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Reviews > Health & Safety > First Aid Kits > Adventure Medical Kit Blister Medic Gel > Test Report by Kurt Papke

Adventure Medical Blister Treatments

Test Series by Kurt Papke

May 11, 2008 - Initial Report

September 16, 2008 - Field Report

Tester Information

Name: Kurt Papke
Age: 54
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 4" (193 cm)
Weight: 220 lb (100 kg)
Email address: kwpapke at gmail dot com
City, State, Country: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
Backpacking background: mostly in Minnesota - have hiked all of the Superior Hiking Trail, starting on the Border Route.  Preferred/typical  backpack trip is one week.  Dayhiking in Utah, Colorado and Oregon.  Mostly Spring/Fall seasons.  Comfort-weight hiker: I try to carry as few items as possible, but do not go to extremes to reduce weight of items carried.  I blister just by looking at my hiking boots.  This seems to be something inherent in my skin, as I blister badly on my hands as well when rowing for instance, and I've tried all the usual remedies and preventative measures.  I rarely make a fire while backpacking, so I am unlikely to test the use of the GlacierGels on burns.

Initial Report

Product Information

Manufacturer: Adventure Medical Kits
Product:
BlisterMedic
GlacierGel
Year of manufacture: 2008
Expiration date:
(unlisted items had no visible expiration dating)
Alcohol pads: September 2009
GlacierGel dressings: January 2011
Manufacturer website: http://www.adventuremedicalkits.com
Weight as received including packaging: 2.3 oz (66 g)
1.7 oz (49 g)
Weight as received without shelf packaging (includes zip bag):
1.5 oz (42 g)
0.9 oz (25 g)
Package dimensions (measured):
4.25 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches (10.8 x 14 x 1.3 cm)
4.25 x 5.5 x 0.25 inches (10.8 x 14 x  0.7 cm)
MSRP: $10.00 US per package
$9.90 US per package

Product Description

Blister kitsThe BlisterMedic kit contains pretty much everything I need to clean and dress a blister with the possible exception of a lance tool: Moleskin (22 pads pre-cut in 5 sizes & shapes), GlacierGel (one large, one small), antiseptic towelettes (6) and alcohol wipes (6).  The counts on the packaging matched the contents of the kit, but the website differed stating 15 dressings and 15 wipes.

The Moleskin pads are pre-cut and come on two identical sheets, which combined provide two large oval, four small oval, four medium toe (kidney shaped), six small toe, and six small strips (rectangular).

The GlacierGel kit contains three large and three small dressings plus supposedly six alcohol wipes, though my package contained only five.  The packaging and website indicates that the dressing gel contains 50% water, but I was not able to find what the other half is.

The packaging as seen in the above photos is high-quality plastic with illustrative photos on the front and explanatory text on the back and inside fold-out leaf.

Blister baggiesInside the packaging the various bits of the kits are contained in a small, thin zip baggy as can be seen in the photo on the left.  The bagged kits without the shelf packaging are well-designed to be directly stowed into a backpack with no re-bagging.
The alcohol pads in both kits contain simple solutions of 70% isopropyl alcohol.  This is a standard product for use in cleaning a skin area in preparation for a dressing application to improve adhesion, including those instances where antibiotic is not needed.  In this case that would be when a blister is not lanced.

The active ingredient in the antibiotic towelettes is BZK (benzalkonium chloride), interestingly enough the same ingredient used in the Adventure Medical Fresh Bath Travel Wipes also reviewed in this test series.  See that report for comments on this biocide.

Initial Impressions

I elected not to open any of the dressings, towelettes or wipes.  They would dry out quickly and decrease the number available for test during hiking.

Packaging:

The "directions for use" on the back of the package and fold-out leaf are somewhat hard to read.  A very small typeface is used.  I can hardly read the text even with my reading glasses on.  The type is set mostly in white and has very poor contrast against the green background, making it very difficult to read in all but the best lighting conditions.  The French directions were set in yellow type making it even harder to decipher.  One downside of putting all the directions for use on the shelf packaging and nothing on the nice zip baggy is that I am unlikely to take the heavy, bulky shelf package with me.  This means the directions for use stay home.  The exception is the GlacierGel packets which have very clear instructions on the packet.

The quantities in the GlacierGel kit seem well-balanced: six dressings with six prep alcohol wipes.  The BlisterMedic kit seemed short on the antiseptic wipes and alcohol towelettes with only six alcohol wipes and six antiseptic towelettes, but the kit contains 22 Moleskin dressings.

The Moleskin sheets fit very tightly into the zip bag width.  It was a bit of a struggle getting them back into the bag without folding the sheets.  It was not overly difficult to perform this sitting in my well-lit office at a desk, but doing so in the field under adverse conditions in a state of fatigue might be trying.

Moleskins: I am accustomed to cutting Moleskin sheets to the size and shape of my blisters.  The size, shape and quantities of the pre-stamped pads seem appropriate.

GlacierGel: I ordinarily encourage my blisters to dry out after lancing.  I look forward to seeing how an aqueous solution held against a blister impacts the healing time and/or additional blister growth.

