Old walking boots hanging from a tree in autumn

Walking boots are pretty hardy and they can stand up to a fair bit of wear and tear, but as is always the case, nothing lasts forever. Eventually your walking boots are going to succumb to the wind, rain and pounding they endure on all those hikes.

But when exactly should you replace your walking or hiking boots? We know it can sometimes be genuinely difficult to part with a pair of boots you’ve become attached to, but eventually you’ll need to say your goodbyes and send them on their way.

We take a look at 5 signs it might be time to invest in a new pair of hiking boots before your feet pay the price.

Wear on the soles

As you might expect, after a while the soles on your walking boots are going to become worn. The many miles of hiking will slowly wear the tread down, which will reduce the amount of grip on the bottom of the boot. This means that you’re more likely to slip and hurt yourself, so it’s important not to let the outsole become too worn, and obviously if any cracks our tears appear then you need new boots straight away.

If you can feel smaller stones and other trail debris more than usual then it could be because the soles are wearing away.

No cushioning in the midsole

Walking and hiking boots come with a layer of cushioning in the midsole to help soften the impact on your feet, ankles and legs. However, over time this cushioning will become compact and, therefore, less effective.

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A good way to tell whether the cushioning has gone in your boots is to do the ‘press test’. This is where you press the bottom of the boot (on the outsole) upwards into the midsole to simulate the pressure when walking. If you see lots of compression lines in the side of the midsole then the cushioning is fine, but if you see fewer, heavier lines, then it’s a good sign you need to replace your walking boots.

Very old walking boots with worn out soles

They’re leaking

Having cold, wet, soggy feet when out walking is one of the worst things that can happen. It’ll make you utterly miserable and can actually be quite dangerous, especially if it’s cold. If your walking boots are leaking then you really aren’t going to have a good time of it.

Most walking boots will come with a level of waterproofing, but to enhance this, it’s best to use some kind of water repellant. It’s best to apply this every few months just to keep it topped up.

However, if your boots are cracked, torn or are just generally wearing away then no amount of proofing is going to keep the water out. It’s at this point you’ll definitely need a new pair.

You’re in pain

Most of us get a bit achy and tired after a hike, but if you find your legs hurting more than usual then it could be a sign there’s a problem with your boots.

If you’re getting blisters, then this could indicate you’ve stretched your boots and your feet are moving too much inside them, while aching knees, ankles and feet could show that the soles and cushioning have become too worn. Listen to your body – a change in walking boots could be just what you need.

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General wear and tear

Sometimes there isn’t a huge problem with your boots, but they just suffer from general wear and tear. Issues such as frayed laces can be solved easily just by replacing them, but problems like broken eyelets or fraying stitches may require a little more investigating, and could even warrant a new pair of boots as they can affect things like waterproofing.

Person wearing walking boots in a wet field walking their dog

How to look after your walking boots

While your walking boots will eventually give in, there are some things you can do to prolong their life.

Clean them after use

If your boots get caked in mud when on a hike, you need to make sure you give them a good clean when you get back. Otherwise, mud and water can seap into the boot, which can not only damage it (clogging up breathable materials like GORE-TEX®), but also make it uncomfortable next time you put the boots on. The same goes for clearing out any stones or debris stuck in the tread – this can damage the sole over time if not dealt with.

If you’re finding more debris getting inside your boots, then this could be a sign you have a hole somewhere or the boot collar isn’t doing it’s job properly. Again, this could mean you need a new pair.

Waterproof them

As we said earlier, your walking boots will have some level of waterproofing, but they might not cope with particularly wet weather unless you use some waterproofing treatment. By applying this treatment every few months, you should improve their lifespan dramatically. It’s not a 100% guarantee to keep your feet dry but it’ll definitely help.

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Save them for hiking

Walking boots can be incredibly comfortable, and it can be tempting to wear them for everyday use. However, this will wear down the soles, particularly if you’re doing a lot of walking on concrete. Saving them for walks will make sure they last a lot longer.

Is it time you replaced your walking boots? Click on the links below to shop our full range for men, women and children.

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