I was chatting with a Guy new to hiking recently. He has been out a few times now with a group I hike with sometimes and I can see he is getting into it. Anyway, as what usually happens with most folks after they hike for a while, they start to think about what kit they need to get.
On their first few outings, when they are just getting started, they tend to use whatever gear they either already have or get some cheap and cheerful options. This ties them over while they figure out if this whole hiking lark is something they want to get into on an ongoing basis.
Steve, the new Guy in my group is at the stage where he knows he wants to stick with it and so, he is starting to think about what kit he should get. As alluded to above, he currently uses a mixture of old gear he has laying around and an old pair of cheap hiking boots he had from some years back.
Anyway, the subject of hiking boots came up when we were chatting and he started to query me around how much a good pair of hiking boots would cost. I thought about it and said, to get a pretty decent pair of hiking boots that will protect your feet and stand up to the elements year round, if you factor in utilizing coupons and deals, you’re probably looking at spending between $150 to $300 for a pretty good pair of hiking boots.
He nodded and said, OK cool. Then he asked me another question, ‘how long will those boots last?’ This one was interesting as I thought about it. If I make an investment of $150 to $300 in a piece of kit I’d want to know how long it would last too. However, as I thought about it, it this wasn’t a straightforward thing to answer.
How Long Will Hiking Boots Last?
This is really dependent on so many things, it’s a tricky one to give a specific answer on. There are many factors for sure. First off ...
How Often do you go Hiking?
If you are a weekend day hiker, heading out once a week, you can expect a longer period of useful use from your hiking boots than say, someone who goes out hiking four times a week. You're simply using them less than the person going out four times a week.
Where do you go Hiking?
If you hike on very soft but firm trails, your boots will stand up better over time than someone who regularly hikes over rock, shale, scree and marshy ground. Clearly, the boots will just take less of a beating on nice even trails as opposed to tough and challenging terrain.
What Hiking Boots do you have?
Of course, there is a wide gap in quality when it comes to different types of hiking boots. If you spend $100 on a pair of boots or $300, you would expect that the more expensive model will hold out better. In most cases you can expect that to be the case but not always, there are always exceptions.
In summary though, the type of boots you have bought will have a big impact. The make-up and construction of them will have a large bearing on how they hold up.
Care and Maintenance
Do you wash your hiking boots down after every hike and let them dry out properly? Do you treat them, if they’re leather, regularly? How much you care for them will of course effect the longevity of your boots.
If you head out in boggy marsh and muck but just throw your hiking boots in the corner after every hike, yep, they’re going to go out of business sooner rather than later.
Your weight has an impact on how long your hiking boots will last. Logically, a heavier load will put stress on a pair of hiking boots more so than a lighter one. Common sense tells you this but it is a factor to be added into the mix for consideration.
Now, I should add here that I don't necessarily mean weight in terms of a persons body mass, although that is a factor for sure. Think about backpacking though. If you like to do a lot of backpacking, you will be carrying a heavy load around most of the time and so the weight and stress on your boots will be much higher. Hence why backpacking boots and day hiking boots can be quite different in their construction.
How do I Factor all of this in to Make an Estimate?
Well, I think the best advice I can give is to think of the length of life of your hiking boots, a bit like the length of life of a car. How many miles do you do? If you day hike once a week and do an average of 15 miles, your boots will last much longer than someone who hikes four times a week doing 10 miles. Now, this assumes everything else like care and maintenance, weight, terrain etc. being more or less equal.
Using that context, from my experience, a decent pair of hiking boots in the $150 to $300 range should last anywhere from 500 to 1000 miles (805 to 1610 km's). That's a ball park number I have found to hold up pretty well. I have also found that, generally speaking, the further I go up in price range for a reputable brand pair of boots, the more miles I will get out of the hiking boots.
Tip to Extend The Life of Your Hiking Boots
When choosing hiking boots, be sure to educate yourself in the buying process first and foremost. You need to be clear on what you need your hiking boots for before you move to buying a pair.
When you're ready to buy hiking boots, one tip to help get the most out of the life of the boots, could be to look for hiking boots that have a resoling option. If the rest of your boots, the uppers and so on, are well looked after, the resoling option could significantly extend the life of your hiking boots.
Getting custom made hiking boots, should be resolable by default, is also an option but it is expensive, so if you can find a branded pair of hiking boots that can be resoled, it's a nice middle ground that should work for most.
I was glad that Steve asked me this question as it certainly got me thinking. I kind of take all of this into consideration by default so it was good to sit down and have a proper think about it. I thought a short post on it might be useful for others thinking about this too.
I'm always learning though so I'm sure I'll pick up more points of note about how long a pair of hiking boots should last as time goes on. Technology will no doubt get better and better as it usually does, and so in theory the quality and durability of materials, etc. should help add a few more miles to the hiking boot odometer.
However, I guess brand names don't want their boots to last forever either though, not good for business I would think 🙂
If you're in the market for a pair of hiking boots, check out some of my favorite options here. I hope you enjoyed this post, please like and share.