Q:

Is it worth rehabbing really old hiking boots?

I recently received a pair of 20-year-old Trappeur Gaston Rebuffat boots. I can’t find any information on them at all, but I do see them in almost all old climbing pictures. These babies feel like they’re made out of wood. Is there anything I can do make them more comfortable, or should I just give up? Travis Anchorage, Alaska

Jun 29, 2007
Outside
Outside Magazine
Asolo Fugitive GTX boots

Fugitive GTX boots

A:

That’s hilarious! Someone gave you a pair of antediluvian boots, and you’d like to salvage them. I’m trying to remember when I last saw a pair of the Trappeur boots; it was a long, long time ago. They’re probably closer to 30 years old than 20.

Personally, I’d nail ‘em to a plank and hang them on the wall in my drawing room. They’re antiques and should be treated as such. Whether they’re even still wearable is hard to say. Leather shrinks a bit over time, and the toes curl. So that might be an issue. And I really doubt the stitching has all that much life left in it.

But you can try to breathe some life back into them. I’d start with just a very small amount of mink oil or something else that’s a little bit greasy. Work that in thoroughly and then just massage the daylights out of the leather. Over that, add a layer of Sno-Seal ($5 a can; atsko.com) and repeat the massaging process. I imagine the leather will drink all this right up. Then lace them on and don’t do much but sit around—wear them while reading or watching TV. Let the heat from your feet help shape the leather. Then try some hiking.

After that, I’m sure you’ll feel motivated to run out and buy a pair of Asolo Fugitive GTX boots ($170; asolo.com), with modern construction, excellent leather, and a Gore-Tex liner.

You’ve seen our picks for 2007 Gear of the Year, and now the entire Outside Summer Buyer’s Guide is online. Check out this year’s more than 400 must-have gear items, including hiking boots.

Filed To: Hiking Boots

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