Balancing Price, Durability and Weight with Backpacking Supplies
So I've been struggling with how to balance the backpacking budget, durability and weight....Read more
Does anyone hike with some significant bunions? If so, do you have any best practices? Trying to make this trip as pain free as I can for a member of the group. Thanks.
@djwThere are a few tricks to minimize (or disappear!) bunion pain, even while hiking with a heavy pack.
--Number one is to make sure you get a great boot fit, with particular attention paid to the toe-box volume. Make absolutely sure there is sufficient room to prevent pressure on that big-toe joint. Also, make sure there are not unnecessary overlays of material in that area of the boot. (Extra overlays can mean extra pressure.) Some hikers find a stiffer boot to help with bunions. Relying on the natural rocker in a stiffer boot to propel you forward rather than a more active bending at the toe joint with every step can help keep the foot overall calmer and less prone to inflammation.
--Using a combination of heel-lock and toe-relief lacing techniques to ensure the forefoot has plenty of room at the same time as the foot is held back from sliding forward in the shoe, especially on the downhill. On boots with two or more speed lacing hooks on the ankle, skip the lower hooks on the way up, cross around the hooks as usual at the top, THEN go back down and cross around the missed hooks. This locks the heel in really nicely (and has the added benefit of taking pressure off the knot as you walk, so laces don't come untied as easily).
--Use trekking poles. Becoming a 4-legged animal is more efficient than stay a 2-legged one and takes stress off your lower half in general, knees for sure, but also the feet, especially on the downhill.
--Wear compression socks during your hike. This can help to promote blood flow and reduce the amount of swelling in your feet. Swelling = tighter boots = pain in the bunion area.
--Take more frequent breaks, and remove your boots during your lunch stop if you can ... to enjoy the scenery, of course, but also to let your feet rest before they become over-stressed or swollen. I also cannot stress enough the joys of taking your boots and socks off mid-hike and soaking your dogs in a cool stream (downstream from the trail and from where everyone is gathering water, of course).
I hope this helps your team member enjoy hiking pain free! I'm going to keep a lookout on this thread, too, to see what other ideas are out there. This is such a great question, and what works for one may not work for everyone.
This is so helpful @REI-JuliE!!! Thank you. We will have some compression socks coming. I'm pretty sure he has stiff shoes already, but I don't think they are boots. We will see how they work with compression socks on our prep hikes. And we also have become 4-legged so that's a go. I really want this to be a good trip for him. Thanks for your help!
@djw Not to worry about the boots. Good shoes for hiking don't necessarily need to go high up the ankle. They can be low-top and still work just fine.
@hikermor Yes, I mentioned that as well. I think a doctor said the only option was surgery and he can't be off work that long, even on FMLA. I think he is nursing it the best he can to prevent the need for surgery.
This is all so helpful! I’m facing surgery regardless but I’m going to try all of these practices. I’ve stopped hiking/backpacking because of bunions in both feet, hereditary and horrible because being out there is where I feel at peace. I’ve heard that sandals are the way to go and I’ve been wearing teva all summer and into the fall without too much pain but I don’t love wearing them in the rain. My keens make my feet feel like they’re on fire just waking the dogs. I’ve heard and seen barefoot hiking, as a child I played in the woods always barefoot, don’t think that’s sustainable now in my 40s with a heavy backpack but I’ll try, I’m determined.
I have a friend who wears sandals because of her bunions. I’ve never seen her in anything else, and we live at 8000’ in the Colorado Rockies! I’ve hiked with her through cactus, snow, and decomposing granite and she’s always in her Chacos. I don’t know how she does it! I get a tiny pebble and have to stop and get it out.
I also know of a guy who climbed all of the Three Apostles (class 3 scrambles above 13,500’) in CO barefoot. I understand he’s done many more than that, too. Good luck to you!
Have any of you tried Altras, with the wide toe box?
I’m in the UK and came across this by accident. I am 65 with hereditary bunions which are slowly getting worse. To keep hiking I bought a pair of Hanwag Alta boots for bunions and they have made such a lot of difference. Nothing will remove the discomfort completely but these boots and bunion lacing have kept me moving.
Welcome to the community! Thanks for sharing your story and the style of boots that are working for you. Personally, I have never heard of Hanwag Alta Bunion boots, but it is great to know a footwear manufacturer producing something specific for this issue. We're happy to link it so @djw can pass this along as a suggestion.