Blister Prevention

Share your tips for safe hiking, surviving in the wild and managing hiking injuries!
Word Nerd
Posts: 40
Joined: July 9th, 2017, 12:18 pm

Blister Prevention

Post by Word Nerd » July 28th, 2018, 7:16 am

Talk to me a bit about blisters. I am blister prone, tend to get more blisters in the hot months, and have learned tons about preventing/treating blisters in the past year. However, I still have trouble with edge blisters on the outside of my big toe, partially under the callous that I can’t seem to get rid of in the bottom of the toe.

After having major blister issues when I did the Timberline last summer, I got the book Fixing Your Feet. I’ve read it twice and it has been super helpful! I’ve changed my socks (Injinji liners w/ wool hiking socks), my footwear (Lowa boots - I need boots for my ankles and knees), and reduced my callouses. I’ve learned how to tape for prevention and to heal a blister quickly. I’ve added Engo Blister Prevention Patches to my boots in my normal hot spots. But I cannot get rid of the big toe edge blisters.

My feet are awesome up through mile 5-6, but today I formed hotspots in mile 7. I start a 9 day circuit of the Wonderland Trail in 8 days, so if anyone has some tips for me before then, I’d love to hear them!

Aimless
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Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:02 pm
Location: Lake Oswego

Re: Blister Prevention

Post by Aimless » July 28th, 2018, 9:01 am

It sounds like you've mostly exhausted the possibilities, but my attention centered on this:

(Lowa boots - I need boots for my ankles and knees)

It is probably too near your departure time to suggest a change in footwear, especially since you believe that your current boots are a necessity. Not to mention how tough the Wonderland trail will be. But at some point I would urge you to visit a high-end athletic shoe store that caters to serious runners and discuss with the clerk getting a pair of trail runners that are well-adapted to your particular feet - narrow heel? pronation? splayed toes? Chances are they've seen it. You may need custom insoles, but the mass market insoles like Superfeet are often enough to adapt a shoe to you. This may do more good for your ankles and knees than the dubious benefits of a mid-high or full-height boot.

Also, do not buy waterproof boots or shoes! No matter how much the shoe companies swear their liners breathe, they don't breathe nearly as well as unlined mesh uppers. The mesh helps move heat away from your feet and that is critical.

Last, you don't mention stopping to remove your boots when you have a hot spot. Soaking your feet in a cold mountain creek for ten minutes can help a hot spot, or just airing out your feet.

Have a great time on the trail!

Word Nerd
Posts: 40
Joined: July 9th, 2017, 12:18 pm

Re: Blister Prevention

Post by Word Nerd » July 28th, 2018, 10:46 am

Thank you for those thoughts! I know so many people swear by trail runners. I wore Salomon Speed Cross trail runners with Superfeet for the Timberline last year, and I had so many problems! Perhaps another brand/fit would work better and I should look into that after this trip, but the mesh uppers actually caused me quite a lot of trouble! Sand and debris got in through those mesh uppers and I blistered from the combination of sand and moisture (sweat). I also continually turned my ankle even though I was doing strengthening exercises my sports med/chiropractor gave me. Since switching to boots, I haven't had a single blister between my toes (the main spot I got blisters in the trail runners) and I haven't turned my ankle either. I want to like the trail runners because they are so lightweight and breathe better, but I will probably be a tough sell on them. The problem is that I am not rich enough to buy one of everything and try them on the trail to know if they work for me or not! :)

I also need to remember to air my feet. I try to do that every five miles or so, but I forget some. The cold of mountain streams are amazing on my feet, and because I live in TX and don't have any water where I hike (much less cold water), I take full advantage of that when I am in the mountains!

Lurch
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Re: Blister Prevention

Post by Lurch » July 28th, 2018, 10:02 pm

Since it sounds like you've got a pretty good handle on the 'normal' solutions, it may be time to think a bit outside the box.

Blisters are caused by friction, if you're constantly getting one in the same spot than I would say it's a boot issue. You can work with that by layering up moleskin potentially, assuming that it's that the toe bed is too loose. But long term that's not going to really do the trick.

