The shoe fits but what caused the blister?

#1
I know we have at least one expert shoe fitter on here...

I recently purchased a pair of Danner Hiker Light II hiking boots. Size 13 since they don't make 1/2 sizes after 12. Width B.

They fit like a glove. Feel better than any thing else I've had (I haven't splurged before on quality hikers, though). I think since I have a narrow foot and have always bought the "one width fits all" Made In China stuff, this narrow width really feels right.

I'm new into hiking/long walks. After several very short hikes, all was great. But after a couple 6 mile hikes, I have a large blister on my heel. Soles of both feet feel "hot and tingly" after a long walk. Ouch.

So, is it my softy feet (not used to hiking yet) or a bad fit on the boot?

Thanks
 
#2
I am no shoe fitter, but it could be a combination of a few things. What were you wearing for socks? Cotton, Wool, Synthetics? This combo can make or break a good experience with hiking. Some of it will be part of the break-in, partially the reason they say to break new boots in gently. Don't want to head out and do a many miles hike in any new boot. That has been my experience anyhow. I can buy a new pair of sneakers that feel like clouds when I leave the store, it is inevitable that if I wear them all day....Poof blisters or sore feet. Given a few wearings they are comfy again. Some of it may be that you are a tenderfoot too! Anyways, I am sure there will be others to follow with better information for you. Cool the feet!
 
#3
Good suggestion. Heel blisters are caused by the heel not fitting securely in the heel cup of the shoe: This can well be because you need a 12.5 and have a 13.

Try different socks. I generally wear a polypropylene liner and a medium weight oversock (I too wear a 13 and need a 12.5 - but extra wide for me). Don't wear cotton socks at all, of course. The poly liner allows the foot to slide, rather than create friction.

You can also attempt lacing a bit differently - a bit tighter down on the instep, with a double pass across the lacing at the point your foot flexes, and then a bit looser on the upper. Or, try an insole (like a Spenco) for a bit of filler in the footbed area.
 

Tucson T4R

Expedition Leader
#4
My experience has been that boot break in is pretty important. Just ease into it with progressively longer hikes and over time the boots and your feet will become one.

As said above socks are very important. For serious hiking I buy quality synthetic socks designed for hiking that wick the moisture away from your feet. Or you can go old school and wear two layers, one thin silk against your feet and a thicker pair of wool or synthetic on top.

If over time you still have a "hot spot" that seems to always cause you a blister you can go to places like the Summit Hut in Tucson and they can stretch the boot in that area to relieve the pressure point.

And that's about all I know about that. :elkgrin:
 
#5
Neither,

Only preventive care can lesson the chance of a blister. New boots or "soft" feet can only speed the onslaught of a blister. Pay attention to your feet. Read this. Take a look at 2nd skin products by Spenco and "Love Your Feet".

YOU WILL GET BLISTERS
 
#6
I love ExPo. Lots of good suggestions in short order!

I was wearing one pair of thick socks--I think they are wool. I will try the thin synthetic (or silk) liner sock with a thicker outer. Then maybe some sort of insole. Summit Hut here I come.

Giving the feet a rest for now. :smilies27

Thanks guys.
 

Christophe Noel

Expedition Leader
#8
Blisters are the result of moisture building up between the layers of skin on your feet. This moisture builds up as a result of friction and can be exacerbated by excessive moisture inside your boot. Your feet release a tremendous amount of moisture. To the point it's gross. To reduce blisters, you have to combat moisture inside your boot in general and mitigate the friction in problem spots.

As mentioned above, socks are the key. People seldom realize the importance of a good sock. It goes way beyond the type of fiber used in the sock, but how it's used. Obviously, cotton is evil and should never be let outside your house...ever. Cotton is just terrible. Wool (Merino) and some synthetics are the way to go, but don't just buy based on material alone. A Smartwool Phd sock for example is woven in such a way as to control the collection and transfer of moisture. In a nutshell, it takes moisture from the bottom of your foot where it is most heavy, and draws it out of your boot to the cuff of the sock where the moisture evaporates, kind of like a little radiator/evaporator. That particular sock even has a thinner "window" woven above your toes so moisture can radiate through your piggies to the top of the sock. In addition to this, the sock (any good sock) adds important cushion and additional volume to the shape of your foot to optimize fit to reduce the chance of slipping - friction. I'll take crap boots and a good sock over $500 boots and a junk sock any day.

Socks are usually the best way to mitigate blisters, but it's not the only way. Since this is often about moisture, sometimes taking off your boots and letting your feet dry helps. I have used alcohol pads to wipe my feet clean and expedite the drying process. Toss on some dry socks and away you go. If you have friction you can't mitigate, that needs to be addressed the exact instant you feel a hint of a hot spot. Re-lace your boots, change your socks or cover that area with one of the many blister aids available asap.

And sock liners are not as necessary now as they were years ago when sock weaving technology was less sophisticated. Bite the bullet and buy Smartwool Phd socks. They'll run nearly $20, but they do the job of 4 pairs. I can often backpack for 3 days on one pair.

You might also be able to improve the fit of the boot with an improved insole. I'm an advocate of Superfeet insoles. The crummy $2 insole in most shoes is pretty lame. People often wax poetic about the fit of a boot, but seldom mention the footbed. People love to toss around the term, "arch support" but most boots by design don't have much contour on the footbed. And arches don't get supported under the arch. You support a foot from the heal first as that's where all of your weight is. Insoles like Superfeet not only add more contour to a boot where it's needed most, it helps all sorts of fit and efficiency issues.

