If you are a fan of hiking, and you think that discovering new, more demanding areas is an indispensable part of an active adrenaline life, you must also keep in mind that you need good and quality equipment. Each hiking set should include: clothes, a backpack, and of course, the most needed are hiking shoes. Thoroughly check the equipment just before embarking on the adventure.
Since hiking shoes are the most important piece of equipment, pay more attention to them when thoroughly inspecting hiking equipment. You will not find an unambiguous answer to the question of when exactly it is necessary to change hiking shoes, because there are a handful of factors that affect it.
Using additional protection on your footwear is also very important. There are ongoing discussions on whether or not can you use microspikes on mud. Spiked frames prevent you from slipping on unpredictable terrain. Learning how to use them will give you a cunning advantage on your hikes. Reading about the basic differences between crampons and microspikes will help you decide.
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Key Factors That Affect the Lifespan of Hiking Boots
Before going into the details of Microspikes, types, and what terrain they can be used on, let’s revise some information about the footwear. Depending on the weather and type of terrain, some people will go hiking in their sneakers. It is lighter and more compact. However, old-school hikers will swear in good-quality boots. Hiking footwear is also made from many different materials.
Types of Materials
Hiking shoes can be made of diverse kinds of materials. Each species boasts advantages and disadvantages. You can usually choose between hiking boots made of integral leather, nubuck leather, polyester shoes, nylon, synthetic leather, and last but not least, hiking shoes made of Gore-Tex membrane.
As a rule, hiking shoes are normally composed of integral leather, which is reflected to be a notably durable model of hiking shoes. Such footwear is largely waterproof, and above all, it provides the user with good foot support. This type of material is much less durable, and at the same time gives you less water resistance.
Nubuck leather is also a complete type of leather that is hairy on the outside. It contributes to shoes primarily in the form of water resistance. Nubuck leather hiking boots are an exceptional choice for longer tours.
Hiking shoes made of polyester, nylon, and synthetic leather are cheaper compared to other types. Although they are extremely light and easy to maintain, the lifespan of such shoes is not at an enviable level. Gore-Tex membrane hiking boots, which provide high water resistance, work great on wet terrain. The feet in them have been proven to stay dry, and at the same time, the excess moisture in sweating is effectively removed from the shoes.
The choice of material also plays a key role when it comes to the soles of hiking boots. Polyurethane sole is one of the most durable and strongest types of sole. This type of sole is recognizable by mountaineers. Most cartridges, however, are made of ethylene-vinyl type material (EVA). Such a sole is softer, lighter and cheaper, and therefore less durable.
How to Maintain Hiking Boots
The lifespan of a hiking boot largely depends on the way it is maintained. Care, however, depends on the type of material. Nourish smooth leather shoes by applying ointment to the outer layer of the skin. Before applying the grease, it is necessary to remove all the dirt from the shoes. Grease can be applied with a brush.
- Dry the leather shoes well first, and then remove all the dirt with a brush.
- Remove stubborn stains with a rubber brush.
- Use an impregnation spray to impregnate the outer layer. For more effective action, apply the spray on a slightly damp surface.
- The shoes should dry for at least 24 hours before re-use.
If you want to prolong the life of hiking shoes, even more, dry them only in the air, never on a radiator, or any other similar device. Do not wash them in the washing machine. Clean them thoroughly before applying cream or ointment. The same goes if you start impregnation. Do not leave them in sunlight. If they are made of nubuck leather, do not coat them with cream.
What Are Microspikes?
Hiking terrains change with the seasons. Summer dry trails become muddy on the slightest change in wind, clouds, or temperature. Inexperienced hikers may think that having only a set of good waterproof shoes is all there is to it. Even though it is important to have a good set of shoes, it is not enough for some types of terrain.
Hiking and trekking during fall and even winter are more challenging in every way. During this time the trails get wet and covered with ice/snow. It is much harder to navigate through them. The most important thing to keep in mind is to stay safe and not slip your feet on the trail.
The Winning Combination
Wearing a good waterproof shoe has to be combined with a traction device over the hiking boot. That is the secret to staying on your feet. Traction devices keep you from slipping or sliding on snow or ice. Today, there are a few different traction devices. The most commonly used are:
Depending on the consistency of the ground, you will need to wear some of the above-mentioned. Fresh snow powder implies that snowshoes are your tracking device of choice.
Microspikes have small teeth a quarter of an inch long. When compared to crampons, they are shorter. The crampons have large teeth and are meant for snowy and icy terrain.
Crampons have about 6-12 teeth per crampon, with each being double the length that microspikes. Their main purpose is to fit stiff mountaineering boots and cannot be used for regular hiking.
With that being said, microspikes are the traction device of choice for mountain trackers. Their spikes are placed at the inner portion of the sole of your shoe. Their design is to prevent slipping and filling. However, keep in mind that they are designed to handle more flat terrain. Avoid high-angle slopes or anything as challenging. Winter hikes should be done on trails that are not as hard.
Can You Use Microspikes on Mud?
Winter terrain can have some muddy patches, especially near the end of the winter when the temperature starts rising. Some hikers are also known to bring their microspikes on camping and hiking trips during the summer. This is almost mandatory when going on high-altitude trails. Sometimes the snow does not melt all the way, or if it does, it leaves muddy patches of land behind it.
There is an ongoing debate on whether people can use microspikes when hiking or climbing the mountain. On one hand, it does lessen traction, but it largely depends on the type of soil and the amount of moisture on the trail. Some people use pools for support, as sometimes the terrain itself can be quite hard. On the other hand, using metal reinforcements primarily made for snowy and icy terrain should not have been placed on the muddy and slippery trail in mid-June.
It is important to be sure that the pace of your hiking is not as fast as during the dry seasons. Falling behind the crew is sometimes better than slipping, or even worse, having an injury. It can sometimes only take that one unexpected turn of events. You can fall, bend your knee or even break a leg. It’s not a fun activity if you are out in the middle of nowhere with just a first aid kit and little or no telephone signal.
Good Footwear Keeps You Safe
Mountaineers and trekkers have a saying that the shoe keeps the head on the shoulders. It is obvious why. Having a few different pairs of footwear for different terrain and seasons is something any experienced mountain climber knows.
Spring and fall periods are for softer and more comfortable, trekking shoes. They are made from Goretex and similar materials. These are not as long-lasting but are lightweight and extremely comfortable.
For rocky terrains that have either snow or mud, it is important to use deep and firm shoes. Having a pair of waterproof shoes is only a benefit. On the downside, these shoes are quite heavy to load and carry. They may cause discomfort, but if used properly, this can be taken to a minimum. Combining them with lighter footwear or additional walking poles may be a good choice next time you are on a challenging trail. Add a pair of microspikes to be on hand, and you are good to go.
If you are still not certain that using your microspikes in the mud might be the best idea you can find online, try it for yourself and then make the decision. You can also read up on our article on whether or not you can use snowshoes to walk on mud.