The last thing you want when heading out on a hike or backpacking trip is a footwear failure. A hole in your shoe can become a huge annoyance as the miles progress.
So, can you really use Gorilla Glue for shoe soles? Absolutely! Gorilla Glue has become a DIY repair staple for hikers, backpackers and trail runners alike. It’s been proven as the perfect cost effective alternative to traditional shoe repair products. Allowing you to overcome footwear issues without resorting to purchasing a brand new pair.
Anyone who has spent significant time in their hiking shoes has most likely experienced the inevitable wear and tear that occurs after logging several miles. Sometimes, this degradation serves as a source of pride, as reassurance that our feet have taken us miles and miles.
Some view their broken shoes as tangible evidence of effort. Yet other times, this tangible evidence of effort occurs in the least convenient of places, such as in the middle of a backpacking trip, right before one, or in the middle of a remote location.
In these situations, it can be easy to assume our shoes are officially trashed, or to worry about finishing a certain section of a backpacking trip supported by ripped soles. Instead of worrying about this scenario, there is a simple product that many hikers have discovered as a foolproof fix. This simple answer happens to live not in the outdoor gear aisle, but rather in the hardware aisle.
Why is Gorilla Glue the best glue for hiking shoe sole repair?
“Simply put, the polyurethane that Gorilla Glue is comprised of is the most effective form of shoe repair. One of the most important aspects in choosing a glue is that it creates a flexible bend. Without this feature, the glue will be entirely ineffective in creating a bond that is able to bend and stretch, which is precisely what shoes do.”
Therefore, any regular glue will not work with shoe repair, since it is intended to work on surfaces that do not bend regularly. Epoxy does not work as well as polyurethane, and contact cement does not create a flexible bond, so while it is a great option for flat surfaces, it falls apart when applied to surfaces that bend and flex.
Flexible Bond – Because Gorilla Glue creates a flexible bond, it is an effective repair material. It is fast drying and strong, and some brands of Gorilla Glue use a foaming agent to ensure that the holes or tears in the shoe are firmly fixed, or that bits of a broken sole are reattached. Due to this foaming agent, Gorilla Glue is also highly effective at filling gaps.
Waterproof – Gorilla Glue is waterproof and temperature resistant. As a result, it can be used in a variety of climates and geographies. It does not require a smooth surface application in order to be effective, which is essential for repairing bumpy shoe surfaces.
Fast Drying – Gorilla Glue boasts a number of features that make it effective. For example, this glue is fast setting, drying within 10 to 45 seconds, which reduces the need for continual clamping and drying time. It is also a no run formula, meaning that it expands on application as a foaming agent, which helps it from oozing out and losing its efficacy on the surface.
An anti clog cap keeps the material from drying so that it can offer repeated uses, and it can be used on rubber, leather, synthetic fabric, and vinyl.
Overall Durability – However, what makes Gorilla Glue most effective for repairing hiking shoes is its durability despite consistent and diverse surface wear. When hiking, it is necessary to walk through water, sand, mud, grass, broken glass, and plenty of other unpredictable surfaces. It is a reasonable expectation that a hiking shoe is able to remain intact despite these diverse and potentially harsh conditions.
As a result, it should be expected that a shoe repair formula do the same. Plenty of hikers have spoken to the ability of Gorilla Glue to remain intact amidst all of these conditions.
What type of Gorilla Glue is best for shoe repair?
The type of Gorilla Glue used depends on what needs to be fixed. The foaming polyurethane properties of certain types of Gorilla Glue make it a great solution to hole repair, but this same foaming property is not the best match for repairing an entirely separated shoe sole.
According to most online hiker forums and personal experience, Gorilla Glue Clear + Water Resistant is the most popular choice. This type of Gorilla Glue is clear, so if any excess product is accidentally applied to the shoe, the end result will still be relatively hidden.
However, many others claim that the Gorilla Glue Clear Grip option is the most versatile for shoe repair. It is entirely waterproof, is clear in color, and has a higher level of impact resistance and durability than other Gorilla Glue types.
The Gorilla Glue “Super Glue” non-expanding formula is the best option for fixing a sole that has detached entirely from the rest of the shoe. This is because this glue, as stated in the name, does not expand. This results in a more flexible bond, which therefore allows for a more durable bond.
Another benefit to this product is the low price range and multiple uses. Additionally, the product is in a small container, and therefore can easily be stored in a backpacking pack for any extended adventure.
How To Fill A Hole In The Sole of a Hiking Shoe
Because Gorilla Glue contains a foaming agent, it is important not to overfill gaps in order to avoid the risk of excess product spillage out of the gaps. In order to fill in a hole with Gorilla Glue…
- Apply a small amount and massage it in to fill the gaps.
- Wait ten seconds to see how much or little the formula foams.
- Inspect the end result and apply more product if it is necessary.
Even though this product dries clear, it can look messy if over applied. As a result, it is essential to use the correct application technique, to avoid the fast-drying formula setting in an unattractive manner.
Tip: If available, cotton swabs make for a more precise application that can be applied within sole holes.
How to Fix Shoe Sole Separation
Fixing shoe separation requires a different method than fixing shoe gaps. The application can be slightly tricky, because although thinly applied glue does not work as effectively as a thick application, the product does expand on contact, meaning that an over application can turn into a mess.
Therefore, it requires a specific amount of product, so starting with a thinner layer and then working up is the best method. However, it is also important to work quickly, due to the fast drying nature of the product.
Gorilla Glue Vs. Other Similar Products
There are a variety of other products that claim to do the same thing as Gorilla Glue. While many of these products might be effective, there are specific benefits to the Gorilla Glue material as opposed to other shoe adhesives.
For example, regular Shoo Goo is a common marketplace competitor. However, it is specifically formulated to work on sneakers as opposed to other shoe materials. While it will technically work on rubber and leather, it is more so intended to repair sneaker material. Due to this, it is incredibly effective for sneakers, but less durable when used on hiking boots.
However, since Gorilla Glue is an adhesive for any material, it is better suited for fixing hiking boots.
Boot Fix by Shoe Goo – Another popular option for shoe repair is Boot-Fix Shoe Goo. The difference between this product and Gorilla Glue is that Boot-Fix is incredibly thick, lacking the runny viscosity and therefore easier applications of other products. Boot-Fix is temperature-resistant, able to handle extreme heat and ice, and also dries clear.
Although it is long-lasting and waterproof, it is more expensive than other products, and is only available in certain parts of the world.
Barge – Lastly, another primary competitor to other shoe repair adhesives is Barge All-Purpose TF Cement Rubber. This product is incredibly durable, being a neoprene formula that works as a sealant cement. It does boast high flexibility and a bond that is able to stick to multiple surfaces.
However, if used incorrectly, it has the potential to negatively affect the health of the user, and it also becomes significantly less effective in adverse weather conditions, or if the surface it is applied to is uneven or dirty. Therefore, using this product in order to repair hiking shoes, which are notoriously uneven and dirty, is not necessarily the best option.
When hiking boots begin to fall apart, it can be tempting to assume their life is over. However, Gorilla Glue is a small, inexpensive DIY hack that can save outdoor enthusiasts hundreds of dollars. Hiking footwear can have many lives if enough effort is given into maintaining them.
As a solo female traveler, Katie is passionate about exploring outdoor spaces, involving others in the fight against climate change, and being a student of the world. She has traveled the U.S. in her van in order to film a documentary on solo female travel, and is currently on a mission to travel the world armed with nothing but a backpack and a fierce desire to taste the best local dessert in as many places as possible.