If you hike casually for fun, or especially if you’re a weekend warrior who is very serious about hiking, most likely you know how important footwear is for your chosen activity. If your hiking boots don’t fit properly they can easily ruin your longer excursions out on the trail.
Assuming you’re smart enough to have purchased a pair of boots that fit properly and adhere to all of the important hiking boot purchase considerations, properly caring for your boots is equally important if not more so. Being that hiking boots are much more expensive than regular shoes at $100 and over in most cases, maintaining them properly will help you maximize their life span.
Proper care and maintenance depends on the materials your boots are made of. If you have the older style leather boots, the job of caring for them is much more difficult than modern boots that are made with fabrics, or fabric and leather combination boots. The waterproofing and waxing will need to be done on the boot exterior which can take a half hour or more per application.
But even leather boots today are much easier to clean than those of yesteryear before waterproof construction such as Gore-Tex became popular. There is no longer a need for waxing the exterior for waterproof protection, however maintaining the leather is still a good idea. Make sure you clean and polish smooth leather boots after every use, if your boots are made with suede like material that isn’t smooth. You will simply want to brush them clean or get a suede cleaning kit.
Fabric boots are the easiest to clean by far. They simply require a good brush and clean job and maybe an application of water repellent every month or two, depending on your usage amount. You also want to make sure the soles of your boots are clean and free of dirt which can make your boots smell over time if not removed. Lastly, you may want to invest in a quality cedar shoe inserts to maintain the shape of your boots, and to extend their use as much as possible.