How to care for hiking shoes & boots:4 tried-and true ways


Let’s face it: Hiking footwear – particularly hiking boots – aren’t cheap. Singapore’s hot and humid weather can also cause hiking shoes to deteriorate quickly if not in use or not maintained properly. Even though it might be tricky, caring for hiking footwear isn’t all that difficult! Discover 4 steps on how to extend the ‘lifespan’ of your hiking kicks! 

Difference between hiking shoes and boots

#1: Level of support

Hiking boots do a great job in holding your ankle in place, thus offering great ankle support which are helpful especially on rough terrains. However, due to the stiffness of the shoe, your walking movements will also have to accommodate the structure of the shoe. To prevent any blisters, break into your shoes before embarking on any hikes or treks.        

Hiking shoes offer much less ankle support, but they are softer and more flexible. These are usually more suitable for nature hiking trails in Singapore including MacRitchie Trails, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, etc. To enjoy a little more ankle support, opt for high cut hiking shoes.

#2: Weight of footwear

Hiking boots are typically a lot heavier due to the material of upper, stone guard and high quality sole. While this keeps the wearer more stable on difficult terrains, it is harder to transport around.

Hiking shoes are lightweight, allowing the wearer to enjoy easy movements. This also makes them easier to pack.

#3: Waterproofness 

Hiking boots possess soles which provides optimum grip, traction and adherence, minimising the likelihood of slipping on wet or snowy surfaces. The membrane of waterproof boots prevents both wind and water from entering it as well. However, this limits its breathability, increasing the chances of your foot feeling stuffy and smelling bad.

Hiking shoes are typically made of breathable material, allowing perspiration from your feet to escape. Even though they may not fare as well as hiking boots in terms of waterproof properties, some hiking shoes are water repellent. As the tropical climate in Singapore experiences a high amount of rainfall, grab a water repellent pair of hiking shoes!

How to care for hiking footwear?

If you return with a pair of spotlessly fresh footwear after a hike or trek, you most likely have not enjoyed a wholesome experience! Take good care of them so they can accompany you for future adventures. Before cleaning, make sure to read these laundry instructions thoroughly.


Cleaning (after every hike/trek)

First, prepare the footwear:~- Clean off any mud or soil particles on the footwear. If moist mud/earth is present, allow it to dry, and get rid of them by knocking the soles against each other. ~- Untie and wash the shoelaces. ~- Proceed to flip the tongue and clean the inside of it.

Next:~- Rinse them in lukewarm water with mild soap. ~- Remove the insoles and wash them separately. ~- Use a brush (or even your old toothbrush) to clean stubborn dirt off the surfaces and corners of footwear. Remember to clean gently to prevent any scratches on footwear, especially leather.

PRO-TIP: Do not soak your shoes in water or put them in a washing machine! Also, remember to clean & rinse off external elements such as caked on mud which can spoil the leather of footwear, especially its flexibility and water repellency. 


Drying (whenever required)

- Remove shoe laces and insoles to air the footwear better.~- Leave them to dry at room temperature in open space.~- Pack as much newspaper as possible into the shoes to absorb moisture and retain its original shape.~- Replace soaked newspaper with fresh ones until interior of the shoe is dry.~~*In Singapore's humidity, it might be tempting to skip on this as it takes a long time for things to dry - but never do that! Mould and foul smell might be developed if not dried properly.

~PRO-TIP: Avoid using any heat source (eg. hairdryer) to speed up the drying process, as this can cause permanent damages to the material of the footwear. However, feel free to leave them in front of a fan, as this doesn’t harm it.


Re-waterproofing treatment (once or twice a year)

As Singapore experiences high rainfall all year round, treat your shoes after 7-8 wears to keep your feet dry and happy!

To treat split, nubuck or coated leather:~- Apply 2 - 3 thin layers of waterproofing spray to reactivate the water repellency.~- Spray 20cm away from boots and allow brief breaks between each layer.~- Ensure that there is an even spread over the entire surface.~- Allow 10 - 12 hours for them to dry and absorb the product. ~~*Be patient with the drying of waterproof spray, do not use any heat source as this could disrupt the chemical process needed, or worst, cause harm to the shoe, or even create a fire hazard.

To treat full-grain leather:~- Use a cloth to apply waterproof grease, or a moisturiser on footwear to restore the materials’ water repellency without impacting its breathability

~PRO-TIP: If a pair of shoes does not have waterproof properties, treating them with a waterproofing spray or grease will not make them waterproof.



- Ensure all footwear is completely dry before storing them away.~- Keep them in a dry and well-ventilated space in order to keep them fresh. This is especially relevant in Singapore's climate!~- Fill them up with newspaper.

~*We highly recommend to fill your hiking footwear up with newspaper to absorb moisture especially in Singapore's humidity. Bonus - it also helps in retaining its shape!

~PRO-TIP: Do not place your shoes or boots under direct sunlight (e.g. in the boot of a car) as this might adversely affect the material as well as the adhesives used in some footwear. However, feel free to air your insoles under direct sunlight to prevent any odour.~~ 

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