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When it came to how long hiking boots are supposed to last, our readers agree: In a survey, 77% said that they expected their footwear to serve them for 2-5 years. That life span depends largely on construction—EVA midsoles last just 500 miles, while beefy PU midsoles can go 1,000 to 2,000 miles or more. Put in the effort to keep your boots in shape to maximize what you get out of them.
Need a new pair? Check out our picks for the 14 best hiking boots and shoes of the year.
Maintaining your hiking boots
Keep them dry. Remove your insoles each night and let them air dry. Put your boots upside down to help drain out water.
Treat as needed. Once a year, or whenever boot leather turns a lighter shade or cracks, perk it up with a silicone- or water-based treatment (Aquaseal Leather Waterproofing and Nikwax Waterproofing Wax for Leather are both good bets). Use sparingly or you’ll clog your boots’ membrane.
Never dry your boots by the fire. Direct heat can shrink or melt leather and synthetics.
Cleaning your hiking boots
Fun fact: Mud and foot sweat hinder breathability. Give your dirty boots a good go-over with a stiff-bristled brush after each trip. Once a year, go at them with a mild detergent and a brush. Scrub the inside, outside, and insole (the latter controls odor), then let them dry in the shade.
Repairing your hiking boots
Blown bootlace: Keep a spare in your repair kit, or repurpose some cordage (just make sure it fits the eyelets first).
Broken hardware: Send boots back to the manufacturer or to a cobbler to replace blown or missing eyelets.
Replace: Boots are built tough, so catastrophic damage is rare. You’re more likely to compress all the cushioning, which will lead to sore knees.
How to fix a delaminated boot sole
Address this immediately. Pick out any debris from between the upper and sole, and wipe down both with an alcohol prep pad from your med kit. If it’s the heel, glob in a bunch of McNett Freesole (Seam Grip works in a bind, but won’t be a permanent fix; duct tape works if it has to). Squeeze the upper and sole together and weight it with a rock or full water bottle. If it’s the toe, glop in the Freesole, squeeze the parts together, and wrap it tightly in duct tape. Slide a pen or tent stake beneath the wrapped duct tape to add additional pressure. Get comfy: It takes at least a day to set.