Having proper footwear is essential in any situation, and going into the great outdoors is no different. Making sure that you have dry and supported feet on a long hike can change how you feel about the whole experience.
Proper footwear is an investment in yourself, and your comfort. You can make that investment last longer, by maintaining your footwear. We have boots in our house that have lasted between 10 and 15 years, with the proper care.
It’s always a good idea to see the maintenance guide from the manufacturer. They describe the correct way to treat your footwear.
But as a general description on how to maintain your footwear here is some simple steps to follow. These are what we have found handy in our 25 years of maintaining our own gear.
Steps to go through include:
- Proper cleaning of your footwear
- Choosing the right maintenance
Know your footwear
The first thing is to figure out what kind of material your shoes or boots are made of. When you’re looking at shoes you have different kinds of materials – this could be fabric, it could be leather or it could be a rubber. All of these different kind of materials has to be maintained in different ways.
Find the label inside the boot or shoe, to tell you what material it is.
Clean your footwear:
For you to have the best conditions to care for your footwear, you should clean it completely.
First remove the shoelaces. This makes the process more easy and you have access to the area behind the shoelace where the dirt tend to hide. The shoelace can be washed under the running water and hanged to dry.
You can use clean water and a brush to remove all kind of small stones, mud leaves or whatever. When you have removed everything so put your footwear to dry and place them next to the radiator.
Be sure not to dry your footwear to fasts. The leather and rubber doesn’t cope with to high temperatures, it might crack or melt. Let you footwear dry overnight. If you have cleaned your boots on the inside, you might consider stuffing them with some old newspaper to help them keep their shape.
Once your shoes are dry, proceed to the next step.
How to maintain your leather boots
Applying leather grease textile spray or rubber spray is a dirty job. Bring it outside or on your work bench. That way you don’t end up spending the rest of the day cleaning to remove stains. The same goes for the clothes you wear. You will end up with some of the grease or spray on you.
There is 2 different kinds of leather grease; one is for leather footwear with a membrane (Goretex, Sympatex etc.). The other is for leather footwear without a membrane.
Grease for leather footwear with a membrane is a grease that let the leather breathe. It will let the moist from your feed out trough the membrane and out through the leather.
Grease for leather footwear without a membrane, is a grease that waterproofs the leather. This grease closes the outside of the leather so your feet is dry.
If you use the wrong kind of grease you will end up with one of two things; wet feet, because your leather footwear with a membrane cannot remove the moist from your feet. OR wet feet because the leather is not sealed so the water enters your footwear true the leather.
When you have found the right type of grease, you should apply this in an even layer. Apply it to the leather of the boot with a small brush– like this one. Make sure to get the grease in to all the small edged and corners, since that is where the weak spots of the boot are. Make sure to give the stitching of the boot some grease. The stitching is a place where the water have easy access it not maintained properly.
Now let the boots dry for a couple of hours. Then use a long hair brush to give the boot a shine. Like this one. Here it is a good idea to put a bit of speed in to it, because the speed with the brush back and forth over the leather warm up the leather grease and makes it shine.
How to maintain your textile footwear
Textile spray is applied by simply spraying it on the footwear and then let it dry. Follow the instructions on the spray and let the footwear dry a well ventilated place, it might smell.
As for Leather footwear the textile footwear can be with or without a membrane. Make sure to get the textile spray that fit your footwear.
How to maintain your rubber boots
Rubber spray is applied by simply spraying it on the footwear and then let it dry. Follow the instructions on the spray and let the footwear dry a well ventilated place, it might smell.
Rubber boots are waterproof as they are but the rubber can dry out and crack. The rubber spray keeps the rubber soft and moist. So your rubber boots last longer.
When was the last time you did something to prolong the life of your boots?
Until next time – Jens