How Long Can You Leave Your Hiking Boots Unused?

Hiking boots are an important piece of gear for any hiker.

But how long do they last? And when do you know it’s time to replace them?

This post will answer those questions and more.

How long can you store hiking boots?

There’s a lot that goes into being a successful hiker.

Perhaps one of the most important things is making sure you have the right gear. And when it comes to gear, your hiking boots are arguably the most important item in your pack.

So, you may be wondering: How long can you leave your hiking boots unused?

This is difficult to say and depends on various conditions.

On the one hand, the quality and the material used in the shoe play a big role, but also the way you have stored the shoe in the meantime, impacts how long you can store a hiking shoe.

I have a pair of hiking boots in my basement that has been lying untouched for three years now because I’ve been wearing a few others.

With good storage and care, a solid hiking shoe can easily lie untouched for over five years.

Tip: Also, check out my other blog article, where I give you 13 reasons when it’s time to replace your hiking boots.

Do hiking boots have a shelf life?

When it comes to hiking boots, there are a lot of variables that go into how long they will last.

Different types of materials, how often they are used, and the type of terrain they are used on all play a part in how long your hiking boots will last.

But is there a general rule of thumb for how long hiking boots should last?

Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer.

However, most experts agree that if you take care of your hiking boots and don’t use them excessively, they should last between 300 and 500 miles.

So, while there is no set shelf life for hiking boots, if you need to replace your boots more often than every few hundred miles, it might be time to reassess your hiking habits.

Tip: In my beginner’s guide, I explain what you need to look for when buying new hiking boots.

What shortens the life span of a hiking boot?

Hiking boots are made to last.

A good pair of hiking boots can last for years with proper care.

However, there are a few things that can shorten their lifespan, such as:

  • Wearing them in the wrong conditions: Hiking boots are designed to protect your feet from the elements, but they can only do so much. If you wear them in too hot or cold conditions, they will break down faster.
  • Not taking care of them: Like any other piece of gear, your hiking boots need to be cleaned and maintained if you want them to last. Failing to do so will shorten their lifespan.
  • Using them for the wrong activities: Hiking boots are designed for, you guessed it, hiking. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be used for other activities. However, if you use them for running or rock climbing activities, they will break down faster.
  • Wrong storage: Storing your hiking boots improperly can also shorten their lifespan. Make sure to store them in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.

Remember, if you take care of your boots and use them properly, they should last for years.

But if you find yourself needing to replace them more often than every few hundred miles, it might be time to reassess your hiking habits.

How to care for hiking boots?

It is important to take care of your hiking boots to ensure that they last as long as possible.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your hiking boots will last for many years.


One of the most important things you can do to extend the life of your hiking boots is to clean them regularly.

This will remove dirt, debris, and salt, leading to the premature breakdown of the materials.

Use a soft brush or cloth to remove any loose dirt to clean your hiking boots.

You can then use a mild soap and water solution to remove stubborn dirt or stains.

Be sure to rinse your boots thoroughly after cleaning to remove any soap residue.


After you have cleaned your hiking boots, it is important to dry them completely before storing them away.

If your boots are stored while wet, they are more likely to develop mold or mildew.

Remove the insoles and laces and stuff them with newspaper to dry your boots. This will help absorb any moisture inside the boot.

You can then set your boots in a well-ventilated area to air dry.

Do not place them in direct sunlight or near a heat source, which can damage the materials.


Once your boots are clean and dry, it is important to store them properly to prevent damage.

First, make sure to remove the insoles and laces before storing them.

This will help extend the life of those items.

Next, find a cool, dry place to store your boots out of direct sunlight.

A closet or storage bin works well.

You can also place your boots in a breathable bag or box to further protect them.


Even with proper care, your hiking boots may need to be repaired.

Common repairs include replacing the sole, re-stitching the upper, or adding new laces.

If you are not comfortable making repairs yourself, take your boots to a qualified cobbler or shoe repair shop.

They will be able to make the necessary repairs to extend the life of your boots.

By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your hiking boots will last for many years to come.

But how to make your unworn shoes last longer?

You can do a few things to ensure that your unworn shoes last as long as possible.

  1. First, store them in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. This will help prevent the materials from breaking down.
  2. Second, stuff them with newspaper or tissue paper to help maintain their shape.
  3. Finally, consider placing them in a breathable bag or box to protect them further.

When should you replace your hiking boots?

As with most things in life, there comes a time when you need to replace your hiking boots.

But how do you know when that time is?

Here are a few signs that it might be time for new boots:

  • Your boots are more than a few hundred miles.
  • The soles are worn down or coming detached.
  • The uppers are ripped or torn.
  • The laces are frayed or broken.

If you notice any of these signs, it is time to start shopping for new hiking boots.

But don’t worry, with proper care, your new boots will last for many years to come.

How to choose long-lasting hiking boots?

When choosing long-lasting hiking boots, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

  • Choose a boot made from high-quality materials. Leather is a good option as it is durable and will mold your feet over time.
  • Make sure the boot has a good warranty. This will ensure that you can get repairs made if something does go wrong.
  • Do your research. Read reviews from other hikers to find out which boots are most durable.

By following these tips, you can be sure to find a pair of hiking boots that will last for many years.

There is no single “best” boot for long-lasting wear.

However, some of the most durable boots on the market include the following:

  1. Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX
  2. Asolo TPS 520 GV
  3. La Sportiva Nucleo High GTX
  4. Arc’teryx Bora2 Mid GTX
  5. Zamberlan 996 Vioz GT

These are all great choices for durable, long-lasting hiking boots.

Do some research to see which one would best fit you.

Happy hiking!

Photo of author
Hi, I'm Dave. I'm an avid outdoors and sports enthusiast who loves to share my passion with others. I publish the experiences I've gained over the years on Outdoormeta to give beginners helpful tips and bring people closer to the outdoors.

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