Author: By Cabela's Staff
Serious hunters know that good boots aren’t a luxury. They’re a requirement. In fact, most hunters see top-quality boots as an investment. Like any other big purchase, you want to make sure you get the most out of your investment. So, cleaning and treating your hunting boots should become as important to your offseason routine as maintaining your firearms.
A good pair of boots can carry a price tag that will rival some of the more expensive gear in your arsenal. You take good care of your optics, electronics and other expensive hunting gear, and you should do the same with your boots by taking the steps to preserve the investment you have already made or protect the ones you’re about to buy.
From all-leather boots to leather/fabric combinations, there are products on the market designed to revitalize old boots and even add an extra layer of protection to new boots.
You’ll want to start by washing all dirt, debris and mud from the surface of your boots. Use a soft brush, if necessary, to get them clean. Towel them off and let them air dry completely before proceeding.
When treating all-leather boots, you have the option of using either a chemical treatment process or a natural oil paste. While the end result is the same – treated leather with superior water-repellent properties - the ultimate appearance of the boots will change drastically between the two.
Beeswax/Propolis formulas return natural oils to the leather. When you open it, you’ll notice the cream is fairly hard. You’ll want to use a hair dryer to soften it and the leather a little for better application. Also, you should apply the cream with your bare hands as the heat from your hands will open the pores of the leather and further soften the cream to provide better coverage. Work the leather thoroughly with the cream, then allow it to dry at room temperature. You can use a hair dryer to speed up the process after application. Put on two coats for longer-lasting protection.
You’ll notice that the leather will darken as you put on the formula. This is to be expected as many of the lost oils are being returned to the leather. It also helps if you missed a portion of the boot when treating it the second time. As you wear the boots, they will become lighter over time as the formula works its way out. That’s why yearly conditioning is important. You’ll also notice that your boots shed water better after treatment; that’s a benefit of beeswax, just like waxing your car. If you use beeswax on nubuck, it’s going to totally change the appearance and smooth the "grain" into more of a full-leather look. Most people who purchase nubuck boots like the look and feel of that "grain," so you may want to use a chemical product to clean those.
When treating boots that use a combination of fabrics, such as boots with both leather and Cordura® nylon, you should use a chemical treatment that can be applied to the whole boot. This will ensure overall protection and maximum longevity.
For full-grain-leather casual or hiking footwear, the choice is up to you. Both products will extend the life of your footwear. Your final choice may come down to appearance. If you like the color of your current boots, then you want a chemical treatment. If you don’t mind having them darker, then you can use the natural oil cream.
Either way, you’ve extended the life of your investment, whether old or new, and that just makes sense. It might have even allowed you to buy another new gun along the way, and there’s nothing wrong with that.