Hiking boot care - protect your investment, that's what I always say.
The best hiking gear costs money, and you will need to schedule some regular maintenance to extend its life.
Stop reading this if you buy inexpensive hiking footwear.
Read about trail shoes instead.
The following information is for folks who paid quite a chunk of hard earned money for sturdy, well constructed boots with thick tread and weather proofing features.
Still with me? Great!
I'm about to give you some of the best hiking tips you'll need.
So you've found the perfect pair of boots. [If you haven't, read this.]
But wait! There's one more thing you should be plotting.
Hiking boot care.
Why should you be thinking about how to care for the boots before they have their first tiny bit of trail dirt on them?
Well, fair is fair.
Their end of the deal is to keep your feet injury free, dry, and stable regardless of terrain and weather conditions.
Your end of the deal?
Begin with water proofing. It's a fundamental principle of hiking boot care.
And it's fun! Here's how it goes:
You know what to do with Boot #2!
Allow both boots to sit in direct sun for at least an hour.
Be aware that any metal on the boots may be hot enough to burn you, so use caution when you go through the second round of applying SnoSeal...which you need to do next.
Allow your boots to cool off in the shade, then re-lace.
You're all set for whatever the weather can throw at you!
Who knew hiking boot care could be this easy?
Another, easier route: Use NikWax to waterproof not only your leather boots, but fabrics. It's water based, and I find that it wears off much faster than SnoSeal, but you don't need a hot sunny day to apply it!
What should regular hiking boot care look like?
It depends on what you hike through, around, and over.
But one given: Get the grit off. Here's what I've used to clean up my boots, and it works quite well.
If you're in a wet area, you will need to be aware that drying out your boots properly will extend their lifespan.
If you're going to cross water above your ankles, consider using water shoes or sandals (see photo above) rather than subjecting your boots to all of that water.
It comes down to safety - can you make it across without losing your footing in sandals?
I can't live without my Teva sandals, and you will find them on my feet both on and off the trail. They're sporty looking, that's for sure! Take a look here:
If you hike in a dry, dusty area, just brush off the grit and check the soles for embedded rocks or other debris.
Take a close look at the laces every season. Unless you have the foresight to carry an extra pair, a broken lace can be a real pain.
Check the tread regularly, especially if you're planning to be hanging onto a trail by one boot width. You want good grip regardless of what's under your feet, right?
Consider inexpensive sole inserts if your boots are beginning to give you tired feet.
It may be that your body weight has maxed out the original boot materials, and they need a bit of help distributing your body weight.
I buy the boot inserts that you have to take a pair of scissors to, trimming them to fit my particular boots. And I don't feel badly when I throw them away at the end of a season (or a particularly wet hiking adventure), because of their low cost.
Don't keep hiking in boots that hurt your feet. Believe me, I know it's painful to throw boots away, but it's also painful to hobble around after a hike.
And before you give up on a pair of boots, play around with your hiking socks. It may be a bad combination that's playing havoc with the well being of your feet.
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