Blister Prevention For Your Next Hiking or Camping Trip

IF you are a regular hiker or hunter you probably have a lot of experience with blisters. Figuring out how to prevent blisters while hiking is an important lesson. Next to mosquito bites and rain blisters are probably the biggest downfall of most hunters. Not only are blisters painful, when left untreated they can lead to an infection. Since most of the time blisters appear on your feet they’re hard to deal with in the field. So your best bet is going to be to prevent blisters in the first place.

Blister Prevention While Hiking?

Choosing Proper Footwear

Unfortunately some people aren’t informed enough to buy the proper hiking footwear. They end up buying the wrong shoes and quickly harming their feet. Blisters are caused by the friction of your skin rubbing against something. It doesn’t take long to for a painful blister. So your goal when buying hiking shoes is to find a pair that fit perfectly.

Common Causes of Blisters

  • Cheap and Tough material that doesn’t move with your stride. Buying a decent pair of hiking shoes is going to cost a little bit of money.
  • Buying shoes that are too big or too small. You want to find a shoe that feels natural on your feet. Allowing your foot to slide around is a recipe for blisters.
  • Not using a cushion in the sole of your shoe. Most high quality hiking shoes have a gel insole in the sole. It’s important that the gel isn’t too soft because your foot will begin to slide around.

Once you buy a nice set of hiking shoes you need to wear them in for a few weeks before your hike. It’s better to accidentally form a blister while your sitting at work than when your miles out in the woods.

Tips and Gear To Prevent Blisters on Your Next Hike

Below are a few tips to prevent blisters on your next hike.

  • The main thing that you are going to want to do is buy a nice set of high quality hiking socks. Hiking socks really aren’t that expensive when you think about how much pain they’ll save you. Since you likely won’t use them often you’ll only need a couple pairs to last you years. Hiking socks are specifically designed to be used on long walks. The main thing you are looking for is a pair of socks that keeps your feet insulated while wicking away moisture. You’re going to want to stay away from cotton or nylon socks because they have a tendency to rub on long walks. My favorite hiking socks are the Darn Tough Boot Socks but they’re expensive. After your first hike you’ll realize they were worth the money. A cheaper alternative would be the People Socks Hiking Socks. They will dry fast and handle very rough conditions while keeping your feet insulated.
  • The next time you buy new hiking shoes buy them after you go on a long walk. This will allow your feet to swell up a little bit which will give you a better fit. If the shoes feel comfortable when your feet are worn down that’s a good sign.
  • Make sure the shoe properly fits before you leave the store. You’re going to want to wear your hiking socks with you to the store while trying on the shoes. Try to replicate some of the things you would do in the woods(without looking like a crazy person). Kick the floor step up on chairs, try anything you can do to see how the shoe bends with your foot.

How to Prevent Blisters While Hiking

If you’ve done all the proper prep work and purchased a quality set of hiking boots and socks you may still experience blisters. You should always wear your new hiking boots around town before you go on a long hike. Breaking in a new set of shoes is crucial to preventing blisters. If you notice redness or sensitivity in your feet change up your socks as needed to make your hike more comfortable.

  • Wet socks are the number one cause of blisters while hiking. Your feet will rub and cause tender blisters and sores. To avoid this you will need to buy a nice pair of hiking socks and waterproof coating. There’s a ton of different waterproofing products on the market and any of them will work. My favorite is the Atsko Sno-Seal Beeswax waterproofing wax. I’ve used the Atsko sno-seal for years and one jar will last you a very long time. You’re also going to want to bring an extra pair of socks because your feet always seem to get wet somehow.

Blister and Chafing Prevention Creams

If you’re prone to blisters you are going to want to buy some type of lubrication cream. Most of the time you are going to want to apply these creams to areas that commonly blister on a hike. You’re going to want to apply the cream anywhere skin rubs together. My favorite blister prevention cream is called HikeGoo. The Hikegoo cream should be used at the first sign of blisters or before you go on your hike. Hikegoo works wonders and it will be a lifesaver on your next hike. If you apply this cream before the blister actually forms it will quickly eliminate the pain. With this product prevention really is the best medicine.

Treating a Blister in The Field

It doesn’t matter how many precautions you take all outdoorsmen will eventually get blisters. These painful sores are a hikers worst nightmare and will ruin a good hike. Unless you’re nearing the end of your hike the best thing you can do is stop and treat your blister before it gets bad. To do this remove your shoes and find the area of redness on your foot and apply HikeGoo or any other blister prevention cream. Short hikes a bottle of blister cream is likely all that you’ll need. On longer hikes you will want to pack a small blister kit with your first aid supplies.

If the blister is already about the size of a small pea you will have to treat it differently with your blister kit. If it already has fluid inside you will need to clean the wound and apply antibiotic ointment. Once the wound is cleaned apply Tincture of Benzoin and a small piece of Moleskin cut to size. Tincture of benzoin is used to make sure the moleskin or bandage sticks to your foot. Make sure you avoid popping the blister. Popping your blister will increase your chance of infection. If you absolutely have to pop the blister make sure you use sanitary tools and leave the skin intact.

Does Taping Prevent Blisters?

Some long distance runners swear by taping there areas that frequently rub. The major drawback to taping is that it really doesn’t hold well in a moist environment. This is where the Tincture of Benzoin comes in. A little bit of tincture of benzoin will make sure your tape stays in place. The use of tape really is just a personal preference. Some people believe that it helps while others feel no benefit. Specialists have shown that tape will protect the skin surface by reducing friction. Most hikers won’t need tape on a relatively short hike but it’s up to you. By following the above tips you should be able to prevent blisters on your next hike.

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