How to Prevent and Treat Blisters While Hiking

Keeping yourself healthy while hiking requires playing the long game, especially when it comes to blisters. You should do everything you can beforehand to prevent them and then stop them from completely hobbling you when they do pop up.

“Socks are almost as important, if not more important, than shoes,” former women’s Appalachian Trail speed record holder Liz Thomas says. “I know people who like more padding. It really depends on your body, hiking style, how much you weigh, how your feet turn when you walk, and what sort of trail you’re on.”

Jennifer Pharr-Davis, who previously set a fastest known time on the AT and is a fixture in the Southeast hiking community, finds that a little more padding helps her prevent blisters. Since blisters are caused by constant rubbing, heat, and moisture, everyone will need socks that effectively vent, wick moisture, and fit without slipping around on their individual feet. The best way to dial in the right one is, unavoidably, trial and error. But once you find a material or thickness that works for you, stick with it.

“The footwear and socks are a system,” says Andrew Skurka, a prolific thru-hiker. “Don’t assume that because the shoes work with one pair of socks that they will work just as well with a completely different pair. They might, but not always, especially if you’re changing thicknesses and fiber type.”

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