Hawkshead Blog Posts

How To Prevent Blisters For Pain-Free Hiking

We’ve all been there. A glorious day, beautiful scenery, great company, miles from home and all of a sudden you feel your foot rubbing in your previously comfortable sock. The pain intensifies until your walk becomes a trudge to the end, desperate to get out of your boots and into the nearest pub.

Although common, blisters can be acutely painful and think nothing of ruining a wonderful walk. That’s why we’re looking at how to prevent blisters on feet as well as what you can do if you feel those tell-tale signs. We’ll talk you through everything, from what causes blisters to the best socks for walking to prevent blisters – and more.

What Causes Blisters?

In order to learn how to prevent blisters, we must first understand what causes blisters. Put simply, a blister on your foot is your body’s natural reaction to friction or rubbing caused by badly fitted shoes, poor quality socks or damp feet inside your footwear. Common sites for blisters are the ball of your foot, back of your heel and tops of your toes.

A blister will start with a pink spot on the point at which your foot is rubbing. This will then turn white as the pressure worsens and fluid gathers to protect the layer underneath your damaged skin. If you manage to leave your blister alone and avoid any further pressure on it, you should find it heals within three days to a week.

You may find you experience worse blisters when you have moist feet, as softer skin will tend to damage more easily.

How To Prevent Blisters On Feet When Hiking

The best way of preventing blisters on feet is to keep them dry and choose good quality, well-fitting footwear. But there are a few other key ways to prevent blisters from ruining your adventures. Find them below.

1. Choosing The Best Socks For Walking To Prevent Blisters

How can you find the best socks for walking to prevent blisters on your feet?

Have a look at these tips:
• Make sure your socks are the right fit. If they are too large you will have excess material in your shoes causing friction and increasing the chance of a blister.
• Make sure the elastic at the top is adequate to hold the sock in place and prevent it slipping down and bunching in the shoe.
• Choose a material that will help to keep your feet dry – merino wool and some synthetic fibres work well to wick away sweat.
• Feel seams to check they are flat and won’t cause sores on your toes.

If you’re looking for the best socks for walking long distances, try a sock liner or two-layer sock specifically designed to prevent the build-up of friction and reduce the likelihood of blisters.

Find out more about choosing the best hiking socks to avoid blisters.

2. Finding The Right Boots For Preventing Blisters

The key to preventing blisters on feet is choosing the right footwear and making sure they’re properly fitted.

If possible, wear the socks that you plan to walk in and don’t worry too much about the size of the boot you’re trying on, just make sure it fits correctly. This may mean you end up with a boot that is a different size to your usual footwear.

As you try on the boot, make sure your foot is held in place correctly and is not moving around. Consider how the base of the boot feels under the ball of your foot. If it feels too hard you may wish to choose socks with more padding in this area. Alternatively, you could add insoles. Check for a secure fit around the ankle and heel, and make sure the padding of the tongue is good enough to prevent the laces from digging in. Many shops have a ramp that you can practice walking on to ensure your feet aren’t slipping inside your boots when you’re walking on an incline.

Learn more about how to fit hiking boots.

3. Learn How To Break In Hiking Boots

When learning how to prevent blisters, you’ll need to break in your hiking boots. Do this by making sure you wear your new boots around the house before you venture out on the trails. That way if it becomes obvious they are uncomfortable, you should be able to return them before your adventure. Build up slowly to longer walks and then introduce some hills. If you’ve chosen leather boots they will tend to be stiffer than fabric ones and may, therefore, take longer to soften up.

What To Carry In Your Kitbag To Prevent Blisters

If you become aware of rubbing or hot spots when you’re out on the hills, quick action is the key to preventing blisters on your feet. Before the fluid begins to build up, cover the area with a padded blister plaster to ease the pressure. Try not to pop your blister as you will run the risk of it becoming infected. Carry spare socks and change into them immediately if the ones you are wearing become damp or uncomfortable for any reason.
We hope we’ve given you some useful information on what causes blisters, how to prevent them, and how to select the best footwear for walking, to ensure a pain-free adventure. Shop our hiking boots today.
If you’re heading for the hills, why not browse our range of hiking boots for the whole family, to find the best blister-busting ones for you. Browse our women’s hiking boots and kids’ hiking boots online.

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