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Taking Care of Your Hiking Boots

So you found the perfect pair of boots. If fits, they’ll feel like a pair of slippers. Well, at least you hope they will after they are broken in. It was in your budget. If you take care of those boots you can get, may be even ten or more, years out of them. Here are some tips on getting long life out of your boots.

Waterproof your new boots as soon as you get home. If your boots are made from leather, use an oil based product to waterproof them. You should stay away from waxes or silicones that can clog the pours and shorten the life of the boot. Make sure to pay close attention to the welts at the mid-sole and to get the waterproofing material into those seams. If your boots are synthetic, use a silicone based waterproofing product. Not only will oil based not work well, it can actually damage your synthetic boot. Again, pay close attention to the welt seams at the mid-sole. If your boot is a composite of both synthetic and natural materials, follow the manufacturer instructions.

Break your boots in before going hiking in them. Wear them around the house, when going to the store, any opportunity where you can soften up the sole and get the material to stretch a little to the shape of your foot. Don’t get caught on a trail in a new pair of boots that haven’t been properly broken in. There is no set time period or distance for a break in of new boots. You need to listen to your feet. If you have gone for an extended period of time, or walked for more than ten miles and your boots are still uncomfortable, you should rethink your purchase.

Keep your boots clean. When you buy your boots not only should you walk out of the store with waterproofing material, but you should also leave with an appropriate cleaner. There are a number of products on the market that will work on either synthetic or natural materials. Start by banging your boots together to get the majority of dirt out of the lugs. Then, take a stiff nylon brush and brush the boots to get the rest of the dirt off. If your boots are still dirty, get a damp cloth and wipe the dirt away. You should be careful not to soak the leather. If you are removing volcanic debris, use a vacuum and stay away from water. Once you have cleaned them, follow the directions on the boot cleaner. After cleaning, you should waterproof them again. Wait until they are fully dried after cleaning before waterproofing them again.

Never heat dry wet boots. If you get your boots wet, don’t place them by a fire or heater to speed up drying them off. It only damages the material, effects the fitand if you get your boots to close to the heat source, can melt the cement holding the sole to the upper. Let them natural air dry in a warm dry place. If you get a mildew smell, you can use foot powder or baking soda to get the smell out. Once dry, give them a thorough cleaning and re-waterproof them according to the manufacturer directions.

Don’t store your boots for an extended period of time. If you live in a cold climate, or only hike when you travel, don’t let your boots sit unused for a long period of time. Wear them periodically to keep them stretched out, flexible and comfortable. You can use them to run errands or around work. By doing this you will keep the soles soft and the uppers comfortable for your feet.

Don’t walk around with your boots unlaced. This is a sure temptation when you reach your campsite, especially if you have been hiking for a long distance and you didn’t bring camp shoes. Walking around with your boots unlaced causes unnecessary wear on the inner linings and will shred your laces. Invest in a pair of sandals or carry an old pair of sneakers for letting your feet relax.


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