Boots, Blisters & Liner Socks — What I Use to Keep my Feet Going Up The Mountains

Merrell Hiking Boots and Polypropylene Liner Socks

My Merrell Perimeter hiking/hunting boots and some Browning 8396 polypropylene liner socks .

Last fall I bought a pair of expensive "hiking" boots for hunting. As with all my hiking boots I usually wear them around the office, off and on for a couple of weeks before I go on any extended hikes. This practice has always worked fine in getting whatever pair of boots I was going to be hunting/hiking with ready.  I took this particular pair of boots on a couple of different hikes and hunts and could not keep my heels from slipping and creating friction and blisters on the back of my heels when I climbed steep terrain.

I have never had any problem like this before so I started researching the problem and the solutions. Here are some of the things I learned to keep my feet happy and going up the mountains.

First: Getting a boot that fits your foot is a key factor in keeping blisters off the heels. I have a narrow foot and if there is too much movement in my boot, blisters are going to happen. In my case I bought a different pair of boots that fit better. I ended up trying on a couple of different high end hiking and hunting boots. And when trying them on I walked up some stairs to see if my heels slipped against the back of the boots.

Heel Blister From Hiking

One of my nasty blisters or what's left of a blister after a three or so mile hike this summer with the scout troop... I learned my lesson after this hike, that's for sure.

You might ask "why would you let a blister get this bad?" Well it was such a short easy hike on an improved trail, with the scouts, so I didn't come fully prepared to doctor my heels nor did I want to look like a sissy in front of the boys.

Second: I now wear polypropylene liner socks against my feet. These socks wick moisture away from my feet and stay snug on my feet, like panty hose. With the thin liner socks snug against my feet I then wear a pair of wool or wool blend socks on top of the liner socks. By wearing this two sock combo if there is any movement and friction in my boot the friction is between the slick liner socks and my wool socks. If I only have a pair of wool socks on, the friction would be between my skin and the wool socks. After so long that friction is going to turn into blisters that can ruin a hunt real quick.

Third: I like to tie a surgeons knot before I start lacing the upper half of my boots. This helps hold my foot down and keep my heel in place.

The problem pair of hiking boots I used this past summer where taller, I think 8" tall. I have gone back to the shorter standard height of hiking boot. In particular I am using the Merrell Perimeter hiking boots. With my style of hunting I am finding that the taller boots are just more difficult to keep my heel secure and from slipping around in the boot. I also like the comfort and lighter weights of the standard height hiking boots. Of course the major drawback to the shorter height of boots is in the snow and water. When I have to hunt in the snow I will just where a pair of gators around my boots and I'll also try real hard not to fall into creeks.

As an extra precaution I am now also packing some Molefoam padding that I can cut to place on or around hot spots on my feet. And I carry some white athletic tape that I can use to tape-up and protect problem areas on my feet if any should arise.

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