Backpacking Guides

Taking Care of Your Feet While Hiking or Backpacking

running on a trail

Hiking is considered by many as one of the most rewarding activities to do outdoors, especially if they’ve reached the end of the trail where beautiful sceneries are usually found. However, while the activity can be fun and exciting, hiking can typically cause pain in our feet due to the long periods of walking on uneven surfaces and climbing rocky steps.

Most beginners in hiking or backpacking would usually not wear enough protective gear for their feet, as they would just settle in wearing casual shoes or sneakers, and being unprepared before hiking causes painful foot conditions to arise such as blisters, calluses, or ingrown toenails.

If you are already experiencing excruciating pain at the start of the trail, then you might not be able to finish the hike, which can be quite upsetting, especially if you have a goal of seeing the end of the journey. To prevent your feet from stopping you from reaching the end of the trail, then you must adequately take care of it to reduce the chances of getting too much foot pain while hiking. Here are several tips for taking care of your feet that you can consider following.

Wear Broken-In Shoes

shoes for trailing

Before you start hiking, you must know the type of shoe that you should get to suit the terrain you are going to walk on. For rocky trails, it is recommended that you buy trail shoes and make sure that they are well-fitted, as footwear that is too loose or too tight can cause blisters to appear on your feet.

The outsoles of trail shoes are generally made of materials that are much more durable than the ones found on typical running or casual shoes, and it also features aggressive treads that allow your feet to stay balance on rugged or uneven terrain.

If you are going to wear new trail shoes for a long hike, it would still cause complications since the materials found on the shoes are still too stiff or not flexible enough. This is where the idea of “breaking in” shoes comes into play, as you would have to wear it regularly first for a few days or weeks before using it on your long trail walks or runs. You can wear your trail shoes when you’re in the backyard and practice running in it so it would break in much faster.

Keep Your Feet Dry

Keeping your feet dry is essential not only to prevent blisters from occurring but to also stop bacteria from living on your feet or inside your footwear.

You must always wear clean and dry socks while hiking, and you should carry extra pairs just in case your first pair of socks gets wet due to rain or too much sweat.

If there is an instance where you have to sleep during the middle of the hike, then you can remove your shoes if the environment is too hot or humid and let your feet breathe for a little to prevent them from getting too sweaty. If it is a little bit cold, then you can wear warm socks instead of going barefoot.

Apply Balms or Powders on Your Feet

To further prevent moisture or sweat buildup on your feet, then you should try applying foot balms or powders that are specially made to combat bacteria and help your foot from staying healthy while you are hiking.

There are also foot balms that are made to reduce friction between your feet and your shoes. Too much friction usually causes blisters and other painful sores on your feet, which can stop you from enjoying the hike.

Here are some excellent balms and powders for hiking:

Product
Visual
Where to Buy

BodyGlide Foot Anti Blister Balm, 0.80 oz (USA Sale Only)

Gold Bond Friction Defense Stick, Unscented, 1.75 Ounces

Trail Toes - Phenomenal Ultra Extreme - Anti Friction Foot and Body Cream - 1 Pack of .71 oz

HikeGoo Blister Prevention Cream Specifically Formulated for Feet (5.5 oz)

Gold Bond Maximum Strength Foot Powder, 10 Ounces

 

You should apply these powders or balms several hours before you wear trail shoes, as their level of effectiveness will be reduced if you wear shoes immediately after using them.

Cut your Toenails Properly

Another method you can do before wearing your favorite trail shoes is to cut your nails properly, and the proper way to cut them is straight across and not in a curved shape. If your nails are curved at the end, there is a high chance that they will not grow correctly and may grow sideways, which causes ingrown toenails.

In addition, you should not cut your toenails too short as they wouldn’t be able to provide enough protection for your toes against impact. After cutting them correctly, you should also file your toenails so that it won’t have sharp edges. These sharp edges on your toenails can damage your socks and even your shoes.

Taking good care of your feet during a hike is important so that you can fully enjoy the trip without experiencing irritation and discomfort. Follow the tips mentioned above strictly and you will have a pain-free and exciting hiking or backpacking trip.

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