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Whatever their level of ability or the terrain they cover, there’s something that unites all hikers: the worry of coming back from their trip with blisters on their feet.
Check out our joint interview that explains how to avoid them!
Blisters usually appear when our skin is weakened by friction, whether caused by our socks, boots or foreign objects.
Moisture (related to perspiration or outside elements) can also play a role because it weakens our skin, which then becomes more vulnerable to such friction.
So how do you avoid blisters?
To answer this question, we gave the floor to our experts, who are passionate about hiking: Claire Sens, field test engineer and former podiatrist, Edward Roberts, product manager for hiking boots, and Julien Ettel, product manager for hiking socks and insoles at Quechua.
Claire: “The first thing to do is choose the right sized boots. After that, we often say you have to be careful when you first head out in new boots. But by conducting a study, we realised that 70% of blisters appear before 5 hours of hiking. So the main thing is simply to have a well supported foot, the right size and the right insole to minimise the risk of blisters.”
Edward: “There’s no rule. Some hikers will tell you they always take the next size up, and that works great for them. For others, it doesn’t work. Trying them on is what really points you towards the right boot.”
Claire: “Yes, it depends on each person’s habits. We also hear about feet swelling up during exertion. But today, we have no scientific proof of that. Ultimately, it's down to each person, depending on their sensitivity. Some have feet that warm up faster, others have one foot bigger than the other. So the best advice to give is: try on your hiking boots first!”
Claire: “Yes, it’s essential! When out hiking, your foot must be well supported. With some boots, the lacing will be different if you’re going uphill or down. When going downhill, feel free to tighten your boots more firmly.”
Edward: “Changing the insole lets you regain a feeling of softness, of internal cushioning. It also helps stabilise the foot, which is very important to avoid friction and blisters.”
Julien: “In fact, if you have too much freedom of movement inside your boot, your foot will move. And yes, that will cause discomfort and friction. The insole will reduce all play to ensure good support.”
Claire: “Be careful with the material of your insole. If you use a smooth leather city insole rather than a specific technical hiking product, you’re bound to experience rubbing. Our hiking insoles, like our boots and socks, are designed specifically for this type of use, and they help prevent the risks associated with hiking, such as the appearance of blisters.”
Julien: “No, what it takes is a combination of all three. You can have the best boot in the world, but if your sock isn’t suitable for hiking and doesn’t wick moisture properly, you’ll end up with blisters. If you put in an insole that doesn’t support the foot properly, even in the best boot in the world, there will be play inside the boot that will cause rubbing, and therefore the appearance of blisters.”
Edward: “These are three complementary products, a triptych that maximises your chances of staying comfortable while hiking.”
Claire: “And these are three products which are tested together, in the laboratory, and then validated in the field adapted to their design, by practitioners. For example, a boot designed to do 8 km, we test for 8 km, with the appropriate socks and insoles.”
Julien: "If you feel the slightest discomfort due to the presence of a foreign body (stones, sand, bark etc), stop and take off your boots to get rid of it. In fact, a blister is a hard spot, with repetitive rubbing against it. And behind that, we have aggravating factors: a grain of sand, humidity, heat. So keep your feet clean and dry, and kit yourself out with technical products suitable for hiking. And finally, look after yourself. We sometimes underestimate our state of fatigue, our food level. All this plays a role in perspiration, and therefore in the appearance of blisters.”
Claire: “And dry your boots between use. It’s essential to deal with humidity!”
Claire: “Some hikers may have the best boots, socks and insoles in the world, but they still get blisters. That's how it is, we’re not all the same when it comes to blisters... If, despite all these tips, you’re still prone to blisters, you can try anti-blister creams that limit irritation due to rubbing. But always remember to test if they’re right for you before setting off on a long outing! ”
Julien: “Lemon juice foot baths are quite common among hikers and they work well, too. They help thicken your skin so that it weakens less quickly.”