Long ruck marches are screwing up my feet-- getting nasty blisters, tried wool socks-- nogo, tried multiple gore-tex socks-- nogo, any thoughts?
What have you done to toughen your feet? Are you and how do you treat hot spots?
Other than going barefoot, that's about the extent of the toughening I've done. For the hotspots I've been putting Neosporin on with blister pads. (Moleskin doesn't do anything for me)
What's the issue with a wool socks, as merino wool socks are going to be the major recommendation around here?
SmartWool and Point 6 are the two brands I wear but there are some other good brands out there.
Another question is, do your boots fit properly?
Tried smartwool, wigwam merino wool socks, darn tough.... Tried different types of hiking socks, injinji socks, problem is I need a 4E boot and finding them is impossible. In order to get them to fit the width I have to get them at least a full size plus larger then I wear.
If you've tried good wool socks, I would look at the shoes(boots) as the next weak point.
I haven't rucked as much as some on this forum but I have raced (5k/10k/marathon/30k) for 7 years. Shoe fit is normally the primary culprit with blisters. It can be remedied with good socks (thick wool/nylons/etc), but the end of the day if you foot fits properly in the shoe (including a few miles down the road when your feet swell) it won't be shifting around and having either bunched up sock/seams rubbing hot spots.
Leukotape is a good stop gap measure to put on past hot spots to mitigate friction.
Will have to order the Leukotape and see if that helps
I get great results from the deoderant stick type anti-blister balms, though as previously stated, any kind of socks/moleskin/balm/powder can only slightly delay the inevitable if your books don't fit.
If you can't get a boot in your size, maybe a custom orthotic sole in the next size up will help.
Just out of curiosity, how are you breaking in your boots?
Are your feet EEEE wide as in gigantic, or an actual size 4E?
Go to the library and get a book called "Fixing Your Feet", Vonhof, Wilderness Press, 1997, or go to www.fixingyourfeet.com and order the book. Prepping your feet makes a world of difference. It takes me about 10 minutes in the morning if I know I am going to be in the field. Some athletic tape and pre-wrap for padding has just about eliminated blisters for me. The hardest part for me was finding tincture of benzoin to make tape stick to my sweaty dogs.
The book "Get Selected:...", MAJ Joe Martin, Warrior Mentor LLC; 2005, has an excellent section on how to prep your feet. A portion of the proceeds go the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Unfortunately, the website seems to have gone offline. Available at Amazon.
If you are looking for socks, ask the Clothing Sales manager to order "Socks, Winter, Wool, oatmeal in color" for ~$2.50 a pair. The have NSN's by size so they will have to look in the catalog. Hard to get a better pair. I wear mine year 'round. If the military has a boot size, they have socks to match. They will also make special boots for you. There is paperwork involved. A Soldier in my basic training class had 14EE size feet and actually had boots custom made for him by the Army. Perhaps someone else knows the procedure.
I finally settled on plain leather boots for most of my hiking. They are actually a pair of Corcoran Jump Boots I bought in 1993.
Cove Boot Co. (http://www.coveshoe.com) still sells Corcorans in brown rough out leather.
No Goretex, but I did soak them with neatsfoot oil after I retired and they are actually comfortable to wear all day now. Fairly water repellent. No more spitshine on those boots . I got this idea from a thread on Professional Soldiers from a member there called The Magician. He wrote a great primer on boots and caring for you feet. I printed it out and put in my notebook of things to remember.
Take care of this sooner rather than later. You can cause some permanent injuries that will remind you, daily, of how you did it. Every fucking day.
My feet are getting better by the month, as about 2 years ago I did two things.
First, I buy welted boots. These are for work and hunting, just Thorogood wedges and Cabelas Kangaroo upland hunters. I don't know what the military analog would be. I then remove the insoles and wear them as-is.
Second, I wear these socks exclusivly:
The are merino wool and very thin.
I hike/ruck about 50 miles a week... I've tried Asolo, Keen, kids Keen, Vasque, Lowa, North Face, Merrell, (hiking boots/trail shoes/trail runners) etc. I've put thick socks on and stood in a tub full of water then wore them for a few hours before letting them dry, put shoe stretchers in them, gone without insoles..... I'm one of those stubborn idiots that keeps hiking with feet a blistery mess.....
Which is why I put a post on here.... figured I might get some creative ideas/feedback/suggestions......
Darn Tough socks have worked very well in blister mitigation for me inside my Danners, Lowa and Hanwag boots. They make most of their socks in merino wool, but also offer socks in CoolMax as an alternative to your request for non-wool.
