Hiking Tip–How to avoid blisters

Pacific Crest Trail logo
Pacific Crest Trail logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Blister on foot three days after trea...
English: Blister on foot three days after treatment with tincture of benzoin. It does not and never did hurt (with a bandage, this person walked miles (0 km) that day). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hiking without blisters

Most long-distance hikers, at some point, will get blisters on their feet. The usual precautions are: break in new footwear, start slowly and build up to bigger mileage, wear a liner sock, or don’t wear a liner sock, keep band-aids and bandages handy. All well and good; do whatever works. But if you really want to head off blister problems, practice the tip below.

Tip: Air out your feet. Yep, that’s the best advice I was ever given on avoiding blisters, and I learned it at a seminar in New Hampshire that prepared AT thru-hikers. The advice has served me well. In the photo above, I’m at Kearsarge Pass in the Sierras on the Pacific Crest Trail. My boots and socks are airing out; my feet are absorbing air and sunlight. After break, I will put what was my left sock on my right foot and reverse the process during my next break. I will also wear my socks inside out after the first break and reverse this several times a day.

This may seem like overkill, but I’ve never gotten a raw blister on my feet. Bacteria thrive in moist, stinky, air-deprived spots. And these are the spots that chafe and turn into blisters. The trick is to air out your feet, and keep your socks dry. I probably carry too many socks, but I change out of wet socks, hang the wet ones on my pack straps, and put on new socks. Like you, I hate blisters.

Published by Ray Anderson

Hiker and writer. Have hiked the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, The Long Trail (Vermont), and some of the Continental Divide Trail. My trail name is "HAMLET." Have written three hiking novels (thrillers). The first one, "THE TRAIL," was traditionally published in 2015. My second hiking thriller, "SIERRA," released Oct 2016. Book three in my AWOL hiking-thriller series, "THE DIVIDE" releases from Turner Publishing 8/18/2020. www.RayKAnderson.com

4 thoughts on “Hiking Tip–How to avoid blisters

  1. Great post and sound advice!

    Back when I wore camouflage for a living, a lot of Soldiers swore by pantyhose under their socks as a method of warding off blisters. But just as you recommend, I found that the only proven way to keep my feet healthy was to keep them clean and dry. I stayed mostly blister free over more miles than I can remember.

  2. Our trick when hiking is to wash and dry our feet at night and then lotion them and put gold bond on them. Keep them nice and supple! And of course, good socks and good shoes.

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