And I'm not talking about a place that highly visited. Instead, I'm talking about protecting your feet from being hurt by blisters or anything else by paying attention to the temperature of your feet and how they are feeling during your hike!
Heed the Hot Spot!
If you feel discomfort on your foot while hiking, stop IMMEDIATELY and investigate! What you are feeling is a "hot spot," which is the precursor to a blister! It being the precursor means that you have a chance to keep it from fully forming, if you act early enough!
Hot spots don't always hurt, they may just feel warm, so it's best to take off your boots every once and a while and physically check if any red areas are being inflamed by friction. Friction causes the heat in that area of your heel or foot to separate the inner parts of your skin. Fluid then fills into these empty spots, surprisingly quickly, so take action right away when you feel a hot spot developing.
Basic Prevention After Feeling a Hot Spot
I apply duct tape or medical Leukotape directly onto a hot spot — sticky side down on the skin. Moleskin and bandages are other options, though I find they often shift after a few miles on the trail unless you use some of the “extreme measures” below.
Here's what to do if you have a hot spot:
1. Stop!!! Take off boots!!! Dry socks if possible, or prepare a new pair of socks.
2. Clean the skin around the hot spot with a damp, clean cloth or an alcohol-based gel.
3. Apply a self-adhesive cushioned bandage over the affected area and the surrounding skin. Common products available at drug stores include moleskin (a soft, feltlike fabric) or 2nd Skin. Secure the covering with several strips of tape or an adhesive bandage.
Alternatively, cut a hole from the center of the bandage and place it over the hot spot—creating a raised “donut” of protection.
Extreme Prevention Measures
Experienced hikers bring first aid to treat foot problems that get out of hand, including gauze, glue, moleskin and medical tape. (One technique involves draining a blister, squeezing super glue under the skin flap, and sealing it shut with duct tape and tincture of benzoin.) Advanced blister treatments are beyond the scope of this column, but for a great resource look to “Fixing Your Feet,” a website and book of the same name by John Vonhof, an experienced ultra-runner and emergency room technician considered a top expert in the field.