How long do hiking boots last

How Long Do Hiking Boots Last? +My Favourite One!

Hiking boots are arguably the most important and beloved pieces of equipment for any hiker no matter the level of experience. Yet many hikers wonder, ‘how long do hiking boots last? ‘

Hiking boots or shoes not only provide extra support for the long treks, but they also protect your feet from being battered by the elements.

Starting off on the wrong foot (pun intended!) could put you at risk of injury and stop you short in your tracks. No one wants wet, achy, blistered feet or painful knees and joints!

A decent pair of hiking boots should last you between 500-1000 miles, but it’s not a hard and fast rule.

 There are so many factors to consider when trying to figure out when to replace hiking shoes.

Read on to know what is the lifespan of boots and how long do hiking shoes last

How long do hiking boots last

Summary

Disclosure

Some of the links on here are affiliate links and I may earn if you click on them, AT NO EXTRA cost to you. I hope you find the information here useful! Thanks

Related Posts

Hiking Boot Types And Their Lifespans

It’s important to do your research when looking for boots to buy as they will be an investment. 

Simply search the internet for terms like how long do Merrell hiking boots last or how long do Salomon shoes last to get an insight into what you should look out for when surveying other choices.

There are a few types of hiking boots that you might come across, and the type of boot you use is one of the first factors in answering the question of how long do hiking boots last.

Here is a breakdown of the main types of hiking boots available in the market and their average lifespans to help you start figuring out which hiking boots last the longest.

1. Heavyweight Hiking Boots

Heavyweight hiking boots are usually meant to carry you across rugged terrains while shouldering heavy loads. This means they are normally used for long-distance hikes or more treacherous trails.

These boots consist of stiffer ankle support and have a midsole shank that helps protect your soles. 

Heavyweight boots are also usually made of long-lasting materials such as full-grain leather treated with waterproofing.

How long do leather walking boots last? On average, you can expect to get up to 1000 miles on the best quality bots.

The highest quality boots tend to have fewer seams and are molded from a single piece of leather. 

A downside would be that these types of boots need to be broken in to be fully comfortable and suited to your specific foot shape. Breaking in hiking boots not only takes time but can be an uncomfortable process.

Heavyweight hiking boots also tend to be the most expensive type of hiking boots available due to the high-quality materials and detailed workmanship required to manufacture them. 

If you are a seasoned hiker, heavyweight hiking boots can be an investment that will give you maximum foot protection and support for years or even decades with proper care. You might need to replace the soles after 5+ years depending on the terrain you are hiking on.

2. Mid-weight Trekking Boots

Mid-weight hiking boots are very popular with intermediate-level hikers as they offer a good balance of weight and support while still being a lot cheaper than heavyweight boots.

Midweight hiking boots still offer midsole support and ankle protection but tend to be made from different pieces of fabric and leather joined together. They are quick to break in and are more comfortable to wear straight out of the box, but over time are more prone to seam failures around the flexing points of the boot.

The lifespan of mid-weight trekking boots is usually up to 5 years for a casual hiker and much less for an avid hiker crossing hundreds of miles of rugged terrains.

3. Lightweight Boots

Lightweight hiking boots are sometimes not much more than high-top trail running shoes. They are usually made from synthetic materials and feature a much lighter construction. 

These types of boots feel like regular sports shoes with additional ankle support.

Recreational hikers and speed hikers or trail runners tend to love the lightweight nature of these boots as it keeps them moving fast. They tend to be cheaper than mid-weight or heavyweight hiking boots but at the trade-off of durability. 

Lightweight hiking boots tend to last 1-2 years depending on your mileage, although if you’re a beginner hiker it may be worth it to try lightweight hiking boots first to see what features you really need before upgrading.

4. Trail Runners

Trail runners are a hybrid of hiking boots and running shoes. 

They dry fast and are incredibly lightweight and flexible, but offer less support than actual hiking boots. Trail running shoes are usually used for short to medium-length treks, with multi-day treks still an option for less challenging terrain.

Trail runners are made lighter due to less material being used to make them and can last for approximately 400-500 miles or around 1 year with regular use.

Factors Affecting Hiking Boots Lifespan

Other than the type of hiking boots you will be using, there are a number of other factors that affect how long do hiking boots last.

How many miles do hiking boots last depends on the boots’ structure, material, the terrain you hike on, and how frequently you use your boots. Care and maintenance play a part too! 

  • Build Quality

Not all boots are built the same. The level of craftsmanship and quality of materials used affect the build quality of hiking boots. The better they are, the longer your boots will last. 

These high-quality boots retail at more expensive prices, but since they tend to last longer, the costs are spread out over their lifespan and can actually be cheaper in the long run.

