How to Prevent Blisters Hiking

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Two worn hiking boots seen from the person wearing them. A person's lower legs with blue leggings and gray and blue socks are also visible. The person is standing on a wooden path

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Maybe you’re luckier than me, but I have a really hard time with blisters! Different people have blisters in different places and have more or less trouble with them but one thing is for sure, having blisters makes hiking absolutely miserable! All blisters are caused by some type of friction, so the key is to figure out what’s causing the friction and eliminate it. In this post, I’ll talk about how to prevent blisters hiking, including what has worked for me and a method that haven’t worked for me but has worked well for other people! I get blisters on the back of my heels going uphill, and I’ve determined that this is because the back of my heel is fairly small compared to my foot, so the back of my foot moves around too much and has too much friction. Other people commonly get them on or between their toes (I don’t get them in that location but I’ve heard that toe socks are very helpful for this). If you struggle with how to prevent blisters, here are some things to try! If you’re looking for other hiking tips, check out this post or sign up for the newsletter to get monthly ideas for where to go!

Prevent blisters hiking with shoes instead of boots

I have never been able to find hiking boots that don’t give me blisters, and I’ve tried a few options, gotten fitted at mulitple outdoor stores, and it seems that my feet just don’t like boots! I do still sometimes where them, with lots of tape (see below), but I wear them as little as possible. Most of the time, I wear hiking shoes or trail running shoes (I’m not a trail runner but the shoes are a good option for me). I also sometimes wear 5 fingers if I’m familiar with the trail (they aren’t good with lots of rocks) and it’s not wet (5 fingers aren’t great on wet surfaces). In the winter I wear rubber boots frequently and weirdly they are way more comfortable (for me!) than hiking boots! I know many people who wear running shoes, which is also a great option (although like the 5 fingers they are not waterproof). If you do wear boots, make sure to get fitted and break them in (and return them if they aren’t working for you!).

Use medical tape or duct tape to provide an extra layer against your skin

For a long time, I used ordinary duct tape and taped up my heels to prevent blisters. And yes, I used that fancy patterned duct tape because why not? This worked well for me in preventing blisters, but it was really sweaty and kind of uncomfortable otherwise. Recently, I started using a layer of moleskin secured in place with medical tape, which is much more comfortable and just as effective, which makes sense because moleskin and medical tape are designed for this purpose! Hello?!? I should have figured that out a long time ago!

Wear liner socks

I’ll be honest, this method hasn’t been enough for me (I need the tape method). However, many people swear by this! Liner socks are just a thin pair of socks you wear under another pair of socks. Even though there are special liner socks, you can really just wear any two pairs of socks that fit together. The nice thing about thin ones is that they’re less hot. Give it a shot! It works for many people.

Whatever you try, you don’t have to just deal with it…you can prevent blisters hiking! It does take a bit of experimentation but hopefully what I’ve learned can speed up your path to a solution for blister free hiking!

Two worn hiking boots seen from the person wearing them. A person's lower legs with blue leggings and gray and blue socks are also visible. The person is standing on a wooden path. Text reads: 3 easy ways to prevent blisters when hiking
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Jennie Flaming
Jennie Thwing Flaming, Chief Adventure Officer: Jennie's life has been a continual quest for adventure (of the non-adrenalin inducing kind) from birth till now. Professionally, she pursues adventures in teaching, counseling and working to obliterate institutional racism for students in our region's public schools and also works as a tour and hiking guide. Previous professional adventures include working in schools in Seattle and Alaska, leading tours and managing tour guides and presenting traveling science shows and lessons with Pacific Science Center. She believes in sharing her beloved Pacific Northwest home with visitors. She likes to be outdoors and spend time with the people she loves. Jennie is born and raised in Seattle and has also lived in Alaska and the Netherlands.