EQUIPMENT: How to look after and re-waterproof hiking boots

Your hiking boots are your best companions in all your outings in the great outdoors. Here, we give you all our tips for taking care of them and extending their lifespan. How to wash your boots? How to dry them? How to re-waterproof them? You’ll know it all!

How to maintain your hiking boots
Equipment: how to maintain your hiking boots

AFTER EACH HIKE

Mud, water, moisture, perspiration... Your boots have a hard life during your hiking trips.

Three little tips, easy to apply, as soon as you take off your boots:

- knock your soles against each other to get rid of the remaining dust and mud, & shake them upside down to remove any dust or stones that may have slipped inside,
- remove any stones that could have lodged between the treads and may affect the grip of your sole,
- loosen the laces, open the tongue, remove the insole & air your boots in a dry place.

After each hike, your feet look forward to getting some fresh air. So don't forget to do the same with your boots, too ;)

These little tips can become a matter of habit, quick and easy to do. Depending on the condition of your boots, more advanced cleaning may be required. We’ll tell you all the steps to take below in this article.

CLEANING YOUR HIKING BOOTS

Cleaning your boots properly is essential if:

- you’ve been hiking in wet weather and your boots are full of mud (mud will greatly dry out and damage the uppers of your boots, especially if they’re leather),
- you’ve been hiking by the sea (salt will accelerate damage to your boots),
- you’ve been walking on paths with a lot of dust, in sand or volcanic ash (as it builds up, the dust creates a layer that alters the breathability, water-repellency and grip of your boots).

Either way, a good clean is urgently required! It’s best to act quickly to avoid accelerated wear of your boots. Rest assured, it's quite simple and you don't need a specific product :) Here are the main steps to follow:

- Remove the insole (also called the "sock liner") and laces.

- Before wetting your boots, remove the mud that’s already dried.

- Wash the upper (the upper part of your boot) and sole by hand or with a soft sponge. We recommend using lukewarm water - never hot water - and a little neutral soap, if necessary. If the boot is very dirty, you can use a small brush to clean the seams, hooks and eyelets. Avoid using a hard brush to avoid damaging the materials. - Wash the inside of your boot with lukewarm water and a soft sponge. If necessary, you can also add a little neutral soap. You can repeat the cleaning with clean water. Once the water stays transparent, you’re done ;)

- Wash the laces separately with a little water and neutral soap to restore their flexibility.

In any case, avoid machine washing, which can quickly damage your boots!

DRYNG YOUR HIKING BOOTS

Despite being made from a breathable material, you'll always end up with some perspiration inside your boots. It’s also possible that water has entered through the top of the boot when hiking in the rain. In this case, it’s essential to dry your boots to maintain their level of performance and avoid any mould developing.

If you haven't already done so to clean them, remove the insole so that air can flow inside your walking boots and they can dry faster.

Dry them at room temperature, preferably in a dry place. Don’t expose them to a direct heat source such as a radiator or fireplace, as this is sure to damage them. Too much heat dries out the leather, may damage the glue used to assemble the upper and the sole, & deform the reinforcements inserted in the boots. So do not leave your boots on a patio in direct sunlight, in the back of a car, in front of a fireplace, or near a radiator.

The best technique is to stuff them with newspaper, which will help maintain the shape of the boots and absorb moisture !

Be careful not to put your insoles and laces back in until your boots are completely dry.

RE-WATERPROOFING YOUR HIKING BOOTS

The waterproof properties of a boot are provided either by using a waterproof and breathable membrane or by the component selected, for example, waterproof leather.

So, although it’s difficult to affect the waterproofing of a boot, it’s possible to restore water-repellent properties of a boot that has sustained a lot of rain, for example (i.e. restore its capacity to repel water). Please note: a non-waterproof boot cannot be made waterproof by this type of treatment !

To reactivate the water-repellency of your boots, you can use waterproofing sprays. The treatment can be done once or twice a year.

Feel free to read the instructions, and open the windows to avoid breathing in the fumes. Spray the boot from a distance of about 20 cm, making sure to apply the product evenly and over the entire surface to be treated. Leave to dry for 10 to 12 hours so that the product can properly soak into the boot.

Each type of boot requires very specific waterproofing products (leather, nubuck, etc.). Hence the importance of reading the instructions carefully. We can also only recommend products containing as few perfluorocarbons (PFCs) as possible, which are particularly harmful to the environment.

AND FOR LEATHER BOOTS?

If your boots are made of leather, they need special attention. We recommend using a waterproof grease which will nourish the leather while waterproofing and protecting it from stains.

EQUIPMENT: HOW TO LOOK AFTER AND RE-WATERPROOF HIKING BOOTS

STORING YOUR HIKING BOOTS

If you have one golden rule to remember when it comes to storing your boots, it's this: make sure your boots are dry before storing them. This helps prevent small mould stains from appearing and unpleasant odours developing.

Here, to limit unpleasant odours, you can sparingly use talc or baking soda. Another solution is to use antiseptic essential oils such as cedar and tea tree. Pour a few drops on wooden balls, then place these balls in your boots before putting them away. Bacteria responsible for unpleasant odours need to watch out!

The best place to store your boots is somewhere dry and well ventilated. Always avoid leaving them in a cellar, near a heat source (such as a radiator or fireplace) or source of extreme cold. The sun’s rays should also be avoided. Boots don't really like large temperature differences when not in use ;)
We also advise against placing your boots in an airtight box or plastic bag.

Any last advice? The hiking season is over and you won't be getting your boots out for another 6 months? In that case, you can stuff them with newspaper and keep them laced up. That way, there's no risk of them taking on moisture and their shape will be perfectly preserved!

REPAIRING YOUR HIKING BOOTS

If you experience any pain, the insole may not or may no longer be suitable for you. This part of the boot is in direct contact with the sole of your foot, which is important to look after. Especially since with perspiration, the insole can become damaged and its wear will tend to increase the risk of blisters.To change your insole, simply remove it and replace it with a more suitable one.

Your boot laces may also break. To replace them, make sure you buy the right length.

For any other concerns (smooth or loose outsole, torn membranes, etc), it’s best to call on the expertise of your favourite cobbler!

Equipment: How to maintain your hiking boots
hiking sandal care

AND FOR HIKING SANDALS?

Looking after your hiking sandals is just like your boots.

If your sandals are made of leather, you just have to be careful to follow the advice given via the link above on this page.

While 100% polyester sandals can be machine-washed, sandals made of leather, cork or any other material should definitely be hand-washed without being fully immersed in water.

If you have sandals with a cork sole and the sole has become stained or damaged, it’s possible to make it look like new. For this, you can use a sheet of sandpaper and rub it very gently! Your movements must be very light!Then you just have to pass a damp cloth over it and dry the sole with a cloth.

Equipment: how to look after and re-waterproof hiking boots

cloé

Hiking lover at Quechua

NEED MORE ADVICE about boots?