I am having difficulty tolerating a pair of mid rise hiking boots without getting terrible heal blisters. I have wool socks, have tried liners, and the hot spots occur within an hour of hiking on an incline with and without a weighted pack. I now have a trip coming up in the Rockies of 3 day 2 night backpacking and I am in need of shoes to tolerate this trip without blisters and are sturdy and waterproof. With help from REI employees, I have tried La Sportiva Nucleo High and Oboz Wind River III both resulting in seer blisters within hours. I am unsure if my feet will not tolerate a higher cut boot and what I should try next in this time crunch.
@jkundratic11 Thanks for your question! It's a very useful discussion to have as many people struggle with these issues as well. Let me start by saying that there are so many factors that can go into why someone is getting blisters. Without having you sitting in front of me where I can look at your foot and your boots it will be a bit more challenging, but I can certainly get you started in the right direction. Pardon if I am giving you information you already know or have gotten from REI employees already; boot fitting is a passion of mine and I know how frustrating it can be if your feet are out of commission.
To simplify a bit: blisters form when three things (the triangle of doom, if you will) occur in your boots: 1) Friction, 2) Heat, and 3) Moisture. Those things are all inter-related, but it you are able to mitigate any or all of them you will almost always be able to prevent blistering. The best way to impact those things are 1) get your boot fitted to your foot and address rubbing immediately, 2) wear appropriate socks (not too thick, not too thin) that allow for circulation and for your foot to breathe, and make sure your boots are clean and the waterproof material is able to breathe 3) make sure you are wearing appropriate moisture wicking socks that are dry when you start and you swap them out if they become wet.
Obviously there are limited options to address 2 and 3, namely synthetic or wool and liner socks in whatever combination works best for you. Number 1 presents a much more diverse solution set and would probably be the best area for you to explore. I recommend scheduling an outfitting appointment with your local REI and requesting an expert boot fitter. You can do so here. The most important things to focus on are:
1) Lacing technique. This can alleviate or provide extra room depending on your needs, as well as stabilizing and locking your heel in place if that is your issue.
2) Volume. If you have a lower volume foot you can add an aftermarket footbed to stabilize, support, and fill space in your boot. Here is a good article on the topic.
Most importantly, talk to your outfitter if you are a heavy sweater, have uniquely shaped feet (high or low arches, morton's toe, hammer toe, narrow or wide footbox, narrow or wide heel, etc) and be very specific as to where the blisters are constantly occurring. There is a solution out there for you, it just might take a lot of practice and learning to solve.
The most important thing you can do is to make sure that you address any foot issues you are having on the trail as soon as you can. Rubbing or moisture can be alleviated quickly by adjusting your laces or swapping out socks repeatedly. It is a minor inconvenience on the trail to take care of quickly then to let it develop into something much more severe miles down the trail. It also helps to remember that your feet will swell and change shape as you hike throughout the day so you'll want to make adjustments as you go. I know it can be frustrating to work through foot issues, thanks for reaching out!
I hope this helps, best of luck on your journey!