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Feet first ground mag surveys

Looking after your feet makes ground mag surveys a joy rather than a pain.

Ground mag surveys involve walking tens of kilometers day after day. In my mid twenties I could average close to 30 l-km per day for days at a time in favorable terrain. Walking the line was tolerable when my feet where in good nick, but insufferable when I had blisters on my feet.

Nowadays there are a lot of pharmaceuticals and equipment that can help prevent blisters in the first instance. Start with a Google search for “Marathon feet” and you will get heaps of advice. My best tips for walking tens of kilometers a day are as follows:

  1.   Use socks with >70% wool. Smartwool are my choice of sock. Expensive, but worth every cent.
  2.   Consider two pairs of socks. One internal thin cotton sock, and one external woolen sock. Friction can be dissipated by the sliding of the socks over each other. However make sure that your shoe size is large enough to accommodate the extra sock. If you feel your feet are under “pressure” then go back to one sock.
  3.   Take two pairs of socks each day and swap them at lunch time for fresh pair or the moment your feet get wet. You will get blisters more quickly with wet feet as there is more friction.
  4.   Take some flip flops/thongs to the field and take your shoes and sock off at lunch time. Air your feet to dry them, and jam your socks in the vehicle side window to dry. Make sure they are hanging outside, not inside the cabin! Your buddy may not appreciate the former! Safety first if you are wearing thongs. Stay in the vehicle.
  5.   At the first sign of a “hot spot” on your feet, apply friction reduction taping or padding. I use and prefer second skin, an eerie synthetic skin product. It is expensive, but it works.
  6.   Keep your toenails trimmed, but don’t do anything drastic to your toenails unless you have a nail problem. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
  7.   Do not walk a long way in safety boots. Steel cap boots are an absolute no no for ground magnetic surveys. They create noisy magnetometer readings. You can get plastic cap safety boots, but this is a health and safety issue in itself. You will get blisters for sure, and they could get infected, given you will have blisters all day every day. Stand up to the safety officer. Hiking boots are for hiking, steel cap boots are for standing around at a mining plant or a drill rig.
  8.   Inner soles with gel cushioning can reduce heel soreness.
  9.   Wear shoes that fit well. Wear them in around your home, before trying to walk tens of kilometers in them.
  10.   All shoes should have at least a three quarter high ankle protection. Do up the top laces. Do them tight.
  11.   Whether or not you are not wearing long pants, wear gators (sock) protection. You will not get seeds and other vegetation in your socks that can create blisters or other skin irritations.
  12.   If all else fails and you have a blister, I recommend paracetamol to make the pain manageable. Avoid aspirin as this thins the blood. Of course consult your doctor and adhere to recommended daily dosages.
  13.   Put your feet up at night and get plenty of rejuvenating sleep.
  14.   Our crews have walked thousands of kilometers all over Australia. Their job is made much easier by our custom lightweight backpacks with lithium batteries instead of Lead Acid batteries. Lighten your load whenever you can. Call us for information on how to do this with your magnetometer.

Modern Mag crews put their feet first, which is one reason our production rates are above the industry average. If you put your feet first, then a tough job, becomes a good job. Even one that can get you fit!