The probability of developing blisters while walking 800 km is quite high; while the likelihood of rescue by Mr. Spock is, sad to say, infinitesimally low.
["Way to Eden," trekcore.com]
Tip for free: don't walk barefoot.
When I set out to walk the Camino in 2001, I expected blisters to be a mild annoyance. Instead, after walking about 100 km with nothing but band-aid protection, it felt like my feet were being flayed. Because they were.
[The Flaying of Marsyas, by Jusepe de Ribera]
So, this time I'm trying out all possible blister-prevention aids. Here's what I've gathered in items and advice, so far.
1. Replace your boot's insoles to add support and stability. (Even expensive boots come with flimsy insoles.) Superfeet insoles may feel weird at first because they support your arch where it begins, closer to your heel, rather than in the center. Wear every other day at first, to break them in. (about $35)
2. Gel toe spacer for big toe, if that's your hot spot. It's not mine, but I tried it out. ($4.99, Walgreens gel spacers).
3. Medical tape to help prevent blisters forming. The premium brand is made of rubber; Walgreen's is latex-free and costs less.
4. My hot spot: my little toes tuck under and get squished and rubbed. These corn cushions work as spacers. Adhesive, but the adhesive only holds a day. ($2.99 for 18 Walgreens corn cushions)
5. Toe liner socks (Injiji liners, $10). I haven't worn these yet, but they're designed to wear under your hiking socks to reduce friction between toes.
6. Hiking socks with loopy-loops on the inside. Supposedly eliminate the need for sock liners. I like Wigwam best, or Thorlo (both about $15). Coolmax or Smartwool.
Tip: To fluff up lining, turn socks inside-out to wash and dry.
7. bodyGLIDE original anti-chafe formula. My marathoner friend Maura swears by this---not just for feet but any body parts that rub. (I paid $12.99 for 2.5 oz. at REI outfitters.)
8. Not pictured: moleskin. The cotton flannel, not the notebook. I'm taking a big pile of it for my heels, which rubbed raw last time.
9. Keep your feet dry. Switch out your socks during the day--let your spare pair dry.
10. MY FAVORITE PIECE OF ADVICE:
To avoid blisters, "Walk in a relaxed manner."
(This is surprisingly hard to do, even on pilgrimage.)
--From Joyce Rupp, Walk in a Relaxed Manner: Life Lessons from the Camino, about Rupp's experience as a pilgrim (at 60, which encourages this 50 year old).
11. ...or, in the words of John Wayne, "Whoa! Take 'er easy there, Pilgrim!"
(Thanks for this tip, Crow!)
12. Finally, since no matter what we do, we will probably get some blisters, a sense of humor.
If you have any tips, please let me know!