Footwear & Feet
Maintaining your feet and your choice of footwear is key to a safe and enjoyable trek.
Sturdy trekking trainers or trekking boots must be worn. Make sure that there is good grip and that the edges of the soles are square-edged, not rounded. If you are especially prone to ankle injuries, it is recommended that footwear with ankle support is worn. Extra bandage support should also be considered.
Inspect the durability of the soles to make sure that they do not fall off. This is a common problem for those who have well-loved and well-worn trusted leather boots – when these boots arrive in the tropics and are stored in air-conditioned environment, the contrast of wet use and dry air-conditioning weakens the glue which binds the sole and is common that soles fall off the boots while trekking. If possible, store your boots in an area of the house which is not directly air-conditioned. This is one possible way of maintaining your trusted boots for longer. For humid tropical environments, especially in lowland areas and on jungle expeditions, it is vital that you wear relatively quick-drying footwear. Gore-tex boots and trainers do not wear well in humid tropic environments, because the humidity clogs the pores which then traps moisture inside the boot. If you have no choice but to wear Gore-tex boots in the jungle, for example, you must take extra care to prevent blisters and dry out your feet. If your expedition route requires many stream or swamp crossings, it is important that you find alternative footwear.
10 easy steps you can take to prevent blisters and maintain your feet
An enjoyable expedition can be ruined by blisters. The trick is to prevent blisters before they occur.
- Prepare your feet before you depart. Cut your toenails, remove any hangnails and excess dead skin.
- Make sure your footwear, especially sturdy boots, are well worn-in by you.
- Inspect your socks for stitching across the toes, and make sure that they are comfortable.
- Make sure sand or debris from the last trek day is emptied from your socks.
- Choose lightweight wool trekking socks which will dry easily and cool feet in the heat / keep feet warm in cool / mountain environments.
- Smooth Hansaplast bandage tape across any potential hotspots before you start the trek. When you feel the slightest consistent pinch while on the trek, ask the guide to stop the group at the next safe location so that you can tape your feet. This is important to avoid bigger problems later which could ultimately prevent you and the group from achieving your expedition goals.
- Wear two socks while trekking; one thin inner sock under your usual trekking sock, or buy specially designed dual-layer trekking socks.
- Clean your socks often on the trek.
- When you arrive at your camp, and have pitched your tent, etc, remove your shoes and socks and air out your feet. If you sleep with socks, make sure you keep a clean dry pair especially for sleeping.
- At the first sign of athletes foot (notable on humid jungle treks), take extra care to dry out your feet when you are not trekking. One way to dry your feet out is to apply talcum powder or medicated foot powder and keep your feet aired.