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Any walkers/hikers who can recommend the best footwear for a 42-mile walk?

(26 Posts)
DeriArms Sun 29-May-16 13:53:11

Hi all,

I'm doing the Across Wales Walk for the first time in 3 weeks - 42 miles in total, quite hilly. I did a 25 mile walk yesterday in Mid Wales and my feet are killing me, I have 2 massive blisters right on what I think is my metatarsal area on the soles of my feet (not too hot on anatomy). I plastered my feet with vaseline every 5 miles or so and wore 2 pairs of socks (1 pair of running socks and 1 pair of thick hiking socks). I did get my feet wet early on as it was drizzly first things and we were walking over fields etc, but I thought I was OK. My feet started to feel painful after about 6 miles (my toes mainly) but I took 2 ibuprofen and changed my running socks and felt better. But then at about 22 miles I became aware that I had a huge squelchy blister and the last 3 miles was awful. I'm now proper bricking it as I definitely won't be able to do an additional 18 miles on top of that without changing whatever it was I was doing wrong as it will kill me.
My hiking boots were only about £20 so I know I need to invest in something better and break them in sharpish. Does anyone have any footwear recommendations and any general tips about keeping my feet OK? Thanks if anyone can advise!

ReturnOfTheJewel Sun 29-May-16 14:02:38

First off, don't wear two pairs of socks. The friction between them will cause rubbing and blisters. You need a good quality pair of 2-season walking socks in the correct size (ones containing Primaloft or similar are good - expect to pay £12-15 for a quality pair).

Secondly, go and get your feet measured at an outdoor shop that has a good selection of sturdy walking boots. I'd say gore-tex or other similar breathable membrane is essential, as it lets the sweat moisture out but doesn't let moisture from wet grass/puddles in. Moisture of any kind will cause rubbing and blisters. Try your boots on with your walking socks, not normal everyday socks.

Lace your boots tightly enough to ensure good ankle support (you shouldn't be able to get a finger down the top of your boot) but not so tightly that it's uncomfortable.

Wear your boots in! Start by wearing them indoors for a couple of hours a day for a week or so, then when you know you're comfortable in them, build up your distance outdoors for a couple of weeks. No shop will accept a return once they've been worn outside so it's important to wear them indoors first.

Also hugely important to make sure your toenails are cut correctly (short as possible without touching the skin underneath, slightly rounded to avoid sharp edges). A toenail that is even slightly too long, or a touch sharp, will easily run a hole in the neighbouring toe when walking long distances.

I hope this is of some use. Enjoy your walk!

PiercingsAndPosing Sun 29-May-16 14:06:40

Also, you really do get what you pay for. A £20 pair of boots won't have the membrane, nor will they have a good quality footbed, robust ankle support or decent lace anchors. Seriously research the pros and cons of various makes and styles of boot. I loved my Salomon Quest boots and had several pairs, now I've switched to Brasher ones as I fancied a change - they're firmer and more grippy in ice and on rock, but they're just not as suited to distance. Expect to pay around £75-150 - and don't buy second hand as the footbed will be moulders to the shape of someone else's foot!

PiercingsAndPosing Sun 29-May-16 14:07:45


StillRabbit Sun 29-May-16 15:03:14

I would recommend going to a good outdoor equipment store (I use Cotswold Outdoor); avoid the weekend when they are more busy and have a good conversation with a footwear specialist. A good footwear specialist will ensure you get the right fit. My husband has two different sized feet and spent over an hour with a member of staff who fitted him for trainers and walking boots, including a single insole to reduce volume for larger foot and a different way to space the lacing to allow for an odd shaped foot. THEN he could wear them around undo the house for up to a month and still be able to take them back if they weren't right.

Definitely don't wear two pairs of socks, in my experience that is a quick route to blisters. Get a very good pair of boot socks - these can seem expensive but are worth their weight in gold. Buy some compeed blister plasters and use them the minute you feel the start of a "hotspot" but with the RIGHT boots and socks you should be okay, I always carry compeed haven't used them since I got myself properly booted up.

DeriArms Sun 29-May-16 17:48:13

Thanks very much for the replies, I'm going to take all the advice! I thought I was being very clever wearing two pairs of socks but I definitely won't be doing that again. I'm definitely going to invest in a few pair of good socks and change them every few miles so that I'm not tramping about with sweaty feet. Thanks for the advice about the compeed and cutting my toenails - and I will definitely be looking at gore-tex boots.

My sister told me this is the toughest event she ever did, and she's done the Snowdonia Half Marathon and climbed Kilimanjaro, so I'm looking for absolutely anything that will get me through it (and hopefully enjoy it a bit as well)!

winchester1 Sun 29-May-16 17:53:17

Personally I don't think you can break in new boots in 3 weeks. I did 100km over the south downs in good trainers, which are of course quicker to break in. Go to a running shop and get fitted though.

CMOTDibbler Sun 29-May-16 18:10:37

Good socks (for running long distance, I swear by Thousand mile double layer socks, which they also do in a walking sock) won't get damp from sweat as they wick, and won't rub if wet (I ran all winter and my feet were wet through from rain but no blisters).

Rather than vaseline, you need something that forms a layer on your feet - I use Bodyglide (make sure it goes right between all your toes), but I know many ultra runners swear by 2Toms.

