Keep your feet happy with these tips from long-distance hiker Justin Lichter and Appalachian Trail outfitter Georganna Morton
Outfit your feet
Go with trail shoes – they lack the stiffness of boots and don’t need to be broken in. On a long hike, your feet can swell half a shoe size. When sizing, you should be able to fit a finger between your heel and the shoe. If the top or side of your foot rubs during the hike, stop to replace, skipping the grommet closest to the hot spot. That’ll help relieve the pressure.
Calibrate your stride
Rookies tend to stomp over rough terrain. Instead, walk as if you were on the street – naturally. Over time, any unnatural motion in your stride can stress your joints. To ensure you’re walking without added pressure, use a pair of K-Way compact trekking poles (R499, capeunionmart.co.za) are lightweight and durable and can take weight off your feet and knees.
Don’t waste breaks
Damp feet slip more, so keeping your feet dry will prevent blisters. Take off your shoes and socks each time you stop, and cover friction spots with duct tape – but with the sticky side facing away from your skin. Hold it down by covering it with another, larger piece of tape facing inwards. This will stop the shoe and sock from rubbing against bare skin.