Have painful blisters or hot spots on your feet ever stopped you from enjoying a hike? It has for me and over the years of thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of miles of hiking around the world I’ve developed the system that allows me to hike blister and hotspot and pain free with my feet and I’m gonna share that way to you right now!
First thing you want to do before leaving on any Camino or long-distance hike is to cut your toenails. Even if you have the best hiking boots, you need the proper toenail clippers because you don’t want to cut in the rounded shape because in the corners you can get an ingrown nail. So, when you cut your toenails you just want to cut the excess straight across, so you want straight across toes, which is very important.
Never, and I mean never never ever ever, never get a pedicure because when you get that nice pampering stuff they sloth all your wonderful calluses that you’ve built up from wearing your shoes and it’s gonna make your feet more tender and more sensitive and more painful when you’re hiking, so never do those pedicures.
Tricks for Feet Before Hiking
Antiperspirant is one of my secret weapons. It doesn’t matter what kind you get as long as it is antiperspirant and you’re gonna rub this liberally on the sole of your feet and when you go up to the toes you can rub the sides especially if your toes tend to rub a certain spot and if you have like excess you can just kind of work it in and these are gonna keep your feet dry from sweating because it’s that sweat that causes that friction and those red spots.
Now you may or may not have this problem called overlapping toes. What happens is my baby toe goes underneath the toe beside and then when you walk on it, it is extremely painful, so to keep it separated to the side I use toe separators which you can buy them on Amazon and eBay. I suggest buying a big bag of them because they cost very little and it’s more annoying to wait for the shipping time to come from China. When you put it on the toe protector, it’ll be really soft silicone and it’s not gonna bother you in the shoe, but it will keep your toes separate. You’re gonna be a happy camper walking along without any of that overlap issue because that overlap can be extremely painful. The first time I experienced it was in 2014 on the Appalachian Trail and I was worried it was going to end my hike because it was excruciating, excruciating pain!
Alright the next step is you’re putting on a good pair of hiking socks or running socks and I will go over socks selection with you in another article. Then you want to grab a Gator, I use Dirty GirlGators. These are other ones that work just as well as others, and the purpose of the Gator is not to keep out water, because my shoes aren’t waterproof but rather to keep out stones and debris from getting in the sides of the shoe because once those pebbles get into your shoe other than just being playing out annoying they can cause damage to your sock and to your feet by causing blisters and hot spots.
So, there’s a velcro tab on the back and I had put a piece of velcro that came with the Gator on the back of the shoe that locks it in and then you just pull it over, lock it in the top lace and now we’re good to go.
At the end of the day when you’re done hiking you want to make sure your feet are dry even if they’ve been wet all day and in water and snow. Keep them dry when you’re sleeping so have a spare pair of socks with you that are always dedicated and kept for that dry sleeping time. As for your hiking sock, even though it’s kind of probably sweaty and damp and wet you want to try to dry it out as much as you can overnight. Hanging it up and your tent is not gonna work though. Some people stuff it inside their sleeping bag or their sleeping quilt to dry it out, but I find that is ineffective because it just balls up.
So, what I do is I put it directly against the skin, usually I put it against my leg, but if you want you could even put it against your shoulder or your back or whatever you like best. So you just take your damp sock tuck it in between your clothing, and go off to sleep and when you wake up in the morning it’s usually a dry sock ready and waiting. Also, shoe selection are also a big part of keeping blisters and painful feet at bay and I will be going over that in an upcoming article but until then don’t forget your antiperspirant!