Also I use Body Glide in locations on my feet that I know have or will cause issues. It comes as a roll-on and put it on and let sit a few minutes before donning socks. Reapply as needed.
Hope this helps
Letting your feet heal a little might help. Where are you getting blisters and how are you taking care of them?
What weight are you rucking with, preferably in comparison to your weight/size?
Have you tried Solomon? I wore a pair of the quest 4d gortex through a pretty rigorous training exercise with almost no break-in and had zero problems.
check out covert threads....specifically their sand model sock. they are the only boot socks i have worn since 2006 and i think i have had a total of 2 blisters since due to brand new boots.
@Jenn, did your feet survive?
When I was at PISC for boot camp they did a sock test with our company.
Half the series received the regular issue socks. The other half received a two sock system.
The two sock system consisted of a thin, really smooth/slippery inner sock and a thicker, heavier sock. You would put the thin sock on first. Then you would turn the thicker sock inside out and put that on. I was issued these socks.
We were only issued black leather combat boots so everyone would be in the same boot. We were not allowed to spit shine the boots. They did regular foot inspections and noted any blisters.
Close to graduation they had us all in one room - standard issue socks on one side, two piece socks on the other side. They asked for everyone that got blisters to stand up. Everyone with the standard issue socks stood up. Only a few people with the two part sock system stood up.
It is funny because the two sock system seemed to work but the military never took it anywhere.
It is funny because the two sock system seemed to work but the military never took it anywhere.
The dress socks under boot socks has been part of ruck-march lore for generations!
Yeah, but that's a "you and me coming up with a solution" kind of thing, the army doesn't officially condone or forbid it. The real slippery ones he's talking about are liner socks, they've been standard fare for long distance hikers and trail runners for decades now, and are purpose built to reduce hot spots and friction. You can buy good wigwam ones for like $5 a pair, they're well worth the investment for most people. I never get blisters with standard wool socks so I tend not to use them outside of the desert, where they're great just for their wicking properties.
I am not sure what the style/technology involved really is or how it works, but I have gotten out of two pairs of socks, insulating+liner, at least a decade ago.
Modern hiking socks like the Smartwool ones are sewn in two layers, with almost a space between the two, and some stretch materials etc. inside. These seem to provide all the advantages of a plain wool sock and a silk/nylon/etc. liner with much easier donning, and no chance of bunching up.
These are also not particularly overpriced I think. $25 retail is typical, but often available vastly cheaper (under $10 sometimes) for various brands on clearance, when I stock up. The synthetics and weave style means they stay effective longer than old-school wool socks, so you get your money's worth IME.
Picking this back up, the inner sock we were issued was different from the sock liners I have seen commercially offered.
They were very slick, either silk or synthetic. It was a high density weave.
I think you turned the outer sock inside out so it give the inner sock a smooth surface to move on while holding the outer sock in place.
It was disappointing that the government did not develop something as the sock market back in 1990 was not not what it is today.
I just came back from the Bataan Marathon, I wore "Armaskin" socks as a liner and a medium weight Darn Tough outer sock. No blisters, I was skeptical about their claim "guaranteed to be no blisters" now I am a believer.
Anyone else use that lube that looks like a deodorant stick?
I have and it seems to work for me fairly well.
Yes. Very rarely use it myself but have heard good things. Wife likes it for exactly what we're talking about, de-escalating hotspots before they blister, so she'd suggest it.
Until I got to Special Forces I wore the army's two sizes - too large or two small - with no one to set me straight, and I asked. Even in Ranger school, it was assumed that you had cracked the code before you got there. Nope. I just suffered.
Lots of good info and questions above. Do your boots actually fit? Can you use properly sized orthotics? Blisters (mine anyway) were a function of poor fit, friction, or too long in wet socks/boots. Judicious use of GI foot powder needs to be considered.
What worked for me, after getting the right sized boot, was sock liners (slick, synthetic material) and a good wool sock. I often used petroleum jelly to reduce friction since even when I'd hardened up my feet, after some heavy, constant rucking I'd get blisters under my calluses. Body Glide as mentioned previously helps but can melt in the ruck under some conditions.
For remediation in the field where you can't take a personal day the medics showed me how to make moleskin donuts to isolate the broken blisters. Cut two oblongs (usually) of moleskin, one half-again larger than the other. Cut holes in the center of them both then apply the larger patch over the blistered area of the foot (a dry foot). Then put the smaller donut over the larger one. The blister's now isolated from full weight bearing. You can use tincture of benzoin on the skin (keep it OUT of the blister or it will rock your world) to help the moleskin adhere.
