Hiking Boots

How to Pack Hiking Boots

Pack your hiking boots properly ensures they remain in good condition, saving space and keeping your other belongings clean

Packing for a hiking trip requires careful consideration, and one essential item that demands attention is your hiking boots.

Packing hiking boots in a backpack requires a bit of organisation to ensure they don’t take up too much space or make your backpack dirty.

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What Will You Learn?

Materials you’ll need

  • Backpack
  • Plastic bags or shoe covers (optional but recommended)
  • Small stuff sacks (optional)
  • Extra plastic bags for dirty/wet boots

Step-by-step process


Clean and dry

Before packing your hiking boots, make sure they are clean and dry. This helps prevent dirt and moisture from spreading to other items in your backpack.

Plastic bags or shoe covers

Consider using plastic bags or dedicated shoe covers to wrap your boots. This helps keep the dirt and mud from your boots contained and prevents them from coming into direct contact with your other belongings.


If your backpack has an external pocket or designated shoe compartment, use that space to store your boots. If not, place them near the bottom of your backpack so that they are close to your back. This helps distribute the weight more evenly and keeps the centre of gravity lower.

Stuff sacks (optional)

If you have small stuff sacks, you can place your boots inside them to keep them further protected and to prevent them from rubbing against other items in your backpack.

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Position your boots with the soles facing outwards, away from your other belongings. This way, any residual dirt on the soles won’t transfer onto your clothes or gear.


Loosen the laces of your boots but don’t necessarily untie them completely. This can help save space and make it easier to slide them into your backpack.

Use extra plastic bags

If your boots are dirty, wet, or muddy, consider placing them in an extra plastic bag before placing them in your backpack. This prevents moisture or dirt from seeping into your other items.

Balance and weight distribution

As you place your boots in the backpack, try to distribute their weight evenly on both sides of the bag to maintain balance.

Secure other items

If you’re concerned about your boots shifting around inside your backpack, you can use your clothes or other soft items to cushion them and prevent movement.

Top or outside

If you’re still worried about dirt or moisture, you can also attach your boots to the outside of your backpack. Many modern backpacks have external attachment points or pockets for this purpose.

Keep essential items accessible

Ensure that items you might need during the hike, like a rain jacket or snacks, are easily accessible without having to remove your boots.

Ways to pack Hiking Boots in a Backpack

Plastic Bag Method

  • Place each hiking boot in a separate plastic bag. This helps prevent dirt and mud from getting onto your other items.
  • Loosen the laces of the boots to make them more compact.
  • If the boots are wet or muddy, you can also wrap them in a plastic bag before placing them in your backpack.
  • Position the plastic-wrapped boots near the bottom of your backpack, with the soles facing outward to avoid transferring dirt.

Stuff Sack Method

  • Use small stuff sacks if you have them. Place one boot in each sack.
  • Loosen the laces and fold down the shaft of the boots to make them fit better.
  • Place the stuff sacks with the boots into your backpack. Position them strategically to balance the weight.

Outside Attachment Method

  • If your backpack has exterior attachment points, use them to attach the boots to the outside of the backpack.
  • Fasten the boots securely using the straps or loops provided. Make sure they are tightly secured to prevent them from swinging around.
  • This method can save space inside your backpack and prevent any dirt from getting inside.

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Inside Shoe Compartment Method

  • Some backpacks have designated shoe compartments at the bottom. If your backpack has one, place the boots inside these compartments.
  • Make sure the boots are clean and dry before placing them in the compartment.
  • This method keeps the boots separate from the rest of your belongings and prevents dirt from spreading.

Backpack Stuffing Method

  • Loosen the laces and fold down the shafts of the boots.
  • Stuff socks, underwear, or other soft items into the boots to help maintain their shape and save space.
  • Place the boots at the bottom of your backpack, ensuring they’re balanced on either side.

