Fit
The best way to prevent blisters on your next hike is to find boots that fit you properly. Channel your inner Cinderella and take the time to find boots that have plenty of wiggle room around the toes, but also ones that fit securely around your foot so that your heel isn’t slipping around with every step.
Keep in mind that feet tend to swell a bit when they’re putting in some serious mileage. Don’t forget to try on boots with your hiking socks, since socks of different thickness can affect fit.
4. Break-in Your Boots
So you’ve found the perfect pair of boots. Excellent! Now it’s time to break them in.
Wear your new boots on a few shorter hikes before taking them out on a big day trip or a multi-day trek. This will allow your feet to slowly become accustomed to the boots, plus it will help your boot mold a little better to your feet.
5. Keep It Clean
If dirt, pebbles, sticks or any other form of debris find their way into your hiking boots, pull over. It’s annoying to have to break your rhythm to clean out your boots, but it’s even more irritating—literally and figuratively—to have a rock rubbing against your foot as it slowly forms a blister.
6. Give the Boots a Break
When you’re out on a long trip, be sure to give your feet the occasional break from your hiking boots. Pull your boots off on your lunch break and let your feet breathe. If there’s a cool ravine nearby, dip your feet in to give them a little TLC (just be sure to dry them off properly before putting your boots back on).
Once you’ve hit your campsite for the night, swap your hiking boots for a pair of comfortable camp sandals to give your feet a break and let them dry out.
7. Trim Your Nails
Keep your toenails nice and short to prevent blisters from forming. This keeps toenails from falling off and makes your fancy hiking socks last a little bit longer. Hiking downhill will be a lot less painful on your feet if your nails are nice and trim. Go ahead and give yourself a pedicure before your next hike.