How to Treat Your Boots

posted in: ADVICE & TIPS, GEAR | 1

Let us begin:

Are your boots are looking like they need some love after some time on the trail? If so, follow this journey on cleaning and treating your boots at home!

We begin by gently rinsing the outside upper of the boots off, by using a garden hose or a tub or sink. Next, we rub the dirt and grime off the outside of the boot with a soft bristle brush and a smooth rag or shammy. Take special care around the tough to reach spots in the tongue folds, around the hardware, and under the laces. Make sure to rinse your boots and tools as you go along to avoid buffing your boot with the grime. Finish with a last rinse.

Next, either let your boots dry naturally and avoid drying them in direct sunlight or apply the treatment of your choice. While they are damp, it would be an excellent time to treat the boots as they are prepped for treatment. Treating your boots while they are damp opens the pores of the leather allowing the treatment to seep in and fill the pore as the water evaporates. 

For treating these boots, we decided to go with a wax treatment to reapply its durable water repellency. This method is great as it helps recondition the leather, preventing cracking, and is the most durable treatment. However, this method will dramatically alter the appearance of these boots by making them darker, shinier, and will take away the nubuck texture. Make sure you have dampened the boots first with a clean, damp rag that you should keep handy as the boots may dry faster than you can apply the treatment. 

Apply the treatment with your fingers, or if you are using a sponge-on, its applicator sponge. For the wax treatment, your fingers are the best tool. Put the wax on your finger first, then apply in a circular motion on the upper of the boot. Pay special care around seams, hardware, and hard to reach spots such as the tongue. After your have covered the entire outside of the upper, wait 2 minutes and remove any surplus of wax, sponge-on or spray-on liquid with a clean rag. Allow your boots to dry naturally for 24 hours and avoid direct sunlight or direct heat.

What a difference it makes to repel that water! The treated boot on the left is repelling the water effortlessly and the worn, scuffed boot on the right is starting to “wet-out”. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the boot is no longer waterproof (it has a Gore-Tex liner on the inside to make it waterproof), it just means that the boots are less breathable, heavier, and need to be on the list of my gear to maintain. Maintaining and retreating the water repellency on your boots is just as important as doing it on your rain jacket. Both pieces of gear should be washed and treated after each big trip, or once a season.

The difference in appearance is dramatic with these boots and I love it. After treating these boots, I know that they are going to last a good, long while, through many adventures! 

Your boots are now totally ready to pan for gold or to cross that rushing creek on your next hike. Thanks for joining on this adventure with the Outter Limits team on “Treating Your Boots” –

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