If you’re a frequent hiker, eventually, you’ll need to replace your hiking boots.
But when is the right time to do that?
I’ll discuss some signs that it may be time to upgrade your hiking footwear.
1. Comfort and foot pain
The biggest sign that it’s time for a new pair of hiking boots is if they’re no longer comfortable.
Suppose you notice that your feet are beginning to ache after hikes, or you’re developing blisters. In that case, it’s probably because the boots are no longer providing the support and cushioning that they once did.
It’s important to listen to your feet and ensure that you’re not causing yourself any unnecessary pain.
Hiking is supposed to be enjoyable, after all.
2. Appearance of the hiking boots
Are your boots starting to look a bit shabby?
If the uppers begin to tear or the soles are detached, it’s time for a new pair.
But maybe you have to clean them up a bit.
You can clean them with a mild soap and water solution if they’re just dirty.
Another solution is to take them to a Cobbler for a professional fix-up.
The cobbler can usually reattach a sole, patch up a hole, or replace the laces.
3. Damaged leather, fabric, or synthetic upper and stitching
If the leather or fabric on your boots is beginning to tear, it’s time for new boots.
This is problematic because it can allow water and debris to enter the boot, which will make your hike more difficult.
If you have a synthetic upper, it may be possible to patch it up with fabric glue.
But if the stitching is coming undone, it’s probably time for a new pair of boots.
Also, if the stitching that holds the upper to the sole is coming undone, you’ll need to get them repaired or replaced.
This is because it can cause the boots to rub and chafe your feet, making hiking very uncomfortable.
4. Shape of the hiking boots
Is the shape of your hiking boots starting to change?
If they’re beginning to warp or lose their shape, it’s probably time for a new pair.
This is because the boots will no longer provide the support and stability that you need when hiking.
They may also rub and chafe your feet more, making hikes very uncomfortable and could lead to blisters in the worst case.
5. Worn-Out ankle support
Another sign that it’s time to replace your hiking boots is if the ankle support is beginning to wear out.
Suppose you notice that your ankles are beginning to ache or feel unstable when hiking. In that case, it’s probably because the support in your boots has worn out.
This can be a serious problem because it can lead to injuries if you’re not careful.
If you’re not sure whether or not your ankle support is worn out, you can take them to a cobbler or hiking store and have them checked.
6. Bad insoles
Are the insoles in your boots starting to wear out?
If they’re beginning to compress or lose their shape, it’s time for a new pair of boots.
This is because the insoles provide cushioning and support for your feet, and if they’re worn out, you won’t have that anymore.
You might also notice that your feet are beginning to ache more after hikes, which is another sign that the insoles need to be replaced.
But maybe you can replace the insoles and not the whole boot.
If the uppers are still in good condition, you can buy new insoles and put them in your old boots.
This will save you some money and extend the life of your boots.
7. Worn-Out tread
The tread on your hiking boots provides traction and keeps you from slipping.
If the tread is beginning to wear down, it’s time for a new pair of boots.
This is because the worn-out tread can cause you to slip and fall, leading to injuries.
You can usually tell when the tread is worn out because the soles of your boots will be smooth.
If you’re not sure, you can take them to a cobbler or hiking store and have them checked.
In most cases, the tread will last about as long as the rest of the boot, so it’s probably time to replace the whole boot if the tread is worn out.
8. Cracked and worn midsole
Another sign that it’s time for a new pair of boots is if the midsole begins to crack or is worn out.
The midsole is the part of the boot that provides cushioning and support, and if it’s worn out, you won’t have that anymore.
It is very uncomfortable to use the boots when the midsole is worn out.
Your feet will ache more after hikes, and in the worst case, you could even develop blisters.
One day, I was out on a hike, and I noticed that the midsole on my boots was beginning to crack.
I knew that this meant it was time for a new pair of boots, but I didn’t want to spend the money.
So, I kept using them anyway.
