Once you buy your new hiking boots, there’s only one thing left to do: take them for a hike. Assuming that your new boots don’t need a break-in, we can all understand the excitement you get when you go with your new hiking boots for the first time.
And what better way to see and figure out how the boots are performing unless you take the rocky, the wet, the uneven, the muddy, and the dirty trails? Experienced hikers aren’t shy about using their footwear right out of the box, even if it comes with a price. As you’re taking the rocky and muddy tracks, your boots will inevitably get dirty, but you don’t have time to think about that while hiking. You will be dealing with that problem at home.
But what does dirty mean when it comes to hiking boots? Do you have to clean your footwear after every time, or you can wait until the dirt and mud have build up enough? Do you leave the ground on the treads, or do you wait until you give your boots a deep clean? To all of these questions and many more, we’re answering down below, so keep reading.
Why should you clean your hiking boots?
All hikers know that hiking boots come in perfect condition when out of the box. You don’t need to apply any treatment, coating, cleaning, especially if your shoes come with the Gore-Tex membrane.
As long as you’ve chosen right and you broke in the boots, they should stay that way for a fair amount of time. But if you’re an avid hiker, you know that it’s not going to be long until your perfectly clean boots get caked with mud, campfire ashes, residual creek water, or some fall leaves. Even if your shoes don’t look dirty, every piece of dirt, sand, or dust will dirty your boots. The more you wait to clean the dirt/mud, the higher the risk for your footwear to last for a lot less than expected.
Cleaning your hiking boots after every single hike will expand their lifespan, no matter how great your shoes are. It doesn’t mean that you should clean your hiking boots from the second you get home, as we all know you may be exhausted. Just don’t wait for more than two days to clean your hiking boots after carefully reading the washing instructions.
What’s the most effective method for cleaning waterproof hiking boots?
Never proceed to clean your hiking boots without reading the label for washing instructions. Reliable manufacturers will provide you all the info you need about your hiking boots’ materials and what’s the best method for cleaning.
In the case of waterproof boots (most of them are Gore-Tex), you should start with shaking any gravel, dirt, or sand left inside. If possible, you should also remove the footbed before washing. Get a cloth/brush and a bit of lukewarm water for cleaning.
Professionals remind us repeatedly that you should never utilize any form of direct heat for your boots, as you may dry out the leather for good. It would help if you let your hiking boots dry naturally, under moderate temperatures. Sometimes, it’s possible to use a fan, placing your footwear upside down, or using some newspaper for stuffing and moisture absorbency.
Gore-Tex hiking boots and waterproofing waxes or greases are never a good idea, as they will damage the breathability of your shoes.
It would help if you only washed the boots, which isn’t going to affect the waterproofness. Should you be determined to use polishes, treatments, dressings, and conditioners, you have to check the care instructions specified by the manufacturer.
Is it possible to clean your hiking boots while on the trails? Should you?
If you’re big on extended backpacking, you won’t be near a sink any time soon, but you don’t always need water for fast cleaning of your boots.
Get a cloth/brush while hiking, cleaning your footwear off debris and dirt as you go. Just because you don’t have a sink doesn’t mean that you should postpone cleaning, especially if there’s water nearby. Lakes, streams, and rivers make great cleaning stations for your hiking boots. You need to think outside the box and see the opportunities for cleaning as they appear.
Once you get back home, you should still correctly clean the boots. Gore-tex boots are excellent in waterproofness, breathability, and resistance to elements and wind, but you need to maintain the technologies with constant care and cleaning.
What’s the best way to take care of your Gore-Tex hiking boots?
If you’re willing to pay the high dollar for some Gore-Tex hiking boots, you know you’re investing in the long run. You’re paying the extra buck because you know how valuable waterproofness and breathability are for hiking performance.
Regularly cleaning and taking care of your boots will maintain those features, but the maintenance process doesn’t end when you turn off the faucet. It would help if you also took care of your Gore-Tex when they’re not in use.
Unlike other waterproofing technologies, the Gore-Tex membrane doesn’t lose its abilities overnight. However, some outside activities may damage the Gore-Tex membrane. Exposing the membrane to the debris, gravel, or sand is a typical example that may alter Gore-tex.
Many Gore-tex boots can handle various activities, but it’s not the case with all Gore-Tex products. When you use the boots, what you do, and how you use the footwear can significantly impact your Gore-Tex boots’ durability. When you’re aware of your boots’ intended use, you will expand the durability of your footwear. It’s no brainer that how you care for your shoes will impact the durability, both positively and negatively.
Fitting is also an important aspect when it comes to Gore-Tex footwear. For example, if the boots are too tight or your toes don’t have enough space for freely moving, they will keep touching the front of your shoes. Constant touching of your toes will affect the durability of the Gore-Tex membrane, which is relatively thin. Internal abrasion is an essential factor for the Gore-Tex lining durability, so buying hiking boots that provide perfect fit is necessary.
The moment your boots start showing tears, rips, punctures, worn soles, or abrasions, you should start looking for a new pair of hiking boots.
Give your hiking boots a good look any now and then. When it looks worn out, it’s probably worn out. However, if you’re taking good care of your Gore-Tex hiking boots, they will most likely remain waterproof and breathable for a reasonable amount of time.