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Backpacker Magazine – Gear Guide 2012

Rip & Equip: Boots

First: Buy the right boots. Second: Keep them in tip top shape with these tips.

by: Kristin Hostetter

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Care Instructions

>> Dried-out leather If your boot’s leather has become stiff and light-colored, rejuvenate it with a silicone-based treatment such as Aquaseal Leather Waterproofing. Don’t use oil, which can oversoften boot leather and inhibit breathability.
>> Flapping sole If the heel or toe delaminates, clean the leather and rand rubber with alcohol (use a prep pad from your first-aid kit). Evenly coat the inside of the sole with an ample amount of McNett Freesole (A), then firmly press the sole and upper together. (You can use Seam Grip in a pinch, but it won’t hold as long.) Smooth the excess glue along the seam to keep out water. Place a heavy object like a water bottle inside the boot, to apply constant, even pressure (B). Let the glue set overnight. For a delaminating toe, wrap duct tape around the boot’s front (C) to add pressure while glue is setting (insert a pen under the tape after applying, to increase pressure).
>> Hole in the upper A tear isn’t a death sentence for your boot. Cobblers can fix holes and broken lacing systems in addition to worn-out soles. Contact local listings or boot-repair expert Dave Page (, 800-252-1229). On trail with a hole in the toebox? Try backing it with duct tape, evenly covering the hole with Seam Grip, and letting it cure thoroughly before hiking again.

Stinky boots? Remove the insoles and clean them with a nondetergent soap, water, and a toothbrush. While insoles are drying, wipe down the interior of your boots with a 3:1 solution of water and white vinegar. (Avoid using soap, which can clog breathable fabric.) Pack uppers with newspaper, prop boots upside-down, and change out the newspaper every few hours until the boots are dry. Outside a mess too? Scrub off dried mud with a vegetable brush.

>> Protect shoes at night. Brush them off and bring them inside your tent so that rodents don’t nibble sweat residue in the liners.
>> Remove the insoles. Footbed materials retain moisture, so pulling them out for storage speeds drying and wards off mold.
>> Banish perma-stink. If your washed boots still smell, put them in the freezer overnight to kill lingering bacteria.
>> Make (or expand) the toecap. If the toes of your leather boots are prone to scuffing, preempt further damage: Line the area you want to protect with tape, slightly scuff the leather with sandpaper, clean with rubbing alcohol, and apply Freesole, spreading it to cover the section. (No need to smooth, it self-adjusts while drying.) Remove the tape after 30 minutes and let glue cure overnight.

Never Do This
>> Overwaterproof. Excessive coats of sealant make repair and cleaning difficult. Aim to apply one layer of a waterproofing product (appropriate for your upper material) each year.
>> Hit the trail with brand-new kicks. Lace them up around the house first, and do at least 10 dayhikes or dog walks first, aiming for 20 hours of pre-trip wear time in the burliest boots.
>> Dry boots by the fire. The leather might crack, the rubber melt, and the size shrink. Instead, unlace them, remove the insoles, and put chemical warming packs or a bottle filled with hot water inside. Lacking those, stash the boots at the bottom of your bag overnight or hang them upside down on trekking poles. At home, stuff them with newspaper; do not use a hair dryer.
>> Use oil-based treatments on leather boots. Oil softens the leather, which defeats the purpose of providing stiff support. Instead, use wax- or silicone-based treatments. Exception: Use mink oil sparingly on all-leather, full-grain boots that resist break-in.

Secret from the Pro
Use these three tricks to squeeze even more comfortable trail miles out of your favorite pair of boots.
>> Pack camp shoes: We like lightweights like Crocs and Timberland’s Radler Trail Camp Moc.
>> Nip blisters in the bud. As soon as hot spots flare, change socks or apply moleskin or medical tape to reduce friction on skin.
>> Relace. Use different patterns to relieve pressure points. See ex-amples at
—Excerpted from BACKPACKER’s Complete Guide to Outdoor Gear Maintenance and Repair

Blister Wars
Don’t get sidelined by painful sores. Visit our blister resource page for step-by-step tips to treating and preventing hotspots, and a grisly reader-photo slideshow.

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Jul 15, 2012

Wha is the name of the boot company?

Steve C
May 22, 2012

Here's a lesson I've learned for pairing up footwear to a specific hike: What are the condition of your feet? Just like your abbs, feet need strengthening. When I consider the category of hike I'll be going on and then consider the strength of my feet, that helps me determine what type of footwear I'll use.

When I buy new footwear, I often swap out the footbed insert with one that fits my foot.

Also, I can't say enough about the sock. A sock can make or break a trip. The interaction of a foot, a sock, and a boot can be synergy or agony. Pair up the right socks for the footwear and you will be going for miles in happy comfort.

May 18, 2012

A water bottle may not apply enough weight to hold the boot down while adhesive sets for a heel repair. I've used a block of wood in the boot, then placed the leg of a table in the boot on the block. If you cut the wood block to fit in the heel you'll distribute the weight where it's needed. Then add weight as necessary to the table corner. That'll clamp it down good.

May 18, 2012

The number #1 item I found in buying boots over the years is finding a Company who uses a "Boot Last" that conforms or matches my foot the best.

Many Companies, Many Lasts. I go to many stores and try on the boots and then I check the internet to find a better price which usually includes shipping.

A boot Last is the pre-made Form they use to build the boot on at the Factory. After trying many models, manufacturers and blisters I finally found one Company that fits me right out of the box with little breaking in needed and I can't say that I never had another blister but instead of many blisters I might only get two on a 40 mile multi-day hike over varied terrain, as in cross country hiking with a two month period maybe between hikes of this length. Once you have that problem sovled, then your pretty safe in buying any of that Companies boots. The Company I bought from I now have 4 pairs I wear from various uses from Fishing, Walking to multi-day hikes and work boots. And their made here in the U.S.A..


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