Caring for your hiking boots- what you really need to know
By Paulina, June 2013
Hiking boots are a cornerstone of any hiker’s apparel kit. Most of us pay a good deal of money for the right boots and when we have found the ‘dream fit’ we want to make sure that we take care of them to make them last as long as possible. Here are some tips on how you can take care of yours.
First things first get the right boot
Make sure that you not only get a boot that is really comfortable, but that is also designed for what you need. So make sure you do your research before setting out shopping. If you are only going for short walks or day hikes you are best off with a shoe or boot made out of synthetics which are lighter and more flexible. These tend to also be easier to break in. If you are going on longer hikes and tackling more unforgiving terrain, Leather or leather combination boots will be what you are after. This boots are heavier, but also more durable. You will find that these boots also require a little more time breaking in as well as initial care and attention.
Understand what you bought
Do you know the material and specifications of your boot? Are they full leather, Gore-Tex or other material or a mix of both? Knowing and understanding this is essential to ensure that you care for your boots according to their needs.
Waterproofing your hiking boots.
Most leather hiking boots are not initially water proof. This is something that you should really do, especially if you will be going on longer rougher terrain hikes, crossing rivers or in high country in which snow can fall all year round. To water proof your boots you will need a sealing product such as ‘sno-seal’ or Nikwax. I normally use snow seal, for my boots and have done so for a number of years.
Breaking in hiking boots
The next step is breaking in your new hiking companions. If they are full leather or part leather boots, you will want to take this slowly to avoid blisters.
Step 1 - Start by wearing the boots for shorts periods of times in door. Say about ½ to a 1hr very day
Step 2- Start wearing your boots outside for longer periods of time. If you can wear them to work where you can be in them for a number of hours. At the beginning I would suggest taking a second pair of shoes in cases your feet get a little sore
Step 3 – Begin doing some short walks and make sure you use blister blockers just in case. You can extend the length of walks as your boots become more comfortable
Check your boots each and every time you go out
This may seem like a pain, especially if you go walking or hiking a lot, however it is the only real way to ensure that your boots will last. Make sure you check for nay scuffs that may need re-sealing, broken eyelets, ties etc. check the insoles and soles. If they need repairing get them fixed!
After extended use, make sure you clean and condition your boots before putting them away again
Even though you may be tired and sore, you need to look after your gear. Make sure you clean your boots and condition them if needed. This will ensure that you get the longest possible use out of your new friends.