Trekking in the Himalayas does not come easy. The perils of foot soreness that comes with it are well known to trekkers. Still I keep hearing from trekkers complain about foot blisters. The sheer neglect (and ignorance) give way to a very painful and unpleasant experience.
Trekking with a blister is not a joke. You got to play footsie with an unforgiving trail with tact. To do that you got to first understand what causes foot blisters.
The undue stretching and tearing experienced under the skin surface cause blisters. This is called skin shearing. The condition of your skin, the friction level between the skin and the moving bone, your walking style are the three causes to this painful menace.
The following illustration will explain this better.
How to avoid Foot Blisters on a Himalayan Trek
Step 1: Get the boot fit and lacing technique right
The most important blister prevention strategy is to find the right boot fit. Ensure you hiking boot fit is neither too tight or too loose. Choose a boot size that feels comfortable wearing two pairs of socks.
The next step is to master the lacing technique. Alter the lacing style to get the perfect boot fit.
The “Lace Lock” technique is particularly effective to prevent heel slippage. The following video makes it easy to learn.
Lacing technique video to help avoid Heel Blisters
Step 2: Wear two socks to manage moisture better
The trick is to wear two socks. The inner sock should be a thin synthetic sock which works to wick moisture away from the foot. Wear a thick outer sock over it which can absorb the moisture from the inner sock.
Purchasing a moisture wicking trekking sock is recommended. Avoid using a cotton sock.
Step 3: Use cushioning and insoles.
Proprietary cushioning and insoles (Gel toes) are available in the market for your hiking boots. Sometimes one toe rubs excessively on the next one causing pain. This can be adjusted with using correct insoles providing padding where necessary.
Step 4: Taping and Dressing.
Using tapes and dressing is something that one learns with experience. Taping your toes and heel can work wonderfully if done correctly.
Use blister bandage (Moleskins) after sanitizing the blister with Benzoin solution. This is a fast, effective way to protect and repair blisters.
Step 5: Use lubricant and Powder
Using a lubricant (Vaseline) can help alter the condition of the skin. This can help reduce friction. This can be useful in case of dry, rough skin.
Using antibacterial powder can help in case of sweaty feet. This is a short and time-consuming solution. Repeat the process daily depending upon the need.
Step 6: Review, modify your walking style
“The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance,” 1841
Your walking style can give you sore feet. Do you walk too aggressively over rough boulders and terrain? Do you descent down carelessly in haste?
Altering your hiking style can release some pressure off your feet. Focus where you put pressure on your foot while trekking. Use practical trekking aid like a Trekking Pole to transfer body weight and momentum on the pole.
Did foot blisters trouble you while trekking? How did you handle it? Please share your experience in the comments section.