Foot care whilst hiking

Foot care

During the warmer months of the year, it is particularly important that you air your feet and change your socks often during your trek. Blisters are not only caused by hard boots or a wrinkle in your sock. The closed environment in your boots is the perfect breeding ground for micro-organisms that decrease the resistance of your skin. Washing your feet regularly helps prevent blisters and there is also a lot more you can do to take care of your feet – even before you leave on your trek.

Before your trek

Break in your boots well and learn how they work on your feet. In particular, take note of where you usually get blisters, which is often visible as a small red area. Remember this so you will be able to prevent future blisters.

Purchase Anti-Blister Socks.

I came across Armaskin online, this is an Australian company that deliver worldwide, i decided to give a pair of the socks a go and these are probably one of the best investments I have made for hiking and walking.  The are 100% guaranteed or money back.

ArmaSkin anti-blister second skin socks ( liner socks) address all these conditions that cause blisters:

    • The inner surface of the sock has a silicon polymer friction coating which gently adheres to the skin and PREVENTS any FRICTION that can occur naturally between socks and skin. Any friction generated in the boot/shoe is absorbed by the outer fabric.
    • The polymer coating is macro porous and hydrophobic (water hating) therefore REPELS MOISTURE away from the skin keeping it drier.
    • Better HEAT dissipation is achieved thanks to the hydrophobic/ hydrophilic moisture management. i.e one side of the fabric is water hating the other side is water loving.
  • The Si fusion polymer coating gently adheres to the skin and importantly shares skin shear forces across wider surface areas of skin thus reducing damage.


In addition the Silicon fusion polymer is bacteria static so the socks can be worn for prolonged periods of time.

Wash them with your normal clothes but avoid using bleach, fabric softener or sending them to the dry cleaners.


A few weeks before you leave, make sure that you do not have athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot is characterised by flaking skin, often between the toes but also elsewhere on the foot. It can be easily treated with cream from the pharmacist.

Wash your feet and sand down calluses. Clip your toenails, but make sure that the toenail on your big toes is straight to avoid ingrown toenails. Massage your feet with cream to soften the skin.

When leaving for your trek

If you know that you usually get blisters, tape any sensitive areas before leaving on your trek. Elastoplast is flexible and fits comfortably. Stretch the tape slightly before you apply it and tape diagonally under the foot and a bit up on the sides, but leave around 2 cm between the ends. If needed, heat the tape with your hands so it will stick better.

Sports tape and other types of non-elastic tape are not as practical since they can often wrinkle, which contributes to the problem.

While on your trek

Air your feet when you take a break. Change your socks at least once a day and if they get wet. If you feel that a blister is starting to form, stop immediately and tape the area that hurts or where the skin is red. Apply a double layer of Elastoplast, following the instructions above. Tape the heel first in the back and then horizontally out to the side of the foot with one or a few pieces of tape. Then attach a piece of tape from underneath upwards, overlapping the first pieces of tape.

If you get a blister

There are different theories about how to handle a blister, but there is one proven method:

• Puncture the blister as close to the healthy skin as possible, preferably in two places.Use a small pair of sharp scissors and cut a small V in the blister.

• Rinse and wash with drinking water or cleaning solution for sores (you can buy handy disposable cleaning pads for sores at the pharmacist). Dry your foot thoroughly.

• Large blisters filled with fluid can be covered with a Compeed bandage. Make sure that the Compeed is secure and clip away any wrinkles (for example if you wrap one around a toe) with scissors.

• Cover with one-two layers of Elastoplast as described above. Carefully put your socks on so you do not pull up the edges of the tape.

• Avoid removing the tape or attempting to change the bandage. Trim away loosened tape edges with a pair of scissors and reinforce with an additional layer of tape.

The other method which is my preferred method involves a needle, thread, small pair of scissors and some betadine or something to sterilize your items.

  1. Thread the needle with about 30cm of plain white cotton thread
  2. Cover the needle and thread in betadine / sterlizing fluid so that the needle is covered and the cotton thread has soaked up the fluid.
  3. Wipe the blister and surrounding area with antiseptic.
  4. Pass the needle through the skin of the blister and pull needle out of other side.
  5. Gently pull and push the thread through the blister (this allows the antiseptic solution to be drawn in to the blister off the thread.
  6. Drain the fluid by gently pressing on the blister.
  7. Cut the thread leaving about 3cm each side
  8. Dress blister and crack on!

Here’s the best video I could find online to show how to drain a blister.

Massage at night

Wash your feet every night before climbing into your sleeping bag (at the same time as you take care of other personal hygiene needs). Add skin cream as well and rub it in using small circular motions for approximately five minutes. In addition to softening up the skin and tired muscles, this massage also improves circulation and makes it easier for your feet to withstand another day on the trail.