Dang this is nerdy stuff.
Hope that helps.
 
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#9
Thanks Flounder, I'll get a pair of Smartwool.

Moisture sounds like the evil culprit. My boots have Gore Tex lining...would rather have them without the fancy cold weather lining for hiking around Tucson to let the boot breathe.

What would you recommend as a material for a liner sock? I'll first try the Smartwool alone, but in case I go with a liner sock later, what's recommended?
 

Christophe Noel

Expedition Leader
#11
Thanks Flounder, I'll get a pair of Smartwool.

Moisture sounds like the evil culprit. My boots have Gore Tex lining...would rather have them without the fancy cold weather lining for hiking around Tucson to let the boot breathe.

What would you recommend as a material for a liner sock? I'll first try the Smartwool alone, but in case I go with a liner sock later, what's recommended?
The Gore-Tex membrane in your boots is not there to insulate. It's there to provide a waterproof barrier that has some modest breathability to it. All the more reason to wear a sock to help move that moisture. If you buy a good sock, you won't need that liner. Liners are all but obsolete. Good boots and good socks don't need liners.
 

Pedro

Capitan rally fluffer
#12
Overdrive, I may be able to help you with your fit problems. If you have the ability to take and post photos it would help quite a bit with solving your issue.

It sounds like the first problem was the boot choice for your reigon. GoreTex (no matter how much they tell you it does) does not breathe. I think it may be the root of your problems.

but if you want some further help take photos of the following:

Footbed (top) out of the boot
Footbed (bottom) out of the boot
the blister location
the sock
corresponding area in the boot (where the blister would be if your foot were in the boot)
 

Christophe Noel

Expedition Leader
#13
By the way, as a "certified" fitter and footwear buyer, I've noticed fewer and fewer companies are producing 12.5 sizes. Plus, I've noticed many manufacturers don't have size specific lasts. The last is the fake foot they build the shoe around. Some companies build one such fake foot and then scale it up or down per each size. Better brands will have lasts that represent the appropriate dimensions for each size. Meaning a size 9 might have a slightly different shape than a size 12.5 and not just be the same shape only bigger.

For this reason, I try to stock specific brands with superior lasting. La Sportiva comes to mind. I've been to the La Sportiva factory in Italy and they cherish their lasts like family heirlooms. Even Olukai flip flops are size-lasted. I also like those Euro brands in some cases because they're often sized in Euro sizes that run in increments of 1/3rds, not halves. So, you have the option of a 12, 12 1/3rd, 12 2/3rds, and a 13. That's a rough approximation, but you get the idea. For you 12.5 guys that's awesome. Not to talk you into different boots, but something to think about.

And Pedro is correct. If you have a Gore-Tex representative explain to you how that Gore-Tex membrane actually works in footwear, you'd wonder how your feet don't cook in those boots.
 

Mr. Leary

Glamping Excursionaire
#14
Good suggestion. Heel blisters are caused by the heel not fitting securely in the heel cup of the shoe: This can well be because you need a 12.5 and have a 13.

Try different socks. I generally wear a polypropylene liner and a medium weight oversock (I too wear a 13 and need a 12.5 - but extra wide for me). Don't wear cotton socks at all, of course. The poly liner allows the foot to slide, rather than create friction.

You can also attempt lacing a bit differently - a bit tighter down on the instep, with a double pass across the lacing at the point your foot flexes, and then a bit looser on the upper. Or, try an insole (like a Spenco) for a bit of filler in the footbed area.
Yes, and I agree with Pedro as well. GoreTex does not breath very well.

About the lacing thing, though. You must break your shoes in well before you hike, and you must do it properly. I wear my hiking boots every day for two weeks before I hit a trail. I also walk on the treadmill and get them very warmed up, feet sweaty etc., then tear down and re-lace them. Part of the problem is that your boots may be laced up for cold feet, so they only fit well for the first 5 minutes of the hike. Your boots should feel tight in the ankles and on the loose side of snug in the ball of your foot section (I hope that makes sense). Your ankles will not swell very much with heat, but the arch and forward will. YMMV.

I've hiked a bit, :sombrero:, and have come to my own conclusions about gear:

If its cheap, its gonna hurt.
If you don't put in the time, you will be punished for the crime.
If you wear Gore Tex boots, change socks at lunch, and when you change, go to a progressively more cushioned sock (i.e. medium weight to heavy)
Wearing shorts can help keep your feet cool.
Freebie, but not related to boots: If you go on three trips and don't use it (except medical supplies), eliminate it from your packing list.
You CAN use your hat as a pre filter / wash bowl. :elkgrin:
 
#15
Pedro, these boots do not have a removeable insert which is what I think you mean when you say "Footbed, (top and bottom) out of the boot." Photos are not usually workable for me anyway.

Re: Gore Tex. Unfortunately, Danner does not make this model without it. My next purchase will not have it.

I picked up a liner sock made with Cool Max and it has 5 separate toes. Also some Smartwool Phd socks as the outers, and Superfeet inserts. I'm $75 poorer. I asked my wife how the gold prospectors and cowboys survived without all this high-tech stuff. :yikes: Anyway, we'll see how the new stuff works in a while.

Scott
 
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