Blisters are one of the biggest problems for new hikers. On my first PCT hike I got 7 blisters after day 1 (see above), and possessed only rudimentary blister care equipment: a pine needle and hand sanitizer. It was very painful and I wasted a lot of precious time trying to heal.
How do you prevent blisters?
- Buy comfortable shoes a half to a whole size bigger. I like Brooks or Altras.
- Before your hike, toughen your feet by walking everywhere. I walked all my errands, walked to work, plus 10-20 mile training hikes on my days off with my backpack.
- I never anticipated getting blisters between my toes, and those were the most painful. So for my second PCT hike I bought Injinji Toe Sox and they worked!
- Keep your feet clean. I wash my feet at least twice a day (sometimes more), mid-day and before bed.
- Air out your feet. I take my shoes off every time I take a break, even if it’s only a 10 minute break.
- Change your sox. I carry one extra pair of sox. At lunch I wash the pair I was wearing and change into the clean pair. Hang your wet sox on your pack to dry. When you settle down for the night, wash your dirty sox so you can repeat the process the next day. It is very important to keep your sox clean in the desert because the fine sand and dirt particles will rub your feet raw.
What is in your blister care kit?
Now that my feet are tough, I rarely get blisters, and if I do, I can just walk them off. But when I first started long distance hiking I developed very painful blisters which needed to be drained. In that case, I wished I had:
- mole skin
- hand sanitizer
- triple antibiotic cream
- sewing needle (sterilize with a lighter)
- medical tape
Click HERE for a great article about blister care management