Leather Walking Boots Care: An Expert Guide

Walking boots are made with durability and strength in mind, and to withstand a variety of weather conditions. Even the highest quality leather requires regular maintenance to put off natural deterioration. In an ideal world, you should clean your boots after every instance of wear. By taking proper care of your leather walking boots it will help ensure that they perform better and help expand their lifespan.

Leather Walking Boots General Care

Proofing Leather Boots

Over time, and without proper care your walking boots can dry out and crack. Before proofing your leather boots it’s important to let them fully dry. Proofing your leather boots can help to condition and soften the leather, however remember to check that the type of proofer is the right one for your boots as treatments vary. 

Removing Dirt from Boots with Lukewarm Water

Before using water to clean your boots, ensure that they are completely dry before thoroughly brushing them. Using lukewarm water to help remove dirt from your leather walking boots Brushing the boots will help to revive its natural properties, enabling the leather to breathe.

Airing out leather boots

When airing out your leather boots you should unlace the shoes and flip the tongue out, this will enable more air to circulate. It’s also important to remove the insole, as these absorb a lot of moisture. A soaked leather boot should be left to dry for 24 hours before its next use.

Waterproofing Leather Boots

Water will ruin leather so it’s extremely important to make your boots waterproof. You will need to continue to waterproof your walking boots as time goes on, as with use and wear the waterproofness begins to deteriorate. By regularly waterproof your boots it will help ensure your feet are kept warm and dry, whilst helping to prolong the life of your boots. It’s important to make sure that the natural substances of the leather are replaced, so they should have a caring product rubbed or polished into them after any deep clean.

Grisport boots are treated with appropriate finishes at the last stage of production. However, there can be a stretch of time between production and being taken home by a customer. So, it is wise to check if your boots need a bit of treatment as soon as you purchase them. To test whether your leather boots need a waterproof treatment, drip some water on the leather: if it doesn’t stay in a bead and run off the boot, waterproofing treatment is needed. We suggest Grisport Waterproofing wax.

  • Clean off the dirt and mud with a brush.
  • Take out the laces.
  • Wash the boots with mild detergent.
  • Soak the boots in water if needed (*see note on nubuck leather)
  • Rinse boots with water.
  • Towel dry.

Maintaining and Protecting Leather Walking Boots

Here are a few musts when it comes to maintaining and protecting your leather walking boots:

Break in the leather walking boots slowly

It’s important to let your walking boots wear in and let them mold to your feet. Taking them out on short walks or hikes before doing any long hikes to make sure they’re broken in and won’t cause your feet to be covered in cuts and blisters.

Keep them clean and dry 

Keeping your boots clean and dry is essential in order to optimise their performance and make them last as long as possible. Dirt and water can act to remove the natural oils in the leather, so it’s important to try and clean them straight after returning from any walk or hike. However it’s important not to leave the boots to dry next to a direct source of heat, such as a radiator, as this 

Remove insoles after use

Insoles hold a lot of moisture, and if left inside the boot it can cause the leather to become soft and mushy. They can also begin to smell and become bacteria laden. So by removing them and leaving them out overnight it will keep your walking boots dry and help to avoid them 

Avoid salt water

Salt water will rust the metal eyelets on your walking boots, and once they have begun to rust they’re hard to replace. 

Suede or Nubuck Boots

Suede is a soft, flexible and lighter weight side of a hide, and Nubuck is a finer grain, velvet-like, sanded or buffed strong but soft material, which depends heavily on proper care to maintain its quality.For these materials it’s recommended to use a silicone-based liquid or spray, as these are less likely to clog up the material.

  • Use a multi-purpose suede brush to remove loose dirt
  • Blot, never rub suede
  • For any stains use either Kiwi Suede & Nubuck Dry Cleaner or Punch Suede & Nubuck Cleaner
  • Leave to dry and then brush with a clean suede brush
  • Spray with Nikwax Nubuck & Suede Proof or Grisport Protector to waterproof the boot

Full Grain Leather Boots

With full grain leather boots, particles of debris can make their way into the pores of the leather, leading them to dry out and subsequently shortening their lifespan. It’s important to use a 

  • Use a shoe brush to remove cakes of dirt
  • Remove the laces (can be washed separately eg in washing machine)
  • Use moisturizing soap (eg Saddle Soap) to wash any remaining dirt
  • Wipe any remaining soap with a damp cloth
  • Allow the boot to dry naturally, preferably for at least 24 hours
  • Remove any stubborn grime with Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel
  • Re-apply oil or polish to protect from future dirt- avoid stitching or laces which can be discoloured by polish. Apply polish in circular movements and remove any excess.
  • Use polish approximately monthly or when needed. On waxed leather uppers, like Dartmoor, we recommend using Nikwax Waterproofing Wax instead of polish. This waterproofs but also gives a wax finish like the original.
  • Grisport Protector can be used to protect against penetration of water and oil

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