Climbing and Mountaineering

Tips to prevent blisters in extreme conditions

Preventing blisters is the most important thought to take away from these top tips, whilst preparing for any activity please make sure this small check list is followed
“Failing to plan is planning to fail”

Footwear– Make sure the fit of the boot is correct. They are wide enough for the widest part of the foot to feel comfortable and no areas feel tight, measure a thumbs width at the tip of the toes to the end of the boot, this allows enough room for the toes without causing pressure from the footwear onto the tips of the toes. Depth of the boot allowing enough room from the top of the boot especially for those toes that are retracted and a bit curly. Make sure the boots have been well worn prior to the climb, so the foot has already had time to adjust to the boots. Check they are still waterproof before the expedition.


Lace locking– This makes sure the foot doesn’t move around in the boot which can cause blisters. It ensures the ankle is kept in position and the laces can be laced loosely further down the shoe and going up the legs area but locked at the ankle. A lot of boots now have that facility already built into the boot. Lace locking is a simple measure that makes a huge difference to blister prevention.


Hiking Gaiters– In snowy, extreme conditions gaiters are needed to prevent water getting into the inside of the boots, if moisture does get into the boot, the skin becomes wet and will blister. Gaiters need to be long enough to protect the leg and foot and flexible to be comfortable but also waterproof from the harsh environmental conditions.


Socks– All socks need to be moisture wicking, so that the sweat will move away from the skin. Even in a cold environment the body will sweat with exertion, coolmax and merino wool are perfect materials to do that. A lot of people like to wear two socks so that the friction is taken up between the socks and not the skin. Liners are perfect for that situation as long as they have wicking materials present. Some socks are cushioned underneath the foot which helps in preventing blisters underneath the foot, whilst giving the balls of the feet a little extra much needed cushioning.


Conditioning- means preparing the body for a major event, training in the best way you can, not only to improve your fitness levels but conditioning the skin of the feet to expect the forces that are going to be imposed on them, they are less likely to blister when enduring the real thing.


Skin– the quality of the skin needs to be at its optimum before starting the climb. This is achieved by removing hard skin, corns or callouses. A trip to the podiatrist is required to sort that out. Now the skin is smooth and soft then continue to make sure the skin is moisturised and kept soft, not hard and dry. When the skin is at its optimum condition, it flexes and moves and is less likely to blister.


Silica sachets- mostly found in parcels and packaging and they stop any moisture getting into the products being sold. Collect and keep them in a sealed jar and when you start your climb put your damp socks in a sealed zip lock bag with the silica sachets at the end of the day and they will absorb the moisture, keeping your socks as dry as possible and preventing damp skin which as we know, will blister.