When to Replace Your Hiking Boots and Trail Shoes

Wondering when to replace your hiking boots or trail shoes? Getting the timing right can be tricky, but with all of the information below, you'll know exactly when it's time to spend the money on that new pair of hiking shoes.

Signs you need to replace your hiking shoes

If you see one or more of the signs below, it's time to replace your hiking shoes.

1. Frayed or worn laces are one of the earliest signs that your hiking boots or trail shoes are on their last leg. The friction of tightening and loosening your laces will wear them down over time. Worn-out laces are a sure sign that you should start shopping for a new pair.

2. A cracked midsole or visible compression lines in the midsole are a definite indication that your shoes need to be retired. A midsole with cracking or compression lines no longer offers the cushion or support you need to comfortably hike for long periods of time.

3. Similar to frayed laces, loose eyelets are a sign of wear that are easy to spot. If the eyelets on your shoes are loose, you won't be able to properly lace your shoes lessening their comfort and support on the trail.

4. If you have worn-out insoles and/or ankle support, you definitely need a new pair of hiking boots. Check your insole for cracks and your ankle collar for misshapen cushioning or a loose fit. Hikes will become uncomfortable as you lose more support and cushion.

5. Worn tread on the outsoles of your hiking shoes is a sign that you need to replace them. Worn outsole tread can potentially be dangerous, as you will lose the traction needed to stay upright on all kinds of terrain.

6. If you experience discomfort in different ways than when your shoes were new, you need new hiking boots. Blisters, aching feet, joint pain, back pain and "hot spots" are all signs that your shoes are too worn out to tackle another trail. While this might be #6 on our list of signs, this is the #1 reason why you should replace your hiking boots.

when to replace hiking boots

How to do the "press test" on your hiking boots

The "press test" is a quick test you can do on your hiking boots to determine whether or not they need to be replaced. It's super easy, just follow the simple two-step process below.

1. Press the outsole of your boot upward with your thumb. Press hard enough to simulate the flexing and compression that the boot would experience as you hike on a trail.

2. Look at the midsole as you press and watch for cracks or strong compression lines. If the midsole has small, fine lines or wrinkles, it's in fine shape and can still provide support as you hike. If you see cracks, many strong compression lines or no compression at all, your midsole is no longer able to provide the support and shock absorption you need to comfortably hike on a trail.

General mileage guidelines for replacing hiking shoes

Quality hiking boots and trail shoes can usually be expected to last 500-1000 miles (805 to 1610 km). Yes, that's a huge range, but the total mileage your boots can handle depends on a few factors that can vary widely among hikers. Your weight, the most common hiking terrain, the kind of shoes and the care or maintenance of your shoes all variables that play into how long your shoes will last.

Heavier hikers will see quicker shoe wear and tear, as will high-mileage hikers and hikers who don't keep their shoes clean and dry after a trip. The brand or kind of hiking boots also makes a big difference. Asolo, Alico, Hi-Tec, Merrell, La Sportiva and  Scarpa are a few of the best, most reliable hiking boot and trail shoe brands, and you can find all of them for an unbeatable value at Sierra Trading Post.
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