How to aquaseal your trail shoes

Adding aquaseal to one’s trail shoes should be standard practice to maximize useful life, otherwise known as trying to keep the upper hole-free until the tread is worn down to nothing.  If you walk in rough terrain, and especially if you get your shoes wet frequently, this is not always easy to accomplish.  Depending on shoe material and construction, aquaseal may help a little or it may help a great deal.

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Pictured here is all you need: new shoes, old shoes, and aquaseal.  Strictly speaking you only need new shoes (but as will be discussed old ones are handy as a guide), and you can use seam grip rather than aquaseal.  I’ve heard tell, and believe, that seam grip is aquaseal diluted, and as the later is usually the same cost or cheaper I always purchase it.

Old shoes are useful because they provide a good guide for which areas to reinforce.  This varies from both shoe to shoe, and from user to user, depending on how you walk.  If you’re on a new model, or have never before given your shoes the treatment, you can’t go wrong with a coating on either side of the metatarsals (what I do below), along with all lower stitching in the front part of the shoe.  If your shoes have a linear, totally exposed midsole (like the old X Country) it might be prone to delamination, and a bead of aquaseal along the midsole/upper connection is a good idea.

Thankfully the Bushidos are one of the more durable trail shoes I’ve used.  There is minimal area to reinforce, which along with the nice faux-leather and TPU reinforcement patches (which hold aquaseal well) results in a 90 second job.

Other shoes will need more time, and more care.  Shoes with large areas of thinish mesh beg for lots of aquaseal, but excessive thickness will create a rough patch inside that can eat feet.  I ruined a pair of New Balance MT100s this way.  Other shoes, like the Altra Lone Peaks, have such weak mesh that wherever the aquaseal ends will provide the failure point, and short of coating the entire upper a little extra life without gravel-swallowing holes is all you can hope for.

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There is a not inconsiderable extent to which using trail shoes for rugged hiking and backpacking is not ethical; it’s a damn good way to add lots of shoes to landfills.  Until a light, low-topped, resoleable option becomes available, I find it an environmental and economic imperative to try to make the things last as long as possible.

If my new Bushidos can persist as long as the old ones, who have reached the end of useful tread and upper right at the same time (with an aquaseal treatment to help out), I’ll be happy.

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2 thoughts on “How to aquaseal your trail shoes

  1. Hey Dave, is sounds like you have burned through a lot of shoes. What would you generally consider to be an acceptable mileage from a pair of shoes?

    1. Realistically I can’t claim to ever keep track, plus terrain makes so much difference. 4 months of hard weekend warrior use is the minimum, anything less would have me not buying said shoe again.

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