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I recently purchased a new pair of hiking boots (Salewa Alp Trainer Mid), I am noticing a hotspot forming on my heels, particularly when traveling uphill. Is there anything in particular I can do to ease the pain?
Submitted by – Michael – Redford, NY
The Salewa Alp Trainer Mid is one of our favorite all-time boots. In fact, we gave it our Editors’ Choice Awards last fall (learn why click here). We found the fit of these boots (and all Salewa models we’ve tested) to be excellent. They seem to adapt to accommodate a wide range of feet, and break-in has been seamless. Salewa also touts a “no-blister guarantee” but this comes with strings: the boots have to be returned to the dealer within two weeks of purchase, etc.
If your heels are getting hot spots on the ups, though, I think some creative lacing techniques could help you. Hot spots form on heels because either the boots are too small (let’s assume that this is not the case and that yours fit you properly) or there is too much up and down heel movement inside the boot, which causes friction. This latter problem is easy to remedy: You need to create a lace configuration that is really snug around the ankle flex point. This helps to suck your heel back into the heel pocket. Check out the technique here: How to Lace Boots to Prevent Blisters
You might also need to take up some extra space inside the boot to eliminate movement. The Salewa comes with a dual insole system to fine-tune the volume: Be sure that you’re using both insoles together for a lower volume foot. If there’s still too much excess room in the boot, consider an after-market insole designed for low volume feet, like these.
And last but not least: When you’re on the trail and start to feel those hot spots, stop immediately and put some preventative tape in place. I really like Spenco Second Skin but duct tape, medical tape, or moleskin will do the trick as well.