Note: This article snuck out before I could get it edited so it is pretty amateurish. I will get it edited, add some pictures and get it posted again fairly soon. AH
This article is for all-leather boots only. Any other boot is not covered by this article. Yes, that is my disclaimer.
I have done a review on two different vastly different styles of boots so far. What they do have most in common is two things; 1) they are all leather, 2) they are expensive. And they fact they are expensive means you better take care of the leather. Failure to do so will result is a total waste of your money.
Now the good thing about high-quality expensive boots is the fact they will last a very long time if properly taken care of. And the most vital part of that is cleaning and conditioning them. And the most important part of that process it actually doing it. Yes, I am serious, you can’t procrastinate taking care of your boots.
So how do you do this properly?
Well, first, other that actually doing it, you have to use the right products. And I will give you that information as well. But before I get into that I want to help you avoid the #1 killer of quality leather boots – artificially drying them. By that I mean drying them with a heat source such as a hair dryer, boot drier or sitting right next to the campfire or fireplace. Don’t do it!
You just let your boots dry out naturally just sitting out in the open whether inside our outside. Using any heat source will prematurely dry out the leather and the stitching. But one of the best ways to avoid the problem is taking proper care of your boots to begin with which, in turn, reduces the chances that your boots will get soaking wet to begin with.
Let’s start with cleaning them. Take out the laces, wash them in warm water with a little bit of soap. Rinse them when clean, let them hang dry naturally.
While your laces are drying remove any mud and loose dirt with a soft natural bristle brush. Don’t scrub too hard! First of all, you shouldn’t need to. Second, if you do scrub too hard you will be damaging the leather and breaking down its natural protective surface. It is better to wipe the dirt and mud off with a soft cotton rag if it will come off.
Make sure your boot leather is completely dry before proceeding. If your boot leather is not dry then stop! Give your boots time to dry naturally. Don’t use heat to dry them. You will damage the leather.
Once your boots are dry and free from loose dirt and mud, take your Fiebing’s Liquid Glycerine Saddle Soap and spray a small amount on your natural wool fleece pad. Yes, I said natural wool fleece pad. See the picture for more detail but this pad is sheep’s fleece still attached to the hide.
Once you have that small amount on the pad begin to rub it into the leather’s surface. You want to use the “wax-on, wax-off” motion. If you have never watched Karate Kid then you have no idea what I am talking about and you are probably a loser. Go watch the movie and then come back to cleaning your boots. You will then know what I am talking about and be a far “cooler” person as well.
OK, so you are doing small circular motions with the wool pad that has a small amount of Fiebings on it. Be content to just do small areas at a time, with not too much Fiebings on the pad each time. In the picture to the right notice the difference in color of the two areas of the leather. It is a before and after picture of what it should look like. Don’t get rowdy with the Fiebings, take your time, be patient, don’t put too much on at any one time.
Do the entire boot this way. Don’t get any on anything but the leather. If there is a cloth “neck” or something similar, don’t get the Fiebings on it.
For tighter areas that the pad can’t get to, use a soft natural bristle brush to apply the Fiebings and gently bush it in. Wipe down the boot with a soft cotton cloth before the Fiebings has completely dried.
Allow the boots to completely dry before continuing to the next step.
Once your boots have dried from the cleaning with the Fiebings you can proceed to the conditioning. If your boots still appear dirty, then clean them again with Fiebings. Do this until you feel your boot leather is clean. I would suggest you allow the leather to dry between cleanings.
OK, now that your boots are clean and dry you are ready to proceed with the conditioning. The purpose of this step is to improve the ability of the leather to resist water. When you cleaned your boots with Fiebings, that actually replenished the boot’s leather natural conditioning for the most part. This step is mostly for the water resistance and a little more conditioning.
Take your “SNOW-PROOF” leather conditioner and rub your fingers in the can until you have a decent coating on your fingers. Now rub that into the boot leather in circular motions. Think “wax-on, wax-off” once again. Yes, watch the movie Karate Kid if you need to. But whatever you do…don’t do a wiper blade motion or side-to-side motion or up and down motion. That is not good enough for your high-quality leather. You have to work the SNOW-PROOF oils into the leather for each direction.
Why use your fingers?
The 90 or so degree heat of your fingers is the right temperature for the oils in the SNOW-PROOF to work into the leather. And no, the SNOW-PROOF won’t hurt your skin. Actually, it will make your finger tip skin soft and smooth.
Use small amounts of the SNOW-PROOF and only run it into small areas. Don’t get over ambitious. Be patient. Continue to do the entire boot like that.
For those areas where you fingers can’t reach (i.e. around the lace eyelets and tongue area) use a clean soft natural bristle with a small amount of SNOW-PROOF to work into those areas.
Don’t over apply the SNOW-PROOF. Allow it to dry completely.
If your boot leather was extremely dry and soaked up the SNOW-PROOF, then apply another coat to your boots. Allow that to dry completely.
Re-lace your boots, admire the condition of your boots and head back out to the mountains and enjoy them knowing you have properly taken care of toosl protecting your feet.
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