Protecting Your Feet on the Trail

It’s surprising how often people fail to realize just how important their feet are when it comes to hiking. This doesn’t only mean buying a good pair of boots, but doing what you can to prepare them for life on the trail. Here are a few tips to help you do just that, as well as improve the way you take care of your feet.

When it comes to shopping for a pair of boots, I suggest shopping later on in the day, when your feet are their most swollen. This will be best for anticipating the fit you’ll need for a long trek. Also, your feet expand as you get older, so it’s important to get measured each time you shop for a new pair. At specialty stores, you can also ask an associate to recommend a boot brand based on the shape of your foot. Whichever one you go with, though, make sure you have enough room for your toes to wiggle a little, but you don’t want your heel to move at all. As always, when trying on boots, wear the socks you’ll be hiking in.

To ensure your serious hikes will be comfortable, try to get at least 15-20 hours of solid small hikes in before venturing out on longer treks. Being this at least a month beforehand and be sure to wear a weighted pack for a more accurate and realistic simulation. Boots can take a while to break in fully, especially stiff, full-grain leather ones, so it’s crucial to break them in the best you can.

Lastly, blisters can be your worst enemy—even on day hikes—so learning how to deal with them is important. Really, the best way to treat them is to avoid them at all costs by implementing Leukotape or moleskin for problem areas or preemptive defense. Also, be sure to treat any painful areas as soon as possible to avoid the development of a serious blister.

Taking care of your feet begins before you even buy a pair of boots, really, so having a bit of knowledge beforehand can be a lifesaver. Take heed of the tips outlined above and your feet will thank you after a day on the trail.