Gearhead: Carrying blister protection is just smart

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If you’re a hiker, chances are good that you have a blister story to tell.

Maybe your tale is horrendous (“Halfway through backpacking the Camino de Santiago, the giant blister from hell attacked my heel…”) or perhaps it’s just regretful (“It was a small blister, sure, but it destroyed my blissful springtime coastal walk at Bodega Head.”)

The important thing: whether that blister was big or small, it created an unpleasant and indelible memory. Blisters are like that.

The best thing to do about a blister is to simply prevent it. Blisters on a foot are created by excess friction between socks and skin, with moisture, heat and dirt helping things develop. Be sure to wear good hiking socks that wick moisture away from your feet, and don’t go on the trail with brand new boots (break them in first on small jaunts around your neighborhood).

If you do feel a sore or “hot” spot developing on your foot, stop immediately, remove your boots and socks, and cover the irritated area with something like Dr. Scholl’s Moleskin or Band-Aid’s newer Hydro Seal Blister Cushions. At best, this may stop the blister from developing further; at worst, it will slow things down and ease pain.

Band-Aid Hydro Seal Blister Cushions stay on for days, even through showers, to cushion and protect the skin from rubbing and pressure. The cushions come in four different varieties that address blister size and location (small and medium cushions, and cushions designed specifically for heels or toes). Approximately $5 per box (5 to 8 cushions per box).

Dr. Scholl’s Moleskin Plus Padding can be cut to needed size. A soft cotton flannel padding protects the irritated area from boot or shoe pressure and helps prevent blisters. It’s self-stick, and stays in place. It comes in two varieties, Strips (three strips, 45/8 inches by 33/8 inches per package) and a Roll (1 roll, 24 inches long by 45/8 inches wide). Around $3.50.

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