Choose brands that have good reviews and are well known and established in the hiking community, such as Merrell, Lowa, North Face, or Salomon. A good way to find out about the durability of these brands is to read through hiking forums and search for topics like how long do Salomon hiking boots last or how long should Merrell shoes last.

  • Materials

The type of materials your boots are made of will greatly affect their longevity. In general, full-grain leather boots made from un-split cowhide have the best abrasion resistance and will wear down slower. So the more leather your boot is made of, the better.

Look for hiking boots with polyurethane (PU) soles. This material is highly resistant to abrasion, is lightweight, and offers good cushioning and insulation.

Boots made of synthetic fabrics such as nylon and Gore-Tex should highlight their abrasion-resistant fabrics or mesh and minimize stitching with seamless TPU welding

  • Terrain & Hiking Conditions

One of the biggest factors determining how long your hiking boots will last is the terrain you hike on. Steep mountainous trails with sharp, rough rocks will wear boots out quicker than smoother dirt paths.

The more abrasive the surface the quicker the tread will wear and the more scuffing the upper part of the boot will experience.

Shrubs and rocks can snag at laces, eyelets, and fabrics causing tears or scratches, while wet marshlands and jungles will expose your boots to high levels of moisture and humidity. 

All types of hiking boots should be able to handle all these typical hiking conditions – so there’s no need to avoid a hike for fear of damaging your boots. 

However, it may be worth it to have different hiking boots suited specifically to the terrain you will be trekking in especially if it is in extreme weather, such as icy cold snow or dense, marshy jungles.

Specialized boots will offer better protection against the elements by including extra insulation or better waterproofing.

  • Care And Maintenance

Love your boots well and they will return the favor! Taking care of and maintaining your boots regularly will help prolong their lifespan.

Aside from the regular cleaning, you can also maintain your boots by applying waterproofing and protectants to the outer layers which makes it harder for dirt to stick to your boots.

Leather boots need a bit more maintenance to keep them at peak performance. Condition the leather uppers to moisturize them and prevent them from drying out. You can also apply leather protectants to help repel dirt and moisture.

  • Usage Frequency

Simply put, the more you use your boots, the faster they will wear out. Casual, weekend hikers can expect their bots to last longer than avid hikers who hike multiple times a week. That said, even boots that get very little use will still degrade over time.

How many miles should you change your hiking boots? When measuring boot longevity, people often refer to how much mileage the boot can endure before it needs to be replaced. Think of it kind of like how you would need to service your car after a certain number of miles running.

  • Weight & Walking Style

Being physically heavier or carrying heavier weight on your trek will make your boots wear out faster, due to the higher stress your boots will be subjected to.

Your walking style may also contribute to how quickly your boots wear out. If you tend to drag your feet or have over-or under pronation, your boot soles may wear out more on certain sides.

Best Long-Lasting Hiking Boots

Hiking boots tend to take up a large chunk of our hiking gear budget, so it makes sense to want to find the best value for your buck. While high-quality hiking boots are usually pricey, you actually spend less over the years due to their long-lasting nature.

Here are our picks for some of the best long-lasting hiking boots.

How long do hiking boots last

How To Make Your Hiking Boots Last Longer

Now that you know what makes your boots wear out, don’t panic! There are still ways you can help prolong the life of your beloved hiking companions. Here are some tips on how to make your hiking boots last longer.

1. Clean Them Regularly

Cleaning your hiking shoes is the most important way to prolong your boots’ lifespan and keep them looking fresh. The best practice is to clean your boots immediately after you take them off. 

Mud, dirt, minerals, and debris can eat away at your boots’ materials faster if left on, making your boots less durable. Cleaning dirt from hiking shoes made with mesh panels will also keep your boots breathable and help air to circulate to the inside of the boots.

For leather boots, gently scrub off the dirt with a stiff brush or cloth. You may also want to apply conditioner and leather protectors to your boots to prevent cracking and to keep the leather moisturized and smooth.

For synthetic fabric boots, spritzing the fabric with some water to dampen it will help lift out the dirt more easily. 

2. Keep Them Dry And Away From Extreme Temperatures

Moisture and wetness degrade boots much faster. Keeping your boots dry through waterproofing and hanging them out to dry after a hike will pay off in the long run – trust us!

When drying your boots, it’s best to allow them to dry gradually and evenly. You can help by taking out the insoles and laces and opening up the tongue as much as possible to allow air to circulate inside. 

You may be tempted to speed things up by putting your boots next to a toasty campfire, but the high heat may actually cause more damage to the boot materials.

