When to Replace Hiking Boots – 8 Signs You Need New Shoes

When to Replace Hiking Boots – 8 Quick Signs You Need New Boots

Are you one of the nearly 59 million people in the United States who enjoyed hiking at least once in 2021?

With an incredible 80.4% growth in participation since 2010, it’s clear that more and more Americans are discovering the joys of hitting the trails.

But to make the most of your outdoor adventures, it’s crucial to know when to replace your hiking boots.

In this article, we’ll explore 8 quick signs that it’s time to invest in a new pair of boots, ensuring your safety and comfort on every hike.

So let’s lace up, enjoy that fresh air, and learn how to keep your feet in tip-top shape for your next trek!

How Frequently Should You Change Your Hiking Boots?

The lifespan of a pair of hiking boots depends on a variety of factors, including the quality of the boots, the terrain you hike on, and how frequently you use them.

Typically, when you hike around 10 miles each week, you’ll need to consider getting new hiking boots after covering 500-1,000 miles. By the time you hit the thousand-mile milestone, it should be evident that a replacement is necessary.

However, it’s important to remember that not all boots are created equal—some may last longer, while others may wear out more quickly.

To determine when it’s time to replace your hiking boots, consider factors like the materials they’re made of and how they hold up to your specific hiking habits.

Ultimately, it’s important to regularly assess the condition of your boots and use a “checklist” approach to determine when a replacement is necessary, ensuring your feet stay safe and comfortable on the trails.

8 Signs You Need New Hiking Boots: A Detailed Guide

When to replace hiking boots

1. Worn Out Tread

One of the most crucial aspects of hiking boots is their ability to provide traction on various terrains. If the tread on the bottom of your boots has worn down significantly, you may find yourself slipping and struggling to maintain stability on the trail.

Inspect the tread patterns on your boots, paying attention to any areas that are noticeably smoother or less defined than they used to be.

If you find significant wear on the tread, it’s a clear indication that it’s time to invest in a new pair of hiking boots to ensure your safety and comfort on the trail.

2. Damaged Upper and Stitching

The upper part of your hiking boots is responsible for protecting your feet from the elements and providing support.

Over time, the leather, fabric, or synthetic materials used in the upper can develop cracks, rips, or tears, which can affect the boots’ structural stability and waterproofing.

Additionally, inspect the stitching around the upper and the sole. Frayed or separated stitching can further impair the integrity of the boot, leaving your feet vulnerable to water and debris.

If you notice damage to the upper or stitching, it’s time to replace your hiking boots.

3. Shape and Ankle Collar Issues

A well-fitting hiking boot should maintain its shape to provide proper support to your feet and ankles.

If your boots appear deformed, flatter, lopsided, or wider than they used to be, this could signal a loss of structural support and an increased risk of injury.

Additionally, check the ankle collar (the upper part of the boot that wraps around your ankle) for signs of wear, loss of shape, or cushioning.

Damaged ankle collars can compromise the stability and support provided by your boots, making it necessary to invest in a new pair.

4. Insole Deterioration

Insoles play a vital role in hiking boot comfort by providing cushioning and support to your feet.

Over time, the insoles can wear down, resulting in a less comfortable hiking experience and an increased risk of blisters. Inspect your insoles for hairline cracks, misshapen arch support, or worn heel pads.

If your insoles show signs of significant wear, it’s time to consider replacing your hiking boots.

5. Midsole Compression

The midsole of your hiking boots provides crucial cushioning that absorbs impact on your joints, such as your feet, ankles, knees, and hips.

Over time, the midsole may become compressed and lose its ability to provide adequate support and shock absorption.

To check for midsole compression, perform the press test by pressing your thumb against the tread pattern on the bottom of the shoe and pushing upwards into the midsole.

Look for compression lines along the side of the shoe. If these lines are pronounced or the shoe has little rebound left, it’s time to replace your hiking boots.

6. Lacing System Problems

To get a snug, supportive fit in your hiking boots, a reliable lacing system is required. Look for broken eyelets, bent or missing eyelets, or lacing loops that are beginning to separate from the upper cloth while inspecting your boots.

To ensure a correct fit and enough support on the trail, it’s time to think about getting new boots if you experience any problems with the lacing system.

