Hiking 101: Blister Care and Prevention
December 9, 2019
Blisters are, unfortunately, an extremely common occurrence for hikers. They are caused by friction, heat, moisture, and pressure, so it makes sense that hiking shoes and boots would cause blistering as they rub against feet and heels on the trail.

If you’ve ever experienced a blister while hiking, then you know just how painful and difficult it makes the rest of the hike. Luckily, we are here to share how to take care of a blister and even prevent one when you’re out on the trail.

and how they appear

Hiking shoes and boots – which are designed for a snug and secure fit – can cause a lot of friction against a sensitive foot, heel, and ankle skin. As you hike, the inside of your boot or shoe may begin to firmly rub up against your skin. If this continues for long enough, then the outer and inner layers of your skin may separate due to the constant friction.

Once separated, a small pocket of air is formed between the two skin layers. Eventually, as the body works to heal and protect itself, fluid will fill this space.

This painful, bubble-like sore is a blister. Blisters and can be tender to the touch and can be extremely painful once they are ripped open, completely exposing the sensitive inner layers of skin to your shoe, the air, and dirt and debris.

Moisture can make blisters form even quicker, so you may notice them more often during hikes where you are sweating or are near bodies of water that get your shoes wet.

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While there are blister care techniques you can use after a blister forms (which we will cover in this article), the best thing you can do is try to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Here are a few things you can do to lessen the chance of getting on irritating blister during a hike.

Wear Hiking Boots that Truly Fit

Wearing ill-fitting hiking boots is one of the easiest ways to get blisters on the trail. Boots that are too small will hug your feet too tight, creating the friction, pressure, and heat that leads to blistering.

Alternatively, boots that are too big will be loose, rubbing against the back of your heel until a blister forms. Wearing properly fitting boots is the first step when it comes to blister care.

Make Sure Your Boots are Broken In

It is normal for hiking boots to be a little snug and stiff immediately after purchase. To break them in, you should go on several short, easy hikes in them before you attempt something longer.

This allows the material – especially if the boots are leather – to become more flexible and to move with your foot rather than against it.

Wear Dry Socks

Socks in general create a protective layer between your boot and your skin. However, some fabrics – such as cotton – retain moisture and can actually make blistering happen even faster. Thin, synthetic sock materials that wick moisture away from the skin are ideal, but wool is also a great option for cold weather hiking.

Stay as Dry and Cool as Possible

Heat and moisture can greatly speed up the blistering process, so avoid getting your feet wet if at all possible, during your hike. If you find your feet getting hot, take some time to take your boots off and cook down every now and then. This preventative blister care tip can save you a lot of discomfort on the hike back.

Check out our complete day-hike checklist to make sure you don’t forget to pack any other essential items that could make your journey comfy and blister-free.

for comfortable HIKES

Even when we try to prevent blisters, it is inevitable that we will one day experience one while we are out on the trail. If you still have a long hike back, then you are going to want to care for the blister as quickly as possible to know proper blister care so that you can be comfortable for the rest of your hike. Here are some tips for caring for blisters on the trail.

Bandage Blisters

As simple as it sounds, placing a bandage over a blister can make your hike far more comfortable. Choose a bandage that has adhesive on all sides so that it stays firmly in place and will not rub against the blister.

Drain the Blister, but Do Not Remove Skin

In some situations, draining a blister may help make a hike more comfortable or allow you to apply a bandage more tightly. However, you should use a small, sterile pin to pop and drain the blister without removing the top layer of skin. Underneath, the skin is raw and sensitive. Removing the top layer will make the blister more painful and leave it open to possible infection.


Blisters are an extremely common hiking injury, but we hope that the information provided in this article can help you understand how to prevent a blister and care for them in the future so that you can enjoy the trails comfortably!