|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – August 1999
For maximum comfort, keep your feet drier and cooler.
The average foot has some 250,000 sweat glands that ooze as much as 1/2 cup of sweat a day. Not a problem if you're strolling sockless in a pair of sandals. Big problem if all of those sweat glands are swaddled in a sock and encased in a leather boot. Trapped moisture promotes blisters and breeds stinky bacteria and fungus. "There isn't a whole lot you can do to stop the sweat," says Buck Tilton, director of the Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI) and Backpacker contributing editor. "What you can do is effectively handle the moisture buildup." To keep your feet drier and cooler, try the following:
- Wear synthetic socks. They're cooler and wick sweat from your skin faster than wool does. Also, wear a thin polypropylene sock liner to absorb sweat unless the socks' manufacturer recommends against this.
- Change socks throughout the day as they get wet. Wear one pair for 2 to 3 hours, take a rest break, air-dry your feet, then put on a dry pair. Slip damp socks under a compression strap on your pack to dry as you hike.
- Carry small amounts of foot powder, such as Dr. Scholl's, in recycled plastic spice shakers and apply it twice a day to dry feet.
- Apply underarm antiperspirant to your feet. Seriously. Some backpackers swear by this, but before you try it in the backwoods, experiment at home to check for an allergic reaction.