Article Types Article How to: make walking boots last longer

How to: make walking boots last longer


In National Walking month this May we’ve teamed up with BMC Official Retail Partner Cotswold Outdoor to bring you all the info and advice you need to care for and repair your favourite pair of walking boots. Not only does this save you money, it also saves the environment - the less we consume and throw away, the better.

Once, as a teen, I left my walking boots so caked in mud that grass had started to actually grow from their soles when I next went to wear them. That was an early lesson in boot care and out came the scrubbing brush in time to make them last many more miles. You do see battered, old boots in peoples’ gardens, filled with colourful flowers; they’re amusing, but they make quite an expensive plant pot! A good quality pair of walking boots is a significant financial investment, not to mention a potential 27.1kg of CO2-eq over their lifetime so it makes sense to care for them and repair them if possible so they last as long as they possibly can.


Care for your walking boots starts the moment you buy them, with Cotswold Outdoor’s 60 Second Footwear Protection Service provided by IMBOX. Simply pop them inside one of the machines found in all Cotswold Outdoor stores. Inside, six nozzles spray your boots with a water- and dirt-repellent coating that lasts up to six weeks and can be extended by using a top-up spray or sponge proofer too. This treatment is safe for you and the environment, having been rigorously tested by PFI Test and Research Institute and accredited certification body in Germany. The service costs £4.50 and there’s no need to book - just bring your new (or fully cleaned!) boots into any store. You can protect other types of shoes too, including trainers, shoes and sandals.

After your walk

After each walk, especially the muddy ones, take 10 minutes to gently scrub off any mud, grass, grit and dust that has made its home on your boots using warm water and a semi-stiff brush. For the best results, we recommend using a specialist performance footwear cleaner like Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel or Granger’s Footwear Gear Cleaner, then wipe off any excess residue with a damp cloth.

Dry them right

If your boots are wet, once cleaned, stuff them with crunched up newspaper to help draw out the moisture and maintain their shape. This will stop the rot, and also prevent bad smells building up! Although it’s tempting to pop them on a radiator or fireplace to dry them quicker, this can cause the uppers to crack. Boots need to dry slowly in a warm room like an airing cupboard, or naturally outdoors in the wind, but sheltered from direct sunlight.

Re-proof regularly

When you notice that water has stopped beading up and rolling off your walking boot uppers, it’s time to re-proof them. Take a look at the fabric your boot is made from and select the appropriate re-proofing product. There is a range from fabric and leather, nubuck and suede, to full leather.

Check for wear

Take a look at the soles of your walking boots fairly regularly to see if it is loosing its grip or cracking and needs to be replaced. If you notice the lugs wearing away, book your repair before the wear reaches the midsole as damage to this softer area is more difficult to rectify. First, check your warranty to see whether you’re within the timeframe for a free repair, replacement or discount. Many boot brands now provide a resoling service themselves, or can direct you to one of the many independent resoling companies.

Although you can resole a boot or shoe, it is not yet possible to replace the uppers in the same way. You can stitch them up and/or buy glue and patches to replace small holes to keep the boot going for a while longer, but ultimately, once water and grit can enter through damaged areas, your boot has reached the end of its life. But it’s still not ready to become a plant pot in your garden…

Recycle your old boots

Did you know you can take your old (clean!) walking boots, and many other types of outdoor kit and clothing, to Cotswold Outdoors for recycling? Donated gear is collected by the Phoenix Resource Centre to sort at their UK recycling site. There they work with Olympus, an employment scheme for people with additional learning needs, to sort the items before shipping them to East Africa. If the items are not wearable or repairable, such as tattered old walking boots, they are repurposed into use as raw materials in various industries, for example rubber playground matting, sports courts and insulation. If your boots (and other kit donated) are still useable or repairable, they will be repaired by the Women’s Institutes of East Africa and given to orphans, homeless people, refugees and tribal communities.

Find your nearest Recycle My Gear drop-off point here.