Run the Wild guide and kit care guru Chris gives his tips for keeping your trail running kit in good condition and making them last longer. 

As an avid cani-crosser (European sport where the runner is pulled along by their attached dog) and a trail runner it’s fair to say my trail shoes live a hard life. Since my shoes were spending most of their time in ice, mud and puddles I was going through a pair of shoes at an alarming rate and realised I had to start looking after them.


Over time I came up with ways to look after my kit, not just shoes but also running vests, which slowed down the rate at which I was having to replace them and keep the bank balance looking a bit better! Starting to look after my kit also meant it remained comfortable and the shoes were as fresh as a pair of trail shoes can be! So, read on for my top 5 running kit care tips.

1. Wash Your Shoes Straight Away

After returning from a muddy run, if you can, wash your shoes down straight away.  It’s so much easier washing off fresh mud instead of brushing off the old stuff.  I use a mountain bike pressure washer plugged into the 12v socket in the car but a pump sprayer from your local hardware store is easy to get hold of and inexpensive.  Take out the insoles first and rinse the shoes separately. Make sure you wash out the mud and stones from the tread pattern underneath as you’ll be wanting all that grip for your next run. Ensure that you rinse thoroughly the material on the uppers. Removing the mud and grit from the mesh will reduce the friction and cutting action which leads to those tell-tale signs of wear where the foot creases the upper. 

2. Pack Wet Shoes with Newspaper

When you get home, pack out your wet shoes with newspaper.  Push it right down into the tips of the shoe and build it up. Since the paper absorbs all that water it’ll need replacing a couple more times before the shoes are dry and ready to use again. Having already removed your insoles, dry them separately. By drying slowly like this I find the shoes don’t go all crispy and lose their flexibility.  When shoes do this, it makes them a real pain to have to get on at the beginning of that run and they also become more brittle leading to damage.  Whatever you do, don’t put your wet shoes in the airing cupboard or on the radiator.  I’ve found that some shoes shrink due to this drying method and also effects the glue and stitching which then cause issues with rubbing and blisters.  Best to absorb that wet rather than dry it out quick time!

3. Baking Soda

If you’re really struggling to keep those trail shoes from smelling like a stagnant pond, then have a go at sprinkling Baking Soda into the shoe and leaving them overnight.  The next day tip the baking soda into the bin and you’ll find the shoes smell a whole lot fresher than when you started out.

4. Put Clothes in a Sports Wash

If you’re frustrated that your running tops still smell having just been in the washing machine, as I was, then try a dedicated sports wash.  They’re great at ridding those polyester/nylon types of running clothes of all those funky smells that your day to day detergents just can’t shift.

5. Wash Your Vest

To prevent your running vest from going brittle and covered in white sweat patches make sure you sponge those the vest with warm soapy water and let it dry naturally.

It might take a bit more time and effort to look after your kit rather than just throwing it in the corner! However, it will definitely last a lot longer and your wallet will thank you!


Chris is a Lead Runner for Run the Wild - the UK’s first premier, dedicated trail running holiday adventure company. Operating in the UK and the Alps, they deliver holidays that combine the sense of 'team' from mountaineering, with the thrill of trail running in wild places.


Chris has been competing in Canicross events in the Chilterns with his dog Monty since 2013 and does trail running in the offseason. He's an England Athletics Leader in Running Fitness and is trained in basic life support first aid and emergency first aid.

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