How To Make Your Sneakers Last Longer
Everybody has a favourite pair of sneakers that they just love to wear. And perhaps, for some of our younger and/or miserly readers, their ‘Sunday Best’ is also their ‘Beater Best’. The problem is, any pair that gets plenty of wear time does just that: gets worn out!
Whether it’s to savour the footwear flavour, or make that annual sneaker allowance last, there are ways to squeeze more life out of a pair of shoes. Some methods are tried and true, while others are still yet to prove their worth. Here’s a crash course on how to make sneakers go the distance.
Assess the Conditions
There’s a reason why someone’s nicest outfit is known as their ‘Sunday Best’. It’s the same with sneakers: whether it’s Grails or GRs, they’re made for wearing, but will also benefit from being handled with some discretion. Save that suede for sunny days with a zero per cent chance of rain, and consider wearing more weatherproof materials when you see an inclement forecast. Wear the right shoe for the right situation, and there will be some happy feet.
Keep Them Clean
People shower and brush their teeth as part of good personal hygiene, preventing disease and other nasty stuff. So, it should be the same with sneakers. Like plaque on teeth leading to gingivitis, grime and damp on your shoes can cause bacteria to fester and grow mould.
This is probably the most obvious step to ensure sneakers are in top order. Use protective sprays, spot clean when they get dirty, or even put them in the washing machine if appropriate. Also, wear fresh socks. Please.
Buy the Correct Size and/or Walk Properly
Ill-fitting shoes can cause all sorts of problems: beyond various biomechanical issues, and potential damage to the human body, sneakers bear quite a lot of brunt when worn improperly. Wear can be accelerated due to excessive pronation from shoes lacking support, or heavy creasing can occur because of roomy toe boxes on too-big shoes.
Also common is accelerated heel drag, not only as a result of pronation, but from adopting a lazy gait and literally dragging the heels during walking. A healthier practice is to lift the foot completely and land mid-foot as opposed to a heel-to-toe motion.
Nothing breathes renewed energy into a tired pair of sneakers like brand new insoles, which can massively extend their useful life. After the outsole, the insoles are the quickest wearing part of sneakers, compressing with every step while also being subjected to damp and odour. Routinely swapping between insoles can really lengthen wear time.
Similarly, even just refreshing components like shoelaces can give a tired old pair a new lease on life, and more rotation time.
Store Shoes Properly
In addition to the points above, storing the shoes in clean, dry and well-ventilated areas will only do good things for their longevity. Proper storage is a topic that’s well-documented around these parts, but here’s the crash course. Prevent prolonged periods of exposure to direct sunlight, consider keeping them in their original boxes, and actually remember to wear them every now and again!
Sole Protectors and Other Silly Accessories
Provided they’re looked after, sneaker uppers can go the distance – it’s why OG Jordan and Air Max uppers sometimes get sole swapped. However, outsoles and midsoles are high-wear components, but it is possible to borrow some time.
The jury is out on the thin silicone style sheets that can be stuck onto outsoles to get them to last longer. A semi-permanent, and arguably more effective method, is using what’s known in the cobbler business as a Topy Sole, which are durable textured rubber plates that are attached to high-wear areas like the heel and toe. It’s best to have them professionally glued on before the first wear. Or do what skaters have done for decades: generously apply Shoe Goo to worn-out areas. The trade-off is of course an occasionally unsightly patch and potentially different on-foot feel.
Up top, crease protectors and toe box inserts are pretty silly too, as they reduce space in the toe box and also restrict natural movement. A better way to prevent creasing is to store sneakers on shoe trees or cardboard/paper stuffing to help maintain the original shape of the shoes.
So, with all this in mind, go out there and look forward to getting even more life out of your sneakers!