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 earlier this winter for two weeks with two enormous heel blisters, the size of quarters, after hiking the Kinsman Mountains in January. I have a pair of worn out liners in my mountaineering boots that should probably be 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 resistent 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. Leokotape 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 bodyparts 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.

Have you ever heard of or used Leukotape?

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47 Responses to Leukotape for Blister Prevention

  1. Liz March 20, 2013 at 4:15 am #

    I only found out about the stuff a couple of weeks ago at the above treeline workshop I attended. Went right home and bought some on Amazon but haven’t used it yet. Am looking forward to trying it out on my heels, which have a tendency to get eaten up, not only by heavy boots but by light hiking shoes as well.

  2. Guthook March 20, 2013 at 6:55 am #

    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.

  3. PamW March 20, 2013 at 7:36 am #

    I had no idea your feet were in such bad shape after that hike! The warm temps certainly didn’t help. I haven’t used Leukotape before but will buy some. For some reason last summer I started to get blisters on the bottom of my big toe. Nothing changed in terms of boots or socks. Perhaps my gait? Doing more pivoting or toe push-offs? So far the blisters have all been so superficial that there is no pain or fluid, but duct tape is too uncomfortable to wear in that spot. I’m nervous about my 14 day Alps trip producing more serious damage. Leukotape sounds like just what I’m looking for.

    • Earlylite March 20, 2013 at 7:39 am #

      I had no idea either until I got home and took off my socks. Shock and horror. I was out of action for 2 weekends, an eternity for the winter peakbagging season. This tape works great and I’ve made some changes to my boot system that now minimize blistering. Much much better.

  4. Mike March 20, 2013 at 8:04 am #

    “I ignored the minor discomfort I was feeling during the hike…”

    I would like to know more about this. This does sound like the crux of the problem and you’re an experienced hiker. How did this happen, psychologically, for you?

    • Earlylite March 20, 2013 at 8:12 am #

      There was a lot going on during this hike and I felt I had to complete it because it was the last step in an advanced qualification that I’d been working on for almost 2 years. I’m sure that was part of it. I also don’t normally have such bad friction on the back of my heels, and we had a freak spell of warm weather which probably exacerbated the friction issue because I was wearing 4-5 layers on my feet, including gaiters, and sweating like a pig.

      I guess the reality is that blisters can happen to anyone, even experienced hikers and you need to pay much more attention to your feet when you feel any discomfort. I don’t really have the same severity of foot/blister problems as others, so I guess I wasn’t sensitived enough to pay attention or tell the difference between normal friction and abnormal friction.

      • er0ck March 31, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

        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. dbcooperisalive March 20, 2013 at 9:31 am #

    Did you give up on Hikegoo that you were promoting on an earlier post?

    • Earlylite March 20, 2013 at 11:01 am #

      I never reviewed HikeGoo – they are a sponsor for the Hiking-blogs.net directory, but I haven’t used their product enough to comment.

      • dbcooperisalive March 20, 2013 at 11:51 am #

        That’s right you posted this
        http://sectionhiker.com/hikegoo-blister-prevention-cream-raffle-15-winners-will-be-selected/
        and commented that “It’s interesting stuff – forms this waxy barrier around your feet. Works pretty well for me!”. So my question is did you give up on this and you now prefer to use Leukotape?

        • Earlylite March 20, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

          I didn’t use it enough to write a full review on it. It does form a waxy barrier around my feet, that is true, and it does lubricate the entire foot. But that isn’t something I really need or even want when I wear vapor barrier liners in mountaineering boots. I’ve always preferred tape for my heels in that situation and have switched from using duct tape to Leukotape for that application. I believe I’ve been consistent – but you seem to implying that I haven’t been.

          • dbcooperisalive March 20, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

            Not at all. I remember you commented how it worked well with you and now you came out supporting this. I wasn’t sure if your opinion of hikegoo just wasn’t as good as you thought?

  6. JJ Mathes March 20, 2013 at 9:51 am #

    I advise new users to test Leukptape prior to the real need of using it. Some people including myself have had an allergic reaction resulting in hundreds of tiny blisters under the taped area.

    • Earlylite March 20, 2013 at 11:01 am #

      Oh yuk!

    • Albert G. van den Berg February 8, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

      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

  7. Sean L March 20, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    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

  8. Znara March 20, 2013 at 10:32 am #

    I am a ballet dancer as well as a hiker and we always preventative tape. It makes putting on pointe shoes or hiking boots more comfortable and you worry a little less because you know the spots that you are prone to blisters are protected. Leukotape is good and I also like to use Nexcare’s waterproof athletic tape. It sticks even under harsh wet conditions, like the Northville-Placid Trail where we had to slosh through beaver bog after beaver bog, and it is more flexible. Don’t be too hard on yourself though. I think you get in a state sometimes when you are trying to accomplish a goal where you just push past all pain, while it sometimes turns out to be a mistake, it is an essential quality that makes hikers able to handle both the marathon of hiking and the acute difficulties. I guess moderation and self knowledge will have to prevail over shear force of will :)

  9. Jeff Carter March 20, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    Duct tape? I’m so very disappointed….I’ve still never found a use for that junk, except maybe taping over moleskin to make sure the edges don’t peel up. This sounds better for that.

    Moleskin is great for a lot of stuff. I too, ignored a hotspot on a winter hike this year “oh it’s not that bad” and regretted it.

