How to avoid blisters on a walking holiday
If you are worried about blisters from walking boots while on holiday, here are 10 top tips for avoidance. It is far better to avoid blisters than to have to treat them.
All mod-cons: Gone are the days of hiking boots that are so stiff and uncomfortable that they take years – and a lot of suffering – to wear in. And thank goodness! The design and fabrics of modern boots mean that most boots should be very comfortable from the moment you put them on (so long as you have chosen the right pair for you).
Ask an expert: Always buy boots from a store where people have been trained – or have the experience – to properly fit your boots. The boot fitter should ask questions such as, where do you plan to walk and how much have you walked. They should check your feet for over under-pronation, width, length etc. Then they should offer you a selection of boots to try on and advise you to only to buy a pair that feels very comfortable and supportive.
If the boot fits: Do not buy boots based on looks alone or because your friend tells you that a brand is amazing. You should only buy boots that fit really well. When trying on boots make sure the boot is long enough. There should be at least a thumb’s width between the tip of your big toe and the end of the boot. The width of the boot should support your foot but not rub. Also, make sure the boot is not too wide. A foot that floats around in a boot will end up being rubbed and could lead to blisters. Your heel needs to be supported comfortably. The fit should be neat and supportive to prevent the foot moving about and being rubbed. Your foot should not move up and down in the boot. You should be able to wriggle your toes but you should not feel as though there is a lot of extra volume anywhere in the boot.
The gender divide: There are boots designed to fit men and women so choose the right gender because men and women’s feet are, on average, a different size and shape.
Your boots are made for walking: This might sound obvious but if you are heading off for a walking holiday that will see you walking many miles each day you need to make sure the boots have had a bit of wear. To start with, wear the boots around the house. Most good stores will allow you to take boots home and wear them indoors to decide if they really are the right ones for you. Then build up the distance that you walk in the boots, from a few miles to longer hikes. The boots should not take long to wear in and they should not rub anywhere or cause blisters.
Sock sure: Another top tip for blister free feet while walking is to ensure that your feet do not become sweaty and damp. The moisture can cause rubs in the boots that lead to blisters. Wearing socks made from natural fibres, such as merino, will help to keep feet dry because the fabric wicks away sweat. As soon as you feet do feel wet and sweaty, make sure you change your socks for a dry pair.
All laced up: When walking ensure your boots are properly laced up. This will help to keep your feet comfortably positioned in your boots. Before descending hills, stop to retighten your laces. If you walk downhill with loose boots you may well end up with blisters due to the back and forward friction of walking a descent.
Protect yourself: If you are troubled by overly sweaty feet, it’s worth giving a product called 2Toms BlisterShield a try. It’s claimed that BlisterShield creates an almost frictionless surface on the foot, reducing heat build-up and blister formation. I have found this to work well in very hot conditions.
If the worst happens: If you do end up with a blister use a specialised blister plaster or high quality surgical tape to protect the damaged skin area. Always carry blister plasters and tape with you for just this kind of emergency and stick it on as soon as you feel the hint of a blister. Hopefully you won’t need them but it’s a good idea to have a few in your rucksack just in case. Put on the blister plaster as soon as possible. Do you have any top tips for staying blister free while on a walking holiday?
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