Walk the trails and surpass yourself, reach high peaks, observe nature up close, descend without stopping… Hiking is much more than just walking. Follow these tips for caring for hiking shoes or boots to preserve them and keep you hiking for a long time.
1. Change shoes or boots
Once you’re back at your camp, cabin, car, or home, take off your hiking boots. Put on a pair of comfortable sandals or sneakers to breathe and give your hard-working feet a break.
2. Brush the upper and sole
Get a brush with firm bristles made of nylon or horsehair, but avoid brushes with steel or other metal bristles.
Gently brush your hiking shoes or boots gently to remove mud, dirt and small pebbles. A handy tip? Use an old toothbrush to reach into the recesses of the shoe or the seam near the sole. If the sole is impregnated with mud that has dried, place the boots in a little hot water, taking care that only the outer soles are submerged.
3. Let hiking shoes or boots air dry
“There is no point in running, you have to start on time”, goes the saying. And the same is true for your boots or hiking shoes. Once you have removed them from your feet, place them in a ventilated and dry place, and at a good room temperature. You can, if you wish, place your shoes near a fan. If possible, take the time to untie the laces of your hiking boots and remove the midsole for more efficient drying.
Above all, do not try to speed up the drying time of your boots by placing them in the blazing sun or near a fire or a heater, because an overdose of heat could alter the materials that make them up. A direct heat source could permanently damage your boots and cause them to no longer be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.
4. Clean boots or shoes with a suitable product
Use a mixture of dish soap and water, a mixture of water and vinegar, or a mild soap made specifically for cleaning shoes and boots. It also helps to deodorize your shoes or boots and wash them well to preserve their waterproofness and breathability that could be clogged by mud or dirt.
5. Let dry again OR Apply water repellent treatment, if needed
If your hiking boots are still very waterproof, let them dry completely after cleaning them before using them again, if possible.
Otherwise, if your hiking shoes or boots start to take on water, it’s a good idea to waterproof them again. There are several waterproofing or water-repellent treatment formulas (durable water repellent, DWR) to protect your boots again. Some brands like Blundstone offer waterproofing treatments designed specifically for their shoes.
- Spray treatments are faster to apply, but less durable. This is ideal for boots made of synthetic materials.
- Oil, wax or cream treatments are more durable, but take longer to apply to boots or hiking shoes.
- First validate the design materials of your hiking shoes or boots in order to choose the appropriate treatment and formula. Is it nubuck or full grain leather? Full-grain leather is considered higher-end because it’s thicker, even, and durable. The use of a wax, oil or cream is recommended, but it could darken the color of the leather.
- Make sure the boots are still damp after cleaning. Otherwise, you will need to dampen the leather or hardware, as waterproofing products apply to a damp boot.
- Be sure to follow the instructions on the waterproofing product manufacturer’s packaging.
- Allow shoes or boots to dry sufficiently after application (as detailed in step 3 of this article).