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Leukotape for Blister Prevention

Leukotape stays stuck after 34 miles of Hiking and Snowshoeing
Leukotape stays stuck even after 3 days and 34 miles of Winter Hiking and Snowshoeing

I was sidelined a few years ago two enormous heel blisters, the size of quarters, after hiking the Kinsman Mountains in January. I had a pair of worn out liners in my mountaineering boots that should have been replaced and my preventative sock and heel taping system completely failed.

Perhaps more troubling is that I ignored the minor discomfort I was feeling during the hike and wrote it off, despite the fact that I was gouging holes into my feet. These weren’t just puss filled blisters, but deep scabbed-over wounds that made it impossible for me to wear anything except open-backed crocs for over a week. It was grim.

Fast forward to the solution: Leukotape.

After my blisters healed, I switched from taping my heels with duct tape to something called Leukotape. Not only is it tougher than duct tape, but it is stickier too and you can wear it for days at a time without having to replace it. That’s especially good on winter hiking and mountaineering trips when your feet sweat under gaiters and multiple layers of socks and you want tape that will stay stuck.

Leukotape
Leukotape

Leukotape is a non-latex tape that is very resistant to tearing and has an extremely strong zinc oxide adhesive. It’s best used as a preventative over potential hot spots and not something you want to put over an open blister. Leukotape is non-elastic so it has no give in it and is very different from kinesiotape, which is stretchy and is commonly used by physical therapists to tape limbs or body parts for better alignment or function.

Although Leukotape is sticky, it ‘s quite easy to pull off by hand and won’t tear your skin off when you remove it. Some people also coat their feet using Benzoin Tincture before applying Leukotape to make their skin even stickier, but I haven’t found that to be necessary and just use the tape from the roll as is.

As a for-instance, I hiked 34 miles in snowshoes, microspikes, and crampons over a 3 day period this weekend without having to retape my heals once. The tape felt very natural on my skin and didn’t leave any sticky residue behind after I peeled it off.

Priced at about $9 a roll, it takes a long time to use up a roll of Leukotape and it’s less expensive than many other blister prevention solutions out there from moleskin to my old friend, Mr Duct Tape.

Disclosure: The author paid for this product with his own funds. 

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25 comments

  1. Sweet! I’d heard of the stuff before, but I’d forgotten the name. Time to write it down, and maybe order a roll now that spring is approaching. I always bit off more than I can chew for hikes in the early season, so a little extra blister prevention is always a good idea. Thanks for reminding me of this.

  2. Yeah, I can’t remember where I read about it first, but I’ve been using Leukotape for awhile now. It really is amazing at sticking. I keep tincture of benzoin to use with steri strips, but haven’t had to use it either.

    Also, fwiw, I’ve “loaned” this tape to lots of folks while hiking and haven’t had any adverse reactions to date.

    Thanks for pointing the product out. It’s good stuff.

    Sean

  3. I am the Leukotape doctor on all of our scouting backpacking trips. Do use tincture of benzoin though. It is an antiseptic too..

  4. i hike around 300-500 miles a year. many years ago i did a 2 week trip for 200 miles of the OR PCT.
    i got blisters on the 12th day. no change in weather, no rain the entire time. seemed totally random to me. i “knew” i wasn’t getting blisters even though i could feel the signs of them building.
    can happen to anyone, and it’s easy to talk yourself out of stopping.

    i used duct tape for years. if they are really bad, superglue (OUCH!) then duct tape. i started using leukotape about a year ago. i don’t have to use it often, i keep about 6″ of it in my first aid kit.

  5. My leukotape arrived earlier this week from Amazon. I taped my heels and did a short hike this morning. Wow, no hotspots and no blisters at all! Can’t wait to go for a longer trek but I’d say this stuff is just what the doctor ordered. Thanks for the recommendation!

  6. I went on a what turned out to be 200 mile backpacking trip through Spain. Leukotape saved not only my trip – but I shared it with a number of folks that were having trouble with their feet. One person put a Compeed on – then put Leukotape over it to hold it in place – otherwise he would have been going home. Awesome stuff… gave mine to a friend that was continuing her hike and having blister issues… gotta get me some more!

