Leukotape is a sticky medical tape used by hikers and backpackers to prevent blisters before they occur. It is breathable and will stay on even if it gets wet, so it can stay on your feet for up to a week at a time. It comes in two forms: Leukotape P and Leukotape K. Both types have an abrasion-resistant cloth exterior and a strong adhesive to keep them on your skin despite friction, perspiration, or getting wet, which makes them ideally suited for use in outdoor activities.
Leukotape P is the better of the two for blister prevention because it’s a rigid tape that doesn’t stretch the skin that it’s attached to. Blisters occur when the upper layers of your skin are stretched apart, forming a void between the layers that fills with fluid, causing a blister. But if you cover the places where you normally get hot spots or blisters in advance with the tape, the friction that causes a blister is absorbed by the tape’s cloth exterior instead of your skin which has been immobilized by the tape, preventing blister formation. Simple.
Although Leukotape P is sticky, it’s quite easy to pull off by hand and won’t tear healthy skin off when you remove it. It will also stay on for up to a week at a time which makes it perfect for backpacking since it requires so little maintenance. It does contain natural rubber, however, so people allergic to latex or rubber should not use it.
Leukotape P is sold in 1-and-a-1/2-inch wide rolls, which are inconvenient to carry when backpacking. While you can tear pieces off a roll by hand, it’s more convenient to pre-cut strips of it at home because they can be carried flat in your first aid kit. This is done by unrolling the tape onto what is called release paper, which is the shiny paper that adhesive mailing labels and stamps are stuck to (wax paper doesn’t work.) Go into any UPS or Fedex store and they’ll give you piles of release paper for free.
Leukotape K is also a sticky medical tape, but it has built-in stretch, similar to kinesiology tape, although it is much stickier and lasts longer, up to a week. A stretchy tape is bad for blister prevention because your skin can move underneath it. This can result in what is called skin sheer, where layers of skin separate and fill with fluid, causing a blister. Instead, Luekotape K is to provide soft tissue support and in situ massage without retarding your range of motion. It is commonly used to treat tendinitis, low back pain, tennis elbow, and tension headaches.
Unlike Leukotape P, Luekotape K tape is available in multiple widths: 1″, 2″, and 3″; and multiple colors. While it is also packaged as a roll, the tape has a release paper backer that makes it easy to stretch the tape when it is applied, the same way as KT tape is applied. It is also not made with rubber or latex, making it allergy free.
When cut, the edges of Leukotape K also have a tendency to fray also the sides and ends, although the main portion of the tape will remain intact. This occurs because the weave of the exterior fabric is much looser to facilitate its stretchiness.
When it comes to hiking hotspot and blister prevention, Leukotape P is preferred over Leukotape K because it is rigid and doesn’t let the underlying skin move against itself, which is the leading cause of blister formation. The best time to apply Leukotape P is the day before a day hike so that body heat can help activate the adhesive and make it stick to your feet better. Once applied, it will remain on your skin for up to a week even when it gets repeatedly wet, making it ideal for multi-day backpacking trips because it doesn’t have to be reapplied every day. It does still pay to pre-cut strips of Leuktotape P in advance so they can be carried flat in your first-aid kit if you do not feel like carrying the entire roll with you. While it is usually avoidable, the adhesive in Leukotape may gum up your socks in certain circumstances but can be removed with medical adhesive remover.SectionHiker is reader-supported. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.