When to Replace Your Walking Boots
Your favourite pair of walking boots is like an old friend. You’ve worn them in, they’ve accompanied you on countless adventures, and you’ve been to some amazing places together. Unfortunately, unlike an old friend, your walking boots will need to be replaced once they’ve reached a certain age.
There’s no hard-and-fast rule about when it’s a good time to retire your boots, or how long they should last. 500 miles walked on concrete will wear soles down more quickly than 500 miles out on the hills, and anything from the way you walk to how well they’re looked after can affect their longevity, with different materials and soles wearing at different rates too.
Forking out for a replacement pair unnecessarily is not only bad for the environment, but also bad for your bank balance. Equally, struggling on in shoes that have seen better days could damage your feet. Worn or damaged soles can even be dangerous, as they won’t offer you the grip you need to stay safe, so it’s important to know the signs to look out for…
Visible Signs to Look Out For
There are a few tell-tale signs that will tell you if it’s time to hang up your trusty walking boots:
- Soles: Overly worn soles or worn-down lugs that are no longer pronounced won’t grip surfaces properly, which can lead to accidents on uneven surfaces.
- Laces: If your laces are frayed and the rest of your boots are in good condition, you can just replace the laces. Frayed laces can be an indicator that the rest of the boot is becoming worn, so make sure you give them a good check over.
- Midsoles: The midsole is the part between the sole and the upper that provides vital cushioning for your foot. Cracks in the midsole indicate that it’s too worn, compromising the support your boots provide.
- Eyelets and lace hoops: Broken eyelets or lace hoops can prevent you from lacing your boots tightly enough, causing painful blisters.
- Shape: Misshapen boots won’t provide the support to your foot and ankle that they were designed to.
- Fabric or leather: Check the boot fabric or leather. Worn leather or damaged fabric can soon start leaking.
If you’re unsure about how worn your boots are, compare them side-by-side with a newer pair of the same boots.
Out on the Trail
Boots that need replacing won’t perform as well as they should when they’re out and about. The signs below can mean that your footwear’s past its best:
- Do they leak? If your boots have been regularly reproofed and they start leaking, it’s likely that they’re on their last legs.
- Are you slipping more? If your boots start to feel unstable or aren’t gripping uneven surfaces like they used to, the sole may be too worn.
- Do they feel uncomfortable? Unusual aches and pains (especially in the legs) or more blisters than normal can mean they’re not providing the support they should.
- Can you feel stones underfoot more than usual? Overly worn-down soles expose your feet to all the lumps and bumps beneath.
- Are things getting inside that shouldn’t? Older, looser boots can let in more stones and dirt than they should. If you’re collecting dirt and debris on every walk, it may be a sign it’s time for some new boots.
How to Make Your Boots Last Longer
There are a few things you can do to extend the life of your favourite walking boots:
- Save them for walks. No matter how much you love them, don’t be tempted to wear your walking boots up town or to the pub. Concrete wears down soles quickly, and they’ll last much longer if they’re reserved for the hills.
- Keep them clean! Mud, perspiration and other nasties left on your boots between outings can lead to cracks in the leather or deterioration of the fabric. Dirt can also clog up membranes like GORE-TEX®, preventing the breathable membrane from working and causing sweaty feet, so keep them clean to ensure that they can do their job properly. After a muddy walk, clean your boots with warm water to keep them in tip-top condition. Take a look at our Boot Care Guide for more handy tips.
- Treat them well. Both leather and fabric boots should be reproofed regularly in order to keep them at their best for longer. Shop footwear proofing and protection here.
Time for a New Pair?
If you decide it’s time to start looking for a new pair of boots, we have all the help and advice you need to ensure that you pick the right pair for you. Check out our Top Men’s and Women’s Walking Boots for a run-down of some of the best boots this year.
Alternatively, pop into one of our shops for a free in-store boot fitting.