Forum Index » Philosophy & Technique » Technique: Trimming Toenails Mid Hike?


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Delmar O'Donnell
(Bolster)

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Technique: Trimming Toenails Mid Hike? on 05/06/2014 22:56:39 MDT Print View

On a recent hike I had some foot pain. On investigation, it seemed to be one toenail jamming itself into an adjacent toe. So I was about to clip it, and my hiking partner said "Don't do it. You should never clip your nails in the middle of a hike." I ignored him, clipped it, and the pain was gone.

But what was he talking about? I'd never heard that advice before. He was obviously repeating something that someone had told him.

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: Technique: Trimming Toenails Mid Hike? on 05/06/2014 23:10:19 MDT Print View

I don't know about mid-hike, but I did find out last summer that it's possible to trim your toenails too short, causing pain and bleeding. Luckily I did this about 4 days before a backpacking trip, so I had time to heal up before the trip started, but it was a good lesson, and perhaps that's the basis of your friend's comment.

(edit: the bleeding was from the cut edge of the nail pressing into the tender nail bed exposed by the trim)

Edited by dkramalc on 05/06/2014 23:37:10 MDT.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Technique: Trimming Toenails Mid Hike? on 05/06/2014 23:18:06 MDT Print View

I've seen that recommendation (to not clip toenails mid- or immediately-prior-to-a-trip), for instance on a pretty well-done blog by regular GCNP hikers. And I have some sense of that for myself - trimming nails A LOT right before a trip exposes tender new tissue and (especially on a long downhill like in the Grand Canyon) isn't as good as trimming them a week prior and letting that newly exposed skin toughen up a bit.

Absolutely, dealing with a painfully situation trumps that. And obviously a thru-hiker can't forego nail trimming for 5 months and 3,000 miles.

If you think ahead a week, better to do it in advance. I've definitely had trips before which I hadn't trimmed nails only to bloody a sock where one nail was pushed against the side of an adjacent toe for dozens of miles. Still, trimming mid-trip would be better than not trimming mid-trip.

Glenn S
(Glenn64) - M

Locale: Snowhere, MN
Re: Technique: Trimming Toenails Mid Hike? on 05/07/2014 00:26:12 MDT Print View

In my experience, it's more than just exposing previously covered skin, although that's part of it.

It's really more about taking a well-rounded and worn-smooth nail edge (usually right at the corners of the nail ends) and turning them into sharp edged and rough hewn abrasive cutting devices. Then where the skin had been previously held at bay by the smooth edges, it's now free to "roll over" the receded and sharpened nail edge with every load bearing step.

Since I don't have emery boards like my mother used to use, I usually use one of my leatherman files, to smooth things over at critical abrasion points. On trail, it would be my trusty, 2 oz Leatherman Squirt Ps4.

This is how it works for me anyway, I'm sure everyone's nails grow a little differently.

Edited by Glenn64 on 05/08/2014 02:55:25 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Technique: Trimming Toenails Mid Hike? on 05/07/2014 01:56:45 MDT Print View

> But what was he talking about?
Moonshine.
We carry nail clippers on our long walks, and use them.

Cheers

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Instead of nail clippers on 05/07/2014 08:39:34 MDT Print View

I don't carry nail clippers on hiking trips, but I've trimmed nails on longer trips, including toenails. If you keep an eye out on standard long distance routes, sometimes a hiker box will have a nail clippers and (after streaming maximally hot water over them and/or alcohol stove fuel ...) that's the best approach for me. But if I soak my nails for a while, the scissors on my little pocket knife do surprisingly well.

Instead of "not trimming", my feeling is that it's best TO trim when nails grow long enough they start to tear holes in socks, but to not be too aggressive about it.

For hikes of just a few weeks or less, however, best to just trim before going, and then only trim on the trip itself if some specific issue arises (as with the O.P.).

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Instead of nail clippers on 05/07/2014 09:01:55 MDT Print View

...and More is Not Better

While at home I clipped the inside corner on my big toe a bit short and generated a blister where the toe skin was pushed up into that edge. (I was doing 12 mile days.) Nasty. Don't do it.

On the trail I use a file. Much less chance of "to much", and a nicer edge for the socks.

