Maintaining Your Hiking Boots and Shoes


March 19, 2021


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Maintaining Your Hiking Boots and Shoes

Trekking the trails, reaching high peaks, seeing nature up close, diving into exploration…is what hiking is all about. It’s not just a plain and simple walk outside. Follow these steps in order to maintain your hiking boots and shoes properly so that you can extend the adventure for many years to come.

Check out our Hiking Guide to discover more tips about this popular activity that can be done both in summer and winter.

1. Change your boots or shoes

Once you get back to the campsite, cottage, your car, or your home, remove your hiking boots. Slide on a pair of sandals or comfortable sneakers to allow your feet to breathe and rest a bit.

2. Brush the upper and sole of the shoe

Use a brush with firm bristles made of nylon of horsehair, but avoid brushes with bristles made of steel or other metal.

Gently brush your hiking shoes or boots to remove mud, dirt, and small stones. Using an old toothbrush to get into those corners is helpful, or to brush the seam near the sole of your shoe. If the sole is full of dried mud, place your boots in a bit of warm water, making sure that only the outer soles are submerged.

3. Let them air dry

As the old saying goes, “Slow and steady wins the race”. This is also true for your hiking boots or shoes. Once you’ve removed them from your feet, place them in a dry, well-ventilated area where it isn’t too cold or too hot. If you wish, you can put them near a fan. If possible, take the time to untie the laces and remove the insole for more efficient drying.

Remember, don’t try to speed up the necessary drying time by putting your footwear under the blazing sun or near a fire, as too much heat could alter the material of the shoes. Direct heat could damage your hiking boots to the point where they may no longer be covered under the manufacturer’s warranty.

4. Clean your boots or shoes with the right product

Use a mixture of either water and dish soap, water and vinegar, or a mild soap specially made for hiking shoes and boots. This allows for odour removal from your footwear and for a good wash that will preserve their water resistance and breathability.

5. Allow them to dry once more OR apply a water resistant treatment, if needed

If your hiking boots are still waterproof, allow them to dry completely after cleaning before using them again.

Otherwise, if your shoes or hiking boots have started taking in water, it is recommended to apply a new treatment. There are several Durable Water Repellent (DWR) treatments available. Certain brands, such as Blundstone, offer treatments made especially for their shoes.

  • Spray treatments are easier to apply, but don’t last as long. They are ideal for boots and shoes made with synthetic materials.
  • Oil, wax, or cream treatments are more durable, but take longer to apply.

When applying:

  • Double check the materials from which your footwear is made in order to select the appropriate treatment. Are they made from nubuck or full grain leather? Full grain leather is considered better quality as it is thicker and more durable. Using a wax, an oil, or a cream is recommended, but it may darken the colour of the leather.
  • Make sure that your boots are still damp after cleaning. Otherwise, you’ll need to humidify the leather or other material, as water repellent products should be applied to a slightly damp boot or shoe.
  • Follow the instructions on the packaging of the specialized product.
  • Allow for ample drying time after application (as detailed in point 3 of this article).

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