Last updated: February 21, 2017 at 14:11 pm
For any hiker, your walking boots are your most important piece of gear and taking good care of them is important for prolonging their life. There are lots of simple ways to get the most out of your hiking boots and in this guide we’ll look at breaking them in and then taking care of them once you have.
Breaking in Your Walking Boots
Breaking in your walking boots is an essential step that many people make the mistake of skipping. This process adjusts the boots to the shape of your feet, preparing them for more prolonged stretches on the move. Remember though that a comfortable fit is essential before breaking in. While shape will adjust, breaking in your boots won’t fix issues with fit. Aim for a snug yet comfortable fit on your feet prior to breaking in.
To begin breaking in the boots simply wear them around the house while wearing the socks you plan on using beneath them. Do this for an hour or so a few times before wearing them out to the shops or a quick walk near your home. Don’t try to jump straight to a long trek as you’ll quickly regret it. Wearing boots that aren’t broken in for a long stretch will leave you with copious blisters and aches that may put you off them before you’ve even gotten started.
Some people will say there are ways to do this faster but none of these are reliable enough compared to the above process. Needless to say, taking the time to break in your boots is well worth it compared to rushing it and regretting it on first use.
After a Hike
So your boots have broken in and you’ve taken them out for their inaugural hike. Hopefully they’ll be sufficiently muddy to mark the event too! After each hike, it’s important to clean off your boots. If left dirty, leather can be damaged irreparably as mud and other particles can penetrate deep into the material both opening up gaps and drying out the leather.
Cleaning off the boots is a simple process. Simply use tap water and a brush such as a boot brush or even a toothbrush. You can use specialised boot cleaners but this is only necessary after several heavy uses and shouldn’t be used every time you wear the shoes. Make sure and clear away visible mud and debris to help keep the materials good.
It’s advised not to use heat sources to aid drying as these can negatively impact the boots. The best way to dry off your walking shoes is to remove the insole to dry separately and then stuff the boots with newspaper and replace as it soaks up the moisture. You could even use a household fan for added drying power.
Washing and Reproofing Your Boots
If you feel that the simple water and brush technique isn’t hacking it, it’s time to wash your boots. Get yourself a cleaner that is suitable for the material (we have a range of cleaners and proofers) then follow the instructions to give the boots a thorough cleaning. As mentioned before, cleaner is best used only when there is visible dirt and debris that a brush can’t shift. This saves money and avoids overuse.
If you’ve found that water droplets aren’t forming on the material like they used too, it could mean they are in fact penetrating the material. At this point you’ll want to consider applying a waterproofer to bring the lining back to its original glory. Before applying a waterproofer, make sure the boots are completely clean, preferably with a cleaning product as mentioned above. Once ready, follow the instructions on your waterproofing product closely.
Re-proofing your hiking footwear is an excellent way to extend their use and can really add to the lifespan of your favourite shoes. It’s also possible to condition leather hiking boots to maintain the leather and keep them good. Remember though that nothing lasts forever and eventually re-proofing won’t work as well. At this point it’s best to move on and get yourself a new pair of shoes.