In the past I would buy one pair and wear them until they fell apart. Sure it worked great for expenses, but Murphy's Law is a pain. Always failed at an inconvenient time. I finally found a pair I liked. Bought a set in 2020, got them broke in. Bought a set in 2021, broke them in and swapped the pair in and out during the season.
I'll buy a third pair this next year and break in. I usually wear out boots every three years for hunting, but I've gotten to where I wear them year round, nearly daily. So, I figure with three boots in the rotation, if a pair wears out the GoreTex or has a catastrophic failure, I've still got two pair good to go.
Not the least expensive way to go, but I prioritize boots as I use the heck out of them and they are an investment in comfort. When I find some I like, I want to be well stocked and not have to be concerned about what ifs in the field.
About 15 years ago I went on the boot merry-go-round. Took me a long time to find a pair that fit my feet. Finally found a pair that fit me exceptionally well. As boot designs come and go, I decided to stockpile and have 10 pairs - brand new in the box - at home. Should be set for a while. Wife knows I am nuts.
I bought two pairs of Lowas about a year ago because I got 60% off and I go through boots. I plan to condition them once a year regardless if I don’t wear them. I would think there should be no issue storing them for a few years.
I've got several pairs each of the Cabelas Meindl Perfekt Hiker and Hunter boots from new to nearly worn out. Bought several of them on sale when Cabelas was bought by Bass Pro and was discontinuing them. Was great to grab a like new pair before a big hunt this fall where boot trouble would be really a bad thing. I've never had any issues with deterioration from lack of use....I just store them cleaned up in a dark, dry and roughly 60* F area away from heat sources.
That said, I've read and seen photos of a few instances where guys are storing their boots for a long time without using them and the polyurethane between the Vibram sole and the boot is decomposing.
I grabbed this info from from "Bergpost, Midsole Midlife Crisis"
"Hydrolysis is the chemical breakdown of a compound due to reaction with water. In our case, we’re talking polyurethane (PU). Polyurethane is used to make midsoles (the component in the middle of a boot between the outsole and the upper/ insole). It can gradually absorb moisture over time and deteriorate. The polyurethane gets harder, more porous and, at some point, starts to crumble. In extreme cases, it can disintegrate completely."
Note that there is a lot more info in the article if you are interested.
I have an extremely hard time finding boots, so when I find a pair I'll often wait until that modeal goes on sale and then add another pair to the rotation. I do fit them and confirm they are the same, I've had 2 of the exact same make model not fit the same.
I dont think there would be a problem with them aging poorly. My oldesr pair of leather boots were almost 15 years old before I retired them with 100's of days of use. My little brother still has them and uses them occasionally, they're now approaching 30 years old. These were telemark ski boots, so the sole doesn't see any wear, but they are flexed under load far more then a hiking boot. They were treated religiously while I had them, my brother treats them every few years. They are soft and cut up, but nothing has failed from age.
I always have several pairs. It’s nice to have several types of boots for different conditions. Lighter weight, hot vs cold weather. snow and rain vs dry, etc. Also a backup pair in case one gets totally soaked.
I agree with oldilinni, the older I get the more my feet change. I have a pair of the current iteration of the Danner Pronghorn for the past two seasons, three after this one. It's a very confortable boot and I have thought about buying another pair, but I think I will probably try one of the higher end boots next time.
I go through a pair of boots a year so I always have two pair for huntin. I have tender feet even though I’ve never had a blister or hot spot after 5-10 miles. I’ve graduated up from the cheaper boots and have mostly Lowa Tibet they fit great and last.
I have 4 pairs. I just cant throw my old ones away and on occasion will wear them. I always have a backup in the truck. Always. I may go ahead and buy another pair of Meindl Comfort Fit Hunters for the reason Mike mentioned
It is imperative for me to have a back up pair, so yes, I have 2 pair. I happen to find the Crispi Guide a good fit, so I bought a pair of Nevada and have the same boot in 2 different heights which gives more versatility as well.