Imagine you are hiking along in the beautiful Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania. It’s a moderately aggressive hike and the whole family is having a great time. What is one thing that can ruin a great hike? Blisters! You or one of the other family members says, “I feel a hot spot on one of my feet.” Or, “I think I might be getting a blister.” Uh-oh!
Let’s talk about what to do to care for your feet before you even get going. Prevention is the best medicine. There are two main things you need to prevent blisters.
First: Hiking shoes or boots that are a great fit.
Your feet’s first line of defense is a pair of shoes that support your feet and fit them well. This is one area where online shopping is not going to serve you well. It is best to go and try on several pairs of shoes or boots.
Remember that your feet will swell as you hike. Therefore, when purchasing shoes, make sure you account for how your feet will expand. It is wise to go half a size bigger than what feels comfortable in the store. Also, wear your hiking socks when trying on hiking boots.
Second: Speaking of socks…
Your second line of defense for your feet are a good pair of hiking socks. The main reason that you should wear quality, Merino wool socks when hiking is that they wick moisture away from your feet. Wet feet, whether from sweat or puddles, are a contributing factor to the development of blisters.
Carry at least two extra pairs of socks. If your feet are not feeling good, stop and change socks. Don’t push through an uncomfortable feeling just to keep up your pace. Remember, you are trying to prevent blisters before they form. When you are about half way through your hike, stop again to change into a fresh, dry pair of socks.
Have everyone in the family do a half-way sock change whether they feel like they need it or not. It really is the best practice for healthy, happy feet. Check out Trail Mom’s Spring Picks for backpacks for kids so they can easily carry their own water, extra socks, and snacks.
It feels like a big investment to buy quality hiking shoes for the adults. If you are like me, you get your family by on bargains and hand-me-downs. Gear for kids, that they may outgrow before the season is over, can feel like a big waste. But if you intend to do some serious hiking as a family, it is going to be worth it in the long run to get quality shoes and socks for everyone. You only get one pair of feet, so take care of them and teach your children the best practices now.
What are your favorite shoes and socks for the whole family? How do you bargain shop for gear? Sign up to get our post for more Trail Family foot care tips in your inbox!