Learn to look after your hiking boots and they’ll keep up with you for years. Here are Gear Editor Chris Townsend’s six top tips to ensure your footwear is in tip-top shape.

Your hiking boots are probably the most important tool in your outdoor gear arsenal. They are subject to the most wear and tear and serve a vital protective role. So, here’s some advice on how to look after your hiking boots and give your beloved ol’ faithfuls the care they deserve in order to keep them going on the trails for as long as you can.

Main image credit: Dougie Cunningham

Six tips on how to look after your hiking boots

  1. Cleaning your boots is particularly important if they’re not going to be worn again for a while – eg. if you’re moving onto lighter-weight spring footwear. Remove insoles, use warm water and a soft brush and, if you need a detergent, opt for a specialist one such as those manufactured by Nikwax and Grangers.
  2. Be careful when washing to avoid misshaping the boot by softening the leather and applying excessive pressure.
  3. Dry footwear at room temperature with the insoles removed. The classic scrunched-up newspaper solution can work well for drying the insides, as long as you replace the newspaper regularly. “Don’t try to dry them too quickly, especially near a heat source like a radiator,” says Joe Sheehan from boot manufacturers Altberg. “‘Force drying’ boots can shrink them, and you need to slow down the rate of moisture evaporation.”
  4. Apply a reproofing or conditioning product and then air-dry before putting them away. Nikwax and Grangers are the most well-known brands of re-proofers for both leather and fabric footwear and Altberg also sells Leder-Gris for leather boots.
  5. Scarpa distributors for the Mountain Boot Company then recommend you check all lace hooks, zips, etc for issues you might forget while your shoes are in storage.
  6. “Store boots in a cool, dry location – garages, lofts and sheds can be okay, but they must be bone-dry and ideally storing boots within your house will be better, because of the reduced temperature variations,” says Joe Sheehan.

If you’re looking for a new pair of hiking boots, check out our gear guide on the best hiking boots, as well as advice on how to fit your perfect pair of walking boots.