If there’s one piece of hunting or outdoors related equipment that can truly make or break your adventure… it’s boots.
Your hunting boots are an investment that’ll pay dividends in the field; giving you traction, protecting your feet and reducing fatigue when carrying loads of gear up the mountain and loads of meat down the mountain.
Failing to look after your boots is asking for failure from your boots, so it’s important to take the time to do a little maintenance and keep them in good condition.
Here are three quick tips to care for your hunting boots:
1- Clean them after you use them in the field.
This seems really basic but leaving mud, dust, grass seeds, blood or anything else on your boots while they’re stored between hunts is going to cause the material to deteriorate much faster. Cleaning is simple. Just have at them with a damp cloth to get the mud and dirt off. Make sure to loosen the laces and clean the tongue of the boot too. A bristled scrubbing brush will help with anything persistent, particularly on the soles. Pick any grass seeds out. Air dry (see below…) and then store in a cool, dry place.
2- Here’s what NOT to do if your boots get wet:
Don’t roast them near a fire or some other intense heat source. You’ll dry out the leather too quickly which could lead to cracking in the material and you’ll potentially soften the adhesives that hold the boots together. We often remove the insoles and just leave them in the sun for a bit with the boots (being mindful that they don’t get absolutely cooked in the midday sun).
If there’s not much sun about, you can stuff the inside of the boot with old newspaper to absorb some of the moisture.
3- Condition the material.
This keeps the material supple, preventing cracking and provides a waterproofing layer. You can tell your leather boots need conditioning if they start to noticeably fade in colour or they start absorbing moisture rather than having water bead off them.
Different materials (e.g. leather, suede and synthetics) require different conditioning products and each boot manufacturer has preferred conditioning products based on what they know works best with the finish of their boots. Aim to use those where you can and read the instructions prior to use.
Once you find quality hunting boots that fit well and are suited to the types of terrain you’re in, you want to make sure you get the most from them. A little bit of maintenance goes a long way and will extend their useable life and ensure your time on the hill isn’t filled with blisters and sprained ankles.