Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Blister Prevention and Treatment

Blisters are a common problem in the backcountry. And it can be a big enough problem that in some cases it can be debilitating.

I always assume that I'm going to get a blister. As such, I start every trip with blister prevention.

Blister Prevention Tip #1: Double Sock

Wearing a lightweight silk liner sock that has a slippery surface can decrease the likelihood of blisters. The idea is that the light sock will be able to move a little bit between the heavier sock and the boot. The friction that causes blisters is takes place between the two socks, and not between the sock and the foot.

This can certainly work. But one should experiment with it before doing a long trip.

Blister Prevention Tip #2: Gorilla Tape

Duct tape doesn't work that well. Sweat causes it to fall off easily. Gorilla Tape, on the other hand, stays on...sometimes for days.

The idea here is that if you know a certain pair of boots gives you blisters, then you should tape up before you leave the trailhead. I do this regularly, even with boots that are broken in. If there's even a slight chance of a blister, this is how I start my day, by taping my heel or any toe that might be affected.

Blister Prevention Tip #3: Change Socks

Wet socks tend to lead to more blistering. Be sure to change socks every day to ensure that you start with dry socks.

Wet socks may be hung in the sun or brought into your sleeping bag to dry out. You can even wear damp socks in your sleeping bag to help them dry. I often rotate between two pairs of socks for several days.

Blister Prevention Tip #4: Break-in Your Boots

When breaking in boots, don't walk around in the city and hope that walking on the sidewalk is doing something. You are, but it is a limited something. Walking on steep and uneven terrain will do a lot more for breaking in a boot.

Blister Prevention Tip #5: Deal with Hot Spots

You absolutely must deal with hot spots the minute they become a threat. It's far better to stop five minutes up the trail and work on your feet for ten minutes, than it is to get to your first camp with hamburger feet.

I generally have Gorilla Tape around my trekking pole that I can easily access to treat a hotspot. It's also possible to treat hotspots with Second Skin or Moleskin.

Following is a short video from REI on blister prevention and treatment:

The first line of defense after a blister is formed should be to try to cover it. You may need to cut out a doughnut hole in the moleskin before covering it. This depends on the size of the blister. The idea is that the blister is surrounded and covered, so that it can't get any worse.

It is possible that you will have to drain the blister. The next video deals specifically with that process.

Blisters are a fact of life in the backcountry. If you do what you can to avoid them in the first place, and then deal with hotspots as they arise, you should be able to avoid serious blister issues...

--Jason D. Martin

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment. An administrator will post your comment after he/she moderates it.