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Backpacker Magazine – April 2009

Gear School 2009: Boots

Soaked, scuffed, and beat up? We'll show you how to get your trusty footwear back to trail-ready.

by: The Backpacker Editors

PAGE 1 2

BOOT FIT TIPS: 4 Steps To Pain-Free Hiking
1. Ignore the numbers and buy the pair that feels the best–even if it's not your normal size.
2. Consider replacing the boot's standard footbeds with aftermarket insoles, such as Sole's Softec ($45, They can add arch support, prevent end-of-day soreness, and help low-volume feet fit into standard boots.
3. Less weight translates to more comfort: Don't buy heavy-duty boots if you primarily hike with a light pack on mellow trails.
4. Break in boots thoroughly by wearing them around the house and on short dayhikes. Light hikers will be ready in a few days, but heavier, all-leather boots require a few weeks of wear.

The Wet Foot Test
Try this to determine if you need extra arch support in your boots. Completely wet the sole of your foot, then step onto a paper bag. If you can see an imprint of most of your arch, you could benefit from stabilizing insoles (only about half of the arch will be visible if you have normal feet).

Some problems are worth fixing but beyond your DIY skills–such as a hole in the upper, broken lace hardware, or worn-out soles on high-end backpacking boots. Call Dave Page (800-252-1229, or Komito Boots (800-422-2668) for professional repair.

Get new kicks if: Leather uppers have been worn extremely thin or are severely degraded (due to mildew or too much conditioning); shanks are broken; or the treads on a pair of low-cuts are worn out.
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Sep 30, 2010

After every backpacking trip or week long foray into the muddy, summertime, Adirondacks I always scrub my boots with an old tootbrush and dish-soapy water. After they dry, the look nice again and won't break down from the caked on mud and who knows what else. Now, if I could only keep the soles from wearing down!

Aug 23, 2010

Hi Dyan,

I had a similar problem and patched the opening with Mcnett Freesol. Redid the toe and some nicks in the sole with the same tube of goo!

Aug 23, 2010

Hi Dyan,

I had a similar problem and patched the opening with Mcnett Freesol. Redid the toe and some nicks in the sole with the same tube of goo!

Jerry W Doyle
Aug 20, 2010

I wear leather boots. Upon returning home I polish my boots after each outing, putting several coats of polish on the leather. Besides restoring the leather, the polish also serves as a degree of protectorate for the boots when I go back out into the wilderness.

For day hikers, and even backpackers who get their boots wet on the inside, use of paper towels stuff inside the boots overnight will absorb all moisture into the paper towels, drawing moisture from the soles of the boots and all other areas. A roll of paper towels is no weight to carry extra on backpacking trips and the towels can come in handy for possible other uses.

Aug 18, 2010

Haha sorry to hear about the two holes Dyan. Go to Wal-mart or CVS and get some shoe goo. Follow the instructions and you'll patch that right up for a few dollars!

Dyan Luper
Aug 17, 2010

My boots are nearly 10 years old and have always been very comfortable, though heavy. A strange thing happened to them.....the Asolo brand on the side of each boot crumbled and fell out....leaving a hole directly into the lining of the boot! I took a picture but can't attach it here. Is duct tape (or new boots) my only solution?


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