Last Updated: January 29, 2023

How Often Should You Replace Your Hiking Shoes?

Hiking footwear, whether it’s hiking boots or hiking shoes, has a tough life. They are put through their paces on rough terrain and no matter if they are the best hiking boots in the world, they are going to wear out at some point.

So, when should you replace your hiking shoes?

There is no one correct answer to this question as a lot of variables such as use and terrain impact the lifespan of hiking footwear.

But, generally speaking, once hiking boots or hiking shoes have done between 500 and 1000 miles, they are probably in need of an upgrade.

However, this is not always the case, so let’s take a look at the signs you need to be aware of that show you when to replace hiking boots.

When To Replace Hiking Boots

replace hiking boots

When to replace your hiking boots comes down to how much you use them and where you use them. If you walk on flat grass with them once a month, they will last a lot longer than hiking 10 miles a week up rugged mountain terrain.

But, eventually, they are all going to crack so here are the signs it is time to replace your hiking boots that you should keep an eye out for.

If Your Hiking Boots Are Not Comfortable Any More

When you start noticing that your old pair of hiking boots are starting to be uncomfortable, it is a sign that some new hiking boots might be on the horizon.

Comfort is key to enjoying hiking and as discomfort starts to creep in, it is a sign that your hiking boots are not functioning as well as they used to.

The issue usually has to do with the tread or insole. After too much wear both these areas of hiking boots offer less support causing your feet and body to take up the impact.

Compression lines in the side can start to rub and cause blisters where the hiking boots didn’t before. The ankle can lose its rigidity and not offer enough support anymore.

It is never worth hiking in discomfort and it certainly isn’t worth using a hiking boot that will cause you pain and physical problems.

If you start feeling new pains where there were none before, it is time to replace your hiking boots.

Your Hiking Boots Are Not Waterproof Any More

not waterproof anymore

Waterproof hiking boots don’t stay waterproof forever and once they start to leak, it is a sure sign that something has gone wrong internally.

Most waterproof boots or shoes come with a limited waterproofing warranty, and if they are within the warranty period, send them off to be fixed quickly.

You also have the choice to use waterproofing spray to extend their water resistance but this will not last forever either.

When your hiking boots or hiking shoes start leaking it is certainly time to start thinking about getting some new hiking boots/shoes. You can find some new hiking shoes that are great for water here.

The Ankle Support Is Fading

Worn-out ankle support on hiking boots is a sure sign that a new pair of hiking boots is needed, sometimes quite urgently.

Signs that your ankle support is fading include worn-out material on the inside of the hiking boot, loss of shape, reduced cushioning, and cracks on the outside. The number one sign is, of course, that you don’t feel like you are getting enough support anymore.

It is simply not a good idea to hike around without proper ankle support as it can cause problems in others that compensate for it such as your joints.

When the ankle collar is done, it is time to hang up your old hiking boots and get some new boots.

When Your Shoelaces Are Fading

Laces can take a serious battering on rocky terrain but even exposure to UV and moisture will cause your laces to deteriorate.

Luckily, laces are easily replaced. So, worn laces or frayed laces don’t exactly mean you have to replace your hiking boots.

Make sure to keep an eye on your laces when wearing boots as the last thing you need is for them to snap mid-hike.

When The Exterior Starts to Look Worn

worn out exterior

If the outside of your hiking boot starts to look worn out, it is time for you to take a closer look.

Every part of a hiking boot exists for a reason from the stitching to the synthetic upper, the sole, the leather, and more. Basically, if any part of your old boots starts getting worn out on the outside, it is going to affect their function and boot longevity.

If the stitching is frayed, then parts of the boot are going to start falling apart, and the boots will not be waterproof anymore.

When the exterior is on the out, it is time to start searching for a new pair of hiking boots.

When The Insoles Aren’t Doing Their Job Any More

The insoles of any pair of boots are key to your comfort. After all, the purpose of an insole is to give your feet arch support and cushion against impact.

Bad insoles are not comfortable as your feet will bear the brunt of the impact of hiking. It is time for new insoles when you can see them cracking or when the material beneath them starts coming through.

Sometimes, a new set of insoles do not cut it as they can move around the boot and cause blisters. This means a new pair of hiking boots might be the only solution.

The Midsole Is Worn Away

After a lot of use, a worn midsole is inevitable even in expensive boots. The midsole sits between your insoles and the tread and provides most of the shock absorbing and cushioning you need to hike in comfort.

Midsole defects include cracked midsoles which cause them to be very uncomfortable on the trail. The midsole can even separate from the outsole if you are not careful.

Make sure you keep an eye on the midsole as when they fall apart, you can easily turn an ankle, fall, or have a lot of new pain in your feet.

The Tread Isn’t Doing Its Thing

Tread is important as it keeps you stable while you are hiking. The last thing anyone wants is to slip, fall, and get injured especially when in the middle of a hike.

Your tread pattern can wear down to nothing overnight. Somehow it seems to stay tough for ages but then suddenly after one rough hike, it is done and now dangerous.

Unfortunately, you can not replace your tread and will have to buy a new pair of hiking boots or shoes when this happens.

Loose Eyelets & Worn Lacing Loops

worn lacing loops

Whether your boots come with eyelets or lacing loops, when these start to fall apart, your boots might be in need of replacement, especially if they are high-top boots.

Not being able to tighten your laces correctly can lead to loose boots and poor ankle support. Loose boots cause rubbing and blisters while a lack of ankle support makes a pair of boots a little dangerous.

Keep an eye on eyelets and lacing loops as when they go, it is usually the right time for some fresh boots or shoes.


Is there a test for seeing if you need new boots?

Sometimes it is hard to know you need some fresh hiking boots or shoes. If you are unsure a good way of checking is to do a comparison.

Go and try on a new pair with your old pair with you so you can compare them. If the new ones feel much better and more supportive than your old ones, then it might be a sign to invest in the new ones.

How do I test if the midsoles are worn out?

The best way to check if your boots are compromised in the midsole or in their cushioning is by doing the press test.

Simply push the tread into the midsole and check for any cushioning. If it is like pushing against a rock, your midsoles are done, but if there is some bounce to it, they are likely fine.

Do expensive boots last longer?

Generally speaking, more expensive boots last longer than affordable boots. But, you can find some great cheap hiking boots on the market that are pretty damn durable.

About the Author Roger Timbrook

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!

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