Since you're already a boot person, have you thought of going legit boot person? Nicks, or White's locally made (Spokane) boot companies, that the hardcore outdoor working folk would swear by, loggers and wildland fire specifically. You'll definitely pay for it, they aren't cheap, but they're custom made custom fit boots that are made specifically for you.

https://whitesboots.com

https://nicksboots.com

bghiker
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Joined: April 26th, 2016, 6:26 pm

Re: Blister Prevention

Post by bghiker » July 29th, 2018, 7:33 am

I get terrible heel blisters and occasionally toe blisters. I use moleskin and leuko tape in my heels and just the tape on my toes if I feel a hot spot. The helpful thing I think I've done is stop frequently and change socks. I use Keen Targhee socks almost exclusively and I usually change them every 4-5 miles and hang the wet ones on the back of my pack to dry out for the next change.

I have tried multiple hiking boots from Lowa, Zamberlain, Danner, Vasque...etc, etc and haven't noticed a change in the blistering until I started using the moleskin and especially changing my socks. Wet, sweaty feet are definitely not your friend.

I have ankle issues as well so the trail runners are not an option for me. I currently wear my Lowa renegades in warm weather and Zamberlain steep 760's when its cooler/wetter and they seem to be the best of the multiple boot I have bought over the years...but again...frequent sock changes seem to help the most.

Good luck finding something that works for you...

Eric

Word Nerd
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Joined: July 9th, 2017, 12:18 pm

Re: Blister Prevention

Post by Word Nerd » July 30th, 2018, 12:50 pm

Lurch wrote:
July 28th, 2018, 10:02 pm
Since you're already a boot person, have you thought of going legit boot person? Nicks, or White's locally made (Spokane) boot companies, that the hardcore outdoor working folk would swear by, loggers and wildland fire specifically. You'll definitely pay for it, they aren't cheap, but they're custom made custom fit boots that are made specifically for you.

https://whitesboots.com

https://nicksboots.com
Thank you - I'll look into it!

Word Nerd
Posts: 40
Joined: July 9th, 2017, 12:18 pm

Re: Blister Prevention

Post by Word Nerd » July 30th, 2018, 12:52 pm

bghiker wrote:
July 29th, 2018, 7:33 am
I have ankle issues as well so the trail runners are not an option for me. I currently wear my Lowa renegades in warm weather and Zamberlain steep 760's when its cooler/wetter and they seem to be the best of the multiple boot I have bought over the years...but again...frequent sock changes seem to help the most.

Good luck finding something that works for you...

Eric
Thanks! I have not tried sock changes, but that sounds like a good idea.

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retired jerry
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Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: Blister Prevention

Post by retired jerry » July 30th, 2018, 1:35 pm

Leukotape works pretty good. Stays on your foot. Prevents friction.

This isn't really what you were looking for, but it's good to have when a hot spot forms.

Chazz
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Joined: May 26th, 2013, 12:53 pm

Re: Blister Prevention

Post by Chazz » July 31st, 2018, 12:00 pm

Blisters between toes indicates that your feet may need a larger toe box to allow your forefoot to spread more when you put pressure on it. Look at Altra's rather than the Solomon shoes.

I also support pre-taping with leukotape at known points of vulnerability, frequent airing of feet and even swapping socks out at lunchtime after a good foot soak (if available).

Word Nerd
Posts: 40
Joined: July 9th, 2017, 12:18 pm

Re: Blister Prevention

Post by Word Nerd » September 1st, 2018, 12:23 pm

I am super happy to report that I got through my 9 days on the Wonderland Trail without a single blister!! I do think that I would do better with a boot with a wider toe box since the only place I had pain in my feet was on the outside edge of both big toes. I went with KT tape on my heals, Injinji liners, wool hiking socks, Lowa Renegade Mid boots, and adding a Spenco 2nd skin square with KT tape on my big toes when they were sore and I had steep downhill sections to do. I also changed my socks mid-day to get drier socks (on the days that weren't rainy, thus all my clothes were wet no matter what) and spent at least 30 minutes sitting with bare feet mid-day to let my feet air out.

Anyway, I appreciated all your suggestions!

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