Thru-Hiking: Your Feet

Last night I had a bit of inspiration and began researching footwear, and various other things foot related in regard to thru-hiking.

We also set a date to begin our Appalachian Trail adventure. Since Tunafish hasn’t been home for Easter in a couple years, we’re going to head out on April 2nd. Of course we wont actually be on the trail until the 3rd or 4th, since her family is in Texas, but its neither here nor there. The plane, bus, and car ride there are all apart of the adventure (or so I’ve learned in going back and forth to China). Those rides are mental preparation, and fear, and excitement, and exhaustion too.

Anyway- why feet? Well, I keep reading reference to how people say your shoes are like your home while thru-hiking, so you need to invest in them. Not so much in a monetary sense, as in making sure they’re perfect for you. Which…. that might mean spending a lot of money.

Shoes Are Not First:

What I’ve learned is that before you run out to buy your shoes, you have so many other things to think about buying first that your shoes will wrap around (So maybe you’ll need a half size up on top of that half size you’ll need for your feet to flatten on the long hike). Of course, it’s also something to think about after you buy your shoes. These are the things that will take your shoes from mass produced to customized for your feet, since no shoe will fit perfectly.

  1. Padding:
    • For example, a pinky toe gel sleeve, since my feet are wide and small. My pinkies tend to suffer, even when I have room to move. The side of Tunafish’s favored foot tends to take a beating too, so I’ll suggest she buy extra padding for that.
  2. Medical Tape:
    • Moleskin, leukotape, and kinesiology tape are popular choices for troublesome areas as well. They stick to you for several days, come in big rolls, and will prevent blisters on… say, heels (which are also a problem area for me; I need bigger shoes, and then my heel slips, causing heel blisters).
  3. Insoles:
    • You need these guys to take the high impact of your walking for hundreds to thousands of miles, plus the weight of your backpack. Two names keep popping up: Superfeet, and one I can’t even remember because Superfeet is so common.
  4. Liner Socks (with individual toes):
    • The idea with liner socks, like these, generally made from a synthetic material, is they will wick away sweat from your feet and then they are soaked up by your…
  5. Wool Socks:
    • These guys take your sweat from your liner socks, but dry out easily. They wont become nasty in the way most socks do. They’re warm in the winter. They keep your from being wet. And apparently take forever to actually wear down. Most hikers say Merino Wool, like these.

In all honesty, I’m just a beginner and this is basically my list of things to buy for the trail. Not that you would, but don’t take what I say as the best advice.

Finally, here are something other things I found you should carry too:

  1. Benzoin Tincture: This is what helps take care of your blisters.
  2. Moleskin: If you aren’t bringing a role, you can buy a little kit of pre-cut blister pads. The kits come with alcohol wipes too.
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