I took all my new and old hiking shoes out of the closet and washed them and inspected for re-use or throw-out. Two are in great shape because I seldom use them because they are a bit too small. But four fit perfectly, have a reasonable tread remaining, but have a small hole- all left foot- in the pinky toe side. I bash through a lot of rocks - I bet I lead with my left foot. I use Super-feet insoles that I replace annually so the status of the foot-bed is not an issue.
So, what to do. Is there any way to repair a dime-size hole without making the area stiff or uncomfortable? I have tried Barge cement on some technical climbing shoes in the past, and it resulted in unacceptable stiffness. Should I just leave the hole and deal with wet shoes? The shoes are not waterproof in the first place. All are Merrell light hiker, low cut shoes. The hole is right at the fabric-rubber toe interface.
Loc: Portland, OR
There is a product called Shoe Goo, sold by REI, that might possibly give you a satisfactory result. It dries with a bit of flexibility. It is cheaper than throwing out four pairs of otherwise useful shoes.
I've used silicone aquarium cement on similar holes. As long as it isn't put on too thick it stays pretty flexible. I saturated a small patch piece of ripstop with the stuff, put some more around the hole (worked in well) and then put the patch on like a band aid. It looked kind of dorky but it worked for another 300 miles. Better than duct tape IMHO.
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
I just repaired a pair of my wife's running shoes with Shoe Goo a couple weeks ago. They were separating from the soles. It's still really early, but so far, so good. I've also put Gorilla Tape on a small hole in the upper of my "grungy" shoes, an old pair I use for yard work, hiking, and water shoes. The hole was right above the end of my big toe where the toenail was hitting it. I put the tape on the inside so it wouldn't show. So far it's holding up, and I can't tell it's there when I wear them. I've also read somewhere that it's good to reinforce the threads of shoes with super glue to make them last longer, but I haven't tried that yet. Doesn't seem to be the usual point of failure for me anyway.
The journey is more important than the destination.
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
I like Pika's idea, though I've never used Shoe Goo. I just bought some Gorilla Tape this year. It's tough and sticky but I've not tested it on anything much. I patched a ripped corner in my tent with it and it did great there.
The thing about Pika's method is the silicone will saturate the ripstop and make it waterproof while still being very flexible and tough, and by working the silicone into the shoe and hole before apply the patch it should bond very well.
I've played with making silicone embedded cloth and it has some very impressive properties. It's very similar to what inflatable boats are made of, but better.
...but think how much weight you are saving by not having to carry around all that missing shoe material! Actually my personal opinion is that once a shoe is worn to the point that the tread is worn down on an edge, or holes have worn through, it is best to just get rid of it. My cheap nature is always to want to save and get maximum use, but I have come to a different conclusion with boots. Once the wear reaches that point, the internal support of my shoe is no longer so good, not as much cushion. Also, at least for me, when I look at the shoe I can see it doesn't sit level anymore, and I'm pretty sure walking in it causes my knee to kind of torque to the side, making for bad posture, back pain, knee pain, etc.If you think about it, if the shoe is worn to one side, the lower leg then bends a bit, and the knee gets stress on it. I have had some serious foot problems, and my foot doctor strongly recommended to me not to keep using old worn footwear, and I believe this has helped me. Of course, your experience may be different. My GF is always doing just fine with boots that seem worn down appalingly by my standards.
Shoe Goo is great stuff for exactly what you are asking. Wet suit weld seems to be the same stuff. You make a little "dam" from masking tape, add goo, let set. You can trim it with a razor blade. It's great for building heals back up too. Very tough stuff! I have more of a problem with the soles adhesive breaking down and the sole peeling off. Contact cement fixes that. My shoes look like they were shot with a shotgun before I'll replace them...the cheapskate I am.
Loc: Torrance, CA
I tend to agree with bobito... if you wore a hole in the shoe, the shoes are probably worn out. It sounds like you have tried shoo goo type repairs and been unhappy with the results.
Shoe repair places still do exist (check yelp for reviews). I've been pleasantly surprised at how cheaply some of these guys will repair shoes. Though on the flip I have been less than happy with how long the repairs have lasted. In my experience repairs are not as strong as the original shoe. You wore out that spot for a reason... ipso facto the repair will wear out sooner.
The shoes are not worn out. Light hikers were not intended to be used off trail going over sharp rock. I use the light shoes because they fit even though the toe portion of the shoe is not really tough enough for what I do. The soles are fine, as is the general integrity of the shoe. Just the holes.
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