Edited by greg23 on 05/07/2014 09:03:16 MDT.

spelt !
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Technique: Trimming Toenails Mid Hike? on 05/07/2014 09:13:37 MDT Print View

Don't cut too short, and don't cut down round the edges (taking off protruding sharp corners with a tiny cut is okay).

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Technique: Trimming Toenails Mid Hike? on 05/07/2014 09:16:13 MDT Print View

Just take them all off. Completely:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/22/fashion/22FITNESS.html?_r=0

TKB 1979
(ARIZONA1979) - M

Locale: DESERT SOUTHWEST
Re: Re: Re: Technique: Trimming Toenails Mid Hike? on 05/07/2014 09:22:19 MDT Print View

"Just take them all off. Completely ...."

Hahaha. Maybe because I wasn't expecting it, but that got me laughing.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Re: Re: Re: Technique: Trimming Toenails Mid Hike? on 05/07/2014 13:57:08 MDT Print View

I considered that when I was running longer distances and regularly losing nails. It really isn't that crazy.

Gerald L
(Mtngeronimo) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Technique: Trimming Toenails Mid Hike? on 05/07/2014 15:43:37 MDT Print View

Should have trimmed them sooner! Ended up losing the right great toe nail soon after as well. Besides the nails being to long this also occurred due to some ill fitting boots and 25 miles of a near consistent downhill section. I definitely tend to nail grooming before a trip now!

Toes

That's not nail polish but my bloody nail beds : (

Edited by Mtngeronimo on 05/07/2014 22:16:18 MDT.

TKB 1979
(ARIZONA1979) - M

Locale: DESERT SOUTHWEST
Re: Re: Re: Re: Technique: Trimming Toenails Mid Hike? on 05/07/2014 19:12:52 MDT Print View

"I considered that when I was running longer distances and regularly losing nails. It really isn't that crazy."

I don't want you to think I'm discounting anything. I can see why some people do it. There was just something that got my tickle bone this morning over coffee. Maybe Delmar's picture together with the idea of having his toe nails removed, I don't know.

I don't want to offend anyone. If anyone here has a lot to learn, it's me.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Technique: Trimming Toenails Mid Hike? on 05/07/2014 19:51:00 MDT Print View

Sandpaper! I always carry a small piece of it, a piece cut up from a sanding belt. They have enough flexibility when needed, but also have enough stiffness to them. Very cheap, variable grades, and so on. Also useful for troublesome calluses. Also for certain repairs. I also have a pair of gram weenie style scissors for the corners, but the sandpaper can fix most points were irritations occurs. Not supper fast, and require a bit of finesse.

Edited by millonas on 05/07/2014 19:52:02 MDT.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Re: Technique: Trimming Toenails Mid Hike? on 05/07/2014 21:57:09 MDT Print View

you could splurge 21g or probably less for a smaller version of Nailclippers?

being a rock climber i have a set in my car and in most of my backpacks. for anything over a week i'd probably bring my gerber multitool similar to this. and leave the usual knife and scissors at home.
http://www.amazon.com/Swiss-Tech-ST10606-KeyChain-Flashlight/dp/B000HKG2WS

for under a week if you cut them before you go then you're set. my tiny sewing scissors would probably work in a pinch.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: west coast best coast
Re: Technique: Trimming Toenails Mid Hike? on 05/07/2014 22:09:08 MDT Print View

On the subject of nail clippers, the tiny little scissors on the swiss army knives work well for cutting them back.

Delmar O'Donnell
(Bolster)

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Technique: Trimming Toenails Mid Hike? on 05/07/2014 23:28:13 MDT Print View

> There was just something that got my tickle bone this morning over coffee. Maybe Delmar's picture together with the idea of having his toe nails removed, I don't know.

Hey! I resent .... actually, on second thought, that IS funny.

Welcome to the BPL, TKB. A former Arizona desert rat myself, now a desert-inclined Californicator. Most of my camping is somewhere between you and me. Love me some desert, and I'm sure you do to.

So, back on topic, I should add that the event in my OP made me very aware of the importance of nail-trimming, and it's now a religious function I perform one week before any trip.