How Long Do Hiking Boots Last? Find Out When To Replace Them
They've been dusted by dirt, sloshed around in creeks, smushed in mud, and scraped over rocks. Your hiking boots are one tough mother but at some point, something's gotta give. If you're the futurist who always wants to be ahead, it's important to know: how long do hiking boots last?
The typical hiking footwear is made of several different materials that each serve a purpose to the boot's function. They're built to be durable, which is what you want if you're going on treks fairly often.
Knowing when to replace hiking boots is important, too. But it's just as important to know how long you'll keep them around and when to start looking for signs of wear.
Let's take a look at exactly how long hiking boots should and will last.
How Long Should Hiking Boots Last?
Hiking boots come in all different types of styles and makes. Some are built more rugged than others. As such, some will naturally last longer than others.
Some hiking boots are built for specific purposes and others are made for general use.
It's important that we take a look at the quality of the hiking boot, the average use, and even weather and exposure conditions (yes, exposure matters!).
The usual answer for how long hiking boots should last is going to get the big, fat stamp of "it depends". Worry not, though, for we can break this down into an easy-to-understand formula to figure out how long your boots should last.
What's The Lifespan of the Average Hiking Boot?
Let's say you've opted for some high-quality footwear. You know, the type that you plan on hanging onto for a long time to come. That trusted pair of boots that will get you over any mountain, through any creek bed, and shredding through any trail.
With quality boots and shoes, you can expect them to last 500-1000 miles (805-1610 km). That sounds like a pretty healthy lifespan. Under the right conditions, your footwear should carry you, literally, for quite some time.
But let's dive a little deeper and see exactly what hiking boots are made of, and what effects exposure has on those materials.
What Are Hiking Boots Made Of?
Knowing what your hiking boots are made of is important for estimating their lifespan. Some materials react differently to sunlight and water. Leather, for example, has a far different reaction to taking a dip in the creek than a mostly nylon boot or shoe will.
Generally, hiking boots are made of nylon, split-grain leather or suede. These materials can last a long time when they're properly maintained and cared for.
Most modern hiking boot soles are made of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) or another type of synthetic rubber. Hiking boot tread patterns vary, but are usually thick enough and designed well enough to last for a long time, depending on use.
Hiking boot insoles are usually made of EVA foam, which provides cushioning and proper support for the soles of your feet. When the insoles of your boots are frequently used, you'll notice small hair-line cracks in the foam and possibly even pitting.
How Often Are Your Hiking Boots Exposed?
Just like your skin, increased exposure to the sun can expedite breakdown and damage.
For leather boots, constant sun exposure works the same way it does with human skin: it dries out and becomes stiff. Increased sun exposure on leather, without proper care, can cause the leather to age prematurely and start to crack and breakdown.
Unless you plan on leaving your boots to roast in the sun for years on end, proper maintenance and care will keep them going for a long time. Leaving hiking boots in the sun without proper care will cause visible wear within 4-6 months.
What about exposure to moisture? If you're hiking through creekbeds and rivers, getting your boots soaked can cause problems later down the road.
Leather contains many oils. When leather is submerged in water, the oils typically bind to the water. When the leather dries, the water is evaporated along with those oils. This will cause the leather to become more brittle and breakdown quicker.
It's important to properly care for your hiking boots if you plan on using them for a long time. This will help extend their life and reduce damage from exposure.
How Often Are They Used?
As mentioned above, quality hiking boots will last anywhere from 500-1000 miles. Knowing this, it's a good idea to factor in how often you hike and at what distance to get your total miles.
If you hike 3 days a week for a total of 5 miles each hike, you've logged 15 miles on your boots within a week. Hiking for a month with these numbers would hike (no pun intended) the mileage up to 60 miles. At this pace, it's safe to assume the boots will last you for a little over a year.
Keep in mind, these conditions will vary from person-to-person because there are other hiking factors like posture, terrain, and pace.
Proper Care & Maintenance For Hiking Boots
As with most things, exhibiting proper care for your hiking boots can extend their lifespan.
It's a good practice to clean your boots at least once a week. This includes cleaning the laces, too.
- Remove laces from boot
- Use a soft brush to remove dust and dirt
- Use waterproofing and conditioning products
Using proper hiking boot care products is important. The boots are there to protect your feet — we wouldn't want to use any products that can damage or destroy them.
How Long Do Hiking Boots Last When Stored?
Storing your hiking boots when they're not in use is the best way to preserve their quality and extend their lifespan.
As mentioned earlier, exposure to sunlight or moisture will degrade the hiking boot a lot faster.
Always be sure to store your hiking boots in dry areas that don't receive a lot of sunlight. In fact, I'm pretty sure there's a name for something that was made for this exact reason: a closet.
If you don't have the closet space, you can always go for a wood or plastic container. Due to my limited closet space, I store all of my equipment and gear inside of plastic totes that shield sunlight.
How Long Will Your Hiking Boots Last? The Verdict
Consensus still says your hiking boots will last anywhere from 500-1000 miles. Using proper boot care practices will make sure you get the best bang for your buck and keep those boots trekking for a long time to come.
To wrap up the topic of how long they should last:
- Quality boots will last anywhere from 500-1000 miles depending on use
- Always practice proper care and maintenance of your hiking boots
- Never leave your boots exposed to sunlight when you're not using them
- Properly store your boots and gear to shield them from unnecessary sunlight & exposure