How to Take Care of Your Feet While Hiking

Hiking and backpacking are excellent ways to stay active, feed your wanderlust, and experience nature in ways that not everyone can. However, if you want your treks to be successful, you must be prepared to take care of your feet while hiking. Poor foot hygiene and injuries in daily life can be incredibly disruptive. Now, imagine how much more compromised foot and ankle health can impact your hike across long distances, tricky terrain, and potentially harsh climates or weather conditions.

Keep reading to learn more about hiking foot care best practices so you can be prepared for your next adventure.

Common Hiking Foot and Ankle Hiking Injuries

The three most common hiking foot and ankle complications are blisters, hot spots, and plantar fasciitis. Common causes for these injuries are:

  • Hiking Many Miles
  • Inappropriate Sock Fit and Material
  • Poorly Fitting Hiking Shoes

1. Blisters

Hikers and backpackers are constantly battling prevention and on-trail treatment with blisters—painful, fluid-filled bubbles under your skin that form due to friction between the skin layers or excessive pressure against an area of the foot or heel. Blister symptoms include:

  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Itching

2. Hot Spots

Hot spots are the precursors of blisters. When the pain of a hot spot begins, you should take a break as soon as possible to relieve the symptoms and prevent further injury. Hot spot symptoms include:

  • Tenderness
  • Redness
  • Pain

3. Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the thick band of connective tissue (i.e., plantar fascia) that runs along the bottom of your feet, connecting the heel bone to the toes. The condition can cause pain with every step you take. Plantar fasciitis symptoms include:

  • Stabbing Pain In the Bottom of the Foot and Heel
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Limping

Use Appropriate Hiking Footwear

Appropriate socks and well-fitted hiking shoes are your first line of defense against potential injuries.

Hiking Socks

Hiking socks must be more than a liner between your foot and shoe. Avoid cotton socks, opting for moisture-wicking materials instead. Moisture breaks down your skin, making it much more susceptible to injuries. You will also want socks that accommodate your feet’s unique shape and needs. Factors to consider are sock height, fit, cushioning, and more.

Always bring an extra pair in case the pair you are wearing gets too wet (sweat, water, etc.) Along with hot spots and blisters, prolonged moisture exposure can cause conditions such as trench foot. So, take every opportunity to air out your socks and shoes. Leaving your socks, shoes, and insoles out in the sun to dry while you stop for a lunch break can do you and your feet a lot of good.

Hiking Boots and Shoes

Terrain and weather conditions are essential when deciding what hiking shoe or boot to wear. However, in many cases, a mesh hiking shoe or trail runner is preferable to a hiking boot. Waterproof hiking boots are not as breathable as alternative hiking shoe options, meaning more moisture becomes trapped in the boot’s interior.

As a preventative measure, remember to break in new hiking boots and shoes before setting out on your first hike with them. Start with wearing them for short periods, like:

  • Around the House
  • Bringing Your Trash Can to the Curb
  • Grabbing Your Mail from the Mailbox
  • Around Your Office During the Workday

What Should You Have in Your Hiking Foot Care Kit?

Remember to stay on top of your foot hygiene and injury management when hiking. Caring for your feet on the trail means:

  • Periodically Resting
  • Conducting Inspections
  • Staying Hydrated
  • Maintaining Balanced Electrolytes

You should also pack a hiking foot care kit containing products that will help you prevent and treat injuries. Frequently used foot care kit checklist items include:

  • An Extra Pair of Socks
  • Alcohol Wipes or Antiseptic
  • Antibiotic Ointment
  • Blister Patches and Benzoin wipes
  • Duct Tape or Athletic Tape (e.g., Leukotape)
  • GlacierGel
  • Moleskin
  • Safety Pin

Three easy ways to mitigate foot pain you experience are:

  • Adjust your pack – uneven weight distribution or a heavy pack can quickly lead to foot pain.
  • Massage your feet – rest for a couple of minutes to massage your feet, helping to loosen your tightening foot, ankle, and leg muscles.
  • Use hydrotherapy – remove your shoes and socks and place your water bag at the tops and bottoms of your feet, or submerge your feet in a cool/cold natural water source (snow also works).

Turn to Expert Podiatry for Your Foot Health Needs

Poor foot and ankle health can impact our daily lives in various ways and severities, from slight discomfort to restricting movements, causing severe pain, and more.

At The Foot & Ankle Center, our experienced, expert podiatrists tailor their approaches and treatments for every patient, optimizing their patients’ foot health and treatment outcomes.

To schedule a visit, please submit our online form at You may also reach us by email at and by phone at (314) 487-9300.