    The thing with moleskin is most people are too stingy with it. For a heel rub, you need about half or more of that “sheet” in the package. Little one inch square junk will never work. The tape has the advantage that it’s obvious you’re supposed to wrap it around and well past the problem.

    I’ll see if I kand find this locally, it sounds like a great idea. But I’d really like a roll of moleskin, rather than the silly little rectangles.

    • er0ck March 31, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

      blaspheme! ;-)
      no seriously, what do you use for emergency… everything if not ducttape?
      i have it in my car, wrapped around my advil container in my travel kit, and my mini-bic for backpacking

  10. Louis Brooks March 20, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

    Been using this for a while to tape up a couple of toes that always cause me problems on long hikes. Great stuff!

  11. Petch March 20, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    I use Leukotape before every hike. But, on my left knee, not my heels. I’ve got patella-tracking issues, and use Leukotape as part of the McConnell taping method. Never thought of using it on my heels. Will have to give it a try. Thx for the tip!

  12. Alan Graham March 20, 2013 at 10:14 pm #

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

  13. Al March 20, 2013 at 10:29 pm #

    I get blisters on the bottom of my feet. I switched shoes on the last couple of hikes and it seems to have cured the problem. I think I’ll still grab some of this to have on hand.

  14. Rob March 21, 2013 at 8:42 am #

    I’ve used it a fair bit – don’t get many blisters, but occasionally it’s good to have. My crew at Philmont used up my entire stock one year. On the plus side it works, is light-weight, is non-latex, doesn’t risk tearing skin like duck tape and is easier to use than moleskin, On the minus side, it does tend to smell strongly – so it is definitely double bagged and in with the smellables.

    At least it doesn’t smell as awful as hexamethyltetramine (esbit) fuel tablets.

  15. Joe G March 21, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

    Thanks for the reminder about this. When hiking Pierce 2 weeks ago, I got hot spots that developed into blisters all due to my winter boots. I need to remember that I have this in my kit, and that I should put it on sooner, rather than later (and instead of duct tape).

  16. Sedona Hikes March 21, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

    Good tip to remember especially when hiking with the young ones.

  17. Jeff List March 21, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

    Agree with all the positives about Leukotape. However, in warm weather it tends to bleed adhesive through the tape to my socks, creating a sticky mess and interferes with the desired anit-friction properties of the Drymax socks I wear. I wish there was something much like Leukotape, but with more impervious tape.

  18. Milton March 21, 2013 at 10:21 pm #

    Leukotape tape works well but there is a better tape available. It’s called Kinesio tape. Kinesio tape is breathable and it closely mimics human skin. I have found it to be superior to Leukotape for preventative taping as well as taping of blisters on the trail.

    • Jeff List March 23, 2013 at 7:22 am #

      Which kink of Kinesio tape? I’ve tried Kinesio Tex tape, Gold, and it definitely didn’t stick nearly as well as Leukotape.

  19. John Whynot March 22, 2013 at 10:31 pm #

    I’ve been using Leukotape for a number of years. I precut lengths of tape and store them on the backing paper from self-stick mailing labels – saves weight and space. Rounding the corners before you apply the tape to your foot keeps the corners from peeling…

    • Earlylite March 23, 2013 at 7:04 am #

      Great tips. I will try them. Thx.

  20. Donald March 23, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

    Andrew Skurka uses Leukotape . . . . read it in his book. He likes it, and that should say something. I’ve tried it and it seems good, no blisters!

  21. Paul March 24, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    I have found that preventative foot lubrication (e.g., liberal use of either Sportslick or Hydropel) is the best method for preventing blister formation. However, when hotspots start to rear their ugly head Leukotape is our Venture Crews go to preventative for blisters. However, the source of friction is still there after you tape, so the tape edges can often loose adhesion after a while. To minimize this we will coat the Leukotape after application with liberally with a foot lubricant.

  22. Alison March 25, 2013 at 5:51 pm #

    I have used Leukotape a couple of times so far. It works great and like you said sticks on for days. I did however have a bit of a reaction in that I found it made my skin a little bit itchy. However it was manageable and definitely better than the pain of my blisters rubbing against my shoe. It was no surprise as my skin tends to react to a lot of things. Otherwise though it worked great.

  23. richared March 26, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    Hi phil.
    yeah use leukotape on areas susceptible to blistering,great stuff don’t need scissors tear with your hands i use the narrow role 20mm x 10m easy to control use in strips instead of pads less bulk can lay flat in first aid kit also cheaper waterproof once adhered.
    enjoy your website
    Richard (united kingdom)

  24. Grandpa March 26, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

    I’ve had very few hiking blisters but I ordered it anyway. I’ll put some in my First Aid kit.

  25. Robert N April 8, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

    I learned about it over two years ago from looking at Andrew Skurka’s gear lists. Great stuff.

  26. Bryan Bowers May 14, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

    I recently did a 14 mile stretch of the PCT in Big Bear. Even though I taped my heals with duct tape I still managed to get blisters on both heals. Ugh! I’m going to pickup a roll of this tape for my next adventure to see how it does. Thanks for the tip!

  27. Bryan Bowers May 25, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    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!

  28. Liz W June 19, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

    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!

  29. Liz W June 19, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

    I went on a 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!

  30. Joce April 23, 2014 at 8:26 pm #

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

  31. Sean L April 23, 2014 at 9:03 pm #

    I buy mine from Amazon.

  32. Ben D June 12, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    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.

    • Bryan Bowers June 12, 2014 at 9:46 am #

      $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?

  33. Hannah C July 28, 2014 at 11:00 pm #

    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.

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