You'd think this moleskin donut technique common, but when I got to a leg infantry division you'd have thought I'd brought the Ring from "Lord of the Rings" with me. Cut a lot of donuts on road marches in that outfit.
Some medics would inject ophthalmic neosporin into a blister then treat as I outlined above. Some harder-than-woodpecker-lips guns would inject benzoin into the blister and tough it out. I can't tell you how much that burns. Not a technique I endorse or practice, but I've seen it used.
I'm experimenting with Leukotape (sp?) for pre-treatment right now. No firm results. I've seen guys use 100-mph tape but the adhesive is hard on your skin.
I spent a lot of time in SF and SOF and my feet never got with the program. So I adapted and overcame.
Hope this helps.
In the new era of boots that fit well and don't need to be broken in and heavily modified I haven't seen as many blister problems. We used to have an incredible thread on here from Moloch38 (I think that was his name?) talking about prepping boots for SFAS or Ranger school. It was basically what I learned as a private back when the issued boots sucked and you had to be some grandmaster wizard to get your boots to fit like a new pair of Nike SFB's do, out of the box.
If you're having blister problems you obviously need to look at boot and sock selection and fit. Next up would be to make sure your feet as religiously cleaned and kept dry. This means you wear boots when you need to but your dogs are drying out in the naked air as much as possible. Lots of folks think SF dudes love flip-flops because they are hippies but dry feet are tough feet...
If all else fails, you gotta know how to handle the blisters before they get bad. I'm a big fan of Hydrogel bandages to knock down hot spots. The Adventure Medical Kits "Glacier Gel" bandages stick on over a hot spot and can be left on for days, or until they fall off on their own. These will immediately start cooling a hot spot and help to prevent the blister from actually forming if you use them. They also make kits that have moleskin and other goodies that are pretty decent. Military and LE get big discounts, which helps with procurement. I like these so much that I keep spares in the cars for ladies who try to wear heels. Blister Kits
One thing I’ve found for helping to heal blisters on my hands from climbing is Climb On, it’s a lotion bar that I’ll apply to my hands at the end of the day before going to bed and the hot spots are gone and hands feeling good by the morning, on the ripped blisters, takes a day or two to completely go away but if I put it on the day it happens it takes enough pain away to climb the next morning. Haven’t tried it on my feet as I rarely get blisters anymore (tough foot and Darn Touch socks) but will try it on some of our tender foot guys this deployment and report back. Foot care is a seriously under taught art in the infantry.
A combat engineer (now a Warrant officer) taught me the art of tactical flip flops, while he strung triple strand wire in cutoff ACU pants and flip flops. It aids greatly in keeping things together. I went and paid a princely sum for Combat Flip Flops a few years back so that I leave little poppies in the dirt wherever I tread, but to each their own.
Darn tough socks are my go to hikers, and I wear exclusively wool and wool blend for work, recreation, what have you. Haven't really noticed my feet being "hot" but I'm also acclimated to it after nearly a decade.
I was once told to cut slits into the leather of my jungle boots so my feet had room to expand on long, hard treks. Wound up scoffing the advice off initially, then doing so at the 15 mile mark of a 22 mile ruck which just trashed my feet. I've learned a lot since that day.
When I went Active Duty in '95 I'd already replaced all my issue socks with Smartwool socks. Jungle Boots were the cool guy boots at the time, but they sucked for me so I continued wearing my leg boots from Basic. Coming from a hiking/backpacking background prior to joining I knew how important boot fit was and slowed down the line in Basic making sure I got the perfect fit for my feet. Even with doing that I found I had to remove the issue insert or the back heel of the boot caused inflammation of my Achilles tendon. I'm also lucky in that I have horse ankles and don't blister easily.
When I got to my unit (2/187 Inf) proper foot care was hammered into us Medics. We guarded our moleskin from the SAW gunners and stocked up on tincture of benzoin & foot powder. Soldiers were told to use the issued wool socks and bring an extra pair along. Quite a few used a liner sock of some sort. Non-issued, especially white cotton running socks, were frowned upon. On ruck marches we'd do foot inspections at the halfway point. Soldiers were told to change socks and we'd treat any blisters we found. Bare minimum they'd air their feet and dump foot powder on them. On particularly bad blisters we'd drain the fluid, then inject tincture of benzoin into the blister - AKA the "Hotshot". On our annual long march (25 miles I think) I would spend the week prior coating my feet in tincture of benzoin before going to bed and cover them with an old pair of socks to keep them from sticking to the sheets.
