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Should You Repair or Replace Damaged Boots?

Taking care of your walking boots and making sure they're in good form is crucial for any boot lover, whether you're using your boots to climb mountains, battle through harsh weather, or simply take the dog for a walk on a Sunday afternoon. We're all in love with boots because they are known to be durable and are expected to last for years. Nevertheless, that doesn't mean they can't be damaged along the way.


Whether it's the treads wearing out or just the simple wear and tear from hiking through brush, every pair of boots need to be repaired now and then, and the time will come when you may need to choose between repairing or completely replacing them.

We all have a favorite pair of boots that we've worn through thick and thin, but depending on the damage, they may not last forever, and for that reason, we’ve put together some pointers to help you decide whether it’s advisable to send your boots in for repair or invest in a new pair.


Heat Damage


If you wear your boots frequently and they tend to become wet, as is common in cold, wintery weather conditions, clean them carefully and let them air dry naturally. Wearing your boots out in the cold and getting them wet is pretty typical, but what if they get damaged from the total opposite – heat?


The truth is that heat from direct sources, such as radiators or flames, can cause the leather and cloth on your winter dress boots or your winter moc toe boots to dry out and crack.. This can reduce the boot's durability and cause tears in the waterproof membranes. If the upper half of the boot looks faded, cracked, or damaged after drying, it's likely heat damage.


If that's the case, consult a cobbler to see if the damage is repairable and then make an honest assessment of whether your boots are up for a fix, or you may need to replace them with new ones. Once you repair your boots, or get a new pair, try to keep them away from heat sources and always let them dry naturally.


Damage to the Soles


The sole is the most prevalent area of wear and tear on boots. Even though modern boots have a wide selection of sole materials and components, exhausting hikes or weekend walks can deteriorate your soles over time.


When walking, most persons have a slightly uneven stride, in which pressure is applied unevenly across the sole. Even if you walk with a smooth motion, the sole can wear away with time. Check the tread level on your sole, and if it appears to be wearing away faster than intended, it’s time to bring them in for repair.


When the sole begins to degrade, the softer midsole material can get revealed, causing the sole's integrity to deteriorate. It's also far more challenging to resolve a walking boot after the midsole is exposed.


Examine the sole for evidence of cracking or breaking, as this can indicate severe damage. Soles are relatively easy to replace; however, midsoles are more complicated, and you might need to replace the whole boot in the event of a severely damaged midsole.


Heel Lining


With everyday walks, the cushioning protective lining in the heel of the boots and around the ankle can be rubbed down. It's a good idea to pay attention to the material in this section of the boot. The boots will show wear if the color starts to fade and the material is thinning.

When the heel of the boot wears out, the contour of the boot can be modified, resulting in a change in ankle support or fit, which can lead to blisters. Grit under the insoles might cause the heel lining to wear out, so inspect any removable boot components after cleaning. In addition, the boot's waterproof protection may be compromised if the heel liner is completely worn out. Insoles and liners can easily be replaced by a cobbler.


Toe Linings


You can feel or see the apparent indications of wear on this portion of the boot, just like the heel. The toe lining might press against your foot and create chafing if it becomes ripped and loses its waterproof function. Your next walking expedition could be harrowing if you don't fix it.


The area around the toe box on the outside of the boot might also be a popular area for wear. You can do a 'flex test' on the boot's toe to verify if the leather or fabric is in good condition or has any particular thinning stress points.


Inadequate Follow-Up Care


Choosing which polishing or waterproofing additives to get, keeping your boots clean, and taking the required safeguards if they begin to seem worn are all ways to extend the life of your boots.


Various waterproofing products are made for leather and fabric, and there are several methods for applying them. It's advisable to double-check the types of waterproofing products you should use on your boots and the amount you should apply. A cobbler can help you choose your perfect product or can even apply waterproofing as part of their services.


Follow The 50 % Replacement Guideline


There's a general rule of thumb for replacing broken items, and it applies no matter if the broken item is on your fingers or toes. The 50% replacement guideline states that if repairing a broken item costs more than half the cost of a new item, you may want to consider replacement.

Most often, the math will be in your favor to choose repair, especially if a new pair costs more than $400.


This said, our favorite boots are often irreplaceable. Whether they were a gift from a beloved family member, or they helped you trek across an entire continent, it’s hard to put a price tag on how much you’re willing to spend to keep them on your feet.


When To Let Go


Sadly, sometimes things just won’t last forever, including the last on your favorite pair of boots. Despite years of use, in some cases even an expert cobbler won't be enough to restore your old boots if the damage is too great.


Therefore, it's best advised to determine whether if, in this case, your good old boots are simply ready for retirement. If after consultation with a cobbler, it is determined the boots are unfixable, it’s time to buy a new pair. If this is the case, we recommend investing in a high quality, well-made pair of boots that can be repaired for a long life together and then do your best to care for them properly.


Final Thoughts


If you're deciding between repair or replacement, the bottom line is that it’s great to repair your favorite boots; after all, it’s good for your wallet and a sustainable life practice.


However, before making any major decision, weigh your options carefully to ensure that what you do is best for you. Overall, the most important thing you can do is determine your priorities and develop a plan that works for you. There's no definitive answer for everyone here, as we all have different needs and wants, but hopefully, this guide will help you get off to a good start in making your decision.


Ready to repair your boots? Get Started.

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