  7. Albert G. van den Berg

    Leukotape can have that effect if you are prone to having allergic reactions to the adhesive layer used here or on band-aid’s.

    There are three very good alternatives:
    1. Strappal tape, which also is a sports tape, but with a hypo allergic adhesive
    2. Leukotape-K, which is elastic, and also uses a hypo allergic adhesive.
    Apart from that the structure of then adhesive layer is entirely different.)
    3. Fixomull stretch or fixomull transparent, which is a non-woven elastic material, and the latter is waterproof.

    Al three are known to cause minimal or no allergic reactions, whereas the anti-allergic reactions; whereas the effectiveness is 3>2>1

    Another, or extra!, option could be putting some artifoam between either your skin and your sock, or between your sock or your shoe. Depending on what you prefer.

    I work as a sports physiotherapist in the Netherlands, and I really prefer working with the BSN-Medical materials. The quality is high and it is constant. They have a lot of know-how and a good back-office.
    As for taping articular structures I prefer the Leukotape Classic, because of the very good and strong structure of the material. (For me it is absolutely the best.)
    To be clear, I do not have any commercial ties or interests in the company; as a professional I just really like and prefer their products.

    You might want to take a look at:
    http://www.bsnmedical.us
    and click the ‘products’ button.

    Enjoy your hikes,
    Albert G. van den Berg

    My website concerning sports injuries and their possible treatment unfortunately still only is in Dutch. Currently I am working at translating the materials. The aim is to have it updated and in English, by the second half of 2014.
    http://www.fysio-groningen.nl

  8. Where do you find leukotape? These reviews sound amazing. I’d love to give it a try!

  9. I buy mine from Amazon.

  10. I just bought Armaskin and it’s amazing… The website that sells it (armaskin.com) offers a money back guarantee if you get blisters wearing their socks so I thought why not give it a try. It’s hard to explain but imagine a sock that was equivalent to taping your entire foot in leukotape – except without the glue.

    Anyway it works and you can re-use the socks. I have used and washed them 20+ times so far.

    • $36.00 plus shipping from Australia for a pair of socks? That’s very pricey. How many miles have you put on them, how durable are they, and how well do they deal with odor?

  11. This is the only think I have ever found to help the blisters on my heals! It’s magical. I’ve walked many miles in hot weather and this tape stays in place and keeps my feet blister free.

  12. Phil, how do you carry the leukotape? I bought a roll and it’s bulky and weighs 4 oz. Have you found it works to wrap the amount you want to bring around something small?

    • Bad idea. It’s really sticky. Get some adhesive labels, like name tags, and cut the leukotape into strips the size that you plan on using. Peal off the name tags so you only have the waxy backing paper and smooth the leukotape strips onto it. They fit well into a first aid baggie, and will keep well for a year or more.

  13. I use to speed skate and used the tape. You could leave your ankles taped for days at a time, even after showering. Its great stuff.

  14. Thank you for the write up on this. Do you use it with the Cover Roll stretch fabric underneath, or do you just apply it directly to the skin? Thank you again.

  15. Is there a difference between leukotape and regular athletic tape?

  16. How do you avoid the adhesive to bleed through the tape and onto the socks? It created a sticky mess on the socks that is not machine washable!

    • Karen, I echo your concern and question. Based on this blog post, I began using leukotape as a blister preventative. I’m happy with the protection it provides, but now my socks are sticky and I’m wondering if there is a good way to either prevent the stickiness or easily clean the socks.

      • Look for medical glue dissolver on Amazon. When you apply leukotape you have to make sure that the corners are rounded and that your sock does not roll back the tape when you put the sock on.

  17. Another great article Philip.
    From a trauma nurse, scout master and fellow section hiker, for best adhesion: remember to round the corners of the tape, clean the oil off of your skin with alcohol and use tincture of benzoin if you have it to increase the adhesion. Let the TOB dry before applying the tape.

  18. Is it the same with meuler tape and leukoplast?

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