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Use a Shoe Bag

  • If you have a dedicated shoe bag, place each boot in the bag.
  • Close the bag and place it in your backpack. This keeps your boots contained and protects your other items from dirt.

Socks and Clothing

  • Stuff your socks, bandanas, or other soft clothing items inside your hiking boots.
  • This not only saves space but also helps maintain the shape of your boots and keeps them from getting crushed.

Bottom of the Backpack

  • Store your hiking boots at the bottom of your backpack, so they are closest to your back when you’re wearing the backpack.
  • This helps with weight distribution and balance.

Compression Straps

  • If your backpack has compression straps, use them to secure your hiking boots against the sides of your backpack.
  • This prevents them from shifting around too much.

Rolled Towel or Clothing

  • Roll a small towel or clothing item and place it inside your hiking boots.
  • This helps them retain their shape and also utilises the space inside the boots.

Packing Hiking Boots in a Suitcase

Packing Hiking Boots in a Suitcase

Packing your hiking boots in a suitcase requires careful arrangement to ensure they fit well and don’t damage your other belongings.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Position Boots at the Bottom Layer

Place your hiking boots at the bottom of the suitcase. Position them near the wheels or corners of the suitcase for stability. This prevents unnecessary pressure on your other items.

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Secure with Socks and Underwear

Slide socks and underwear into your boots. This helps maintain the shape of your boots while also saving space in your suitcase. It also adds a layer of protection for more delicate items.

Alternate Heel-to-Toe Placement

Position one boot with the sole facing down and the toe pointing towards the top of the suitcase. Place the other boot with the sole facing up and the toe pointing towards the bottom. This arrangement reduces the overall space required and helps maintain balance.

Use Shoe Bags

Consider using cloth shoe bags to cover your boots. These bags provide an extra layer of protection and prevent your boots from directly touching your clothes and other items. This keeps your suitcase cleaner.

Ensure Proper Support

If you’re concerned about your boots losing their shape during travel, place them near the sides of the suitcase. Then, fill the centre space with rolled clothes or soft items. This provides support and prevents the boots from shifting around.

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Close the Suitcase

After placing the boots and arranging them properly, carefully close your suitcase. Ensure that the closure mechanism, whether it’s zippers, buckles, or straps, is secure and not under strain.

Packing Tips for Different Hiking Shoes


Packing Low-Cut Hiking Shoes

  • Low-cut hiking shoes are compact and easier to pack. You can follow similar guidelines as mentioned earlier, such as using plastic bags to prevent dirt transfer and maximising space.
  • Loosen the laces to make the shoes more flexible and easier to fit into your luggage.
  • Place each shoe in a separate plastic bag to protect your other items from any residual dirt on the soles.

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Handling Hiking Sandals

  • Before packing, ensure that your hiking sandals are clean and dry.
  • Place the sandals in a sealed plastic bag to prevent any dirt, sand, or debris from spreading to your other belongings.
  • If the sandals have any detachable parts, secure them together to avoid misplacement.

Storing Snow Boots

  • Shake off excess snow and moisture from your snow boots before packing.
  • To help absorb any remaining dampness, stuff the boots with crumpled newspapers. This will also help them maintain their shape.
  • Consider placing the snow boots in a plastic bag to prevent melted snow from affecting other items in your luggage.

Preparing for Airport Security

  • Wearing your hiking boots to the airport is a smart move to save space in your luggage.
  • If you decide to pack your hiking boots, ensure easy accessibility. This means placing them on top or in an exterior pocket of your luggage, as you might need to remove them during security checks.

Ventilation and Odour Control

  • If your hiking shoes are damp or sweaty after a hike, let them air out before packing. This helps prevent mould and unpleasant odours.
  • Consider placing odour-absorbing insoles or sachets inside your shoes to keep them smelling fresh during your travels.

Use Shoe Inserts or Forms

  • To maintain the shape of your shoes and prevent them from getting squished, you can use shoe inserts or forms specifically designed for travel.
  • These inserts help the shoes retain their form and reduce the risk of any damage during transit.

