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Gear Guy

How do I clean and wash a pair of hiking boots?

How do you clean and wash boots? I have a pair of Asolo Cerro Torre's, and they are fairly light boots, but after a trip in the Never Summer Wilderness with lots of rain and mud, they feel heavy. The dried mud adds up, I guess. How can I make them light again? Thanks. Josh Wheeler Denver; CO

A: A. Could be the mud. Could be you just were TIRED!

Still, you probably could just let the boots dry, then whack them together a few times to get the crud out of the Vibram. But, with a high-end pair of boots like the Cerro Torre's ($375) it's prudent to give them a little more TLC. Here's what to do: Get a scrub brush with moderately soft bristles. Run cool water over the boots, and as you do give them a scrubbing with the brush, paying particular attention to seams or anyplace where dirt and grit might lodge and abrade the stitching. Rinse the insides, too—they can take it, and sweat from your feet is acidic and should be removed a few times a year.

Then, let the boots dry in a warm place—but not in front of a heater or in direct sunlight. Once they're dry, give them a light coating with a leather conditioner such as Nikwax Liquid Conditioner ($7.50), and either a brush-on wateproofer such as Nikwax Aqueous ($7.50) or a spray-on one such as Tectron Shoe Guard ($5.50). Give the boots that sort of treatment a once or twice a year, with a light cleaning when they're muddy in between overhauls, and they should give you many years of good service.

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