Make sure your shoes are fully dry before putting them away or as dry as possible before putting them back on If you are in a wet or snowy climate that makes it hard to air dry your boots, you can consider investing in a boot dryer which helps blow warm air evenly through your boots to dry them off.

Keep your hiking boots in a cool, dry area to protect them from damage. That means away from direct sunlight and humidity.

Here are some other tips that can increase how long do hiking shoes last

  • Don’t wear your hiking boots on tarmac or pavement – hiking boots are meant to be used on natural terrains such as rock and soil. Wearing your boots on tarmac or pavement will wear out the tread faster.
  • Treat them to some waterproofing – these protect your boots from being waterlogged, which in turn protects your feet. You can apply a durable water repellent (DWR) finish to restore waterproofing abilities.
  • Replace worn insoles – Worn insoles don’t support your feet and offer less cushioning and comfort, making you more prone to slipping and twisting.
  • Do regular maintenance and repairs – inspect your boots before wearing them and make the necessary repairs such as replacing laces, removing dust/dirt, and applying protective sprays/waxes.
How long do hiking boots last

When To Replace Hiking Boots

No matter what type of boot you have, there comes the point where you just need to call it. Even the best boots have to be replaced eventually! Knowing when you need to replace your boots can help prevent blisters, joint pain, discomfort, and other injuries and help you keep your hiking adventures alive.

Here are 14 signs you can look out for to find out when to replace hiking shoes and if you need a new pair of hiking boots pronto.

1. Discomfort

If you start feeling discomfort in new ways compared to when your hiking shoes were fresh out of the box, you may need new ones. 

Discomfort can range from backaches, joint pains, blisters, and aching feet. These signs tell you that your boots are too worn out and don’t offer the same amount of comfort and support as they used to. Don’t try and tough it out – it may lead to worse pains and injuries if you don’t address the cause.

Discomfort can also signal the wrong choice of boot. If you are experiencing foot pain, you may have an improperly sized boot, or your laces may be done up wrong. 

2. Lacking Support

A lack of cushion support around the midsole can be fixed temporarily by adding an insert. However, if your ankles start rolling or twisting, it means your boots’ ankle support is compromised and it’s definitely time to get new boots.

3. Eyelets 

The eyelets on your hiking boots are the small holes or loops that your laces pass through. If your boot eyelets are loose, you won’t be able to lace them up properly, which leads to a bad fit and lack of support and ankle stability.

Sometimes, laces can pop through eyelets, which is a sign of loose or weakened eyelets. Eyelets can also peel away from your boots or show cracks around them when they get too worn down. 

You may be able to get these fixed at repair shops to prevent more dangerous eyelet failures, but sometimes it may be better and cheaper to just get new boots.

4. Worn out laces

Laces are one of the most fragile parts of a hiking boot, as they are not only exposed to all the elements but also undergo a huge amount of stress holding everything together.

Tying and retying your laces over and over quickly wears down laces due to all the friction. Worn-out laces are one of the first signs that your hiking boots are nearing the end of their lifespan. 

If your laces start getting frayed ends or get threadbare in certain spots, it’s time to take note and start thinking of replacing not only your laces but your boots as well.

To prolong the life of your laces, make sure to clean them often. Dirty laces get stiff and can break or crack more easily. If the plastic seals at the ends of your laces have broken off, you can expect your laces to start fraying soon afterward.

If you have already replaced your laces once, it’s best to examine your boots for other signs of wear and tear too.

How long do hiking boots last

5. Cracked Or Compacted Midsole

The midsole of your hiking boot is the part in between the arch and the ball of your foot and is designed to give you additional support. If you notice a visible crack in the midsole of your boot, you need new boots ASAP. 

A cracked or compressed midsole doesn’t give you enough cushioning or support needed for longer hikes and leads to a compromised boot sole, which in turn wears down the insole faster.

If you don’t notice any cracks but feel like your midsole area lacks support, you can try and perform a ‘press test’ to see if your midsoles are worn out. Here’s how:

1. Press the outsole of your boot up to simulate the flexing during a hike

2. As you press, look at the midsole for any lines. Fine lines or wrinkles are usually fine, but if you see cracks, it means your midsole is worn out.

6. Tread

A grippy tread is important to help you keep your footing steady and in control throughout your hikes. Worn-out outsole tread can be dangerous as your boots will feel slippery without the traction a good tread provides. 

If you find yourself slipping or hard to stay upright with proper posture, examine your tread for damage. Missing pieces of tread or tread that is worn out and filed down is definitely a sign to replace your boots ASAP.

7. Mileage 

After how many miles should you change your hiking boots? Depending on the type of shoes or boots you are using, it is a good idea to start checking them for signs or damage or wear after you hit 400-500 miles. This is usually the maximum lifespan for lightweight hiking boots or trail runners. 