Test Plan

I have plans for a week-long May trek through the Boundary Waters (Border Route Trail) and a segment of the Superior Hiking Trail (about 120 miles).   I will attempt to assess:
  • Usability: how easy is it to pack the kits on my person or pack?  How easy is it to remove the products from their packaging and apply?  How hard is it to re-pack kit contents in the field after dressing a blister?
  • Reliability & robustness: How well do the Moleskin and GlacierGel dressings stick and stay on my feet?  The GlacierGels claim to last for four days - I am skeptical but hopeful that will be achieved.  I have used some similar products and they wouldn't stay on my feet more than a few hours.
  • Functionality: how effective are the Moleskin shapes and sizes - do they fit my blisters?  Does the GlacierGel promote healing, relieve pain and prevent additional blister growth?  How effective are the alcohol wipes at promoting dressing retention?  Do the antiseptic wipes prevent infections well?  It should be noted I am not prone to infection despite having lanced dozens and dozens of blisters without use of any antiseptic.
  • Quantity/sizing: how much of the kits do I consume on a one-week trip?  Do I run out?  Do I run out of alcohol wipes and antiseptic towelettes long before my Moleskin is gone?
  • Adverse effects: do the GlacierGels inhibit blister healing by keeping them overly moist?
This concludes my Initial Report on Adventure Medical BlisterMedic and GlacierGel.

Field Report

During the report period I used the Adventure Medical kits during my May Boundary Waters trip and also during a month-long Oregon camping/backpacking journey. Boundary Waters trek: 8-day hike in Minnesota from the end of the Gunflint Trail, Magnetic Rock trailhead, along the Border Route to Grand Portage, then down along the Sawtooth Mountains near the Lake Superior shoreline on the Superior Hiking Trail to Grand Marais.  Test conditions: several of the days were quite warm, 75 F (24 C), and several days were quite cold with a low of 23 F (-5 C). During the month-long camping excursion to Oregon in July, most uses were during car camping or 1-night backpacking trips, though I did use them on some multi-day backpacking trips to the Wallowa Mountains and to Teddy Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.  This included several days in the Columbia River Gorge, 2 days on the Pacific Crest Trail sections near the Gorge, several days in the Coastal Range just west of Portland, and several days on the western slopes of Mount Hood.  Temperatures ranged from a low in the mid-30's F (2 C) in the mountains where I camped in the snow, to highs in the mid 90's F (35 C) in Teddy Roosevelt National Park.  Finally, I carried the kits with me on a week-long trip to Isle Royale, Michigan in early September.

During my Boundary Waters trek I used a GlacierGel pad on a large blister I developed on the ball of my right foot.  I put the pad on, following the directions and using one of the alcohol wipes to clean the area, before I began hiking in the morning and received immediate relief from the pain this blister was causing me.  As I walked that morning my foot felt good for the first few hours, but then began to hurt and I suspected the pad had slipped.  When I took off my shoes and socks at noon I found that the pad had come off my skin and dirt had impaired the adhesive's ability to keep the pad on my foot so I removed it.  My feet do sweat a lot, and it may be that my heavy sweating impairs the ability of the adhesive to keep the patches on.

I used another pad during my Oregon trip on a blister that developed on the tip of one of my smaller toes:
Blister
Blister in a tough spot to apply a pad to

GlacierGel pad in place
Pad applied as best I could

This admittedly is a tough spot to get the pad applied and to keep it on.  I put it on after using one of the antiseptic towelettes to clean the wound before I went to bed and slept with it on all night, and removed it in the morning.  Once again, the pad did a great job of making my blister feel better.  I had some reservations that the pad might prevent the blister from drying out and healing, but these fears turned out to be unfounded.  The blister healed up quite quickly after the hike was over.

I used two of the moleskin pads during the test period, in both cases the large ovals.  These were applied to the balls of my feet, unfortunately after a blister had begun to form.  The moleskin pads were easy to use, and I appreciated not having to cut them to size.  They adhered well and stayed on my feet all day.

During my trip to Isle Royale I developed a blister almost identical to the one pictured above on the tip of my toe.  I tried to apply one of the moleskin patches, but could not get it to stay in place for any length of time, even with an application of athletic tape over the top.  My hiking partner on the trip developed a nasty blister on his little toe, in between the toes.  I gave him my remaining GlacierGel pad to ease his pain; it stayed on until about lunchtime.  It did however provide some relief.

Unfortunately, most of my foot blisters during the test period were on the tips of my toes, similar to those shown in the photo above.  This seems to be my curse lately: I get blisters primarily in places where any kind of pad simply won't be of much help to me.  This however is indicative of the limits of this type of pad: they are only effective in on certain spots on the body.

Summary

The Adventure Medical GlacierGel and BlisterMedic kits were effective products for me only in limited circumstances.  They were helpful in cases where blisters were forming on large, flat areas where the pads were straightforward to apply and did not suffer excessive sheer stresses that might cause them to come off.

Likes:
  1. Compact, complete kits: I liked having the pads and swabs packaged together so I had everything I needed to treat a wound with no scissors required.
  2. Effective: I was impressed with how much pain relief I received from the GlacierGels.
  3. Individual packages: I liked being able to pack just 1-2 pads and towelettes for a hike instead of carrying a whole pack.
Areas for improvement:
  1. A smaller pad might have fit better on the tip of my toe. The two sizes of the GlacierGel are both quite large.
  2. Perhaps a better adhesive or other improvement for those of us with sweaty feet to keep the pads adhered.
  3. My blisters occur in pretty predictable spots.  I ended up tearing off just a few of the moleskin pads that I knew I might use, and leaving behind the ones that I didn't think I'd need.  There might be some way to make this more obvious or easier, through documentation or perhaps by placing the pre-cut moleskins on the pad to facilitate removal before a trip.
  4. My blisters seem to occur in places where pads don't want to stay on.  It would be great if a product could be designed so that it could be "painted" on those hard-to-apply spots.

Many thanks to Adventure Medical Kits and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.



Read more reviews of Adventure Medical Kits gear
Read more gear reviews by Kurt Papke

Reviews > Health & Safety > First Aid Kits > Adventure Medical Kit Blister Medic Gel > Test Report by Kurt Papke



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