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Care and maintenance of boots

Michael Gray

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino France (2015 and 2016)
What is the best regime for looking after boots on the Camino? I always brush the loose mud and dirt off and pick stones etc out of the tread at the end of the day. What about drying wet boots? I have seen manufacturer’s advice to avoid sunlight and artificial heat and not to stuff them with newspaper to absorb moisture. I’ve also seen hikers using hairdryers to speed dry wet boots, but been told that will damage Gore-Tex linings. What have people found works best?
 
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Turga

Camino tortuga
Year of past OR future Camino
CF (Aug/Sep 2017)
CF (Aug/Sep 2018)
My boots are nubuck leather with a Gore Tex membrane. If they are wet and muddy I just let them dry and then brush off the dirt with a small, stiff brush. If they are not all dry in the morning, well, I just walk in them as they are :)
 

RedRuby

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (Sept 2017)
Le Puy to SJPP (Sept 2019)
For my boots I brush the dust and dirt off, get rid of any trapped pebbles or dirt from the soles, and pull out the inner soles so the boots can air dry completely. My 'summer' pair are lighter and leather/gore tex combination, whereas my 'winter' hiking boots are all leather. Before I took them out the first time I put Nikwax on the leather parts to protect them and every now and again I redo the Nikwax treatment. I also wear oilskin gaiters which help protect the boot from creek water or rain getting in over the top of the boot and keeps my feet dry. I have also learnt that the feet lose approximately 300mls in sweat when hiking - and for multi day long distance hikes it is probably more. So it's important to pull out the inner soles and let the boots and soles dry out overnight. I don't fast dry them in front of a heater and have only stuffed them with newspaper on one occasion to dry them out which didn't really help and this was before I discovered the oil skin gators.
 
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Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
At home I'd remove the insoles and use newspaper and leave away from heat. Not easy to come by newspaper so much on the Camino though.
Left my last pair of boots (I now use hiking shoes/trail runners) in my conservatory by mistake. 35+ deg C delaminated the toe bumper and ruined them.
 

RRat

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Planning 2017
What is the best regime for looking after boots on the Camino? I always brush the loose mud and dirt off and pick stones etc out of the tread at the end of the day. What about drying wet boots? I have seen manufacturer’s advice to avoid sunlight and artificial heat and not to stuff them with newspaper to absorb moisture. I’ve also seen hikers using hairdryers to speed dry wet boots, but been told that will damage Gore-Tex linings. What have people found works best?
Wear them.
 

André Walker

Never loosing my way: always standing on it
Year of past OR future Camino
Holland-St.Jean, Frances, Del Norte, VdlP.
A bit off-subject, but might be interesting: some time ago my wife bought waterproof trekking socks. I didn't know they exist, but a lady at our local outdoor shop pointed them out to my wife, because my wife was talking to her about delivering mail in her Keens (which are halfway between walking shoes and sandals), but can't wear them when it's raining.

Although a bit expensive, my wife bought a pair, to try them out. She's very enthousiastic about them: when wearing her Keens in the rain, they actually proved to te be waterproof. So I guess they can be worn when walking boots are still wet.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
I have used waterproof synthetic boots with goretex for 3 Caminos.
Salomon X Ultra mids (gone through 2 pairs so far)
My boots never got wet inside, even in the pouring rain.....
A bit damp from sweat maybe but that dries out overnight.

To save weight on my next Camino I'm planning to use rail runners. (medical advice)
Guess I have wet feet to look forward to :oops:
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
A few times
I have worn Merrell moabs (low), Oboz sawtooths (low) and New Balance trail runners on the Camino. All a mix of synthetic, leather and or faux leather material. Most of the time I remove the insoles from the shoes before I put them on the rack at the albergues. For two reasons, allow to dry out better and to deter theft or mistaken identity.
Also whenever I could or whenever needed I would wash the shoes and leave out to dry in the sun. That I would do on days when there was at least 3-4 hours of hot sunny weather left in the day. Helps maintain the shoes and quite honestly keeps them from stinking.
 
