Making sure your feet are taken care of is one of the top priorities when hiking, especially long distance.
Here are some tips on how to keep them in tip-top shape:
Get the Right Boots.
Invest in a pair of sturdy, waterproof boots that are not too big and not too small (factor in whether you’ll be wearing thick socks when choosing your size). Make sure that the laces hold and are easy to tie with cold fingers. If you need ankle support, get high-top boots. But don’t go overboard with the clunkiness – get a pair of boots that are versatile and can be worn for longer as well as shorter hikes and in warm and cold weather. And be sure to break them in!
Get the Right Socks.
Wool/synthetic-mix socks that have moisture-wicking properties are the best for camping in all types of weather. Whether it’s raining or super hot, you want to make sure that your socks will keep your feet dry. Sock liners work good to help keep some of the moisture off of your feet, as well as insulate them. A good tip for cold-weather backpacking is to sleep with your socks in your sleeping bag so they will be toasty in the morning when you start trekking. Always carry extra pairs with you so you can change them out whenever they start to get particularly wet and chafe-y.
Train Your Feet.
Take walks and short hikes in your boots and socks before going on an long-distance hiking trip. This will strengthen your the tendons and muscles in your ankles, calves and feet and help prevent injuries on the trail.
Clip Yo’ Toenails.
Hiking when you haven’t clipped your toenails can be very painful, especially if you’re hiking downhill a lot of the way. Cut and then file them until they’re even with the tip of your toe so you won’t have to worry about getting hangnails that get snagged in your socks.
Be Proactive with Blisters.
If there’s a certain spot on your foot that frequently blisters, go ahead and put moleskin on it. That way, you won’t have to worry about having to deal with an annoying blister for the rest of the trip.
Let Your Feet Rest and Breathe.
Whenever you stop to eat lunch or take a break, take your shoes and socks off and let your feet breathe. Bring along a pair of flip-flops or Crocs to wear around the campsite when you’re not hiking. Even if you have the best pairs of boots and socks in the world, your feet still need the chance to air out as much as possible.
by Anna Fletcher