7. Waterproofing Failure

To keep your feet dry in wettish circumstances, many hiking boots are built with waterproofing features. Unfortunately, this waterproofing may deteriorate with time, leaving your feet susceptible to wetness.

Your boots’ waterproofing may have failed if they routinely leak water. While a waterproofing spray could work as a short-term fix, it might not offer enduring defense against water entry.

If your boots keep absorbing water, you should start looking for a new pair of hiking boots with sufficient waterproofing.

8. Decreased Comfort

Comfort is crucial when it comes to hiking, as it allows you to enjoy your outdoor adventures without unnecessary aches and pains.

If your hiking boots no longer feel as comfortable as they once did, it may be an indication that they need replacing.

Some common signs of decreased comfort include unexpected aches and pains in your ankles, back, feet, hips, knees, or legs, blistering or chafing in new areas, and increased discomfort when walking over terrain that previously didn’t cause issues.

If you experience any of these signs, it’s time to consider investing in a new pair of hiking shoes that offer the comfort and support you need for your outdoor adventures.

How Many Miles Do Hiking Boots Last?

Hiking boots typically last between 350-1,000 miles, depending on the brand, quality, and how well they are maintained. High-quality brands tend to offer greater durability, while lower-quality boots may need replacement after just 350 miles.

The average hiker covers about 10-15 miles per week, which influences boot longevity. If you frequently embark on long-distance trips or multi-day hiking trails, consider replacing your boots sooner to ensure optimal support and comfort.

Proper Storage and Maintenance for Hiking Boots

Proper storage and maintenance of your hiking boots are essential for ensuring their longevity and optimal performance. Taking good care of your footwear can make a significant difference in how long they last and how comfortable they remain.

Here are some steps you can follow to maintain your hiking boots effectively:

  • Break in your boots properly before wearing them on hikes, which helps prevent blisters and sore feet.
  • Store your boots indoors, in a cool, dry place when not in use, to prevent discoloration and misshaping.
  • Apply waterproofing treatments to protect them from water damage if they don’t already have built-in waterproof features.
  • Replace worn or damaged insoles and laces to maintain proper support and fit.
  • Remove any rocks, dirt, or debris from your boots after each use to prevent excessive wear and tear.
  • Clean off mud or dirt after use to minimize the impact on the boots’ materials and structure.
  • If your boots become wet, dry them out thoroughly, but avoid applying direct heat, as this could damage synthetic uppers and other fabrics.

By following these steps, you can help ensure your hiking boots remain in great shape for many miles of comfortable and safe adventures.


Investing in a good pair of hiking boots is essential for those who enjoy exploring the great outdoors.

Knowing when to replace your boots and how to properly care for them can significantly extend their lifespan and ensure your hiking experiences remain enjoyable and safe.

Be mindful of the signs that indicate it’s time for new boots and follow the recommended maintenance and storage practices to make the most of your investment.

Remember, a well-maintained pair of hiking boots not only provides comfort and support but also helps protect your feet from potential injuries. Happy hiking!


How important is ankle support in hiking footwear?

Ankle support is crucial in hiking footwear as it helps stabilize your foot and prevents injuries like sprains or strains. High-quality hiking boots provide proper ankle support, ensuring that your feet are protected during long hikes or treks on uneven or rocky terrain.

In addition to hiking boots, what else should I take on my hike?

Check out our hiking essentials guide to see everything you need to take with you on your next hike.

When should I consider buying new hiking shoes?

You should consider buying new hiking shoes when your old hiking boots start showing signs of wear and tear, such as damaged tread, compromised ankle support, or if they become uncomfortable. Additionally, if you’ve covered 500-1,000 miles in your old boots, it’s typically time to invest in a new pair.

Is it necessary to invest in waterproof hiking boots?

Waterproof hiking boots are essential if you plan on hiking in wet or damp conditions. They help keep your feet dry and comfortable during your outdoor adventures. Waterproof boots also help maintain the overall quality and longevity of the footwear.

How can I find the best hiking boots for my needs?

To find the best hiking boots, consider factors like the terrain you’ll be hiking on, the level of ankle support you require, and your personal comfort preferences. Research various brands and models, read reviews, and try on multiple pairs to determine the most suitable option for your needs.

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