5 Steps To Take Care Of Your Trekking Shoes

W hen you buy a pair of trekking shoes, burning a hole in your pocket, you expect it to last for years.

You break into your new trekking shoes, wear them on a much-awaited trek. You enjoy yourself to the fullest and come back home, hardly recognizing your shoes from the previous week. There is mud on the midsole and dust on the tongue. Unsure how to clean, you leave them unattended.

The last sentence in my previous paragraph is what leads to the quick wear and tear of many pairs of shoes.

It is important to take care of your trekking shoes immediately after your trek, irrespective of what they are made of. Here is a 5-step ritual for increasing the shelf life of your shoes:


1 Cleaning:

The first and foremost rule is to clean your shoes every time you return from a trek. Even if you know your shoes will be dirty again in the near future, clean them. The accumulation of mud and grime on the upper fabric of the shoes adversely affects the waterproofing. This may also reduce the breathable nature of your boot. You should always clean your shoes post a trek to remove dirt residues.


You don’t need any special equipment. A soft brush (an old toothbrush works well) or sponge and lukewarm water are good enough. Before cleaning the uppers, bang the soles of your shoes against each other in order to get rid of any remaining dust and mud. Now, lightly soak the brush in water and clean the exteriors to remove all dirt stains.

Use Lukewarm water, a soft toothbrush to scrub out the outer dirt from shoes.


2 Drying:

Whether you have cleaned your boots or not, this step is very important. Even in shoes that breathe, you can end up with sweaty feet. Furthermore, there’s a high chance of water seeping inside from the top when trekking in the rain. In this case, it is essential to dry the shoes so that they maintain their level of performance.


Remove the insole and undo the laces so that the shoes can breathe and dry faster. Leave the shoes to dry at room temperature. Storing damp or wet boots promotes mould growth, so let your trekking shoes air dry for at least 24 hours. Never expose the shoes to a direct source of heat like fire, dryers, blow dryers or direct sun because this could crack them up and damage the waterproofing. In certain cases, it leads to discolouration and weakening of adhesives as well.

In leather boots, this can lead to premature ageing. This is a surefire way to damage your shoes and incur the cost of a new pair due to a silly mistake. Use a fan for faster drying.

Take out the inner sole, loosen up the shoe strings and let your shoes dry for 24 hours


3 Treating:

Always thoroughly clean and dry your shoes before applying any products, so that the treatment is as efficient as possible.These days you get re-waterproofing sprays and greases in all major online stores or market sports store.

Remember: Any kind of treatment helps in prevention, but doesn’t guarantee a 100% success rate. Keep in mind that it’s always better to be prepared, than not.

Re-waterproofing sprays:

With usage, a lot of shoes lose their waterproofing ability. This feature is restored using sprays that aid water in slipping off easily without entering the shoe. The treatment is required only once or twice a year.

Follow the standard application rules written on such sprays. Spray the product evenly all over your shoe. Pay more attention to the seam and joints areas, since most of the water enters from here. Leave them for a full day to dry and absorb the spray. Caution: Don’t try to increase the speed of drying by using an external heat source (hairdryers, sun, etc)

Re-waterproofing grease:

This product is specifically applied to leather boots. This prevents premature ageing, cracking of the leather by making it water repellant. Contrary to popular belief it does not diminish the shoe’s breathability. It can also be used on membrane-type shoes. The grease is applied using a cloth.

4 Repairing:

Inspect your boots and get them repaired as soon as you notice or feel uncomfortable in them. A loose stitch or a torn inner sole can lead to blisters on your foot. Hence inspect your shoes carefully before leaving for a trek.

5 Storing:

Always make sure that your shoes are perfectly dry before storing them. Store them in a dry and well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight. If you do not plan to use them for a long period of time, stuff them with newspaper so that they keep their shape. You can also put dehumidifiers like tea-bags and silica gels to keep the shoe odour-free.

Store in a cool,dry place away from direct sunlight. Stuff some newspapers to keep it dry.

That’s it from me today. In case you have a more efficient way of cleaning your shoe do share it in the comment box below. Let me know if these steps work out for you as well.

The trekking shoes shown in this article are the Kanamo Hiking Shoes and were sent in by QuipCo

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8 thoughts on “5 Steps To Take Care Of Your Trekking Shoes

  1. The damp smell comes from the mold that forms in the moisture that remains in your boots – whether from sweat or an outside source. The best way to get the smell out is to wash the boots and either leave them in the sun to dry or dry them with a hairdryer or other heat source. To reduce dry time, take out the insoles.

  2. Do you also have any suggestions as to where I can find a good Re-waterproofing spray in Bangalore (other than ordering online) ?

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    1. Hmmm, if your trek has ended and you’re back home, washing the mud off is definitely a must-do. But if you’re still on your trek (especially on a cold Himalayan trek) and you still have any trekking left, even if it is just a day, we wouldn’t recommend washing immediately. You don’t want to be trekking with wet shoes — they’re extremely uncomfortable and can make your feet prone to chilblains / frostbites in very cold conditions. Let the mud be till your trek ends and wash after your trek ends.