How to Tie Hiking Boots to Prevent Blisters

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An average hiker will spend a few hours tackling a challenging trail during each expedition. For the consummate hiker, a trip can be anything from a few days to a few weeks. Spending that much time can take a toll on your body, especially your feet. As such, you must take every possible measure to keep your feet safe, comfortable, and secure.

That means donning a hiking boot that reduces the amount of pressure on your feet and one that provides torsional and ankle support as well as foot stability. Such boots ensure that you keep the proper walking form and reduce fatigue. Most importantly, ensure that your hiking shoes are at least water-resistant or waterproof and have a snug fit to prevent blisters at the back of your feet.

Hikers who’ve had the misfortune of having blisters form at the top of their Achilles tendons term it a gruesome and painful experience. Such blisters come with an incredible amount of pain. Not only do these blisters ruin the expedition but also put your life in danger. When hiking through wintry conditions, you can’t afford to slow down as it increases your exposure to the elements. Worse still, Achilles tendon blisters take forever to heal, curtailing your outdoor activities for that duration.

How does blistering occur?

Heel lift is the main culprit behind blistering at the top of your Achilles heels. Your feet are at a higher risk of blistering if your hiking boots aren’t a snug fit. Even when your boot fits snugly, a heel lift is nearly unavoidable when you’re wearing a pair of thick socks with a stiff boot. Luckily, a proper lacing up technique can help eliminate this problem. This guide shows you how to tie hiking boots to prevent blisters whenever you venture into the wilderness.

Tying Hiking Boots to Prevent Blisters

Having the back of your hiking boot rub the back of your foot the wrong way amounts to one of the most painful experiences you’ll ever have. Luckily, learning a few new lacing techniques can eliminate this source of danger and improve your level of comfort.

This guide covers three incredible ways to re-lace your hiking boots to relieve pain and discomfort:

  1. Surgeon’s knot – a dynamic and straightforward approach to eliminating heel lift
  2. Window lacing – an effective way to eliminate pressure from the top of your feet
  3. Toe-relief lacing – a proven stopgap remedy for your feet

Coupling these lacing techniques with the right sized hiking boot keeps your feet in tiptop shape whenever you’re out on a hiking trail.

Surgeon’s knot

If you find that your heel keeps slipping, there’s probably too much room at the top of your foot. Two surgeon’s knots will help secure the boot in place and eliminate the excess movement. These types of knots hold fast after they are secured and don’t work themselves loose after they are placed.

  1. Tug on the laces firmly to eliminate any slack and ensure that boot fits snugly at the top of your feet.
  2. Pick two sets of lace hooks that are adjacent to the point where the boot flexes when you take a step. These are the pairs that will hold the surgeon’s knots.
  3. Lace-up your boot from each side until you get to the lace hooks you’ve chosen in step one. Here, you need to wrap the laces around each other twice and then pull them tight. Next, secure the laces in the first of the chosen hooks while maintaining the knot’s tension.
  4. Create the second surgeon’s knot on the second set of hooks. Since you’re starting the lacing process from the bottom, the second knot should come higher than the first.
  5. Lace-up the rest of the boot the standard way.

Window Lacing

Also known as box lacing, window lacing comes in handy if you experience a pressure point at the top of the foot after tying your boot too well.

  1. Undo the laces until you get to the hooks below the pressure point.
  2. Run the lace straight up through the hooks instead of having them crisscross the tongue. That allows you to skip over the sensitive part of your feet.
  3. Lace-up the rest of the boot using your most preferred method. Alternatively, you can opt for a surgeon’s knot at the upper and lower edge of the shoe’s tongue if you prefer a snugger boot hold.

Toe-Relief Lacing

This lacing method affords you an efficient stopgap measure if your boots are subjecting your toes to a world of hurt. The technique helps to alleviate pressure in your boot’s toe box:

  1. Start by unlacing your boot completely.
  2. Skip the first set of lace hooks then lace up the rest of the boot in your most preferred fashion. Skipping over the first set of hooks create additional room at the front of the boot to take some pressure off your burning toes.

If each hiking expedition leaves you with excruciating toe pain, then it’s time to get another pair of hiking boots. You probably have a boot that is a size too small and not enough wiggle room for your toes.

Taping and layering: An additional way to prevent heel lift and resultant blisters.

1. Leukotape

Slapping some Leukotape over your Achilles tendons before putting on your socks is an excellent way to prevent heel lift. Leukotape is a physical therapy tape that sticks to your skin like glue while eliminating friction. The tape won’t eliminate the heel movement but rather mitigates the effects as it keeps the shoe from wearing on the back of your foot.

2. Wear woolen insulation and synthetic liner socks

Moisture accumulating at the back of your hiking boot is a leading cause of blistering. Synthetic socks have an excellent moisture-wicking layer that will move the sweat into the woolen sock, and away from your skin.

Learning how to tie hiking boots to prevent blisters and coupling it with the taping and sock layering system is a proven way to safeguard your feet during a hike. You can substitute Leukotape with duct tape, but the former is sturdier and won’t fall apart halfway through a hiking expedition.

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