Hiking boots are one of those non-negotiable pieces of necessary equipment for hiking and climbing. You need to maintain them properly to ensure they protect you well and have a long life. Your first step in caring for new hiking boots involves breaking them in. Many experienced hikers recommend wearing new hiking boots for short walks, either around town or in the wilderness. Once your boots fit comfortably, the task of conditioning and maintaining them begins.
Condition your hiking boots. Waterproof your hiking boots before and after a trip. Apply three coats the first time, then two coats each time after that. Some products condition and add moisture to the boots as well. With leather boots, applying boot conditioner keeps the boots from drying and cracking.
Clean your boots after every major excursion. Allow caked mud and moisture to dry, and then use a rag or brush with soft bristles to rid the exterior of mud and debris. Wipe out the insides of your hiking boots to keep sweat from building up and staining the fabric.
Allow hiking boots to dry naturally. Using a hair dryer, oven or campfire to accelerate drying can shrink the fabric, break down adhesives and damage the boots. Instead, allow boots to air-dry, avoiding direct sun. Leather hiking boots can crack if they dry in high heat.
Keep your hiking boots laced while walking around. Your laces help your hiking boots maintain their shape. In addition, you avoid walking on and damaging stray laces if you keep them laced and tied.
Store your hiking boots during extended periods of non-usage. If you put away your boots for the winter or rainy season, do not place them in moist areas. Boots also should not sit in extremely hot or cold rooms when stored for a long time. Store them in rooms with comfortable temperatures and little humidity or moisture. Try them on during the off-season to keep them shaped correctly for your feet.
To safely accelerate drying your hiking boots, stuff them with crumpled newspaper. Allow the moisture from the boots to soak into the newspaper, and then remove the paper and add fresh, dry newspaper.
Do not use soap to wash leather boots because it can cause leather to become brittle and crack.