Achy feet, soggy socks, and maybe a hole here and there – at some point, we all have to get rid of our favorite pair of hiking boots and replace them with new ones. And if you’re like me, then you’re not really that stoked about replacing them since they’ve been on so many treks and are part of so many memories. But let’s face it – you can’t have soggy, unhappy feel out on the trail.
So, it’s best to prepare yourself for the inevitability that you will need to throw out those old hikers and replace them with a shiny new pair. As I was thinking about this, it got me to wondering just how long I can expect to get wear out of my current hikers before they need tossed out and replaced. So, I did a little research and here’s what I’ve discovered.
Signs It’s Time To Replace Your Hiking Boots
No hiker looks forward to having to get a new pair of trail shoes, but there are some signs that you just can’t ignore. So, if you’re not yet convinced that you need to toss out those old hiking boots, then let us share with you some of the more common signs that point to a new hiking shoe purchase in your immediate future.
- No longer comfortable. This is the easiest sign to spot – you start to get blisters when you didn’t used to, your feet hurt after a hike, or your back, joints or other areas are in pain after the hike.
- Support feels off. If you start to notice that the cushion support in the midsole is gone, you can either replace the shoes or try using inserts. But when the ankle support seems to be shot, you definitely need to replace those boots before you get injured on the trail.
- Loose eyelets. Seems like a small thing, right? But if you can’t properly lace up, then your feet won’t be as comfortable or supported during your hikes.
- Worn or frayed laces. The repeated actions of tightening and loosening your laces really takes it toll on them. If you start to notice the ends fraying, or worse, thinning worn spots in the laces, then you need to replace those laces (at a minimum) and probably the whole pair of boots when you can. You don’t want to end up miles from the trailhead with broken laces.
- Midsole is cracked. When you notice that the midsole of your boot as a visible crack, then it’s definitely time for a new pair. You can’t do long treks with a cracked midsole.
- Tread worn out. An important part of good boots is tread that has a good grip. If you wanna stay upright, then pay attention to when your tread wears out.
Life Expectancy of Hiking Boots (What’s The Shelf Life?)
The unfortunate news is that there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to how much use you can expect to get from your hiking boots. The average seems to be between 500 and 750 miles, but this number varies greatly from one person to the next. The reason it varies is not only due to different boots having different quality, but because we all use the shoes differently.
People who put on and take off their boots at the edge of the trail are always going to get the longest life out of their shoes. However, if you’re like me then that’s just not practical and it is inevitable that the boots will get some wear on pavement. My old Keen hiking boots probably didn’t last me as long as they could have because I wore them both on and off the trail simply because they were super comfortable.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the more lightweight boots tend to have the shorter shelf life. And you can get up to 1,000 miles from the more heavy and more durable models.
The important thing to note is that buying a more expensive pair of hiking boots does NOT mean that you’ll get more miles of wear out of them. I’ve seen people get less than 300 miles from boots that cost over $300 and people who get well over 500 miles out of $90 boots from Wal-Mart.
So, how long do hiking boots last?
Bottom line: The easier you are on the boots, then the greater the likelihood that they will last you for over 500 miles. So, pick a pair that offers the most comfort and hit the trail!
How To Find Longer Lasting Hiking Boots
The easiest way to reduce how often you have to replace your hiking shoes it to buy a pair that it built to last for the long haul. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to buy the most expensive pair that you can find.
Look for a pair with polyurethane (PU) support because that tends to last longer, plus it’s more lightweight than most padding in boots. It gives you long-lasting cushion in the midsoles without sacrificing on weight.
Also shop for a pair that has the protective barrier around the heel and the toe on the exterior of the shoe. This helps to protect against scuffs, holes, and other fatigue. And that can extend the life of the boots.
How To Care For Your Hiking Boots To Maximize Their Lifetime
I think it goes without saying that the better care you take of your hiking boots, then the longer they will last you. I mean, think about it, the last thing that you want to do is to be so careless with them that you actually shorten their lifespan!
If you want to get as much wear and use as possible out of your current boots, then there are measures you can take to ensure that you squeeze every last mile out of them. To put off buying a new pair as long as comfortably possible, employ these tips to extend the life of your hiking boots:
- Keep the boots stored in a cool, dry place inside.
- If they get wet, dry by taking insoles out and stuffing with newspapers to remove moisture.
- Apply waterproofing and leather treatments once you have worn them out in the elements so that all barriers remain intact.
- Clean the boots after use with a bit of water and a stiff brush to remove dirt and debris.
- Don’t wear the boots on pavement as it will wear down the soles.
- Switch out the insoles if you start to notice less support when the exterior and sole is fine.
- Consider making small repairs yourself, such as using a bit of shoe glue for small problem spots.
Even following just some of these tips can help you stay in your current pair of hikers a bit longer.
For leather hiking boots, definitely use leather conditioner and cleaner to protect them and keep them looking good.
For any type of boot (including leather), remember to always clean them off after a hike. This means that you should brush off any caked-on mud or debris. And use a soft cloth or brush to clean the uppers.
Another way to extend the life of your hiking boots is to get a pair of insoles you can add for support once yours starts to wear down. As long the sole and the rest of the shoe is fine, you can usually get in quite a few more hikes just by sliding in some comfortable and removable insoles.
And finally, if you have a good, high quality pair of hiking boots then you might just want to visit a local shoe repair shop and get the outer sole replaced so that you can keep on trekking in your favorite pair of hikers.