If your boots check out fine, do a thorough check after each subsequent 100 miles. The average maximum lifespan for a heavyweight, durable boot is around 1000 miles.

8. Insoles

Thinning insoles allow your feet to slide and roll around more in your shoes, which is dangerous and can lead to injury. It also adds stress to your joints due to the lack of cushioning and improper posture.

Worn-out insoles can feel crumbly, cracked, or lumpy, as well as thin and stiff. They can also cause more blisters. You may get away with replacing just the insoles for the next few hikes, but start seriously thinking about replacing your hiking boots as well.

9. Shape

Some hiking shoes may lose their shape after extensive use. If the fit feels weird or if they feel loose, lumpy, or ‘give’ a bit too much, it may be time to replace your boots.

Boots that are out of shape offer less support and can cause slipping and chafing or blistering.

10. Stitching

If your hiking boots’ seams are held together with stitching, make sure to pay attention to any stitches that start to fray or separate. Worn out stitching can cause your boot to lose its waterproofing and seriously compromises the boots’ durability and integrity

11. Ankle Support

Ankle support is what sets hiking boots apart from most normal footwear. Because of the nature of hiking, your ankle needs to be prevented from rolling or bending sideways which could lead to sprains or serious injury. Ankle support also prevents damage to your hips and knees.

If your ankle support starts getting soft or less firm, or if your cushioning has worn down thin, it’s time to replace your hiking boots.

12. Waterproofing

Getting wet feet during a hike is not only an uncomfortable damper but can also weaken the structure of your boots and cause problems for your feet. 

If your previously waterproof boots start letting moisture in, it’s a sign that the waterproofing has worn out or failed. You may still be able to use your no-longer waterproof boots but only on dry hikes. Otherwise, it’s time to buy new waterproof boots.

13. Age

Even if you use your boots sparingly, they will still degrade over time. In fact, boots don’t last forever even on the shelf! Check for crumbling/cracked leather and slippery, stiff soles or tread on boots you have not used in a while. These are clear signs you need to replace your hiking boots.

How long should hiking boots last? For lightweight boots, expect to change them out after a couple of seasons or around 1 year. For heavyweight boots, you can get 5-10 years of use depending on the terrain hiked.

14. Appearance

Sometimes, your boots may feel fine but look like they were fished out of a swamp. If boots have cosmetic issues like scratches, scuffs, and watermarks, they may still be usable. But if you find cracks and holes, or if your soles start to peel, it may be time for some boot shopping.

FAQs

Do Hiking Boots Last Years On Shelf?

If you keep your boots in a carefully controlled environment, do hiking boots last years on shelf? The answer is they probably have a 7-10 year shelf life only. After that, the soles will tend to get brittle and crumble or disintegrate, and the leather will dry out and crack.

How Many Miles Can You Wear Hiking Boots?

How Many Miles Can You Wear Hiking Boots? On average, hiking boots should last you between 500-1200 miles depending on the hike conditions and various other factors. Avoid discomfort, blisters, and joint pain by replacing your worn-out boots as soon as your safety, comfort, and boot structure or materials are compromised.

How Long Do Leather Hiking Boots Last?

Leather hiking boots tend to fall under the heavyweight, high-quality section of the market, and therefore leather hiking boots last up to a maximum of 1000 miles or over a decade with good care and maintenance. You may have to replace the soles after 5 years depending on the terrain you hike. 

After hundreds of miles, it may be hard to say goodbye to your beloved boots. They brought you through amazing sceneries and fantastic adventures! But alas, nothing lasts forever. 

Knowing how long your hiking boots will last can save you from the dreaded flappy-sole, muggy damp, slippery boot scenario that happens when your boots reach the end of their service life.

The durability and reliability of your hiking boots are often reflected in the price you pay – so don’t skimp on quality. You will get more value over time.  

Conclusion

So how long do hiking boots last? Essentially it depends on the terrain you hike, the type of shoes you use, how often you hike, and how well you take care of them.

Hopefully, we’ve given you enough information to evaluate how many miles should hiking boots last, so you can keep on hiking safely and confidently.

Related posts

More To Explore

Women Wandering Beyond

Hello and Welcome!

Hi there. My name is Aisha Preece. Founder and owner of Women Wandering Beyond.

Learning how to adventure and explore through the world transformed my life and helped me become a happier person.

I want to help you do the same.
My female adventure travel site is dedicated to helping women travel more, step outside their comfort zone and experience wonders of the world beyond their wildest dreams!

Ladies, we are going on an adventure!

Search for something specific

follow our adventures