Gluing Hiking Boot Soles – A Trail Repair Guide

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If you enjoy hiking, then you know how annoying and frustrating it is to get a delaminated boot sole on the trails. With a loose sole, you won’t be able to walk far and might even have to cancel your hike altogether. Luckily, you can still enjoy your hike with this quick and effective way to repair your hiking boot on the trail. 

Gluing hiking boot soles entails using waterproof, temperature-resistant glue to create a flexible bend that stretches like a shoe. To reattach your soles, remove any debris from the loose surfaces, wipe them with alcohol, apply glue, then squeeze the upper and sole together. 

Loose boot soles spell disaster to any hiker, but this does not have to turn into a crisis as long as you know how to reattach your boot soles. Read on to find out what you need, how to glue your soles back together on the go, and what to look for when buying good quality shoe glue.

How to Glue Back Loose Boot Soles

When hiking, you often pass through mud, water, sand, grass, broken glass, and other unpredictable surfaces. Yet, despite these diverse and harsh conditions, you expect your favorite pair of hiking shoes to remain intact.

However, your soles might come apart in the most inconvenient places, such as at the beginning, or even halfway through your hiking trip. You might be stuck in a remote location. Luckily, these unfortunate situations need not cause you despair. If your boot soles start coming off, it doesn’t mean that you have to write off your boots or walk in ripped soles for the rest of the hike.

The best thing to do is to address the situation right away before it gets any worse. This is because preventing incremental damage is quicker and easier than gluing back the entire sole.  

Fortunately, most hikers tend to carry a DIY repair staple in their backpacks for emergencies such as this one. These usually come in convenient, easy to carry packs. 

A Step-by-Step Guide to Gluing Your Hiking Boot Soles

Gluing your hiking shoes is an easy and quick process. No matter what material your boot is made of, you need a high-quality shoe glue. It’s also preferable that you have rubbing alcohol as well. Here is what you need to do:

  1. Start by wiping off any grease, dust, or dirt to make sure you are working on a clean surface. Wipe off any remaining dirt with alcohol and ensure the surfaces are dry before the next step.
  2. For best results and if you have it on hand, roughen any smooth surfaces using fine-grit sandpaper. This is especially for leather and rubber as roughing up the area enables you to attain a stronger fix.
  3. Apply a thin layer of adhesive to the bottom half of your flapping soles. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid any critical errors.
  4. Next, quickly press the loose sections together while ensuring that the materials are in the correct position. To assist in holding the glued sides together, and create a tight seal, use rubber bands, duct tape, or whatever you can get your hands on to hold the surfaces together. If using a slow-setting glue, you may need to use weights such as a rock.
  5. Wipe off the excess adhesive, then leave the shoes alone for some time. Avoid touching or moving them to allow the surfaces to bond well. Most glues take about 10 to 15 minutes to set, but if you have the time, it’s best to give the boots a couple of hours to allow the glue to cure properly.
  6. Once the bonding takes hold, it will be almost impossible to break. Your shoes will remain intact for a long time and you can safely continue your hike.

Watch the below video for more details:

It’s advisable to wear latex or nitrile gloves while repairing your boots to avoid getting adhesive residues on your skin. You don’t need to worry about making a mess, though, since most shoe glue adhesives dry clear.

Also, bear in mind that some bonds might take up to 3 days to reach full strength. As such, you can work the shoe glue into tight places or build up multiple layers if necessary.

What to Consider When Buying the Best Shoe Glue for Hiking Boot Soles Repair

The best shoe glue is one that allows instant, long-lasting, on-the-go repairs for your hiking boots. Unfortunately, regular adhesives such as epoxy and polyurethane are not suitable for shoe repair. These substances are not meant for surfaces that bend and flex regularly. 

Therefore, when buying shoe repair glue, the most effective adhesive to look out for is one that:  

  • Forms a flexible bond: A flexible formulation is ideal for bonds that need flexing. Since you’ll be walking in your boots, a flexible glue will allow you to walk without discomfort.
  • Durable, strong, and quick-drying: A fast setting shoe glue is essential, especially if you’ll be taking it on the trail. Fast setting glues dry to a tidy, clear fix while reducing the need for clamping and drying time. Opt for one that offers durability even with your boots undergoing repeated impact and heavy repetitive use. 
  • Bears a no-drip formula: The glue should expand on use without oozing out or losing its efficacy. The no-run formula also makes it ideal for precise bonding in small areas. Some adhesives boast a unique rubber-infused formula that provides excellent flexibility and shock absorption, particularly for leather boots.
  • Waterproof and temperature resistant: This means that you can use it in various climatic conditions and geographic locations since your shoes will remain intact. Besides, it comes with an anti-clog cap that prevents the glue from drying, so you can use it on multiple occasions. 
  • Contains a foaming agent: Foaming agents help in sealing gaps, providing more utility when gluing soles.
  • Doesn’t need a smooth surface to work: As you may be on the trail when doing your repairs, make sure you can do them in your hands or on top of a rock.

Lastly, check that your chosen adhesive bonds well with various types of materials such as leather, rubber, and polyurethane. Some shoe glues work best only with specific materials. So you’ll want to make sure you provide a strong, permanent, and waterproof seal for your particular boots.

Most Popular Types of Shoe Glue

Some popular types of shoe glue you can consider for fixing your hiking boots include:

  • Superglues: These are some of the most convenient, readily available, quick-setting adhesive for fixing hiking boots. Gorilla Super Glue Gel is among the best glues on the go. However, most superglues tend to be too thin and brittle to use. They also come in tiny tubes, so they might not be ideal for boot soles (as these need lots of glue.)
  • Urethane rubber: Great to use on all types of hiking shoe materials. This artificial rubber glue is waterproof and resists both heat and cold. It also provides a great bond with most materials. An excellent one to try is Gear Aid Aquaseal FD+. It stretches well and is suitable to use on thick rubber soles. 
  • Neoprene cement: This is excellent for hiking boot sole repairs since it forms a strong bond with rubber. It also works great on synthetic uppers, sets fast, and is non-corrosive. To fix the soles on your waterproof hiking boots, try Gear Aid Freesole Aquaseal SR
  • Silicone adhesive: This is a popular sealant for most materials. Silicone adhesives, like Shoe GOO, are tough, flexible, and come in a variety of hues to match your hiking boots.

Ultimately, a strong bond is what your boots need because they take in a lot of punishment on the trails. Nonetheless, the toughest boot glue also needs to be flexible as hiking boots require a certain level of flexibility.  

Final Words

The best hiking boots can get undone at the worst possible moment, but regluing your soles can help restore them. Still, your repair formula should ensure your hiking shoes remain intact since you’ll continue walking through adverse conditions.

The best shoe glue provides your boots with excellent resistance to impact, moisture, vibration, and extreme temperatures. Furthermore, it doesn’t stiffen upon setting but allows your shoe flexibility. Finally, it bonds with various types of materials. 

So, choose the best shoe glue for your boots, follow the above guidelines to reattach the soles, and you’ll soon be back to hitting the trails!


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