Hunters spend a great deal of money on quality footwear to ensure they have both the protection and comfort needed to spend days in the field. Manufacturers know this and spend a great deal of time and money to convince you their product is the best.  Of course having the best footwear money can buy does you little good if they are not properly cared for, even the best boots only last so long without it. 

Protect Your Investment

Too many sportsmen spend hundreds of dollars on a pair of top notch boots only to ruin them by throwing them in the closet as soon as they get home. These boots provide protection all season long; protection from water, mud and rough terrain only to be tossed to a slow death in a dark closet. Believe me, if this is how you take care of your boots, this is exactly what you are doing – shortening their life by many years.

But, with proper care, a pair of quality boots can last for many years and provide protection and comfort season after season. I have boots I’ve worn every day last for 4 or 5 years, even longer if I could have them resoled. Hunting boots, which are generally only worn for shorter periods, can easily last a decade or more but only with proper care. Without this simple but necessary care, you will find your wallet empty as you shop for replacements far more often than necessary.

Synthetic Boots

All boots need to be cleaned, brushed and air-dried after use. If your boots are a modern synthetic, such as Cordura, there is little additional care needed other than to store them in a dry location out of direct sunlight and occasionally applying a spray waterproofing treatment as needed. But, if you prefer leather then you have a little more work to do.

Leather Boots

Leather requires regular cleaning, conditioning, and protection. This means you need to treat your boots like a second skin and provide the same cleaning, conditioning, and protection. Damp leather deteriorates and that which is left un-cleaned eventually breaks down due to abrasion of its fibers and loss of the natural oils. The same goes for the threads used in stitching, so do not forget to clean all areas of your boots.

Clean & Dry 

Boots caked with mud or other debris should be rinsed clean with water and a soft brush or soft cloth.  Even if caked on mud is not present you should still wipe the surface to ensure any dirt particles, oils or other foreign substances are removed. Once all dirt is removed, the boots should be placed in a dry, indoor location until completely dried. If your boots have been saturated, say from stepping into a creek which was a bit too deep, you may need some additional heat to dry them quickly. If this is the case do not place them next to the campfire or stove as the intense heat will do more damage than good. Instead you should use an electric boot dryer if available or other source of low level heated air. If no additional heat source is available open the boots as much as possible, removing the laces if necessary, and place in warmed room available overnight.


Once your boots are dry, it is time to move onto protecting them for future use, how you do this will depend upon the specific finish of your boots. Nubuck or suede, easily recognized because of its rough or fluffed surface, should be brushed after dry then treated with a commercially available spray protection designed for these specific finishes. Finished leather, which is smooth rather than rough like suede, should be treated with a paste wax  or natural oil applied with a soft cloth.  You should test these products on a small, less visible area to ensure it will not damage the material.

Beware of Scented Products

Although you could use commercial leather polish, many of these products contain scents which hunters may find undesirable when in the field. Do not forget to clean the whole boot by including the laces and stitching as well. If you are concerned about scent from cleaning solutions or waxes you can use scent free products available at most outdoor retailers.


The final stage of protection occurs during the off season. Avoid simply throwing your boots in a closet or a pile with your other shoes as being crushed at the bottom of the pile for extended periods (such as until next season) can also cause damage. Instead, try storing your boots in their original box or on a shelf rather than on the floor.

Properly cared for boots should provide many seasons of protection but only if you do your part.

Good luck, good hunting!

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