Boots and Foot Care While Trekking Kokoda
As you will come to know boots and foot care while trekking Kokoda is most import, and care of your feet should not be taken lightly.
One of the biggest mistakes we see with foot care while trekking Kokoda is to bring a pair of socks for each day, this is NOT necessary and is an expensive exercise. They way in which you take care of your feet and boots is far more important to trekking Kokoda safely with no sign of Tinea or trench foot as some like to call it.
Here at ETA we advise you to bring 4-5 pairs of socks for the entire trip. One of those pair of socks should only be used for night time, keeping them clean and dry. The other 3 or 4 pairs you can rotate through each day and wash once if you choose.
Every morning and night you should coat your feet in Tinea powder and or eucalyptus foot powder (we personally use both). When coating your feet ensure that you rub the powder in-between your toes where skin infections on your feet often begin.
Every night you should also coat your boots liberally in these powders by tipping in an ample amount followed by turning the boot on to it’s toe and bang it up and down firmly to spread the powder through out the internals of the boot. You should make this a regular practise with your boot shortly after you have purchased them by doing this once every 2 weeks while using them and three times a year if they are not seeing regular use. By doing this before and during your trek it will not allow fungi and bacteria to establish inside your boot unknowingly.
What if my boots are saturated with water?
The same practise of coating your boots with powder should occur as this will help soak up moister and keep the bacteria under control.
For your feet use the powder at night as normal however each morning coat your feet in antiseptic cream (Dettol or Savlon cream or similar) concentrating on your toes especially.
Dry your innersoles and socks out each night (or even at lunch time if sunny) but do not put your boots around the fire place to dry as this is a sure fire way to destroy them.
Hot spots (signs of blisters)
One early warning sign of blisters is a warm or even hot sensation on the skin of your feet from friction when walking. These are noticeable when you pause for a rest and you can feel that slight tingling/burning sensation. You should immediately stop and place some protection in the form of a covering over the top of the area of skin affected. Use something like strapping tape, blister pads or second skin coverings to protect the area from friction. Ensure that you do this straight away as 10 or 20 minutes later you may end up with a painful blister that is more difficult to manage and far more uncomfortable to walk with.
Good boot care while trekking Kokoda will help ensure that the most important piece of equipment you have is in the best condition to complete the walk. Prior to your trek you should give your boots a treatment of conditioner to ensure they are supple and in good condition.
Do Not walk through the water with your boots on, as it is very hard to dry your boots, and wet boots dramatically increases the chance of blisters. Even if your boots are wet do not cross the rivers with them on as the will become much heavier and have no chance to dry out.
Your pick of boots is a personal preference, as people all have a variety of feet sizes and shapes, please do not get the same boots as your friend who has done Kokoda as chances are your feet will be a different shape and require a different footwear.
Some people prefer Full Leather Boots, while others prefer Goretex Boots, some are even using trail runners (not our guides choice of footwear) but the point is to get a comfortable and light boot. In the selection of your boots, you need to be conscious of the humidity and muddy, wet conditions that Kokoda may bring. Kokoda does not require heavy and hard soled boots the trail while being difficult and in a jungle environment does not require heavy duty boots, good hiking boots yes as most runners will simply fall apart over the coarse of the trip.
It is important to have your boots well worn in, please do not turn up with boots that have not been worn in and tested on your feet.
Do not I repeat do not dry your boots out around are fire as this will damage the glue holding your boot together and may crack the waterproof (Gore-tex) lining that keeps your foot dry. I have seen boots that melt from being to close to others that the sole simply fell of due to the glue giving way to the heat of a fire. If your boots get wet, pull the inner sole out and dry this but allow your boots to dry naturally. During lunch time if the day is clear sit them on the grass to allow them to dry.
We suggest good quality moisture wicking socks. Cheap socks tend to fall out of shape and slide off your foot being very uncomfortable to wear.
If you are intending to use sock liners try them out long before your trip. Do not use 2 pairs of the same socks, as this does not allow for there to be any movement and the friction can seriously increase the chances of blisters. Sock liners allow for movement between the socks while protecting your feet. Some people find sock liners increase the heat in the boot making your feet sweat even more, this can be an issue if your feet turn pulpy.
Bamboo socks tend to take for ever to dry and are not really suited for Kokoda.