Pack Shoe Care Items

  • If you have space, consider packing a small travel-sized shoe brush or wipes to clean your shoes during your trip.
  • Having a small bottle of waterproofing spray can also be helpful in case you encounter wet conditions.

Read Our Training Guide for Hiking

Maximise Space with Compression Bags

  • For bulkier hiking boots or situations where you need to pack multiple pairs of shoes, compression bags can be a space-saving solution.
  • These bags allow you to remove excess air, minimising the space occupied by your shoes.

Separate Dirty Shoes

  • If your hiking shoes are muddy or dirty from your outdoor adventures, consider using a dedicated shoe bag or a plastic bag to isolate them from your clean clothes and gear.

Check Luggage Weight Limits

  • Before packing, be mindful of weight restrictions imposed by airlines or other forms of transportation.
  • Hiking boots can be heavy, so if you’re already close to your luggage weight limit, wearing them to the airport might be a good option.

Reusable Grocery Bags or Shoe Organizers

  • Packing your shoes in reusable grocery bags or shoe organisers can help keep them contained and prevent direct contact with your other belongings.
  • These bags can also serve as an extra layer of protection against dirt and moisture.

Read Our Outfit Guide For Hiking?


Packing hiking boots efficiently is an essential skill for any outdoor enthusiast. Whether you’re backpacking through the wilderness or embarking on a city exploration, properly packed boots are a step towards a comfortable and hassle-free journey.


Can I wear my hiking boots to the airport?

Wearing your boots can save space in your luggage and make security checks easier.

Should I pack an extra pair of boots?

Packing an extra pair is recommended, especially for challenging terrains or water crossings.

How do I break in hiking boots?

Gradually wear them before your hike to prevent blisters and discomfort.

Can I pack hiking sandals the same way as boots?

Yes, ensure they’re clean and dry, and pack them in a sealed bag.

Do I need to clean my boots before packing?

Yes, cleaning and drying your boots before packing prevents dirt transfer and moisture damage.

Should I use shoe trees when packing hiking boots in a suitcase?

While shoe trees can help maintain the shape of your boots, they might take up extra space in your suitcase. If space allows, consider using collapsible shoe trees.

Can I pack other items inside my boots for added protection?

Yes, you can place small, soft items like scarves, gloves, or even a lightweight jacket inside your boots to provide extra cushioning and protect delicate items in your luggage.

How do I clean my hiking boots after a trip?

To clean your boots after a hike, gently brush off dirt and debris. Use a damp cloth to wipe them down and allow them to air dry. Avoid direct sunlight or heat sources that could damage the materials.

Are there specific packing techniques for knee-high hiking boots?

Knee-high boots can take up more space, but you can still use similar techniques. Make sure to secure them with socks or newspaper to maintain their shape.

Can I pack hiking boots with crampons attached?

If you have detachable crampons, it’s a good idea to remove them before packing. Crampons can potentially damage other items in your luggage.

What’s the best way to pack hiking boots when they’re wet?

If your boots are wet, stuff them with newspapers and allow them to air dry before packing. Avoid packing damp boots directly into a sealed bag, as this can lead to mould growth.

Should I bring spare laces for my hiking boots?

Packing spare laces can be a smart move, as laces can wear out or break during a hike. You can place them in a small ziplock bag and tuck them inside your boots.

Can I use a compression sack for my hiking boots?

While compression sacks are great for saving space, they might not be suitable for boots, as they can deform the boots’ shape. Stick to soft items for compression sacks.

How do I handle muddy hiking boots during packing?

If your boots are muddy, clean them as much as possible before packing. Use a soft brush to remove excess mud and let them air dry before packing.

Are there specific regulations for packing hiking boots on aeroplanes?

While there are no strict rules, it’s recommended to pack your boots in a way that allows for easy inspection during airport security checks. Consider wearing or placing them in an accessible part of your luggage.

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