Imagine you are out for a hiking trip, making good progress and having an amazing day. However it all goes wrong when your sole of the boot breaks! This is not only possible but actually quite common as we will see below…
It’s not uncommon for soles to break or get damaged after use, especially when hiking in rough terrain. If this happens to you, don’t panic – there are plenty of ways to fix them without having to go home before continuing your journey!
When we are at home, we simply take the shoes to a cobbler if we need them fixed. However, we are here to tell you how to repair yours yourself, and that too while you are outdoors.
I’m here to tell you that repairing the sole of your boot is no longer a problem. You can do it yourself and I’ll show you how!
Before Starting the Repair
Examine the region where the sole is damaged and assess its size. Check carefully to see if there is just one hole or the whole sole is thin and breaking.
Once you have assessed the extent of damage, it is time to wash your shoe. Wash it thoroughly with water and make sure that all debris, dust and other grime has been cleaned away.
Any impurities will hinder the proper repair of the sole. When the boot is clean, dry it off thoroughly. You can only repair the hole if your boot is completely dry.
There are a variety of methods you could use to repair the soles of your hiking boots; it all depends on how much extra gear you want to carry with you on your trip.
Keep in mind that these are only temporary fixes until you get back to civilization, where you should probably invest in having your boots professionally fixed, or just buying a new pair.
How to Repair a Hole in the Boot Sole with a Rubber Patch and Glue
For this to work, you need to be carrying a rubber patch with you. While most of us would not think of carrying one on a normal hiking trip, if your boot is wearing thin, it is best to carry one just in case.
Things you Need:
- Leather patch
- Rubber cement made for shoes (available at any shoe-repair store or online) Using super glue is not a good idea because it is not flexible.
- Duct Tape
Step 1: After your boot is clean and dry, take the rubber patch and cut it according to the size of the hole. The cut patch should be a little larger than the hole, so it covers it completely.
Step 2: Apply the adhesive glue on both the edges of the sole and the rubber patch. You need to be really careful here and make sure that the glue only covers the edges and does not end up sticking to your foot when you wear the boot.
Step 3: Place the rubber patch on the lower side of the shoe sole, and press it firmly. Remember, this glue dries out really fast so you need to make sure that you place the rubber patch in exactly the right place.
Once you are sure about its position and have fixed it in place, it is time to move on to the next step.
Step 4: Take duct tape and tightly wind it around the boot. This is done so that the rubber patch is pressed against the sole and has better opportunity to stick to it.
It is best if you leave the shoe like this overnight, so the sticking process is complete. The more time you allow, the better the repair will be.
Remember, this is not a permanent solution. Over time, the hole might develop again, or water might start to seep through. To help it last longer, avoid getting the shoes wet until after your next professional shoe repair appointment.
Repairing your Boot Sole by Stitching
Let us mention this right off the bat – this is not an easy process. Passing a needle through leather and rubber takes a lot of effort, and your fingers might be sore by the time you are done. Nevertheless, it is a useful process and you can mend your boot this way.
Things you Need:
- Leather patch
- Long needle
- If you have glue, that is an added advantage
- Sealant, if you have any
Step 1: Cut the leather patch according to the size of the hole.
Step 2: Using a long and thick needle which will not break easily, start sewing the rubber patch over the hole. This, as mentioned, is a tough task. Place one hand inside the shoe to give you better leverage.
Step 3: Once you have placed the stitches, add some glue over the edges to ensure a better fix.
Step 4: Add sealant in the end. This will help in making the fix water-proof, and so you can continue your hiking trip with ease.
Using a Bicycle Repair Kit
It is not very likely that you will be carrying a bicycle repair kit on your camping trip. However, if the heel of your boot is wearing out and you are afraid that it might give, then go ahead and pack one.
If you will be reaching your destination by car, you don’t have to worry about the weight, and a bicycle repair kit is not all that big.
This method is ideal for small breaks in the sole. The method basically prevents this small gap from widening up and turning into a big hole.
Things you Need:
- A cheap bicycle repair kit
Step 1: As with all sole repairs, start with identifying the region of the damage and thoroughly cleaning and drying it.
