If you love hiking but hate the blisters that come with it, you’ll likely want to know what causes them in the first place. After you know why blisters form, you can take action to reduce the risks of them happening and ensure you have a comfortable hiking experience. Find out more about the primary causes of hiking blisters and how you can prevent them while you’re out on the trail.
Main Causes of Hiking Blisters
The primary cause of hiking blisters comes from friction. When you’re hiking, your socks and boots will rub against your feet. This rubbing creates friction that makes your skin’s thick outer layers move more than the thinner inner layers. Eventually, this friction creates a hot spot where the inner layers separate from the outer layers. With the layers separated, fluid fills the area between them, causing a blister to form.
While friction is the primary cause of hiking blisters, a few other factors can accelerate the process.
Tight boots and shoes
Since friction plays a major role in blisters forming, you can probably guess poorly fitting shoes and boots can increase the chances of blisters. The longer you wear ill-fitting footwear, the more your skin will rub against your socks and shoes, causing more friction. This friction then creates blisters, making appropriately-sized footwear a must.
While out on the trail, you’ll often run into rain or wet conditions that cause your feet to get wet. This excess moisture raises the chances of blisters, as it increases the friction between your skin and your socks. If your feet get wet, your skin will soften and weaken, raising the chances of a blister forming.
When your feet are dirty, they can blister much faster. Besides the risk of faster blistering, dirty feet can also cause the blister to become infected. An infected blister can hurt a great deal and cause other problems, so it’s always best to clean your feet before slipping them into your boots or shoes.
Another common cause of blisters is excess heat. When you wear socks and shoes or boots with poor ventilation, heat can get trapped inside and raise your skin’s temperature. As you hike, your physical activity will continue to increase your skin’s temperature. If too much heat builds up and raises your skin’s temperature, the effects of friction will grow, causing blisters to form.
Heat and moisture trapping socks
Your socks can also play a major role in blister formation. When your socks don’t naturally wick away moisture or release heat from them, you’re more likely to suffer from blisters. If you’re hitting the trail, you’ll want to avoid socks that trap heat and moisture, especially if you’re walking long distances.
Not wearing anti-blister hiking socks socks
Hiking socks make a difference. When you set out on a hike, you need socks that can keep up. Here are some essential considerations in finding the right socks for your hike:
- Sock Fit and Feel: Check the sizing guide to ensure you order the right sock fit for you. Poor-fitting socks can actually make blisters worse than wearing no socks at all by adding another source of friction in your shoes.
- Sock Materials: You will also want to ensure you are selecting the right material for your adventure. Overly thick socks in the summer can make your feet more prone to harmful moisture. Meanwhile, thin socks in the winter can leave your feet vulnerable to winter rash and enhanced irritation.
- Sock Length: Take a moment to match your socks to your shoes or boots. Socks that are too short may leave you with blisters on your ankles or lower calves from your hiking boots.
You can make the most of your adventure by choosing the right socks for you. Particularly, anti-blister socks are ideal for hiking. These socks are designed to protect your feet against all of the factors that contribute to blistering. You can read more about how anti-blister socks work here.