Gear Review: ENGO blister prevention patch
After I wrote my foot care article, the kind folks at ENGO agreed to send me a sample pack of their blister prevention patches. Unlike bandaids, moleskin or Leukotape, these are applied to your shoes rather than your skin. The company is very specific about this. The reasoning behind these patches is that by reducing friction between your feet and your shoes, you reduce shear that affects the deeper layers of your skin. They’re made from teflon which has less than 1/4 the coefficient of friction than other anti-blister pads and tapes.
I get blisters in 2 places – between my toes and the balls of my feet, and along the outside of my heels. The heel problem I think I’ve conquered; I remove the outer edge of the rigid heel cup of my insoles, and I wear a small orthotic wedge to help avoid supination. I have never done any long distance walking without severe, painful blisters, so I can’t imagine what it’s like to walk for days without pain.
This past year on the PCT I saw many people with blisters, some so bad that they had to take a week off, after less than a week of hiking. Most people had one or two, from small hotspots, or maybe around the toes. I chalk these up to dirty feet, walking on sand, and feet swelling up in the heat. Epic, whole-foot blisters were rare though.
To test these out, I did a 5.5 mile hilly roadwalk with a 20lb pack, at a 3.5 mph pace. I put one large oval shaped patch on my insole under the ball of my foot. For this application, basically cover the width of the insole where the flesh pad is. They make other shaped pads for different areas. I left the other shoe alone. In the past on this walk I’ve developed blisters right around mile 2, and I feel them forming before this point; it’s like little bits of gravel under the balls of my feet. Right when I got to the top of a hill at around mile 2, the left foot really started to hurt.
The right foot, the one with the blister patch, was fine!
I will definitely, 110% be bringing these blister prevention patches with me. They only last a few hundred miles, or less if they get completely soaked from long rain or repeated stream crossings. You can tell when they’re ready to be replaced as the blue layer wears through to an underlying white layer. I love how they don’t apply to your feet, but the shoes instead. I’m worried what will happen with stream crossings, but that’s another reason to bring extras.
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