With blossoming foliage and warmer temperatures, the summertime is one of the most opportune times to explore the countryside by foot. But from the risk of heatstroke to the dangers that come with getting lost in the heat, it’s important that hikers take pre-emptive action for caring for their bodies when travelling serious distances in these hotter climates.
Hiking in higher temperatures will not only require more physical exertion, but the body’s increased production of sweat could leave long-distance walkers more likely to develop blisters too. That’s why today, we’re bringing you 6 ways that you should be caring for your feet when trekking in sunnier climes. So, whether you’re exploring the local area near your villa in Lanzarote or trekking through the outback in Australia, with our helpful guide, you can rest assured that your feet will be in the best possible condition - every step of the way.
1. Wear well-fitted and worn-in boots
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Whether you’re taking a hike for the first time or you’re already an expert in the field, treating yourself to a brand new pair of walking boots can be all too tempting when it comes to planning your next trek. And while the latest pair of high-spec boots will promise to give you all the support you could need along the way, it’s ensuring that your shoes are shaped to your foot which will reduce the likelihood of developing blisters after the first few miles.
To find the perfect fit, try on shoes in the afternoon, as this will allow your feet time to swell during the day, mimicking the conditions that you can expect during your trek. Once you’ve found the shoes that provide you with sufficient wiggle-room, start wearing them in around the house - and to avoid foot pain during the trek, ensure that this process is carried out well in advance of any high-mileage hike.
2. Learn how to lace-up properly
As comfortable and supportive as a good pair of walking boots may be, by not lacing them up correctly, you could soon be experiencing uncomfortable foot pain. Long-distance hikers should keep their heel firmly at the back of their boot, without cutting off circulation to their toes and instep - which is why many people prefer skip lacing and dual lacing techniques as opposed to regular lacing.
Remember that the volume and arch of your foot will affect how much support you need in each section of the foot, so it may be worth seeking the advice on how to tie your laces from the experts at your local outdoors shop.
3. Choose the right kind of socks
When hiking in high temperatures, wearing two pairs of socks will no doubt seem less than appealing - but by opting for a two-sock system, your feet will feel significantly less sore at the end of the day. The first layer is made from a thin, moisture-wicking sock liner and the second should be a wool or wool-mix sock. This tight-fitting first layer will reduce friction between your socks and feet, and by wicking away any moisture to the second sock, you should experience fewer hotspots and blisters.
When choosing pairs of socks for the lightweight layer, always opt for a synthetic variety, as 100% cotton socks absorb and collect sweat, making them slow-drying and creating the optimum environment for blisters to form. When hiking in hotter climates, trekkers are advised to change their skin-tight socks every 4-6 hours, in order to reduce the risk of developing hotspots and blisters.
4. Listen to your body
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When it comes to walking long distances, even the most experienced hikers may fall vulnerable to blisters, which is why it’s important that you take notice of any messages that your body sends you along the way. As many hikers are all too aware, the conditions of the trail underfoot will continually change, which means that blisters can spring up when you least expect them.
Stay alert when it comes to changing terrain or carrying heavy kit over a long distance and ensure you take regular breaks. If you do feel hot spots or blisters starting to form, air your feet, apply cream and bandage them up immediately, before changing into a dry pair of sock liners.
5. Prepare a foot care pack and groom your feet
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a novice trekker, travelling through remote parts of the countryside means that preparing for any injuries that could occur along the way is fundamental. Spare socks, athletic tape and anti-friction cream are three of the main foot essentials to add to your first-aid kit - but items like nail clippers and moisturiser will also come in handy for keeping your feet in a good condition along the way.
6. Consider cooling down by removing gaiters
While keeping your feet dry and free from debris is essential for reducing the risk of developing a blister, when it comes to taking a hike in sunnier climates, it may be worth removing your gaiters during the drier parts of the trek. Gaiters can cause your feet to overheat and this will increase the amount of sweat that your feet produce - so depending on the conditions of the trail, it may be worth hiking without gaiters when hiking during the summertime.
Travelling serious distances on foot will demand a level of physical stamina, but when choosing to take a hike in hotter temperatures, it’s crucial that walkers take extra care of their feet before, during and after their trek.
Nick Ball is Marketing Manager at Optima Villas and has lived on the island of Lanzarote since 2001.