Have your feet ever ruined your hunt? We’ve all been there. I definitely have. And yet still, taking care of my feet tends to be the last thing that crosses my mind while organizing my pack for the fall season. I asked around the First Lite marketing team and organized some of our favorite tips, tricks, and gear necessities below for those who need to re-address their foot care for 2020. Maybe it’s that you need a better pair of socks, maybe it’s that you need the old fashioned duct tape trick, or maybe you can learn from someone’s process for drying out socks in the field. Either way, read on and let us know what has worked for you.
Pick The Right Sock
When do you choose sock A over sock B? I’ll stick with the First Lite collection for now, but test what works for you BEFORE you hunt and go with what you like. Most importantly, consider trying a merino wool sock if you haven’t yet. It will change your life...there is no smell, it will dry quickly, it’s super comfortable, and regulates the temperature of your feet. All things you need. Personally, I will forever choose the Triad 2.0 OTC Sock for every single hunt. It’s versatile and has never created friction in my boots to give me blisters. They’re comfortable during the season when I’m putting lots of miles in up in the mountains, and even work great for wet wading or casual training hikes during the summer months.
Paul Peterson, Social Media Manager: “If I could pick two pairs of socks, it'd be the same as Kevin. Mercury Crew Sock for most anything active and Zero Cold Weather Sock for sitting in the stand or blind.
Tag Spenst, Director of Ecommerce: “The Treeline Midweight Sock is my favorite. For those of us who are gifted with larger calves, it’s nice to have an under-the-calf cut, and there is generous padding to get good support for my feet when combined with my insoles."
Add DIY Foot Care to Your Pack
Add the following to your shopping list if it’s not already in your pack: duct tape and moleskin.
Our friend Jordan Budd gave this advice: "if you’re going out for more than 5 days, layer your heels with a strip of moleskin followed by a strip or two of duct tape. Bombproof system for avoiding that nasty raw blister (I’m sure you know the one I’m talking about).I can tell you that even just using moleskin on its own has allowed me to extend a backcountry hunt by an additional day. Most importantly, don’t wait until it’s too late. When you feel that hot spot or nagging rub, STOP and doctor your feet right away. It’ll pay off when it matters."
Dry Your Socks Efficiently
Keeping your feet happy and dry means keeping your socks dry. Like I said, choosing a merino sock means you’re going to be able to dry them faster in the field. That’s worth everything. Still on the move and have the luxury of having two pairs of socks with you? Kevin's advice is to hole punch the wet socks near the cuff, snap via carabiner to your pack, and as you walk, they dry. I’m guessing you can get away with tying them to something, but you always risk losing your socks in the backcountry. Is it worth it?
Ok, you’re back at camp for the night. You’re exhausted, and opt to sleep in your baselayers inside that cozy sleeping bag. Take the time to pull off your socks and tuck them either (1) in the footbed of your bag or (2) right up against your body. Yep, right against your stomach. Both options will dry those things out before you set out tomorrow.
Final Advice (Learned the Hard Way)
From me: Carry an extra pair of socks.
From Kevin: “Always wear boots with the socks you intend to hike in. Practice like you play.”
From Paul: “Less is more when it comes to socks. Wear socks that are a bit lighter than you think you need, even in the cold. Too much fabric leads to sweat, which leads to problems."
From Tag: “Invest in custom insoles. It was a game changer for me. Minimizing friction points by fitting into your boots perfectly is always the goal."
We didn’t even get into the concept of choosing the right boot; I’ll save that marathon for another day. For me, it seems to come down to caring for your feet like the most valuable piece of equipment you own. And that starts in the training months, well before your hunting season. The best part is that you’re always going to learn something from your buddies and hunting partners. And if you already have some tricks that beat the ones in this article, feel free to send them on over. We are always looking to learn from somebody else instead of learning the hard way
First Lite's Director of Brand and Marketing Bridget Noonan hails from Illinois and has hunted from Texas to the Northwest Territories.