Wade Nelson Sorting through the fads and fashion of the outdoor equipment industry to identify and promote the very best wilderness gear for high end recreational users, backcountry professionals and government agencies. Hardcore Outdoor is dedicated to those who won’t or can’t turn back.
The guy in the dress, err, kilt turned me on to a great book on blister care, prevention and foot issues for hardcore outdoorsmen and wilderness athletes. “Fixing Your Feet” is by John Vonhof.
If you add up all the time I spent taking care of my Dads players, me and my own team mates, 14 years of heavy duty search and rescue experience and 16 years of patching up three knuckle headed kids and their friends and combine it with the fact that I do at least as much boot/shoe testing as any other single person on the web you could reach the conclusion that I know some about blisters. I certainly thought I did anyways. That is until I met Todd Phillips.
Blisters are a fascinating subject to me. They range from a relatively small irritation while you are mucking out stalls or raking the yard to completely debilitating injuries in the backcountry that require evacuation. Some of us get them only occasionally while others are plagued with them. Regardless of where you fall in this spectrum, blisters are, well, a pain.
I have watched the Navy SEALS train in Coronado for many years and I recently covered the Primal Quest adventure race. These extreme athletes, although for completely different reasons, work past pain thresholds that would make normal people crawl up into the fetal position and cry like babies. However, there is one thing that even these “can’t quitters” can’t overcome. Problems with their feet. Both groups strive to push the limits of human endurance and both groups take the matter of caring for their feet very seriously. If you are reading this article, you should too.
By the way, the connection between the SEALS and Primal Quest is no coincidence. Don Mann, the Mann behind Primal Quest, was a Navy SEAL and has a chest full of medals to prove it. While he has never told me this, I think PQ is a sort of civilian version of BUD/S that he likes to inflict on the few that think they can hack it. And, they pay a lot of money for the privilege to boot. You gotta love how a spec warrior thinks.
This is no 30 second, throw on a new set of tires, fill up the tank kind of pit stop. It’s more like reconstructive surgery to get racers back on the trail. Most will have to do this again at the next med tent 10-15 hours later. Some will quit because the pain is just too much.
I met Todd Phillips, the guy in the kilt, working one of the medical tents at Primal Quest and was immediately impressed with his expertise on treating his teams feet. Primal Quest should really be called something like Primal Feet Shredder or Foot Carnage Quest because I have never seen that kind of damage on such a large scale. Not just blisters but blisters on top of blisters and big patches of skin that had been worn or torn away over many hours of water logged physical abuse. The real challenge was that the med tent folks were supposed to patch them up and get them back out on the trail so they could finish the race. I have a lot of experience in treating blisters but had never seen the techniques these guys were using. It was like a General Practice doc observing procedures being performed at a front line military trauma facility. Night and day. I wasn’t even familiar with some of the medical supplies they were using. I asked Todd where he learned these methods and he said it was a combination of OJT and a book called “Fixing Your Feet” by John Vonhof but mostly Vonhof.
If you have feet and you are any kind of serious outdoorsman, you need to add this book to your reference collection. I found mine at REI but you can also get it at the Fixing Your feet website.
The first thing I did when I got home was procure my own copy of the book from my local REI and based on subsequent research and my own testing, it is the definitive work on the subject. It contains a great deal of useful information written by a guy with a lot of experience. If you are a wilderness athlete or responsible for taking care of one or a bunch of them you have to get this book. It will put a lot more tools in your tool box or arrows in your quiver or whatever metaphor you like. The point is that it will help you or your guys perform better in the field.
Thanks Todd…and no I didn’t ask what he is wearing under the kilt. I don’t want to know.
Sorting through the fads and fashion of the outdoor equipment industry to identify and promote the very best wilderness gear for high end recreational users, backcountry professionals and government agencies.
Hardcore Outdoor is dedicated to those who won’t or can’t turn back.