And def get some properly fitted boots and Compeed plasters - and use the compeed at the very first sign of anything

PurpleCrazyHorse Sun 29-May-16 18:18:31

DH is doing a 100km in Sept and has some Salomon shoes. The walk is flat but mixed ground and he says they're very comfy.

We'll be looking at some of the socks mentioned and getting Compeed plasters.

P1nkP0ppy Sun 29-May-16 18:30:15

I can't recommend 1000 miler socks enough. After years of blisters the double layer socks have literally saved my feet - they are brilliant. I've hiked across the Alps in them without even the smallest amount of discomfort.
You do need to get decent boots too, I'm wearing Berghaus boots (lightweight) at the moment but also have Karrimor walking shoes, and a pair of walking poles are essential for rough or long distance walks.
Good Luck!

DeriArms Sun 29-May-16 18:40:57

Thanks CMOT, I was wondering about the Vaseline and whether it was a good idea or not, I will check out BodyGlide and 2Toms.

MrsMook Tue 31-May-16 13:39:37

I'll disagree on the double layered socks! It's very personal- what works for me is socks that are more elasticated on the arch and thicker at the toe and heel. This stops them sliding and rubbing. My feet slid in the 1000 mile socks and rubbed.

A lighter Gore Tex boot is better over a high mileage as it's less weight on your legs to repeatedly lift.

Ultimately it's trial and error on fit. My feet are awkward and it took years and supportive insoles to find comfort. Different socks will work on different shoes to get the fit right for your feet.

P1nkP0ppy Tue 31-May-16 13:43:54

I also changed my socks during the day and paddled in icy cold streams if my feet or legs started aching - the effect was numbing, literally!

DoItTooJulia Tue 31-May-16 13:44:31

I love my merrils with a vibram sole.

They aren't hard leather ones, so they'd break in in time.

I've been through some walking boots and these have lasted miles and miles and years and years. When they give up the ghost, I'll be buying the exact same pair again.

Good luck, sounds like a tough ask! I'll be rooting for you!

CottonSock Tue 31-May-16 13:45:25

Get yourself to a good outdoor shop. I got new boots before the three peaks challenge and because they fit properly, and they showed me how to lace them, they didn't really need wearing in. I use liner socks, compeed plasters. Maybe some talc. Good luck

CottonSock Tue 31-May-16 13:46:35

PS. After trying quite a few pairs, brasher boots were good for me. I have wide feet though

saltlakecity Wed 01-Jun-16 02:54:23

Try 1000mile socks. They're brilliant.

furrymuff Fri 03-Jun-16 13:43:29

I walked 44 miles last weekend in one go, I used the 1000 mile socks and then switched to Toetoes ( for the last 10 miles or so as my toes were starting to feel sore. My toes were blister free but I suffered pretty badly in the same area I think you have described, the sole of my foot just underneath my toes - yesterday was the first day I could wear shoes, or put my foot flat on the floor! I also switched between my trusty Salomon hiking boots and Salomon Speedcross trail trainers, I couldn't tell you which were better though!

I also took an array of blister plasters, zinc oxide tape, vaseline, talc etc!

Good luck with the walk!

DeriArms Fri 03-Jun-16 19:59:19

Thanks all for your advice. I'm going to put myself in the capable hands of Cotswolds Outdoors tomorrow and do whatever they tell me, but I'm definitely going to order those 1000 mile socks and the body glide. Aaaargh! Thanks again. Why do people do this to themselves?!!

DeriArms Fri 03-Jun-16 20:10:48

Jesus H. Christ furrymuff that sounds insane! Good shout about switching shoes and socks and the zinc oxide tape, cheers for that.

stealthbanana Fri 03-Jun-16 20:15:37

I always recommend Singapore ahnu boots - they are the lightest and best shaped boots I've ever found. You have to order from Amazon US but well worth it!

cathpip Fri 03-Jun-16 20:31:52

I wear Altberg hiking boots when I go grouse beating, I normally cover around 35 miles over rough terrain in them, they are like slippers and feel so light on the feet. They are not cheap, but they will last a lifetime if looked after, and if they ever need resolving they do that for free at their factory shop smile

stealthbanana Fri 03-Jun-16 23:45:51

Not Singapore, sugapine!

StillRabbit Wed 08-Jun-16 20:43:32

How did you get on at Cotswolds OP? I hope you got yourself sorted out.

Woodifer Fri 10-Jun-16 05:47:01

I'd wear off road trainers in summer. Whatever you wear I thought I'd give you this tip. Personally I've neve used Vaseline or body glide for my feet.

What I have done (before running yorkshire 3 peaks race) is tape my known hotspots (ie blister danger areas) with zinc oxide tape. I also used Friars balsam (tincture of benzoate can get from chemists) to make it more sticky.

You need a really wide roll of tape so the patches you cut can be big enough. Prep the skin with sticky balsam. Cut a patch with sharp scissors, cut all the corners round so it's less likely to peel. Smooth out all the wrinkles as you stick it on. Do it the night before and in morning it will be super secure.
I've done this on inside edge of the ball of foot (burgeoning bunions), inside edge of big toe etc.

Good luck!

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