In response to a question that was asked regarding preventing/treating blisters, a reputed and a respectable climber (DavidR) said:

"Having 'duct tape', 'mole skin', or other adhesive products, and knowing how to apply them to prevent blisters in trouble spots."

I have no idea of how to use/apply a duct-tape or a mole-skin. Can anybody please elaborate how to do it? Also, what can go wrong if I do it incorrectly?

  • 3
    Some points not covered in the answers. (1) You can save weight and space by pulling duct tape off of a roll and wrapping a small amount of it around a stick such as the stick of a q-tip. (2) A common way to use duct tape is to wrap it around a toe that's developing a blister. This technique works better with duct tape than with moleskin. (3) All of this works best as a prophylactic. Apply the tape as soon as you start to feel a problem starting.
    – user2169
    Mar 11, 2014 at 19:10

3 Answers 3


Blisters are caused by friction. Your skin is not very slippery. Applying moleskin and duct-tape over a "hot-spot" adds a protective layer between your skin and shoe. Thus as your shoe slides, it rubs against the tape or mole-skin instead of your skin.


  • Use enough tape/mole-skin to cover an area larger than the hot-spot. If the hotspot is on the edge of your heel go ahead and wrap the tape up and around the side/bottom so it doesn't shift/move. (Duct tape, being cheaper than mole-skin is better for large area applications.)
  • Cut mole-skin in a circle (or at the very least, round the corners) to prevent the corners from catching on socks, shoes, etc and peeling off. (With duct-tape, I usually just snip the corners off, since it tends to stick better.)
  • Use tincture of benzoin (a sticky substance) to help the moleskin adhere better to your foot.
  • If you just have a hot-spot, I find duct-tape works better since it is thinner, and provides a near-frictionless surface.
  • If you already have a blister, mole-skin / mole-foam (thicker) is better especially if you cut a hole in the center and stick a dough-nut of mole-skin around the blister. The added thickness helps keep your shoe from rubbing the blister in the middle

Things to be aware of:

  • Moleskin, being thicker, can take up space in tight-fitting shoes, and shift the fit-problem / wear elsewhere.
  • Some areas (between toes) it might be better to wrap the rubbing toe than the rubbed toe (personal preference).
  • Using too SMALL of a piece of tape/other will result in it shifting, falling off, balling up, etc. In that case, just try to re-apply a larger piece.
  • 1
    I would like to add a preventative measure for anyone reading this post. I sometimes put duct tape on the inside of my hiking boots if I find that it is causing a hot spot that rubs against my skin. The duct tape on the boots is slippery and can help stop blisters from forming.
    – Junco
    Mar 15, 2014 at 16:36

So, like I said, I'm not a great expert on using duct tape and moleskin. I'm writing an answer because someone specifically asked. :)

My experiences:

First off - applying duct tape or moleskin to your feet is a skill you develop through trial and error. Make sure that you learn to do it BEFORE going on a major expedition. Whenever I have a big hiking trip planned, I make sure to do a series of short day hikes over a period of months before the trip. That gives me a chance to make sure I'm in shape, and review my backpacking skills, including treating blisters.

  • I've never been able to get moleskin to stay in place. Maybe its my socks, but because its thicker, it tends to catch and slide off the site of the blister, and / or rubs and creates additional problems.

  • I've had better luck with duct tape, which I always carry.

  • I usually only get blisters on my heels, so this may not apply to other body parts
  • Not all brands of duct tape are created equally. You want to find a particularly sticky brand. I think that Nashua brand duct tape was consistently good.
  • If you already have an open sore on the heel (not a large blister, but a rubbed sore spot) what I usually do is put neosporine on the site of the sore. Its a disinfectant, and its a moisturizer. Then I put duct tape directly over my heel. The neosporine keeps the duct tape from sticking to the injured skin, but lets it stick to the rest of the heel normally. And the duct tape protects the skin from rubbing.
  • If you know you tend to develop blisters in a certain spot, you can just put fresh duct tape there at the start of each day, to protect yourself from blisters BEFORE they arise.
  • Thanks a lot Sir. I have an expedition planned this late November. And, I am trying to confirm that I am fir enough to complete it without any hick-ups. For that, I have been going on 2-day hikes every weekend, and I am having a bad time because of blisters. And, which is really hampering my Pre-Expedition fitness activities. Thought its worth asking here than me trying the same foolish things that I used to when I started trekking. In my past experiences with hiking (about 600 hikes), seriously I have never had serious issues with Blisters. Don't know why they are showing up now!
    – WedaPashi
    Jul 26, 2013 at 6:27
  • Sounds like a good trip. Any time you get a new pair of shoes or even a new pair of socks you can start getting blisters.
    – DavidR
    Jul 26, 2013 at 11:21
  • Question - are you wearing "liner socks"? I found those helped me.
    – DavidR
    Jul 26, 2013 at 11:23
  • No, I have not tried them yet. Should I?
    – WedaPashi
    Jul 26, 2013 at 13:58
  • yeah. they're very thin nylon socks designed to be worn under a larger pair of socks.
    – DavidR
    Jul 26, 2013 at 15:58

This is actually very simple. You use them as both a cushioning material and a way to prevent your shoe rubbing on your skin.

If you have a problem area, products such as Compeed cushions, mole skin etc work really well, but in an emergency duct tape should work just fine.

Just stick them over the area, making sure the edges don't catch on anything in your shoe when you walk.

  • Sir, Thanks for the answer. I would try that, though I never actually needed it. And, the latter part concerns me the most: "what can I mess-up if I do that wrongly?"
    – WedaPashi
    Jul 22, 2013 at 14:55
  • Worst case, you might get a blister:-)
    – Rory Alsop
    Jul 22, 2013 at 14:58
  • Not sure duct tape provides any "cushion," and mole-skin very little. They work as a friction barrier.
    – Lost
    Jul 25, 2013 at 16:50
  • Yep, removing friction is the main thing I mentioned. Duct tape is actually reasonably good at cushioning.
    – Rory Alsop
    Jul 25, 2013 at 23:04

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