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Jomas

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
VF many times. Monaco-Lindau '15. Assisi-Pietralcina '17. CF '18.
speaking in particular of boots, like you I also try to clean the biggest dirt (mud and pebbles in particular) with a suitable brush (if available) or a rag just slightly soaked in water. I always take off the soles.
If I have a few hours of sunshine I put everything to dry .... I don't think it's a source of heat so dangerous as to damage parts of the boot. If that's not enough, I insert some newspaper .... I still find it the method that helps me the most, when you're not at home but along the way.
And I always try to put them in the air, in a place sheltered from any rain, even if the outside temperatures are a bit critical. I never worried about someone stealing them from me. 🤔
I must say, however, that I am one of those who always carries a spare pair of shoes ... ok, perhaps questionable (weight, bulk) but it has saved me a few times.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
A few times
I do have to add that all my walking/hiking shoes and boots for the Camino or otherwise I look upon as almost disposable. They're the modern type with glued on vibram type soles, and overall made of synthetics. Not the type I would bring in for a resoling or do any great maintaining of otherwise. Just not cost effective. Generally last me one full Camino, maybe a few months afterwards and into the trash bin they go. I have no atachment to them. Even in the army the boots we had were capable of being resoled, but generally I would just trash them when they got too much wear and tear.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
What is the best regime for looking after boots on the Camino? I always brush the loose mud and dirt off and pick stones etc out of the tread at the end of the day. What about drying wet boots? I have seen manufacturer’s advice to avoid sunlight and artificial heat and not to stuff them with newspaper to absorb moisture. I’ve also seen hikers using hairdryers to speed dry wet boots, but been told that will damage Gore-Tex linings. What have people found works best?

Interesting. This is the method I've most often seen used/recommended. Does the manufacturer provide any advice on what you should do to dry the boots overnight or are they just focused on what you shouldn't. It sounds like they might want you to have wet feet. :-( Not a good idea, from all accounts, blister-wise. Taking out the insoles to dry separately, as advised by many above, certainly sounds like a good idea.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Does the manufacturer provide any advice on what you should do to dry the boots overnight or are they just focused on what you shouldn't.
This is from the Hanwag people who produce excellent leather shoes as well as other walking shoes:

Drying: Dry your footwear in a well-aired, dry and shady place with the tongues wide open.​
For leather-lined footwear, stuff them initially with absorbent paper (NOT newspaper).​
The same applies to GORE-TEX® boots which dry faster and more effectively when stuffed with paper (again, DO NOT use newspaper, as the ink may damage the laminate and membrane)​
Important! Change the paper regularly to remove moisture from your footwear as quickly as possible. Never dry boots and shoes on or next to the heating!​
 
Year of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
So that was Hanwag's advice. However, comparable manufacturers such as Lowa and Meindl don't object to using newspaper when you want to dry your shoes. The Lowa UK team says:

USING NEWSPAPER OR KITCHEN ROLL​
If you have either of these materials available, stuffing your boots with these is ideal for soaking up any excess moisture. For newspaper, removing sheets and rolling up into small balls is the best way to stuff your boots. The rolls should be reasonably loose as if they are too tight water may not be absorbed effectively. Another tip is to tear holes through the newspaper before scrunching. Place the paper or kitchen roll throughout the boot, all the way up into the leg opening. Again, make sure not to stuff too tightly as the paper needs a bit of space to soak the water. You can replace the kitchen roll or newspaper after a few hours to remove the first load of moisture before sleeping, or as many times as needed when the materials have been soaked.​
I've used newspaper to no ill effect. As someone else said already, newspaper is not easy to come by on the Camino though. During one particular rainy period in Galicia, we tried to buy a newspaper in a shop during the day but even that was not always as easy as it may sound.
 
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David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
So that was Hanwag's advice. However, comparable manufacturers such as Lowa and Meindl don't object to using newspaper when you want to dry your shoes. The Lowa UK team says:

USING NEWSPAPER OR KITCHEN ROLL​
If you have either of these materials available, stuffing your boots with these is ideal for soaking up any excess moisture. For newspaper, removing sheets and rolling up into small balls is the best way to stuff your boots. The rolls should be reasonably loose as if they are too tight water may not be absorbed effectively. Another tip is to tear holes through the newspaper before scrunching. Place the paper or kitchen roll throughout the boot, all the way up into the leg opening. Again, make sure not to stuff too tightly as the paper needs a bit of space to soak the water. You can replace the kitchen roll or newspaper after a few hours to remove the first load of moisture before sleeping, or as many times as needed when the materials have been soaked.​
I've used newspaper to no ill effect. As someone else said already, newspaper is not easy to come by on the Camino though. During one particular rainy period in Galicia, we tried to buy a newspaper in a shop during the day but even that was not always as easy as it may sound.
It sounds like if you can't find newspaper, paper towel is a good (in some cases preferred) substitute. That is likely available in shops. You can probably buy a roll and share it with your fellow pilgrims, and leave behind the rest for the next poor soul who comes in with wet shoes/boots.
 

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