How to prepare feet for hiking? Aside from a swarm of mosquitos or an encounter nothing can ruin a trek or backpacking trip like blistered, burned feet. Have you ever heard of the 6 Ps? They are intended to keep you safe out there. There is no better way to put this than with an example. We are all familiar with the phrase “Slow and steady wins the race.” Now imagine that it is a long, difficult trek, not to mention putting you at risk for more serious harm. If you are heading up a mountain trail for fun, make sure your feet are prepared with some tried-and-true methods for keeping and mending your shoes.
Remove Anything You Feel In Your Shoe
Start with prevention. Do not put it off any longer. If you feel a rock or other grit in your hiking boot, shoe, or sock no matter how big or little, get it out as quickly as possible. Even the tiniest pebbles may cause problems for your feet. It is also dangerous to your sock or insole if you have light gaiters on. Preventive foot care is the most essential stage of treating blisters and leg discomfort.
Use Quality Gear
Your footwear is not one of them when it comes to saving money and cutting corners. Invest in a high-quality pair of shoes and a few pairs of high-grade socks rather than skimping on your feet. Your feet, as well as your bank account, will thank you later if you go the more expensive route – it is usually a money pit in the end.
Stop If You Feel A Hot Spot
You should not wait any longer. If you detect a hot spot, stop immediately and address it by covering it with Leukotape or applying Trail Toes foot lotion or Gold Bond foot powder. Foot powder may also aid in the treatment of the athlete’s foot.
If you are going to be in the shower for a long time, try not to get your feet wet. A damp foot may occasionally cause rubbing and create a hotspot. If you have moist socks and do not think your feet will get wet again, consider switching to dry ones to feel more comfortable.
Taking a rest while hiking may be inconvenient, but it is essential to maintain preventive foot care. Do whatever you can to avoid having rubbing develop into a blister or peeling skin.
Toughen Your Skin
Take a few weeks before each hiking season to build your feet. Wear a light load and go for a walk or jaunt until you start to feel a hot spot. As soon as you sense one forming, stop for the day. If you have any problems with hot spots or blisters on specific areas of your feet, use Moleskin, Endura Sports Tape, Micropore Tape, Duct Tape, Leukotape, or something similar before they appear.
Elevate Your Legs And Feet
The idea is to keep both of your legs nice and level while sitting or resting, which may assist with circulation and reduce edema. It also aids in the removal of fluid build-up and the return of blood back to the heart. It is simple to find time for a snack or a nighttime read before going to bed. Aside from preventing blisters, raising your legs may help alleviate foot discomfort and other hiking Foot problems. Hammocks have been shown to be a pleasant and simple way to ensure that your feet are elevated.
Wear Thin Socks
Thick socks may seem like a better choice in terms of cushion and protection, but they are actually something you should avoid. Thick socks promote sweating and hold moisture, which raises the amount of moisture in your shoes and increases the likelihood of blisters. Wearing thinner socks is a lot easier if your feet are already toughened up. Even in cold weather, thin socks are preferable since you will sweat less and we all know that moisture plus chilly equals more discomfort.
Rinse Your Feet
Rinsing your feet twice a day when you are on a multi-day backpacking excursion or trek is ideal. Minimize the dirt, dust, and grime to prevent discomfort. Rinse only downstream in natural sources (i.e., not water tanks in the desert) and never use soap straight in a water source. Remove stubborn dirt with a bandana or your hands. If you want to use soap to get rid of the gunk, wash 200 feet away from a water source with biodegradable soap.
Never travel without at least one pair of spare socks, since dirt can accumulate in the cloth, causing skin irritation. Obviously, if you are going on a lengthy trip, you will not want to bring socks every day. Instead, end the day with dampened but clean socks by rinsing them at a local water source and wearing your dry, clean pair for sleeping, and the next day; repeat the process as needed.
Soak Your Feet In Cold Water
Only soak your feet in cold water for a near-miracle cure, as far as we have been able to tell. Only soak them in natural sources (not in water tanks in the desert), and keep them cold (even better if they are frozen!). Allow them to soak for as long as you can stand. If you do not have a natural source, you may place your full water bags (such as CNOC or Platy in our Best Water Bottles Guide) on the tops and bottoms of your feet, which are exactly like hot water bottle.
Bring A Ball
While your feet are drying, give them a bit more attention with a golf or lacrosse ball that you carefully packed. It is not essential, but a nightly ball massage will assist to relax and improve flexibility in the muscles that have been working nonstop for you all day.
Massage Your Feet
Make it a habit to massage your feet at the end of a long day of trekking or camping. Even if you only do it for 30 seconds, there is evidence that massage reduces foot discomfort and inflammation. My own hiker experience supports this.
I massage my feet no matter how tired I am at the end of the day. If you do not want to touch your feet with your hands, we prefer small cork roll-out balls by Rawlogy in our Essential Backpacking Accessories, such as the self-care massage ball. To treat plantar fasciitis, our foot doctors have recommended rolling out our feet with a golf or handball ball. Because they are composed of cork, Rawlogy balls have the same density at a lower weight than other balls.