But after a few more hikes, I developed blisters on my feet, and I knew that I had to replace my boots.
9. Press test
A press test on your boots can tell you about their condition.
To do a press test, press on the toe of the boot with your thumb.
If the toe area collapses easily, it’s time for a new pair of boots.
This is because the boot is no longer able to support your feet properly, and it will cause you to develop blisters and other foot problems.
But if the toe area is still firm, the boot is still in good condition.
The press test can also tell you if the midsole is beginning to wear out.
To do this, press on the boot’s heel with your thumb.
If you can feel the ground through the heel, the midsole is beginning to wear out, and it’s time for a new pair of boots.
10. Mileage considerations
You should replace your hiking boots every few years, even if they’re still in good condition.
This is because the materials they’re made of will eventually break down and lose their support.
So, even if your boots don’t show any signs of wear, you should still replace them every few years.
Hiking boots are a big investment, but they’re worth it.
They’ll protect your feet and keep you comfortable on hikes to enjoy the outdoors without worry.
When it’s time to replace your hiking boots, do your research and buy a pair that will fit your needs.
Do your feet often get wet when you hike?
If so, you might want to get rid of your old boots and get a new waterproof pair.
Waterproof boots will keep your feet dry, even when you hike through puddles or stream crossings.
They’re also great for hikes in wet conditions, like rain or snow.
If you often hike in wet conditions, or if you want to keep your feet dry, get yourself a pair of waterproof hiking boots.
However, sometimes it is enough to re-impregnate the shoes to increase the protection against water.
It may be that the shoe is in good condition, but just often, water passes through.
Tip: I explained the difference between waterproof and water-resistant in detail in my other blog post if you’re interested.
12. Eyelets or lacing loops
Are the eyelets or lacing loops on your hiking boots starting to tear?
If so, it’s time for a new pair of boots.
Eyelets and lacing loops are what you use to tie your boots, and if they’re torn, it won’t be easy to keep your boots on your feet.
In addition, torn eyelets can cause the laces to come undone, which can be dangerous if you’re hiking on uneven terrain.
If you see any tears in the eyelets or lacing loops, it’s time for new boots.
13. Worn-Out shoelaces
Are your shoelaces worn out?
If so, it’s time for a new pair of laces.
Worn-out shoelaces can break easily, and if they do, you’ll have to hike the rest of the way with your boots untied.
This can be dangerous, so it’s best to replace your laces before they break.
You should also replace your shoelaces if they’re frayed or have any other damage.
If the laces are in good condition, you can tie them tighter to prevent them from coming undone.
How often should you replace hiking boots?
Like most hikers, you religiously take care of your gear because you know that the wrong equipment can make your outdoor experience a total nightmare.
But even if you have the best gear money can buy, it won’t last forever.
Eventually, everything needs to be replaced, including your hiking boots.
The question is, how often should you replace them?
Here are a few things to consider:
The lifespan of your hiking boots depends on how often you use them and what kind of conditions you use them in.
If you frequently hike in harsh conditions, your boots will wear out faster than if you only hike occasionally in mild conditions.
You should expect to replace your hiking boots every 500 to 750 miles.
However, this is just a general guideline.
If you take good care of your boots and don’t use them too often, they may last longer.
On the other hand, if you use your boots often and don’t take care of them, they may need to be replaced sooner.
To get the most out of your hiking boots, it’s important to take good care of them.
This includes storing them in a cool, dry place when you’re not using them and cleaning them after each hike.
Every once in a while, you should go to the store and try on a new pair of walking shoes.
It is possible that you have become so accustomed to your hiking boots and do not realize that they should have been disposed of long ago, even if they visually make a well-kept impression.
In addition, new models of hiking boots are often much lighter and more comfortable than old ones.
A new pair of shoes can make a big difference on your hike.
Tip: I explain how to clean hiking boots and what you need to pay attention to in my detailed guide.