How to care for your Hiking Boots

Purchasing hiking boots can become a very expensive exercise, and many times we are focused on keeping our boots looking clean and sharp for everyday use rather than ensuring that we gain the longest wear out of them for our outdoor adventures. We sat down with Chris De Bruyn, avid hiker and hiking shoe expert for a few tips to make sure your hiking boots are well prepared for what mother nature throws at you. 

Buying Hiking Boots

  • 99% of hiking boots will be manufactured using leather, leather is “alive” and for you to keep it conditioned you’ll have to feed the leather.  
  • The term “feeding it” refers to the application of a protective coating over your leather hiking boot.
  • Natural Bees Wax is recommended as it creates a layer over your leather which keeps it protected and strong going forward.  
  • Avoid products with tannin in them. This substance in the product can cause an effect of deteriorating at the stitching of your hiking boot.

Photo credit: @kyleincpt

Care for your Hiking Boots

  • There are cleaning and maintenance products available to your specific leather, for example. nubuck leather cleaner for nubuck leather boots and suede leather cleaner for suede leather boots.  
  • If your hiking boots are soaking wet insude after a hike, we recommend inserting newspaper into your hiking boot and leave to dry in SHADE. Leaving your boot in the sun causes leather to crack and lose colour over time. 
  • Once dry, brush off all excess mud and dirt and apply your coat of Natural Bees Wax. 
  • You should also “flex” your boots regularly. If not by wearing them, then by hand. This keeps the glue nice and flexible.  
  • If your boots are kept too long without being active, the glue will become brittle and the outsole will eventually separate from the bottom of your boot.  
  • Avoid washing your boots in the washing machine as the ingredients in detergents can prove to be detrimental to the stitching. 

Photo credit: @trailblazershikingclub

More tips for hiking boot care

  • When purchasing a Hi-Tec hiking boot, always make sure to take one size bigger. You will need room for a thicker hiking sock, and you will need to allow for swelling of the feet during intense hikes.  
  • Waterproof boots compromises breathability, however modern technology has assisted in making the waterproof membrane more breathable.
  • Should you not require the waterproof option, then hiking boots with mesh inserts would be your best bet to keep feet cooler and dry in very warm conditions.
  • When climbing a mountain like Kilimanjaro, the recommended boot would be a full grain leather option but a trail like as the Fish River Canyon would require an option with mesh.

Photo Credit: @thesecretadventurer

Check out some products available that will help to maintain your boots and keep them going to many hikes to come:

Arthur Jack – Natural Bees Wax available at Cape Union Mart

Plush Suede & Nubuck Cleaner – Available at Clicks 

Plush Leather Cleaner – Available at Pick n Pay

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