Whether you're an avid or beginner hiker, a comfortable, high-quality pair of hiking boots is a must. Since your boots will likely go through a lot of wear and tear on the trails, it's important to properly care for them so that they'll last as long as possible.
Both women's and men's hiking boots are typically made of suede or leather and are treated with a waterproof coating for protection from the elements. Although suede and leather are known to be strong, durable materials, they're natural and are susceptible to water and other types of damage.
There are a lot of hiking boots on the market, so it may be difficult to narrow down the perfect pair. If you commonly trek on rugged trails, such as mountain paths, look for footwear that features a lot of traction. For hikers that live in warmer climates, mesh detailing will allow your feet to breathe and stay as cool as possible while you work out.
After confirming that a particular style of boot has all of the features that you need, try it on and walk around the store to make sure that it's the right fit. Also, inquire about the store's return policy, as it can take up to a week of wear to break hiking boots in.
When you've purchased the best pair of boots, here's how to maintain them so that they look and perform their best:
1. Keep the Boots Dry
Although you can't always dry off your boots right after walking through wetlands or other damp, muddy areas, try to air them out as soon as possible after you take them off. If the footwear has been treated with a wax coating, you'll simply need to wipe them down with a soft, absorbent cloth. While you can't put the boots in a dryer, you can place them in front of a fan if they're very wet, especially on the inside.
2. Keep the Boots Clean
On a regular basis, wipe your boots clean with a product made specifically for suede or leather. Look for a mild cream cleanser that also features conditioning elements to keep the natural materials soft and supple, as they can crack if they get too dried out. If your boots feature any mesh, wipe it down with a mixture of warm water and a mild dishwashing liquid.
Reapply a waterproofing treatment as needed, especially after a deep cleaning.