Granted there are always the outliers. I had one tough old Ranger tabbed SSG in my squad that had baby feet and would blister on anything over 6 miles. On the 25 miler you could watch the blood start staining the sides of his Jungle Boots. If you made him take his boots off at the halfway mark he would have a horrible time getting them back on. Additionally a lot of flesh came off in the removal process. For him we would just loosen the laces and open his boots up as much as possible. Then prior to re-lacing them we would dump a hell of a lot of foot powder in there. Once the march was over, then we would start the process of treating his hamburger feet.
Proper foot care for Infantry is as important today as it was for the Ancient Greeks & Romans. Take care of your Personal People Movers.
Been wearing Darn Tough since 2010. At the end of of a 10 hour shift during a Texas summer, my feet don’t smell like ass.
I've been using smartwool light hikers since 2012 as an active duty army guy. Plenty of schools and field time and still have some pairs that are 6 years old floating around. I bought 10 pair on zappos or something for $200. Pretty good investment if you ask me.
I still have smartwool hikers from my last big purchase in 2003. I probably have 50 pair of boot socks though so their longevity has a lot to do with the rotation schedule. I literally wore nothing but smartwool socks from 2000-2013 aside from trying some of the newer brands to help make recommendations for our new guys. I now have a bunch of other varieties and my favorites are Darn Tough, which is what I'm wearing right now. The correct fit of a sock is critical. I see guys who have wonky feet and their socks are a bit too long or short. That's blister city, even with great boots.
If you have toe blister problems the Injini toe-socks are worth a try. I thought I would hate them but you quickly get used to them and they do an excellent job of isolating toes. I resisted trying them for years and now have a couple pairs for warm weather hiking that I don't hate at all.
Used issue wool socks, dress sock "liners" and goretex socks and a great pair of jungle boots
I know Thorlo gets mentioned every now and again but I don't think it's nearly enough. I've had about twenty pairs of their military boot socks for almost 10 years now and haven't worn any out yet with regular use. I tried Smartwool and a couple others but didn't like how they felt.
The Thorlos have been great to me. have never used any kind of liner with them. Did the Bataan March in heavy category and only had one small blister. I expected my feet to be torn up after RAP week in Ranger school but didn't have any issues and was wearing Thorlos the whole time. They're warm enough in winter down to about freezing and cool enough to wear in the heat up until it hits about 90* and then I switch to thinner Underarmour heatgear boot socks and deal with the potential blisters those can cause in exchange for dumping heat faster.
I know this is not what you're asking about regarding socks, but the following recommendation has been immensely helpful for me and I've never had blistering issues when I've planned in the paper taping. This has been a great, low cost, boon to my training regimen when I can get around to weighed rucking, which only seems to exacerbate existing boot/blister/hotspot/sore feet issues.
I don't tape like most recommended on the internet, going laterally from side-to-side, but instead tape it lengthwise. Additionally, I also put a piece on the lateral aspect of my big toe, since for me that seems to be a hot spot when wearing issued boots.
As a quick side note, I am currently looking for replacement for my SmartWool products as they have finally gave up the ghost and I'm literally putting holes through them even though they are the thick ones. Thinking about Darn Tough ones... but haven't committed yet, but greatly appreciate any input for any current 2018 news regarding the latest and greatest in sock tech.
OP- if you are rucking for personal enjoyment and misery, you might consider having Nicks or Whites build you a custom set of boots. I have gone through two pairs of Nicks 25V hot shots in ten years. When you order get the roundest toe box they will sell you. They are expensive and worth the money.
They will take a couple months to show up. Because they have actual arch support and are made for loggers and hotshots, your foot breaks into the boot, the boot does not break into your foot. The first two weeks will feel like you are walking on a roll of quarters in each boot. The third week will feel like a roll of dimes, the fourth week your feet will have morphed into the boots prefered shape, then they are comfy. Mine were comfy enough that I greased them black and got married in them. The boots turned out to be more comfortable than the marriage.
A bit late to this one, the book Fixing your Feet has been mentioned as above is a good resource of information.....for me and my use on duty (plain clothes, uniform) SAR and hunting, Darn Tough socks in the full cushion options have kept my feet warm, cool, and dry in varying weather conditions. I use their running sock, gym sock, hiking sock and heavy hunting socks depending on the time of year and environment. For an ointment to treat/heal cracked feet and hot spots, I've used these three items: for open sores-https://www.amazon.com/American-Biotech-Labs-Wound-Dressing/dp/B00OMKNCRW/ref=pd_lpo_vtph_194_tr_img_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=5A93BR6KN0Q6V3QFSMGG
For the cracked/dried skin repair- http://grampagilmans.com/gramp...s-skin-care-tin.html
Doc Spartan Combat Ready https://docspartan.com/collect...ady/products/big-tin