10 Best Hiking Foot Care Products

10 Best Hiking Foot Care Products

“The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art,” said Leonardo Da Vinci, but like all hiking gear, you need to take care of it to make it perform optimally. When it comes to your feet, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, which is why we recommend protecting your feet from common hiking foot injuries and afflictions before they occur rather than suffering the consequences on the trail. That said, mishaps happen and we encourage you to carry remedies for the most common foot care issues to minimize your discomfort.

Here are the top foot care products we use and recommend for hikers and backpackers.

1. Leukotape Sports Tape

Leukotape_P_Sports_Tape

Leukotape is a sticky blister prevention tape with a strong zinc oxide adhesive that won’t come off, even in very wet conditions. It’s also breathable, so it can be safely worn by runners and backpackers for several days at a time. It’s best used as a preventative barrier over potential hot spots. Leukotape is not intended for use on pre-existing blisters, however, because the adhesive can pull off loose and broken skin. While it comes on a roll, the best way to carry Leukotape in your first aid kit is to pre-cut it into strips and attach it to the shiny paper (called release paper) that adhesive labels are attached to. Go into any UPS or FedEx office and they’ll give you tons of the stuff for free. I’ve been using Leukotape for years and still tape my heels before day hikes and backpacking trips.

Available from:
Amazon | Garage Grown Gear

2. Darn Tough Socks

Darn Tough Hiker
Darn Tough’s Merino Wool Hiking Socks are the most popular socks used by hikers to prevent blisters, wick moisture, and keep your feet cool and comfortable on the trail. They’re also tough enough to stand up to the abrasive sand and grit that gets into trail runners and hiking shoes, which quickly eats through other manufacturers’ socks. They’re available in all kinds of colors, lengths, weights, and sizes, with and without extra cushioning. When backpacking, it’s important to keep a dry pair in reserve to sleep in to help your feet recover after a long day of hiking. My favorites are their Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks and Hiker Boot Full Cushion Socks.

Available from:
REI | Darn Tough

3. Dirty Girl Gaiters

Dirty Girl Gaiters
Dirty Girl Gaiters are low gaiters designed to keep sticks, pebbles, sand, and other ground litter that you kick up when hiking from getting into your trail shoes or boots, where they can irritate your feet. They’re primarily used with trail running shoes and low to mid-ankle hiking shoes. They are ultralight, weighing less than 2 ounces per pair, and are popular with hikers because they’re inexpensive and they come in all kinds of wild colors and printed patterns that let you express yourself on the trail. They don’t have a strap that runs under your hiking shoes but attach to your laces with a hook and a velcro patch that your stick on the heel of your footwear. They’re not intended for winter use and dry quickly when they get wet.

Available from:
Dirty Girl Gaiters

4. Superfeet Insoles

Superfeet Carbon Insoles
Insoles have two big benefits: they help support your arch which is important when carrying a loaded backpack and lock your heels in place to prevent excessive pronation or supination that can lead to plantar fasciitis, a painful inflammation of the heel that can put you on the sideline for weeks at a time. Superfeet makes a million different insoles, but the two most popular ones for hikers are Superfeet Carbon Insoles which are thin enough to fit into low-volume trail runners and hiking shoes, and Superfeet Green Insoles, which have high arch support that’s best worn in hiking boots.

Available from:
REI | Superfeet

5. Vaseline Ointment

Vasoline 1.75 oz

Cheap and plentiful, Vaseline ointment is good for reducing the friction between your toes or between your footwear and feet which can lead to blisters. It’s also useful for treating dry and cracked skin which is the precursor to a callous, by locking in the skin’s natural moisture and helping it to heal from within. Vaseline is available in a 1.7 oz travel size which is small enough to carry or you can repackage it in a small tub to carry with you. Vaseline also makes an excellent firestarter when smeared on a cotton ball, something that other anti-friction powders and creams can’t claim.

Available from:
Amazon | Walmart

6. Lotrimin Ultra Athletes Foot Cream

Lotromin Ultra

Athlete’s Foot is a highly contagious fungal infection that affects the skin on the toes and results in a scaly rash that itches like hell and is very unpleasant. It’s easy to pick up if you visit public places barefoot including shower stalls, locker rooms, or swimming pools and thrives in hot and sweaty closed footwear. Athletes’ foot is easily treated with a prescription strength topical cream, like Lotrimin Ultra, but you have to be vigilant and consistent when you use it in order to eliminate the infection or it will persist. Treatment usually takes about a week, although you may want to continue longer to make sure the fungus is fully eradicated. Lotrimin Ultra can also be used to treat jock itch, another frequent and unpleasant skin irritation experienced by hikers and backpackers.

Available from:
Amazon | Walmart

7. Victorinox Nail Clipper

Victorinox Nail Clipper

The Victorinox Nail Clipper folds flat to keep your toenails trimmed short to prevent them from banging against the front of your footwear, turning black, and falling off, which can be a painful process. They also include a coarse folding file that can be used to file down thickened or flaking toenails that have grown away from the nailbed as a result of repeated nail trauma. This is pretty common amongst serious hikers, but the coarse file makes it easy to keep them short and flush with the top of your toes to avoid irritating them further.

Available from:
Amazon

8. Engo Blister Prevention Patches

Engo Blister Prevention Patches
Unlike traditional blister bandages, ENGO Blister Prevention Patches are adhesive patches that are applied directly to your shoe, not to your skin. They are ultra-thin, 0.015 inches thick, so your shoe fit is unchanged. That means they last longer (up to 300 miles) and they won’t irritate your skin. They’re also water-resistant and stay attached even if they get wet. They work in all types of footwear from hiking boots to trail runners, dress shoes, and ski boots.  You can trim them as needed to prevent blisters on your heels, toes, the ball of your foot, the side of your foot, the arch, etc. I discovered these about 10 years ago and still use them today.

Available from:
Amazon | Walmart

9. Band-Aid Hydroseal Blister Cushion Bandages

Band-aid Hydroseal bandages
Band-Aid Hydroseal Blister Cushion Bandages are hydrocolloid gel bandages that are state-of-the-art for modern wound care. You can use them on popped or un-popped blisters. They provide a moist healing environment while using the body’s own moisture and enzymes to keep the wound hydrated for proper wound healing. They’re designed to be used by themselves, without the use of extra antibiotic ointment, and you keep them continuously for days at a time while your blister heals. You can tell that the process has begun after 24 hours, when the bandage plumps up a bit after absorbing your body’s moisture.  They’re the best treatment for blisters I’ve ever found that lets you continue hiking while letting a blister heal.

Available from:
Amazon | Walmart

10. Pro-Tec Athletics PF Sleeve

PF Sleeve

The Pro-Tec Athletics PF Sleeve is a compression sleeve designed for plantar fasciitis that can substantially reduce your heel pain and keep you on the trail. Overuse injuries such as plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis can result in significant swelling in the foot, ankle, or lower calf. Compression of these areas prevents fluid from accumulating in them and relieves the pain associated with swelling. Compression also helps blood flow from the extremities back to the heart through the venous system, increasing the flow of fresh oxygenated blood through injury sites, particularly where blood flow is normally poor like the Achilles tendon and foot fascia. I’ve used this PF sleeve myself. It slides over your foot and provides added support for the arch of your foot. You can wear a hiking sock over or under it and still wear your favorite footwear while it’s at work.

Available from:
REI | Amazon

See Also

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