Walking Boot Maintenance Guide
How To Look After Your Walking Boots
By their very nature, walking boots spend a lot of their time tramping through mud. Cleaning your boots is generally seen as the least popular thing to do once you get back from a day on the hill. As tempting as it is to leave them festering in the garage until the next time you need them, it really doesn’t do your boots any good at all. If you keep your boots clean, they will perform better and last longer. This is particularly pertinent if you have been walking across farmers fields, some agricultural chemicals will degrade the glues and materials used in modern boot construction.
As soon as you can after getting back from the hill, wash the boots off under a tap to get rid of lumps of mud. Use a nylon brush to get rid of stubborn bits around the eyelets and in the tread of the sole.
If you have given the boots a good scrub, and they are still not coming up clean, you can use a cleaning product to help remove muck and clear out the pours in the boots upper fabric. For this we recommend Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel, which is a waterbased cleaner. To use this, simply apply to the boot using the integrated sponge applicator whilst the boot is wet. Leave the gel to soak in for a few minutes before scrubbing and rinsing off.
If your boots have a waterproof lining or membrane, such as Gore-Tex or eVent, it is important to keep the inside of the boots clean as well. After use, remove the insoles and shake out any loose stones, twigs or grit. If left in the boot, these can puncture the membrane when put under pressure when you are walking, resulting in leaking boots.
Once you have cleaned your boots, you may want to re-proof them. Even if your boots have some sort of membrane, such as Gore-Tex or eVent, it is still recommended that you proof the boots periodically, to help maintain the performance of the boot. There are a number of different treatments on the market, suited to different boots, depending on the materials they are made from. Complete Outdoors recommends:
- Nikwax Fabric and Leather for fabric boots.
- Nikwax Nubuck and Suede for boots made from split leather.
- Nikwax Waterproofing Wax for Leather for boots made from smooth full grain leather.
Once you have chosen the right treatment for your boots, the way you apply it to your boots is the same. Whilst the boots are damp, apply the proofer with the sponge applicator. Leave the boot for 2-3 minutes whilst the proofing soaks into the materials before wiping it off with a damp cloth. Once you have done this, be sure to let the boots dry before using them.
Once you have cleaned and proofed your boots, it is time to dry them. It is important that you do not put the boots near a heat source to dry them, such as on a radiator, next to the fire or on top of the Aga. If you do this, the glue which holds the sole to the rest of the boot will weaken, and as the upper and sole dry at different rates, they will start to come apart. The best way to dry your boots is at room temperature in a ventilated room over a day or two. Stuff the inside of the boots with newspaper to help absorb the moisture.