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How to Take Care of Your Feet

How to Take Care of Your Feet

Without your feet, you aren’t walking anywhere, especially on a trail.  During my time in the Marine Corps, it was pounded into our heads to change our socks and trim our nails frequently.  Our boots were well fitted, and next to our weapons, were considered the most important piece of equipment we had.  “You have boots and a rifle…you can walk into battle”, our drill instructors would say.

With that wisdom, one can see that even an injury as minor as a blister can cause much larger problems when you’re 5 miles from the nearest road.  While most of us are fortunate enough to not be walking in a combat zone, being late for dinner because your feet were hurting can be just as traumatic to some.

That said, I must admit that sometimes, my feet are an afterthought.  I walk around my campsite barefoot or wear the same pair of socks for three days, sometimes just cotton tube socks.  I have been blessed with callused feet that almost never get blisters, but I realize that the term “tenderfoot” is a valid descriptor for many people, especially those that haven’t ever hiked much.

Jeremy Anderberg, from the Art of Manliness, has written an outstanding article on taking care of your feet when hiking, that should be a guide to all, not just men.  Your feet are your foundation, so preventing fatigue and injury is just as important as treating them.  I am very particular about breaking in my boots and making sure they fit well.  I do own a few pairs of Wigwam socks that I’m generally good about wearing.  My toenails are neatly trimmed and I ensure that my feet stay as clean as possible.  All of these tips and more can be found in the article.

In summer, I generally wear my Vibram FiveFingers.  They certainly look goofy, but in my case, my feet are accustomed to them, and they allow me to walk right through a creek, while still protecting my toes and soles.  They are much lighter than any hiking boot, and because of the way they are sized, they truly are “gloves for one’s feet”.  There are no loose or friction areas in them, which is the number one cause of blisters.

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On the AT in the Great Smoky Mountains. I hiked this in FiveFingers while my partner took a break to rest his own feet.

I’m always sure to dip my tired feet in a cool creek after a day’s hike, rinsing the dirt and sweat from them, and making them smell better to boot.

While he doesn’t cover weird “foot gloves”, Jeremy ends his writing with the best advice of all:

Ultimately, the best way to condition feet against blisters is to simply toughen them up through training. Hike, hike, and then hike some more!”

Have you ever had foot problems when hiking, or have tips of your own?  Sound off in the comments!

Article: How to Take Care of Your Feet on a Hike or Ruck – Jeremy Anderberg, The Art of Manliness