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I just had the outer sole of one of my expensive, 22 month old, Hanwag hiking boots completely delaminate from the boot in the middle of a four day backpacking trip on the Olympic coastline. I managed to complete the trip without incident since the midsole was surprisingly grippy. However, they are completely worn out now.

Researching the problem when I returned home I discovered that this is a dirt common problem for multiple hiking boot manufacturers. It looks like the issue is hydrolysis of the polyurethane midsole. Apparently this is all my fault for not taking care of the boots, and/or not hiking enough, and is also a totally expected property of the PU material, and in no way a manufacturing defect.

What the heck? I swear my boots live under my bed when I'm not hiking, aren't exposed to extreme temperatures. I'm doing 20-30 miles of day hiking a month, from April to November, and also a couple of week-long backpacking trips a year. I'm not sure what level of use and care the manufacturers expect from users. My hiking boots used to last a decade or more. I might give the modern boots a nod for comfort and ease of breaking in, but do I have to resign myself to buying new boots every two years?

Are there manufactures that still do sewn on soles?

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  • With the advent of breathable layers inside the boot, fewer people are dong this as it would puncture the membrane. Anatom (Scottish brand) might, also Lowa? or Meindl might. I can see a couple of local brands in my country that do too, but availability outside there??
    – bob1
    Jun 25, 2023 at 4:49
  • The manufacturer in your link mentions that the symptoms of hydrolysis show at 6-7 years, not 3. Maybe that discrepancy could be a sign of defect? Jun 25, 2023 at 13:23
  • @fyrepenguin Maybe? But if so, I'm far from the only person that's encountered such a defect. That's why I found the content on that page so irritating. Jun 25, 2023 at 19:52
  • FWIW, I have taken the habit of the following shorcuts for bigger expenses: go to amazon.com, look at the product/brand you want. Go directly to the 2 star ratings and check what they complain about (1 star ratings tend to be rants). Reasonable sounding longevity issues? Give it a pass. In this case, there weren't that many ratings to look at, but 1 German did complain about their soles (I think). So it wouldn't necessarily have helped you here, but it is a quick heuristic to minimize this kind of problem: way too many manufacturers don't do durable, only features. Jun 26, 2023 at 4:06
  • By 'durable' you mean, like in old good times, when shoes lasted for 20 or 30 years? The question was there, how many pairs of feet were wear out by those shoes. As the society gets more wealthy, people prefer paying more for more comfortable items. Jun 26, 2023 at 18:20

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