When To Replace Hiking Boots: 4 Clear Signs Of Wear And Tear

Safety is an essential priority for every hiker. It demands that your equipment on the one hand needs to be maintained to extend its lifespan and on the other hand needs to be replaced occasionally.

Hiking boots are the most important pieces of equipment involved in hiking. They are made to protect your feet when hiking through harsh and rugged surfaces. Eventually, they wear out and no longer become fit for hiking.

In this article, we will be guiding you through signs to look out for when your hiking boots need to be replaced, how many miles a hiking boot can usually go, the factors that cause wear and tear, and how to take care of your hiking boots to extend their lifespan.

4 Signs That Your Hiking Boots Are Worn Out and Ready to Be Replaced

1. Worn Out Laces and Lacing Loops

When your laces or lacing loops begin to fade, that’s a clear sign that your boots are wearing off. Having firm and tight laces play an essential role in ensuring safety when hiking and wearing comfort.

Faded laces may seem normal and an amateur hiker may not see them as a hazard, but it’s the first step of a serious problem that can be avoided easily. When shoelaces begin to fade, they can easily be replaced, but when lacing loops break away, it’s advisable to replace your hiking boots. They cannot be changed so easily.

Having perfect laces and lacing loops are essential for good hiking boots. Some of the problems you might encounter if they are not intact are:

  • Weak grips
  • Laces will untie very often
  • Laces may tear unexpectedly during a hike

Signs like this are very easy to note because you tighten your boots almost every time you go hiking. We advise that you pay close attention to your shoelaces and lacing hoops to prevent any unexpected challenges while hiking. Replace all replaceable parts as soon as they start to wear off. 

2. Worn Out Insoles

Insoles are essential for hiking boots and they fulfill several purposes. For example, they provide great comfort and support to your arch. When your insoles are worn out or torn, they make every step uncomfortable.

But it’s getting worse: Worn-out insoles may lead to unexpected injuries during a hike. The hiker is left with discomfort and the insoles may cause slipping. A hiker may also have a painful experience when touring the trail.

To spot a worn-out insole, these are some of the signs you might notice:

  • Discoloration
  • Small cuts at the edges
  • Disfigured looks
  • Compression

Even though insoles make you feel comfortable, they reduce risks and injuries. They also prevent foot-related conditions from aggravating. The good news is: It’s very simple and cheap to replace them.

3. Breaking Midsole

The midsole is the bottom layer of your hiking boots that makes direct contact with the ground. When your midsole begins to pull out or open up, you are at risk and your hiking boots are ready to be replaced.

Hiking boots face different obstacles in the course of hiking, leading to the wear and tear of the midsole. A worn-out midsole is naturally caused by frequent usage of your boots. As a hiker, you tend to walk longer distances, and each time you set out, your midsole begins to wear out.

How you walk while wearing your boots determines the lifespan of your boots. Try to be a bit conscious when hiking to prevent a low life span. For example, you can easily avoid stepping on pointy rocks visible to you.

Some of the signs that your midsole is breaking are:

  • A loose feeling when walking
  • Small cuts in your boots
  • A slight opening of your sole
  • Small peels at the side of the boots

To enjoy hiking without any issue, we strongly advise that you look out for these signs to prevent unforeseen circumstances. Because you can’t replace the midsole, a broken midsole is a clear sign to replace your hiking boots.

4. Splitting Leather

When you notice the leather of your boots peeling at the sides, or if you notice a slight wrinkle on the leather part of your boots, mainly at the toe area, this is a sign that your boots need to be replaced.

Many hiking boots are mostly made of thick leather. When they begin to split, it shows that your boot is gradually getting weak. When your boots are weak, water can easily penetrate them, reducing the lifespan of your boots.

Aside from this, split leather also makes your boots look less attractive, and less attractive boots reduce the motivation of a hiker. This can happen consciously or unconsciously.

Some of the problems you might face while hiking with weak leather boots are the following:

  • Easy water penetration
  • Lack of motivation due to an unattractive appearance
  • Easy penetration of sharp objects

If you notice wrinkles on your boots, that is a sign that your hiking boots need to be replaced.

How Many Miles Do You Have to Hike Until Your Hiking Boots Have To Be Replaced?

In this section of the article, we will be comparing high-quality boots with low-quality boots and see how many miles you have to hike with each of them until a replacement is needed.

About High-Quality Hiking Boots

If you already own high-quality boots, you are lucky. High-quality boots logically last longer.

Why is this? Because the manufacturers usually use materials of higher quality. They also put more time into the development of these boots. If you choose a well-known brand, the product designers are also more experienced in designing high-quality hiking boots, leading to a better product.

If you are looking to get hiking boots, we advise you to get high-quality boots even though they might be expensive. In the long run, this investment will pay off.

High-quality hiking boots go up to 1.000 miles.

About Low-Quality Hiking Boots

You most likely won’t get up to 500 miles for cheaper boots because they are made of low-quality materials. If you’re not a regular hiker and just want to see if hiking is something for you, you can go for these. But be sure that sooner or later you will have to buy new boots.

Low-quality hiking boots usually can go up to 200-300 miles, depending on how you use them.

Which Factors Play a Role in the Wear and Tear of Hiking Boots?

If you own hiking boots, wear and tear will eventually occur due to aging or usage. In the long run, you cannot prevent this. One of the factors that play an important role in the wear and tear of your boots is the terrain where you are hiking.

For example, hiking in meadows is less likely to cause your boots to wear or tear. The grassland is less harmful to your boots compared to mountaineering or hiking in the woods. Hiking in the woods is almost as strenuous as mountaineering but with less pressure on the boots.

Mountaineering involves a lot of pressure on your boots. Even with high-quality boots, your shoes will have a shorter life span if you do more mountaineering.

How Do You Care for Your Hiking Boots Properly?

After mentioning possible causes of wear and tear on hiking boots and important signs to look out for, it is paramount to discuss methods for taking care of your hiking boots to increase their lifespan.

To take care of your hiking boots, you can follow these simple steps which will ensure longevity:

  • Remove and air your insoles regularly
  • Clean your boots regularly and get rid of substances like mud which can spoil your boots if it sticks on them for too long
  • Always make sure your boots are dry because water will lead to fatigue of material
  • Spray your boots with a waterproofing spray
  • Keep your boots in dust bags

These simple steps guarantee you comfort and longevity when wearing hiking boots. Follow these steps and you won’t have to worry about wear and tear frequently.

Conclusion: When to Replace Hiking Boots?

Hiking is, without a doubt, a great exercise that can heal both your body and soul in different ways. But: It’s essential to have reliable equipment during your hike to make it fun.

Your hiking boots are a key component that also determines your safety. Therefore, it’s essential that you maintain them and keep them in good shape and replace them if necessary.

Last Update: 29. March 2022
About the Author

My name is Thomas, and I love the outdoors. I'm currently living in Germany and I would like to encourage my readers to go outside with this blog. Here you can read more about me.