Like most things in life, hiking boots do not last forever and eventually need to be replaced. Even if you choose the top-of-the-line, best-hiking boots out there and take proper care of them, one day, you’ll need to invest in a new pair. So how do you know when the time has come to finally replace your old hiking boots for new ones?
Generally, most running or walking shoes last up to 500 miles. Where and how you use your shoes can also affect that number. For example, walking on pavement wears down shoes faster than on trail or gravel. Different types of midsoles on shoes also wear down faster than others. Since most of us can’t remember the number of miles we’ve walked in our hiking boots, there are three additional ways to determine if you need new shoes.
To determine if the midsoles of your shoes are compressed and no longer providing proper cushioning, push your thumb on the outsole upward into the midsole. With new shoes, it should be easy to see the midsole compress into lines or wrinkles, however as the shoe wears down, the midsole compresses less with the same amount of pressure applied. When the midsole shows heavy compression lines and the press test shows little compression, there is little or no cushioning left. Little cushioning means little support.
How do your hiking boots appear? Don’t be concerned with how dirty they look – if anything, you are getting good use of your shoes. What you should be looking for is general wear and tear. Examine your shoe inside and out. Are places on the outsoles worn down? Can you see how the shoes have molded your foot? Are parts of your shoe ripping or tearing? These are all telltale signs that it is time to invest in a new pair of hiking boots.
The most telling sign that you need a new pair of hiking boots is how they feel. When there is little or no cushioning left in your shoes, you’ll notice aches and pains in your feet, legs, knees, hips and/or back. Aches and pains are the number one reason to purchase new hiking boots, as these conditions can worsen if you continue to use your same old pair.
Another sign that you may need a new pair of boots is if blisters appear in unexpected places, which means your shoes have stretched and your feet are moving around too much. Thinner soles also make your feet feel less protected from the discomfort of small stones, pebbles, and another rough terrain.
If the waterproofing in the boot is failing, in most instances, you can apply a commercially available spray (available at sporting goods stores), and it should help for a few months unless the shoe fabrics themselves are starting to wear. If this is the case, it’s time to replace it.
Tips For Longevity in Hiking Boots
Buying new hiking boots is inevitable for avid hikers; however, there are certain methods you can use to extend the life of your purchase.
- Rotate – Rotate between a pair of shoes. It’s always a good idea to have multiple pairs of walking or running shoes that you can alternate between using. Rotate between hiking boots and shoes, depending on the difficulty of your hike, to get maximum use out of both pairs.
- Removal – It is easy to kick off your boots after a long hike without properly unlacing them. Simply unlacing and removing your boots with your hand makes a world of difference in the longevity of your shoes.
- Usage – Wearing your hiking boots on long walks on paved sidewalks or while you are out and about will wear them down more quickly. Reserve your hiking boots only for hikes.
Need new hiking boots? I’d recommend visiting REI. All three hiking boots I’ve purchased here have lasted for years and provide the utmost comfort when I hit the trails.