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Packing for the Fjallraven Classic Sweden

Packing for the Fjallraven Classic Sweden

As stated in my post about when we completed the Fjallraven Classic 2017, gear selection and packing for the fjallraven classic Sweden is something that you will probably do 100 times before leaving for Sweden.

Below is some helpful tips, equipment and packing advice.  More advice on planning trip in this area is in this post

On the Fjallraven website there is a equipment list be sure to have a look as there are some mandatory items you need to take.

One of the most helpful tips I can give you when packing for the fjallraven classic Sweden is once you have packed your rucksack purchase a cargo bag for it to travel in and also you can leave a change of clothes and your day bag in it so that it can meet you at the finish (this I found very helpful), Fjallraven will take your bag from the start at Camp Ripan to the end in Abisko.

Mandatory items:

• Tent* – I took a Vango 1 x Man
• Sleeping bag*, preferably three-season sleeping bag – Down is good but if it gets wet it doesn’t insulate as well
• Stove* with a deep pan – good for boiling water for the freeze dried meals – Something like a JETBOIL or Alpkit Wolf.
• Fuel* (included in the ticket fee, don’t forget to bring a bottle if you use petrol or methylated spirit) – Fuel is supplied you should only need one can.
• Sleeping mattress* – Something that packs small and lightweight, I took a EXPED DownMat Lite.
• Map* (included in the ticket fee)
• Magnetic compass*
• Fjällräven Classic Trash Bag* (included in the ticket fee)
• Hat/beanie*
• Gloves*
• Thermal fleece/mid layer top* in down, wool or a synthetic material
• Long underpants for a dry change ( what I did and I found it worked very well was keep a pair of long johns, base layer and socks in a small dry bag to change into to sleep in).
• Wind and waterproof pants
• Wind and waterproof jacket with hood
• First aid kit (at least elastic bandage, blister pads, compresses and tape). It is recommended to complement the mandatory first aid kit with safety pins, butterfly stitches (skin closures), fluid replacement and pain relief.
• 65-75lr backpack with rain protection cover
• Sun hat/cap
• Trekking socks, preferably in wool – I discovered Armaskin Socks these are the best items I have found to stop blisters,  they are a silcone layered undersock and I highly recommend them, they are worn as the first layer with a pair of hiking socks over them. See my other post on foot care. Packing for the Fjallraven Classic Sweden

•Underwear in wool or in a synthetic material
• A change of shoes or flip flops/sandals to give your feet a break – definitely worth taking.

 

•Trekking trousers, a pair that can be unzipped to become shorts are ideal – it does get warm up there sometimes
• T-shirt
• Trekking boots – waterproof is a must it does get quite boggy in places
• Trekking poles – I relied on mine others didn’t use them. Helpful tip: wind gaffer tape around the top of one walking pole, gaffer tape is really a great ‘quick fix’ item and to limit space and weight you don’t need to carry a full reel of it carefully wind it around the top of one of our trekking poles.

• Matches and/or lighter – didn’t use but depending on your speed you may camp your first night in an area with fuel for a fire a lot of the terrain you will cover is above the tree line apart from the start up to Kebnakaise and towards the end near Keiron to Abisko.  It is recommended to burn used toilet paper.
• Dish cloth – don’t see the need if you are eating the freeze dried food out of the bag.
• Small towel – had a small micro fibre towel in pocket as I was getting hot on the first day. If you fancy using the saunas en-route then a larger towel would be needed.
• Water bottle, minimum 0.5lt – Water is everywhere, you will be able to stock up along the route.
• Small knife with scissors or a multi-tool – A multi-tool comes in handy or did for me to help me re-stitch my boots.
• Toiletries – limit these: dry wash, cleansing wipes, toothbrush (cut most of handle off) and toothpaste (find small tube on amazon)
• Toilet paper in a plastic bag with some matches – you should burn your used toilet paper rather than leaving it in the ground
• Head torch – Not needed (doesn’t get dark enough)
• Sunglasses – A must

Other Items for the Fjallraven Classic :

Camping along the route of the Fjallraven Classic 2017

•Camera – I took a GoPro and used my iPhone for photos (I attached a hosing for the GoPro and iPhone clip into the handle of one trekking pole so i didnt need a selfie stick) and navigation (I downloaded viewranger and purchased the relevant tiles for the area and also downloaded the Fjallraven Classic Route.

•Battery Pack for charging phone and GoPro

•Empty Plastic Bottle – I hate having to get out of my sleeping bag in the middle of the night for a pee!

•Sitting mat – these can be found online cheap.

•Waterproof rucksack cover.

•Poncho – Didnt use it but if the heavens did open this would have been invaluable.

