Global leader in safe, high performance waterproofing, cleaning and conditioning for outdoor gear

Leave a comment

Spring hiking preview

Nkwx Coast-31

It’s officially spring, which means that hiking season is here. Which means it’s time to bust out your boots (and if you didn’t store them properly last fall, time to clean and waterproof).

Got it? Great. Now the fun starts.

Whether you’re heading out for a leisurely stroll or a multi-day wilderness trek, planning your adventure is the first step. If you’re not sure where to go or you’re looking to add to your lifelist, we’re here to help. Check out the following must-dos and get those feet moving.

Easy Day Hike: Mount Independence, Orwell, Vermont

Visit one of the sites from which the British hightailed it back to Canada during the Revolutionary War, and enjoy the lush hillside vegetation on Vermont’s iconic Mount Independence. This family-friendly day hike is 2.9 miles round trip. It gains 200 feet and tops out at 306 feet above sea level. There are even a few nearby trails with wheelchair access. For more info on Mount Independence, click here.

Recommended footwear: Choose a low-top hiking shoe with lateral stiffness, grippy tread, and waterproofed upper like the La Sportiva FC ECO 2.0 GTX.

Advanced day hike: Three 14ers in a day: Colorado’s Democrat-Cameron-Lincoln Loop

A rite of passage for aspiring mountaineers, summiting a Colorado 14er earns you a spot in a special “club.” But why stop at just one? This three-peak test piece was chosen by Backpacker as the best Colorado Day Hike in 2009. Don’t be fooled by the low mileage (6.95 total) The high alpine exposure and extreme elevation gain will make you work for it. Plan on encountering snow if you attempt this route before mid-July, and absolutely get an early start. Essential info about this route can be found here.

Recommended footwear: A light-weight ankle boot that breathes well will keep your feet going for miles. The La Sportiva Xplorer Mid GTX features great cushioning, lateral stability, a high traction rubber outsole, and an articulated heel cuff to ward off blisters.

Weekend Backpacking Trip: Kibbie Lake, Yosemite National Park, California

A friendly introduction to backpacking, this eight-mile, round trip route winds through some of Yosemite’s most beautiful scenery. Expect multiple stream crossings as you climb up to the lake. Camp at the shore (permits are available through the Yosemite NP permit desk) or head to the granite outcroppings south of the lake to escape mosquitos. More info can be found here.

Recommended footwear: A sturdy ankle boot that offers enough flexibility to keep feet comfortable without compromising stability is a solid choice. We like the La Sportiva FC ECO 3.2 GTX (women) or the FC Eco 3.0 GTX (men).

Multi-day Backpacking Trip: Wonderland Trail, Washington

Circumnavigating Washington’s captivating Mount Rainier, this 93-mile loop takes about two weeks to complete. Hikers log roughly 22,000 feet of elevation gain, and the highest point tops out at the 6,750 feet Panhandle Gap. You’ll cruise through high Alpine and sub-alpine terrain, spruce, pine, and fir forests, and plenty of river crossings. Three non-wilderness and eighteen trailside campsites are available for overnight stays with the proper permit. Visit the National Park Service site for more details.

Recommended footwear: A durable, leather hiker that’s durable, supportive, and protective, such as La Sportiva’s Omega GTX are versatile enough to go the distance and light enough to not weigh you down.

High-Alpine Mountaineering: Gannett Peak, Wind River Range, Wyoming

Wyoming’s highest peak, Gannet, 13,804 feet, lords over the state’s rugged Wind River Range. Not for the faint at heart or inexperienced, the main route summiting the peak is a 40-mile out and back. You read that right. Forty miles. Ropes, crampons, ice axes are essential to ensure safety over the varied terrain. Glacier crossing, scrambling and cross-country hiking is all part of this high-alpine experience. For the best climbing conditions, plan to summit in early summer June/July. More info can be found here.

Recommended footwear: A lightweight, burly mountaineering boot that’s waterproof, and features extensive support and torsional rigidity will get you to the summit. Check out the La Sportiva Trango S Evo GTX boot.

Speed Hike/Trail Run: North Valley Trail System, Idaho

Short on time or just looking to get in an intense heart racing workout? Check out Idaho’s North Valley Trail System. This network spans 30-plus miles through the Boulder Mountain Range from Ketchum to the Galena Lodge. Select the length and intensity of your speed hike/trail run while surrounded by meadows, streams and mountain peaks. The trails are also used for XC skiing in the winter. Click here for more info.

Recommended footwear: A neutral, stable, all-terrain shoe with a rock guard in the front and a sticky outsole like the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor keeps the miles coming.

Leave a comment

You probably don’t need those new boots! How to care for your shoes to make them last.

Footwear, as we all know, takes a lot of abuse. Even so, it has always broken my heart a little to see even my most worn-out (yet beloved) shoes relegated to the trash bin. But, what else can you do? They’re toast, right? Wrong.

A boot or shoe is made up (very roughly speaking) of three basic parts: the sole, the upper and the liner. All of these parts can become broken down or worn out without proper care. WITH proper care, however, your footwear can last you a LOT longer, leaving some extra cash in your pocket and a little less stuff in your local landfill. For extremely detailed direction on caring for your boots, check out this article by our friends at REI, Caring for Hiking Boots: Expert Advice.

A good place to start is by finding a good repair person in your town. Dave Page, Seattle-area Cobbler Extrordinaire, agrees, “resole your shoes. Those things are expensive!” As the authorized repair agent for REI, Vibram, Vasque, Asolo, Montrail, One Sport, Merrell, Raichle, Scarpa, Garmont, Salomon, La Sportiva, Technica, Lowa, Zamberlan, Kayland, EMS and Chaco, the man has resuscitated more pairs of shoes and boots than most of us have ever seen.

Awaiting new life at the hands of Dave Page!

At a cost far below what you would pay to replace your footwear, you can have them repaired and resoled, keeping them out of the landfill and preserving that broken-in comfort you worked so hard for. “Replacing climbing shoes every time the sole wears out makes no sense to me. It’s wasteful and you’re always breaking in a new pair!” says La Sportiva (and Nikwax) rep Ed Sampson.

Ed Sampson teaching retail employees about La Sportiva climbing shoes and mountineering boots – and how to care for them

What’s that you say? You say your boots are still practically new? Well, friend, then you’re in luck! Keeping your boots and shoes clean and waterproof prevents grit from getting into the fabric and leather and breaking them down from the inside. Use Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel to remove dirt and grime after use, then follow-up with the Nikwax waterproofer that’s appropriate for your specific type of footwear to maintain the durable water-repellent finish.

Green for Clean!

Purple for Proof!

Waterproofing for fabric and leather combination footwear

Help your footwear work better and last longer. Hike and climb happy and Stay Dry! 🙂

Dave Page is a Seattle-area cobbler who specializes in repairing and resoling hiking and mountaineering boots, climbing shoes and Birkenstocks. If you have a pair of boots or shoes in need of help, contact Dave via his website.

Ed Sampson is a long-time climber and mountaineer who’s built a storied career in the outdoor industry. He is currently part of the Tenaya Group, which represents La Sportiva, Nikwax and Bluewater Ropes in the American Southwest.

Kelsey is the Technical Field Service Rep for Nikwax North America. She travels the country preaching the gospel of gear care as the Nikwax Nerd. Prior to working for Nikwax, Kelsey spent 7 years working in outdoor industry and footwear retail. She welcomes your gear care questions at Follow her on Twitter @nikwaxnerd.