Here at HELM we design to last for decades. Every pair is composed of full-grain, water-resistant leather uppers and textured rubber panel soles. One of the joys of working with full-grain, top quality hides is that each pair ends up looking and being unique to each wearer, and you know that your pair of HELM won’t look like anyone else's. We’re proud of that.
Part of what makes each pair specific and distinctive to the individual is the wear pattern. Some of the most common contributing factors to wear are the miles walked, how often you wear them, the individual's stride, the climate, and even the terrain you live or travel on. These are also the factors that affect the longevity of your boot's outsole. (Just think of the outsole of your boot like the tread on your tires.) If you want them to last, you have to keep up with the maintenance, and one easy way to prolong the life of your boots or shoes is a resole.
Here are the four things to look when you're wondering if it's time to switch out the soles.
Inspect the Outsole
Begin by turning the shoe upside down and looking at the outsole (the part of the shoe that makes direct contact with the ground). While holding the toe of the boot or shoe, run your finger over the center of the outsole. If healthy, the sole should be flush and taut against the insole. Any wrinkling, indentations, or sponginess is a sure sign that it’s time to resole.
Look for any visible holes or circular wear patterns. If any part of the HELM white rubber midsole is visible through the outsole or if you have worn them down to the point that there is even wear into the midsole, you are overdue for a sole change.
Ideally, boots should be resoled before the outsole has any visible holes. Sometimes you may find yourself noticing the wear and tear once you're well past this point, but that doesn't mean your boos are beyond saving. We recommend resoling with our partners at NuShoe; they guarantee their work and will always replace every part of the sole in the refurbish process. Some more good news - all HELM materials can be sourced with any reputable cobbler. If you decide to take your shoes to a local cobbler or shoe hospital, be sure to ask which outsole layers are going to be replaced.
Inspect the Welt
The welt is the strip of leather that runs the perimeter of the boot. Its main purpose is to attach the outsole to the upper, but it affects more than just how these two pieces are attached. It determines the flexibility and mobility of the design, and keeping the welt in good shape will be a deciding factor in the overall longevity of your pair. Check the edges of your boot or shoe to establish if you’ve worn through the welt stitching. Are the welt stitches at the outsole broken or coming undone? Anytime the stitching is completely worn through, it’s time for a resole.
Know your Wear Pattern
All of us have a specific pattern to our step, and some of us even have an uneven wear pattern. Depending on your gait, you may notice your unique wear pattern manifesting quickly in a new pair of boots, or it may take months to become visible. Without proper care, an uneven pattern will become more pronounced over time, and putting off mending the outsole or any other conditions that emerge due to this may cause unnecessary discomfort.
Many people will see the heel of their boot taking the brunt of their weight and pressure. If your wear pattern rides heavy on the heel or toe, consider asking your cobbler about toe plates and heel savers. A heel saver is an inexpensive rubber cap that is added to the heel or toe, and can buy you a few extra months of wear. Instead of needing a heel replacement or full resole, it’s possible to simply rotate out heel savers every few months and extend the life of your outsole. A reputable cobbler can also install steel toe plates during a full resole. For any of us that have an irregular wear pattern that calls for more frequent resoles, toe plates, heel savers and more frequent resoling are all excellent options.
Our partners at NuShoe offer a heel replacement service for $40 and a full resole plus refurbishment for $105 (& shipping). The good news is that since NuShoe always replaces every layer of the sole (midsole and outsole), you’re guaranteed to receive your pair of beloved HELM boots back in mint condition.