Step 2: Bicycle repair kits come with their own tabs. Choose a tab that you want to use.
Step 3: Apply adhesive on the worn out area of the shoe sole. Wait for a few seconds till this adhesive becomes a little tacky.
Step 4: Now place the tab on the sole and press it firmly. Wait for a few minutes for the ends to join together. Your boot is ready to wear!
This is a great shoe repair tactic because it is easy, cheap, and takes very little time. You can also repair your boots this way at home. This method isn’t recommended for very large holes and it’s not very durable, but it will work for shorter term.
How to Fix a Loose Sole
The principle here is the same: you use glue to stick the sole back in place, but it is an easier method as no leather patch is needed.
Things you Need:
- Shoe Goo (glue)
- A wooden stick
- A clamp or tape.
Step 1: Place a glob of Shoe Goo on the sole, from where it has come loose.
Step 2: Spread it around with the wooden stick to ensure that it covers the whole region which was separated. This also ensures that no lump of glue is formed, which will feel uncomfortable when you wear the shoe and walk.
Step 3: Secure the edges together with a clamp or duct tape. Leave the boot like this for several hours so that the sole sticks properly and stays in place.
Replacing the Sole
If the sole of your boots is completely worn out, it is best to get rid of it and resole your shoes. Although this can be done conveniently at home, doing it on camping ground is a tad more difficult, because it is highly unlikely that you will be carrying all the stuff needed for this process.
Nevertheless, we will mention this procedure, just in case it comes in handy at some time.
Things you Need:
- Sewing awl
- Replacement sole
- Shoe glue or adhesive
Step 1: First of all, you need to remove the old sole. Remove any nails or screws from the sole with the help of a screwdriver. Now, wedge the blade of a knife between the sole and the inner layer of the boot. Using this knife, separate the sole from all around the boot until it comes off.
Step 2: Use acetone to clean the inner layer of the boot until it is completely clear. Make sure that any glue, adhesive or other debris is cleared away. If the rubber is broken in some region, mend it with a stitching awl.
Step 3: With sandpaper, roughen the inside surface of the boot as well as the new sole surface.
Step 4: Apply adhesive to the new sole as well as the inner boot surface. Wait for a bit until the glue gets tacky; this may take a few seconds. Now stick the new sole in place and press it firmly.
Step 5: Put the boot on the ground and pound it with a hammer. You should now use clamps to fix the new sole in place. It is best if you leave the boot like this for about 24 hours. This will give it time to bond properly.
You should set the nails in the sole if they were there in the original one.
Should You Repair Damaged Boot Soles or Buy New Boots?
Boot soles are designed to support the foot, keep it warm & dry, absorb shock and provide traction. Any of these functions can be compromised by a damaged sole.
When you damage the sole of your boot, the obvious question is whether you should repair it or replace the sole, or should you just buy a new pair of boots?
Definitely, when you are out camping, you have to go for repair, unless you are carrying an extra pair of boots. You need to be carrying the proper materials, though, or you cannot make the repair. Also check out our article on how to choose the best hiking boots for your next adventure.
There are some cases in which a sole is so badly damaged, it cannot be repaired satisfactorily. In these cases, go for a temporary fix which will last the duration of your trip, and then get the sole replaced professionally.
You could do it yourself, of course, but it will need a little practice before you can change the sole in an expert manner.
My Recommendation: Repair broken boot soles first! This is generally less expensive than buying new ones, especially if you consider how much money is wasted on poorly made products every year.
People who wear work or casual boots should probably just buy new pairs considering how costly repairs can become after repeated attempts at fixing them (and all the materials used need to be replaced on each attempt). Of course, the choice is ultimately yours.
Do you have anything you would like to add about repairing the soles of hiking boots? Let us know in the comments section!
Daniel is a gear freak when it comes to hiking, climbing and camping. He went to REI Outdoor School to meet new people and learn best practices. Don’t even try to argue with him about the latest backpack or ice axe, he tried most of them. Daniel’s dream is to climb Mount Everest.