•Mosquito Repellent – This is a must there can be swarm in the billions of these little monsters.  I get bitten so much and there are so many that i’ve tried and the only effective one I have found was brought in Sweden.  Mygga is made with natural ingredients and also has tea tree in it so feels really refreshing when applied after a wet wipe wash in the evening before relaxing and taking in the surroundings.

I purchased this from the supermarket in Kiruna and if i remember they also sell it in the Fjallraven pop up store at check in.

So do yourself a favour and purchase a couple once you return to Kiruna to take home.

•Mosquito head net.  Also invaluable a must when the sun lowers and those micro zombies attack.

Small Trowel.  Very helpful for when answering the call of nature.

FOOD

Jerky

Powdered Soups

Chocolate

Energy Drink Tablets

Chocolate

Plastic bottle of Rum

Coffee


Take your time when packing and really think about each item.  If you think to yourself “do I really need this item?” then you probably don’t.  The less weight you carry the easier it will be on your shoulders and back and obviously the less weight you will be carrying.

Most importantly your rucksack needs to be suitable for the weather, your shape and the equipment you are carrying.  Don’t go out and buy and ‘off the shelf’ rucksack without getting professional advice assisting with fitting the rucksack to you.

Carry most of the weight from the ruck sack on your hips, move heavy items to the bottom of the rucksack and pack the rucksack so you can get to regularly used items first.

  • Use a liner in your bag something as simple as a refuse bin bag to keep everything dry.
  • Take small refuse bin bags with you to put wet clothes / dirty underwear to keep the rest of you clothes dry.
  • A lightweight bumbag will come in helpful to keep snacks, phone and other small regularly used items in, so you don’t have to take your rucksack off every time you make a quick stop.

 

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Forest therapy for the soul.


I mentioned in previous post the need to balance out life for the sake of everything (your family, work and yourself). It is very important to give yourself the time to reflect on things going on and take some time to wind down and relax to keep that balance in equilibrium.
I work full time as an EMT for the ambulance service where I work varied shift pattern of nights and days sometimes in a fast moving environment and sometimes quite traumatic mentally.
I also work as an on-call firefighter where we are only called to duty through a paging system this means that for 90 hrs in a week I need to be available for fire calls.
Along with everything else: running a house etc I still find the time to unwind and process some of the jobs that I have attended.
For me, getting outside with my Day pack full of my items that I can use to make camp, build a fire, brew a coffee and whittle a spoon is the way I unwind.

Throwing up the hammock amongst the trees and laying back and processing some of the incidents I have recently attended allows me to better myself next, look at my mistakes and stops me from dwelling on traumatic jobs.
There is definitely something about being outdoors assisting with depression (not that I suffer with depression) but is this due to me balancing out life and giving myself ample time outdoor?
Just the other day I was refuelling the car before heading out for the morning and the sudden whiff of the diesel took me back to a life changing event in my life where myself and my wife where nearly killed in the Asian Tsunami in Sri Lanka in 2004 so most of that morning was used contemplating that traumatic event, how we were so lucky and how that event has lead to me doing what I do and being who I am.
Ever had that experience when sounds and smells take you back to a place or event in your life? Well, this ‘trigger’ is a in built animal instinct which can trigger that fight or flight instinct. The smell trigger warns a animal of a danger perhaps scent of a predator or scent of rancid or poisonous food where sound warns the animal of a possible danger. The sound of screaming takes me back to that event standing on the beach in Sri Lanka.
How do we deal with these triggers? Well through my own experience they will always be with you it’s about processing those warning signs and realising that they are now a inbuilt warning system. Due to work, I go through traumatic events on a weekly basis and it’s learning how to process them and use them to your advantage.
Black humour is a way of emergency service staff processing the events we deal with if you where to walk into any crew room and hear the black humour you would think what a messed up load of people we are but this is a coping mechanism.

I generally spend my ‘me time’ during the week when the wife is at work and the kids are at school. This allows me to balance time with family and giving some time to myself which I feel is needed for everyone.
I’ll go out with the dog, walk along the river stalking some pike, spend some time contemplating whatever has been happening or what I’m planning. Creating little adventures / goals is a great way of giving you some downtime from day to day chores that will assist in you reaching your goals.
Plan what you want to do. Micro adventuring doesn’t needs to be expensive but set aside a un-used bank account and setup a standing order and put what ever you can afford into it weekly and soon funds will be to help you reach your goals.

Enjoy the planning, follow this site for further posts on micro adventure ideas.

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Walk along the Suffolk Coast

So with a few days off and after a night hammock camping I took the dog along the beach from Walberswick to Dunwich along the Suffolk coast.


It was a beautiful day off shore wind and se was calm. Stopped half way along his behind the dunes and used the jet boil for a coffee break and just enjoyed being outdoors.

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