5 Tips to Prevent Blisters While Backpacking
Almost every hiker, whether they are a beginner or an avid backpacker, has experienced blisters. Blisters are one of the most common injuries among hikers and can evolve into a huge problem if not treated immediately.
The main thing you need to know to prevent blisters is what causes them in the first place. Blisters require three factors to form: moisture, heat, and friction. By eliminating even one of these factors, you can prevent the blister from forming in the first place.
Here are some smart tips to help you prevent conditions that cause blisters to occur:
Buy the Correct Footwear
The first thing you need to do to prevent blisters on your feet while hiking is buying the correct footwear. Shoes that are too tight or too loose will increase the chances of getting blisters. Waterproof hiking shoes are not very breathable and can cause the skin to heat up and sweat, which increases the likelihood of blisters. If you are hiking in dry weather, choose lightweight and non-waterproof footwear that has mesh uppers to allow air to circulate around your feet and keep them from heating or sweating.
Keep the Feet Dry
Keeping your feet dry is the easiest and most effective way to prevent blisters. Whenever you stop for a break during your hike, take off your socks and shoes, and allow your feet to cool down and dry off before you resume your trip. It is also a good idea to cool your feet in a stream or lake and dry them thoroughly before putting your socks and shoes back on.
Tape Any Hot Spots
If you are planning a full day hiking trip and your goal is to cover as much area as possible, it might be a good idea to tape the areas of your feet that are prone to blisters, such as heels and pinky toes. This will help prevent blisters from developing on longer hikes. If you forget to tape your feet before the hike, apply two or three strips of athletic tape the moment you feel any hot spots forming and keep checking to see if they are still in place periodically.
Apply Skin Lubricant
Experienced hikers and distance runners apply skin lubricant to areas that are prone to blisters and chafing, such as toes, heels, and even the insides of their thighs before starting. This helps reduce friction that can cause the skin to overheat and blisters to form. If you do not have any skin lubricant handy, some good old Vaseline will also do the trick in a pinch.
Treat It Immediately
It is important to care for the blisters before they worsen and become infected. Apply a piece of moleskin to prevent it from rupturing and expose it to fresh air as much as possible to dry it out. If your blister has ruptured, drain any excess fluid, and apply antibiotic ointments to prevent infection. Cover the affected area with athletic tapes or band-aids to prevent it from getting more injured.
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