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How to fix smelly hiking boots


My hiking boots smell terrible. Is there anything I can do to take care of that?
– Smelly Steve, Knoxville, Tenn.

A. Try taking a shower, Steve. No, seriously, keeping your feet clean is key. And wear only socks made of a wool and polyester blend that will wick moisture away from your feet. Powders like cornstarch and baking soda can also help keep your feet dry and less sweaty.

As for your boots, we asked Peter Sachs of LOWA Boots for some advice. Here’s what he had to say:

“Most hiking boots have removable insoles. Take those out and wash them with a mild detergent, but rinse them really well so you don’t get suds the next time you hike in the rain. Let them air dry. It’s also O.K. to fill your shoes with water and rinse them out. This will actually enhance the boot’s life by getting rid of the salts from your body’s sweat. To dry them out, stick newspaper inside. That’ll help pull moisture from the lining. Finally, borrow some dryer sheets from your mom and stuff those inside your boots overnight.”

Check out the BL Essentials guide for more hiking boot tips.

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10 Comments on How to fix smelly hiking boots

  1. I have massive problems with sweaty feet and smelly hiking boots. I have tried several treatments. My personal recommendation is wearing cedar wood insoles (for instance zederna insoles). It is naturally anti-bacterial and works very well.

  2. I met a thru-hiker on the A.T. He said to wear taller socks because they wick more moisture out of your boots than shorter socks do.

  3. Buy new boots.

  4. jimmy farter // November 19, 2012 at 9:18 pm // Reply

    battery-operated blowdryer once a day

  5. Off-Trail-Monkey // November 7, 2012 at 6:30 pm // Reply

    Try washing your feet more often!

  6. You should buy anti-bacterial spray often used for hockey gear at a sports store. Smells like oranges and eliminates the problem; not cover it up. This is by far the best stuff around. Hockey skates are the worst smelling things ever; ask the guy who sharpens them.

  7. I have found that drying boots using a blow dryer and then sprinkling some powder (cornstarch) in them works to prevent the insoles from getting saturated in sweat.

  8. Walking Everywhere I may travel 750 // January 10, 2010 at 7:14 pm // Reply

    If your foot doesn’t become cramped with the cotton socks and wool socks–and your hiking boot will permit them to fit snugly in your boots, Dr. Scholl’s “Odor Eater” foam shoe insert fitted into your hiking boot may help eliminate the hiking boot odor by trapping it in the foam and activated charcoal liner of the boot. Just be careful to not cramp your foot so as to permit a heel blister to form while hiking in your hiking boots. Dr. Scholl’s “Odor Eater” foam inserts really work hard to eliminate odor from sweating feet. Smelly hiking boots also are formed when the boot leather doesn’t “breathe” such as in acrylic plastic “water-resistant” hiking boots.

  9. camper 101 // June 26, 2008 at 9:50 pm // Reply

    i like internal packs, because i like to go on more rugged trails, the packs are also very confortable on the trail. they are very good for a center of balance and they pack a lot.

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