Nothing will make your hike miserable than a painful foot blister. That’s why we’ve researched the best blister kits for hiking and provided blister prevention tips to keep your feet happy.
The Importance of a Blister Kit for Hikers
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Hiking is my favorite outdoor activity. So much so that each year I set a hiking goal for myself and run a hiking company.
However, after hiking for 20+ years, I’ve also had my painful share of blisters, from too-small hiking boots in the Canadian Rockies to wet hiking shoes while hiking the Wicklow Way in Ireland and from wearing running shoes while hiking the rocky terrain of the Pirin Mountains in Bulgaria since I had only planned to attend a conference, not to hike.
Blisters are a common issue for hikers, and these painful, fluid-filled pockets can quickly turn an amazing hike into a painful ordeal where it hurts to take every step.
That’s why I recommend carrying a blister kit on every hike, especially if you’re blister-prone or wearing new hiking boots for an extended period of time – even after you’ve broken them in.
They’re very affordable and don’t take up much extra space. I keep one in my hiking backpack at all times, even if I’m doing a short day hike. In my experienced opinion, they’re essential, along with an emergency thermal blanket.
6 Best Blister Kits for Hiking
In this comprehensive guide, we will review the top five blister kits for hiking, detailing their features, benefits, and why they should be part of your hiking gear.
Blister Care Tips:
- Apply the Moleskin/Compeed/blister dressing as soon as you feel a hot spot BEFORE it turns into a blister. This will help prevent blisters in the first place.
- If it has turned into a blister, before you apply any blister bandages or blister dressing, ALWAYS wipe down the hot spot with alcohol wipes or antiseptic wipes to disinfect the area first. It’s important to avoid getting an infection from your blister.
I once had a blister on my heel from hiking that got infected and caused blood poisoning that resulted in an emergency visit to the hospital and saw me on a take-home IV for several days.
The Adventure Medical Kits Moleskin Blister Dressing is a popular choice among hikers for they're durability and effective blister prevention. These pre-cut pieces of moleskin are easy to apply and stay in place while hiking thanks to their adhesive backing. The soft, padded material offers additional comfort. And they're precut, so you don't need scissors.
Leukotape P Sports Tape is an excellent blister prevention tool for those who prefer a more versatile solution. This strong, adhesive tape can be applied directly to problem areas or used to secure other blister prevention products. Its waterproof design makes it ideal for wet conditions, and its high tensile strength ensures it will stay put throughout your hike.
Dr. Scholl's Blister Treatment Cushions are designed to provide immediate relief from painful blisters. These waterproof cushions are made from a hydrocolloid material that helps to promote healing by keeping the blister moist and protected. The thin, flexible design allows for easy application and a comfortable fit in any shoe. Plus, the adhesive backing keeps the cushion in place so it won't slip during your hike.
For those who prefer a non-adhesive solution, BodyGlide Foot Anti Blister Balm is an excellent option. This balm creates a frictionless barrier between your skin and your footwear, helping to prevent blisters from forming. The balm is easy to apply, long-lasting, and sweat-resistant, making it perfect for long hikes or multi-day self-guided treks like theTour du Mont Blanc or Haute Route.
HikeGoo Blister Prevention Cream is a unique solution that works by creating a protective barrier on the skin's surface. This barrier helps to reduce friction and moisture, two primary factors that contribute to blisters. The cream is easy to apply, dries quickly, and can last all day, even during intense hikes.
Compeed is my personal favorite blister prevention and blister treatment method. I always have some in my hiking backpack.
Unlike regular bandages, Compeed's active gel pads offer instant relief by providing 10x times more pain relief than ordinary bandages. They relieve rubbing, pressure, and friction caused by hiking.
Compeed blister pads also facilitate faster healing by acting like a second skin and creating a moist healing environment while protecting blisters from dirt, water, germs, and bacteria.
Furthermore, Compeed blister cushions provide long-lasting protection, staying in place for 50% percent longer than regular bandages, even after showers and exercise.
