Find the Perfect Hiking Boot to Prevent Blisters
Hiking by Loren Kerns
There’s a lot you can do to prevent blisters before you even hit the trail. Finding the right pair of boots or shoes is the first step in maintaining happy, healthy feet on your next hike, run, or walk.
Regardless of gear reviews, write-ups, and best-of lists, there is no one perfect boot or shoe. I hike in Zamberlan Gear GTXs, but the width, volume and profile might not work for others. The perfect boot is the one that fits your foot best, which is why I shop at independent retailers that specialize in boot-fitting.
When you’re trying on boots or shoes, think about the type of terrain you’ll typically be walking in and how much weight you’ll be carrying. If you typically haul heavy loads, you might be better off in full backpacking boots as these will provide more support than trail runners or hiking shoes. But, if you’re a true ultralighter or day-hiker, breathable lightweight hiking shoes or trail runners, might be the best bet.
Fit is key when choosing footwear. Plan to spend at least an hour in your local gear store trying on shoes and wearing them around the shop. Most stores have an inclined ramp to test uphill and downhill performance. Make sure your heel isn’t sliding up and down when you walk up the ramp, as this will create friction and eventually result in a blister. And when you walk down the ramp, insure that your toes aren’t hitting the end of the boot. Shop for boots at the end of the day as opposed to the morning to allow your feet to swell and reduce the risk of buying a shoe that’s too small.
Ask your boot-fitter to measure the shape and volume of your foot. Every brand fits differently. While Zamberlan works for me, Scarpa, which typically fits a very narrow foot, might be the best brand for you. Pick a shop that carries a wide range of brands so you have plenty of options. And, if you have one in your area, support a local, independent retailer!
Of course, even in the best-fitted shoe, blisters can still occur. Make sure you keep eNZees in your first-aid kit just in case!