Seven Great Ways to Prevent Blisters on Your Next Hike

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.

hikers near stream in mountains

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.

hiker tying boots on trail

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.