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Blisters are usually happening if you walk much more than you are used to, or the shoes are much harder than those you usually wear. For example on multi-day trekkings in heavy trekking shoes. The people more used to walking have usually harder feet and are much less likely to get blisters.

The usual prevention solution is to walk as much as possible in the shoes you are going to trek in before the trek. But I wander if walking barefoot hardens the feet in the way that will prevent blisters as well? The skin must be much harder, if you walk barefoot, so it would be logical to suppose such feet will be better protected against friction in shoes.

However, when walking barefeet, the friction comes from the bottom. In shoes, there's also a friction in the places shoes fold, near the ankles etc.

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I have noticed that walking barefoot only toughens the bottoms of my feet. So that won't help with blisters that you get in between your towns or on the sides of your feet/ankles. (Though, sure, it will help with blisters on the bottoms of your feet.) –  theJollySin Jul 11 '13 at 22:07
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Walking barefoot also helps strengthen the ankles, which helps avoid sprained ankles on the trek. –  Don Branson Jul 15 '13 at 12:05
    
@DonBranson could you provide reference, or share your personal experience with strengthening the ankles? It would be an interesting answer. –  Lukasz Jul 15 '13 at 19:28
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@ŁukaszLech - That's a tip I picked up from reading Trail Life by Ray Jardine, a kayaker/climber/backpacker with 100s of thousands of backpacking miles dating back to the '70s. I have experienced this personally when applying his advice to make the switch from conventional backpacking to ultralight backpacking about 4 or 5 years ago. I've found that by wearing a light-weight shoe with good arch support instead of boots on training hikes and on the main hike, I don't have any problem with twisted ankles. Not that it won't happen, just that it's at least as good or better for me than boots. –  Don Branson Jul 15 '13 at 20:29

2 Answers 2

Maybe? It may depend on where you're getting the blisters. A lot of the blisters that I get from hiking boots are on my heels, or on the sides of my toes. I don't think that barefoot walking would help build calluses in those places.

If you want to walk barefoot, go ahead an experiment with that. But I'd also look at the general advice for avoid blisters while in trekking boots (you clearly know at least some of this, but I'll type it anyway, in case anyone else comes along):

  • Having boots that fit and are broken in.
  • Getting a system of socks that fits and works for you. This may include "liner socks".
  • Having a fresh pair of socks to hike in each day. (You can achieve this with a small number of socks by washing your socks each night, and letting them air dry).
  • Having "duct tape", "mole skin", or other adhesive products, and knowing how to apply them to prevent blisters in trouble spots.
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+1 for "duct tape" and "mole skin" thing. I missed those :) –  WedaPashi Jul 16 '13 at 5:18
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Having said the above.. Can you please elaborate on how to apply them (duct tapes and mole skin) to prevent blisters? –  WedaPashi Jul 16 '13 at 5:19
    
Thats a good point. But I think its complex enough to warrant its own question and answer. If you want to rack up points for asking it, go ahead. :) (assuming there isn't a question about that already). –  DavidR Jul 16 '13 at 19:56
    
Also, I've met people that are much better than me at complex applications of duct tape and moleskin, and would like to see what other people had to say. –  DavidR Jul 16 '13 at 19:57

Blisters are more frequent between the toes than Anywhere on the bottom of the feet. And, with heavy trekking shoes, you are most likely to sustain blisters around toes and between them, so I guess as the above guy (theJollySin) said walking barefoot wont help much with blisters, But yeah it does help you to Harden your skin, make your ankle recover from any ankle injury if you have. Hardening your skin will help you with Cracks on the bottom of the feet that you may suffer with at some point of time. Try walking on Beaches (Sands) for that.

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Actually, I got blisters on the bottom of the toes when walking barefoot, and this is a common place for blisters in trekking boots –  Lukasz Jul 15 '13 at 19:29
    
@LukaszLech: Yeah, you may sustain blisters on the bottom of the toes when walking barefoot. I faced a similar issue when we walked down 210 km barefoot on a Tar road that goes to a Fort. The main cause of blisters in that case I suspect is heat exerted by the surface on the skin, rather than the pressure of walking barefoot. –  WedaPashi Jul 16 '13 at 5:31

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