HIKING BOOTS – which to choose and how to care for them
Firstly, we would like to advise you as to what type of hiking boots to look for when you are buying a new pair. Your hiking shoes are one of the most important pieces of hiking gear. They can make or break your Irish hiking tour.
First thing to look for is ankle support. Some of the trails can be quite uneven so a strong leather upper will protect you against ankle injuries.
The next thing to make sure of is that your select a pair of waterproof hiking boots. We really do see 4 seasons in one day here in Ireland. So you will need to make sure your boots can deal with wet conditions underfoot…….no one wants we hiking socks!!
We have a detailed video on boot selection here.
Once you have found a boot that suits you caring for them is an important thing to be aware of!! Treating Injuries does not always have to be cuts, bruises or sprains…..we’ll make suggestions on those in a different blog. For now…take a look at this:-
Unloved & un-cared for boots can very often be the biggest injury we have to manage on our hikes & it’s not ideal if it happens in the middle of a hike when you are in a remote area & away from easy rescue…!!!!
Believe it or not – this is not the first time we’ve come across “injured” leather boots (although I do think these ones win the prize as the worst….!!!) The moral of the story??? Please look after your boots – care for them properly (ask when you purchase them what after care is required) & ALWAYS ensure they are washed thoroughly in fresh water & dried properly before you put them away until your next hike.
Our motto is always “prevention is better than cure” and we will always do our best to keep you well informed on various Hiking & Biking issues to prevent unwanted injuries.
So, back to your Hiking Boots…..there are two VERY important things to keep in mind
FIRST – did you know that “bog” or marshy ground is very acidic – so during your day’s hiking on this type of ground the acid soil eats into your boots – both the upper and the sole. In Ireland – we call it Turf, bog or peatland – and you will find it almost everywhere you hike in this country. It’s fabulous hiking through bogland as it is soft underfoot and it takes hundreds of years to form – so it is history in the making every time you “squelch” through it….!! ????
The most important thing to remember is that at the end of your hike, you need to rinse your boots (upper part & the soles) in fresh water, taking a stiff brush to ensure all the residue dirt comes off & rinse them thoroughly. This helps keep your pair of hiking boots water resistant…..and, in turn, your feet dry!!
SECOND – sand & salt water are also very damaging for your boots. Again in Ireland we are lucky with our coastal paths, many of which will take you to lovely sandy beaches. If your walk takes you to a beach – we really recommend you give your feet a super holiday, take off your boots & socks & walk barefoot in the shoreline – a natural foot-spa ???? .
If you wear your Hiking Boots on the beach or near salt water – then once again, ensure you rinse them off as soon as you can in fresh water, giving them a thorough scrub to get off all the sand that may be embedded in your boot. Once again, ensure you clean the sole of your boot properly as well.
FINALLY – before you put your Hiking Boots away – ensure you take out the insole (if it comes out) and dry out the inside of your boot – stuff it with newspaper if necessary & then discard the newspaper & leave your boots to air dry properly before you put them away.
Taking care of your Hiking Boots this way will give greater longevity from your boots & they will serve you for many years. If your boots are leather – we recommend you re-wax them regularly with Meindl Sports Wax or NikWax or similar (even saddle soap is good for leather). If your boots are fabric – then you can usually find a waterproof spray for them which will keep them in good order.
What did we do with these boots when they fell apart…??? Most of our Guides carry a small amount of heavy duty tape (known as DUCT tape) in their first aid kits – and luckily – that’s what we did & were able to get our hiker safely off the hills & back to civilisation where they could buy a new pair of boots….????… and the holiday was much enjoyed.