Boots


Believe it or not, this may be the most important piece of equipment you own. The one thing you have to be careful about on your trip is your feet, if they die, you aren't going anywhere. For this reason, be careful when buying your boots.

Hiking boots come in about three types, light weight, medium weight and heavy weight. The light weights are usually not made of all leather. They have a rough canvas type of material that is light weight and looks good. These boots are generally for day hiking and short trips. They don't provide as much support as other boots, but if you are hiking on trails you will generally be fine. Medium weight boots are more for backpacking trips, about a week or more with a good amount of weight in your pack. Full leather boots tend to be sturdier and provide more support than the rough canvas material on lighter boots. The heavy weight boots are made for long trips, heavy packs and lots of banging around, You won't need these if you are just a beginner, but if you take up mountaineering and climb mountains like K2 you might need these.

You must get a good fit on your boots for them to work well. When you go to buy boots, take some boot socks with you. If you try on boots with thin cotton socks you won't get a good fit. Once you have the boots on, walk around a bit. You might even try kicking something with the toe of the boot. This will help simulate going down a hill, if you toes touch the front of the boot, they are probably to short. If this happened while you were hiking you might get blisters on your toes from them hitting the front of your boot.

Ok, now I know everyone is saying, shouldn't I buy this boot because it has Gore-tex? I will discuss Gore-tex later, but here is a humble opinion from a fellow backpacker. Gore-tex is a fabric that breathes, in other words, sweat from your feet can leave but water from the outside can't get in. I think that Gore-tex in boots really doesn't help that much. If you get a pair of good all leather boots, they basically do the same thing. Leather is a good waterproof material and I even think it breathes some (that is my opinion, no scientific facts).

Read Reviews of Boots

Moleskin


This is a backpacker's best friend. Not only can it help prevent blisters, it can also provide on-trail relief for blisters. First of all some people ask what is moleskin? No those tiny rodents did not volunteer their backs for the sake of medicine. Rather it is a tough, soft cloth-like material on one side and an adhesive pad on the other side. There are two types you might hear of, moleskin and molefoam. The only difference in the two is the thickness, molefoam is thicker than moleskin.

For moleskin to do it's job, it must be used properly. For the basic blister, cut a square of moleskin slightly larger than the blister. Now comes the tricky part, you must cut a hole the size of the blister in the square. One way to do this easier is to fold the square in half and cut along the fold, like making a paper snowflake. Pull the white covering from the adhesive side and place the moleskin over the blister with the blister in the hole. The adhesive usually doesn't hold very well, so you might want to add some athletic tape to help hold it in place.

Prevention is the second function of moleskin. If you feel a hotspot (a place on your foot that is being rubbed by your boot) you can cover it with moleskin. This reduces the irritation that your boot causes when it rubs this spot. The physics behind moleskin is very simple. A blister occurs from your boot rubbing against your skin. When you place moleskin around the blister, you are making the area around the blister to be the same height as the blister. This reduces the rubbing on the blister. If the blister is taller than the moleskin, you can place multiple layers of moleskin on to attain the desired height.

Blisters are one of hikers worst nightmares. Once blisters form on trial, they are very hard to heal, so take care of them so they don't get infected.

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