I went hiking with a friend a few years ago who had adjusted his new 90 liter pack to sit pretty high up on him.

As a result he managed to create two very large blisters right above his buttocks. They popped and looked extra-ordinarily painful. He really suffered that weekend.

My question is, what can I do to ensure I never have that happen to me?


If it did happen to me, what would my treatment plan be? Abandonment of the trip would not be an option...I just like saying that. I can't really think of anything I could do to create a situation where I continued to push forward but if there was something, especially with zombies chasing you, that could be done, I'd like to here thoughts on it.

  • 2
    How much did the backpack weight? Bringing less in the first place is a worthwhile option.
    – ppl
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 14:57
  • Yes, good point. I think he was at about 45lbs. It wasn't much, but it was. certainly he was carrying it incorrectly, it's more the field treatment of giant blister I'm focused on. They were quite huge.
    – Citizen
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 16:08

3 Answers 3


Ah, that sounds really painful and disturbing. Your description is more like its a Boil than a Blister.


A boil is a localized infection in the skin that begins as a reddened, tender area. Over time, the area becomes firm, hard, and increasingly tender. Eventually, the center of the boil softens and becomes filled with infection-fighting white blood cells from the bloodstream to eradicate the infection. If not treated you'll see them turning white, the white substance is known as Pus.

Causes of Boils: Again, keeping the scope to typical outdoor activity stuff, I can guess that either he lodged the heavier stuff on the bare skin, and/or a body-hair was pulled due to friction.

I don't want no boils:

So I will,

  • Pack a Backpack that I can carry comfortably. No other backpack is comfortable than the one that suits my body posture. Just because Thor can haul a 90 ltr pack, doesn't mean that Tyrion Lannister should do the same. Pack should rest on my hips than on my waist or back.
  • Make sure that if I am hauling a heavy pack which is way bigger than what my posture permits, there is no way I let the bag fabric brush against my bare skin.

Getting rid of a boil:

  1. Something from Medical Kit: If you are an ointment guy then Ichthammol Ointment, else if you are a Powder guy, Neosporin powder (I didn't like the Neosporin Gel. And, doesn't mean I am a Powder guy).
  2. The Onion way: Onion has antiseptic properties. Place a thick slice of onion directly on the boil and wrap the onion with a cloth.
  3. The Marshmallow leaf: Place a Marshmallow leaf directly on the boil and wrap the it with a cloth.
  4. The Milky way: Mix warm milk and any flour with pinch of salt (The more salty it is, the more stronger it gets, beware of how much you can take), flour will make it thick and easy to apply.
  5. Castor Oil: It is good Antiseptic. Drops of Castor Oil on a cotton ball makes a good bandage.
  6. Turmeric and Ginger: Apply directly on the boil a paste of Turmeric added with fresh ginger.
  • 1
    TY for your response.
    – Citizen
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 16:08
  • 1
    This is a good response for boils, but I really don't think what he's asking is about boils. If it was a boil, the packer wouldn't have been able to wait until it burst. I don't care who you are, boils are extremely painful. Plus, boils usually don't just show up within a couple hours of irritation.
    – Escoce
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 18:27
  • 1
    @Escoce: Well, I'll let the OP decide if its a boil or a blister. And, with all due respect to you and what you know, I have had suffered a boil in less than an hour. So, boils can pop-up while you make a 4000 ft climb for the day. Again, I'll OP and his doctor decide if its a boil or a blister. For what I have experienced, in most of the cases when a pack rubs against skin, result is a Chafe, or a Boil. Blisters do need friction, but they also need lesser air contact and a bit of moisture/wetness.
    – WedaPashi
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 18:39
  • There's always moisture carrying a pack because sweat can't escape fast enough.
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 12:29
  • @WedaPashi Wish I could upvote you twice. TY. It was brutal for him but he's a former Marine and he powered through it.! How, I have no idea. It could have a been a boil My primary objective was to get some treatment plan if I ever saw it happen to someone again, I would know what to do to help. Hopefully this will never happen to any of us :)
    – Citizen
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 20:29

Prevention is easy, wear your pack on your hips where it's supposed to be, and never let anything rub. Friction is bad, all hot spots need to be taken care of long before they are allowed to develop into a blister.

Treatment for such blisters may involve draining them so they don't cause pain from pressure, and then wrapping them with a thick bandage. Use antiseptic if you have it, infection is a concern with all burns, and lancing a blister in order to drain it opens it up for infection. It would be better to leave the skin intact if you can, chances are adjusting your bag and wearing it properly will be sufficient to remedy the situation, but if not then you may just have to suck it up and suffer for your mistake until you get home. If it's the zombie apocalypse, then nature has just selected you for a darwin award and it's better that you get eaten so the rest of your group can get away.

  • lol....that's what I told him, he's stubborn Marine <sigh>
    – Citizen
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 16:02

As Shem pointed out, wear the pack where it was designed to ride on you. Making sure the pack is tightened snug so it's not rubbing is just as important. Loose straps cause added motion which cause friction and irritation/blisters.

  • People are very different shapes, and even change shape from trip to trip depending on clothing, so the bag may not fit perfectly. In addition clothing may repeatedly ride up exposing skin so you can get well into a trip with tested (but not in quite that combination) gear and find problems that adjustment can't solve.
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 12:26

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