Exploring the Natural World

Hiking Skills Training

A Study of Practical Hiking Skills

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How to Condition Your Leather Hiking Boots (with Nikwax)

By Bob Ward | January 10, 2018

No piece of hiking gear does heavier duty than boots, so I never skimp on quality. I prefer leather boots for their toughness and because when I take good care of them they last for years. But I’ve learned the hard way on maintenance. In my ignorant youth (as opposed to my ignorant present age), I let a much beloved pair of Vasque boots die prematurely from total neglect. Hiking through dirt, gravel, wet grass, mud, flowing creeks, swamps, and so on, I cavalierly abused them without conditioning them enough. Within a quick couple of years, the uppers dried out…

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Understanding Hiking Boot Sole Delamination

By Bob Ward | January 26, 2018

While cleaning and conditioning my leather hiking boots, I discovered the Vibram sole “peeling apart” on one side of the left boot. Because I paid $250 for the pair, no more than half a decade ago, my heart sank with disappointment. I was completely surprised. How could it be possible to purchase quality boots from a reputable dealer then find the bottoms falling off? I’d been planning to hike the treads down to slicks before replacing the soles. Instead, I felt cheated by the manufacturer for using cheap or defective glue. My previous pair (a different brand) had rock-solid soles…

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