How many times have you been out on the trail when a blister forms? It’s disruptive to your time outdoors, because you’re in pain the whole trek back. Not to mention you won’t be able to go outside again until the blisters heal.
No one likes to hike when they have a stinging hot spot, especially once it’s become a bubbly blister. So what’s an avid hiker or trail runner to do? We’ve done some research on the best blister prevention for outdoors people like us, and we’ve discovered what amounts to a modern miracle – Leukotape.
Don’t let the name throw you. This rolled tape was initially created to prevent and rehabilitate sports injuries. These days, it’s best known for its role in keeping blisters from forming.
Why is Leukotape Good for Hikers and Trail Runners?
There are multiple reasons why Leukotape is the best option on the market for hikers and trail runners. Here are a few:
Water Resistant – Many times, you’ll see moleskin and duct tape in addition to Leukotape. Unfortunately, neither of these solutions will keep your feet safe if they are sweaty or get wet some other way.
Spring runoff is almost unavoidable in the mountains, so hikers and trail runners in these locations will want reliable foot protection.
Stays in Place – Leukotape adhesive is sticky thanks to the zinc oxide, which means you can keep it on for days at a time. This is perfect for backpackers and long-distance trail runners that don’t have the time, space, or weight to lose. Furthermore, people in both extremely hot and cold conditions can successfully use the tape.
Tip: If the adhesive isn’t sticky enough for you, which is almost impossible, put down some benzoin tincture first.
Breathable – Leukotape is thin and made of 100% cotton so it’s extremely breathable. Your skin won’t get gnarly underneath the adhesive the way it does when you use duct tape and other blister prevention methods.
Flexible – This tape would not be able to stay in place if it were not flexible. As is, you can wrap it around places band-aids can’t go such as the toes and back of the ankle. No matter what you do, Leukotape moves with you.
Can be Torn – Even though we all try our hardest to bring the essential items for outdoor safety, we might not always have a pocketknife with us. That goes double if we are simply out on a trail run. And unless you are car camping, chances are you won’t have scissors. Thankfully, you don’t need any tools besides your hands to tear Leukotape.
Proactive – When used before hot spots emerge, Leukotape proactively prevents them from forming.
Easy to Find – Available in most drugstores, so you can find it driving through most towns if you forget yours at home.
Budget-Friendly – If you are an outdoor lover on a budget, don’t fret! Leukotape comes on a roll that costs less than a pair of sock liners.
Top Causes of Blisters
There are a few things trail runners and hikers do that are sure to cause blisters.
- Too much moisture. Moisture-wicking socks and breathable shoes can sometimes remedy this. However, those of you with chronically sweaty feet might want to try out Luekotape.
- Wearing ill-fitting socks. This means they don’t stay put when you step. These are the socks you have to pull back up every half a mile.
- Shoes that don’t fit. Either too big or too small, ill-fitting shoes will cause blisters. Sometimes, it’s the sock that make the fit too snug or loose. You can remedy this by buying thicker or thinner socks.
How to Prevent Blisters with Leukotape
Preventing blisters is just as important as taking good care of them once they’ve formed.
- Benzoin tincture (optional)
- The first thing to do is clean, then dry your feet.
- For more sticking power, add benzoin tincture.
- Cut or tear off a strip of Leukotape and place it over the hot spot as well as a generous area around it. Make it as smooth as possible. Creases and bumps will increase friction in the area and make a blister.
- Put on your socks and shoes, making sure you still have good circulation.
Want to protect your entire foot? There is a method, so do not just wrap it up as is. First, bend your foot upward as though you are trying to touch your face. Then, begin wrapping at the base of the heel. Go all the way up to the toes, but do not cover them with the same piece. Use smaller strips and wrap your toes individually. Finally, add a strip long enough to wrap comfortably around the middle of your foot.
Note: If you are breaking in new shoes, it’s especially important to prevent blisters. Therefore, we recommend keeping a role around at all times. If you don’t want to deal with the bulkiness of the role, simply cut off some strips and place them on stamp or mailing label paper. This way, the stickiness stays in tiptop shape for about a year.
How to Treat Blisters with Leukotape
What’s a trailblazer to do once a blister has formed? Simply follow the same 4 steps you would to prevent a blister. Remember, it’s absolutely fine to put Leukotape directly on your skin.
Should you try to pop and drain the blister before applying Leukotape? That depends. Is your blister painful or does it look like it’s going to burst? If so, you’ll want to take care of it. Here’s how:
- Sterilize a needle or pin and make a few wide holes.
- Use a piece of gauze and push out the fluid.
- Tape the blister.
If skin is missing, apply zinc oxide before you use the Leukotape.
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Can Leukotape Go Directly on Skin?
This tape is made to go directly on the body. Although adhesive, it will not rip off your healthy skin.
We have to warn you Leukotape contains a natural form of latex so do not use if you have an allergy. Additionally, the adhesive can cause redness or an allergic reaction if you have sensitive skin. We recommend testing the tape on a small patch of skin to before using it out on the trail.
How Long Can Leukotape Be Kept On?
Even though Leukotape can be kept on until it falls off, the manufacturers recommend 18-hour use.
How to Remove Leukotape
Once you are ready to take off the tape, you have your choice of methods. Some are natural while others are purely chemical. They are all proven to work. Just apply, then allow to soak, scrub, and repeat if necessary.
- Baby Oil
- Nail Polish Remover
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Cooking oil – canola, coconut, sunflower, grape seed, vegetable
- Fat-based lotions
- Mineral Oil
- Petroleum Jelly aka Vaseline
- Medical Adhesive Remover
When you have removed the Leukotape, wash your body part with soap and water. If the adhesive doesn’t come off right away, give yourself another day before you try again. This will be easier on your already abused skin.
As always, it’s important that you test out a product on shorter trips before you rely on it for something like race day for runners or a very long section or even thru hike. Everyone needs time to learn the best way to apply a product like this for their own body and conditions. (If you’d like to give Leukotape a try, you can find it on Amazon here.)