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How Long Do Hiking Boots Last?

How Long Do Hiking Boots Last?

There are a lot of variables that have an impact on how long your hiking boots will last. The quality of the boots is important, but it may not be the most important factor in answering the question of how long hiking boots last. Where you hike and the environment plays a big role, and how you maintain your hiking boots may be the biggest factor.



The hiking boot


The quality of the hiking boot itself plays a big part but is not the deciding factor. There are some cheaply made boots that will never feel good and will not last long at all. Those should be avoided. A medium-priced £60 pair of boots may last as long as £200 boots, depending on other factors.

The difference between £60 boots and £200 boots is not in how long they last, but the more expensive ones will last somewhat longer. The difference is in the quality of hiking and comfort. 

I used to hike in £60 boots and my legs and back hurt after four or five miles. When I started using the £200 Wolverines or Red Wings, I did not start hurting for seven or eight miles, if my back or legs hurt at all. In the more expensive boots, I would feel tired long before I felt discomfort. The more expensive ones lasted longer, but not a significant amount.


How long do hiking boots last?

A good quality boot can last between 500 and 1,000 miles of hiking. Wolverine offers a 1,000-mile promise for some of its boots. There are also trail runners, which are a cross between hiking boots and running shoes. These are very light but will last 400-500 miles as a result. Heavier boots will last longer, but even “heavy” ones are not uncomfortable if you get a good quality boot.

To put that in perspective, 1,000 miles would be 2.73 miles every single day for an entire year. It would be 19.2 miles per week. Good boots usually last two years, so you go 10 miles per week.



Other influences


The 1,000-mile mark might be the top end, and that would be in a good environment with good maintenance.  You will not get that many miles if your hiking boots go to a lot of rugged areas, or are used on asphalt.  



The surfaces you walk on make a huge difference in how long hiking boots last. Asphalt is very hard on boots, and concrete is too. Rocky ground or gravel paths are not as bad, but can still wear out your boots. A natural dirt surface is the most boot-friendly surface you can walk on. If you hike a lot, you will notice the surface has an impact on how you feel or how fast you get tired.

While natural dirt is easy to hike on, it will get your boots dirty, and dirt can break down a boot’s surface.

A lot of runners only use their running shoes to run. Many hikers have the same philosophy. Using a shoe for only that purpose will help it last longer, and consistency of use could also impact the quality of your hike.

That may not always be practical, and how much wear and tear it saves can be debated. Keep in mind the surfaces you are walking on when thinking about how long your hiking boots should last.


Amount of hiking

Obviously, the more you use your hiking boots the faster they will wear out. Even so, boots left inside the house unused will also wear down over time. Hiking daily will wear them out faster than hiking one or two times a week. Even weekly use should keep them from breaking down and from not being used enough.





It is important to keep your hiking boots clean.  Dirt can wear down the leather and the stitching and can make your boots wear out faster. Clean your boots with a brush and water after use. Do not use soap, and don’t use enough water to soak the boots.

Treat leather hiking boots with leather conditioners as directed. That will keep them cleaner and looking good, and helps with the health of the leather. The leather conditioner is good, but avoid using leather softener, especially on the uppers.

Using waterproofing is also a good idea. Do this every couple of months, or when water is not beading on the surface.

Even with waterproofing, your boots can still get wet in a variety of ways. Wet boots deteriorate, and leaving them wet makes them wear out faster.  If they get extremely wet, take out the insoles and hang the boots up to dry. Use newspaper or some other absorbent material to get the moisture out.

Store your boots in a cool dry place, or at least avoid leaving them outside in the sun or in the rain.  Don’t store your boots wet, or if they are dirty if at all possible.

Don’t soak your boots in water while cleaning them. With waterproofing, your boots should keep your feet dry, but excessive water is not good for your boots.

Avoid excessive heat. Don’t put your hiking boots in front of a heat source to dry them out. This is bad for leather.


You can read our in-depth guide on cleaning and maintaining your hiking boots here.





Pay attention to your boots, and make repairs as needed. Eyelets can be replaced at a boot shop. If your sole is worn out, but the rest of the boot is fine, you could have it replaced at a shop as well. Some glue could fix a minor separation, or cracks in the midsole if you catch it in time.  Replace the laces as needed. These repairs can make your hiking boots last longer as well.

Paying attention to the insoles can also extend the life of your hiking boots. Replace them as needed. There are also insoles for special conditions such as plantar fasciitis. If your boots are feeling uncomfortable, replacing the insoles could be a cheap fix. If that does not help, the boots probably need replacing.



When to replace


Boots feel great after a while. You may wear them a long time, and not want to get rid of them even if they are showing some wear and tear. Eventually, they will have to be replaced.

How long hiking boots last depends on you and your level of comfort. If the boots make hiking harder, or more painful, it is time to replace them. 

A good quality boot will support your feet, which also helps keep your back and legs from hurting. If you notice this deteriorating, it may be time to get new boots. If you are getting some soreness or getting tired faster than usual, the boots could be the problem.

Comfort is a good indicator. If your boots do not feel as comfortable as they used to, it could be because they are worn out. 

If the structure of the boot is losing its shape, that could be a good time to replace those hiking boots. Once they lose their shape, they will no longer give you the support you need for a comfortable hike.

Worn soles are another issue. If you are feeling the ground more, or things like stones more than you used to, the soles may be too thin.

Another problem with soles is the tread, which gives you traction and gives you some cushion as you walk. Worn tread can make you lose traction, and that could be treacherous on some trails.

If the sole is coming loose, that is also a sign the hiking boots may need to be replaced.

Worn laces can be an indicator, as they often last a couple of years. If you are not hiking every day, those laces may last the life of your boots. Even so, laces are very easy to replace, and they cost a lot less than a new pair of hiking boots, but it is one indicator.



Final Thoughts


One way to make hiking boots last longer is to make careful decisions when making the purchase. 

Heavier boots last longer, but with technological developments, even boots that are considered heavier are still pretty light.  Boots made with a material called “PU” make them lighter weight and these will last longer as well.

Another option is to buy trail runners, which combine running shoes with hiking boots. These are even more lightweight and offer even more support. They will not last as long though, so it depends on your preference.  They can be used for hiking as long as you don’t go in extremely rough terrain.

Boots, like most footwear, continue to get lighter. If you have not bought hiking boots in a few years, you may be surprised at the light weight of good quality boots now available. Even rugged boots made for a rough environment are lighter than ever.

How long do hiking boots last? A lot of that depends on how well you maintain them, and the kind of hiking you do. With proper care, you should be able to get 1,000 miles out of a pair of hiking boots. Hiking in rough areas, or on asphalt or cement, will lower that number considerably.