9 Ways to Prevent Blisters From Forming When Hiking
Wear properly fitting footwear: Whether you prefer hiking boots, hiking shoes or hiking sandals, if they’re too tight or too loose, they can cause friction and lead to blisters. Ensure your hiking footwear fits comfortably, with enough room for your toes to move.
Break in your new hiking footwear: Before embarking on a long hike, make sure you break in your new shoes or boots by wearing them on shorter walks. This will help your feet get accustomed to the new footwear, preventing blisters from forming. Note: some hiking boots, like solid leather hiking boots, will take longer to break in than softer hiking shoes, so plan in advance.
Keep your feet dry: Wet feet can increase friction and lead to blisters. Wear moisture-wicking socks and carry an extra pair of socks to change into if your feet get damp.
Wear moisture-wicking or synthetic socks: I think hiking socks are the most underrated piece of hiking gear, but they’re so important. You can see my recommendations for hiking socks. I’m a big fan of ones made from merino wool which help keep your feet dry by wicking away moisture, including sweat.
Apply friction-reducing products before you start hiking: If you know that you’re prone to blisters, use an anti-blister balm or cream before you start your hike to help reduce friction on your feet.
Keep your feet clean: Dirt and debris can cause irritation and lead to blisters. Keep your feet clean and dry throughout your hike.
Use foot pads or insoles: If you have foot problems, or are prone to blisters, consider customized foot pads or insoles that can help prevent blisters by providing additional cushioning and reducing pressure on certain areas of your feet.
Take regular breaks: Frequent breaks can help alleviate pressure on your feet and give them a chance to rest and recover. I’m a big fan of elevating your feet while enjoying your hiking snack.
Pay attention to hot spots as soon as you feel them: Keep an eye out for any areas on your feet that are beginning to feel tender or irritated. Applying blister-prevention products or taking a break to readjust your footwear can help prevent a blister from forming.
FAQs About Blisters When Hiking
What causes blisters when hiking?
Blisters are caused by friction between your skin and your socks, shoes, or boots. This friction can be exacerbated by moisture, including sweating, heat, or ill-fitting footwear.
How can I prevent blisters from forming?
See our 9 tips above on how to prevent blisters and our recommended blister kits for hiking.
What should I do if I develop a blister while hiking?
If you develop a blister while hiking, try to keep it clean and dry to prevent the blister from becoming infected.
Avoid popping the blister unless it is causing significant pain or discomfort. If you must pop the blister, use a sterile needle to make a small hole near the edge of the blister and gently press the fluid out. Cover the blister with a bandage or moleskin to protect it from further friction.
Can I still hike with a blister?
It’s generally safe to continue hiking with a blister, but it is important to take steps to prevent further irritation or infection. Cover the blister with a bandage or moleskin to act as a protective layer against friction. You may also want to take more frequent breaks to alleviate pressure on your feet.
When should I seek medical attention for a blister?
If you develop a large or painful blister or if you notice signs of infection such as redness, swelling, warmth, or pus, you should seek medical attention. Your blister may need to be drained, or you may need antibiotics to treat your blister infection, as I did.
Can I pop a blister myself?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, It’s generally not recommended to pop a blister yourself, as this can increase the risk of infection. If you must pop a blister, use a sterile needle to make a small hole near the edge of the blister and gently press the fluid out.
Cover the blister with a bandage or moleskin to protect it from further friction.
When I have popped blisters, I do it after hiking when I can walk around barefoot or in sandals so that it’s not immediately rubbing on my hiking shoe or boot.
Can I prevent blisters by using duct tape?
You can use duct tape as a makeshift solution when you don’t have another blister-prevention product. However, it’s not as effective.
Duct tape may also irritate your skin or cause an allergic reaction in some individuals, so avoid using it if you have sensitive skin.
How long does it take for a blister to heal?
The healing time for a blister depends on the size and severity of the blister, as well as your overall health. In general, a small blister may heal within a few days, while a larger blister may take up to two weeks to heal completely.
Blisters can be a painful and unwelcome interruption to an otherwise enjoyable hike. That’s why we recommend always carrying a blister kit when hiking and taking steps to prevent blisters from forming in the first place.