Hunting Boot Care Guide

man who is walking in water wearing lacrosse hunting boots

This article is part of the Hunting Boots 101 series.

Are you an avid hunter? If so, you know the importance of having quality gear, especially when it comes to hunting boots. Although quality hunting boots are made to endure a lot of wear and tear, they require frequent care to keep them at peak performance. Our Hunting Boot Experts outline the simple yet extremely effective process of caring for your hunting boots.

Importance of Caring for Hunting Boots

Investing a little time and effort into properly caring for your hunting boots not only increases their lifespan but also ensures they perform optimally the next time you’re in the field. To properly care for your boots, you’ll need to understand the boot elements that you’re caring for.

Boot Breakdown

Most high-quality hunting boots are crafted with full-grain leather uppers, a waterproof membrane, and rubber outsoles for comfort, durability, and traction.

Leather uppers and waterproof membranes work together. Think of leather uppers like skin—leather is durable and breathable. If leather is untreated over time, it will begin to absorb water, dry out, and crack, destroying the boot. The waterproof membrane in your boot will do its job of keeping water out, but it needs to be able to ‘breathe’ properly through the leather.

Rubber outsoles provide excellent traction when tackling tricky terrain. It’s essential to keep the lugs free from rocks, dirt, and debris for optimal performance.

Properly caring for your hunting boots can be broken into three stages: cleaning, drying, and waterproofing.

man wearing kenetrek boots lacing them on a mountain

How to Clean Hunting Boots

After a long day in the field, it's important to clean your hunting boots thoroughly. Whether you have leather or non-leather boots, the cleaning process is similar.

Cleaning Leather Boots

  1. Start by removing the laces, as this allows for better access to the seams and tongue when cleaning. If the laces are needing cleaning, agitate them with a mild soap and water, then rinse and hang to dry.
  2. Use a cloth, water, and mild soap (if needed) to gently remove any stains or dirt on the surface of the boot. Avoid harsh chemicals that may damage the leather.
  3. For the treading of the boot, use a soft brush to remove any debris and dirt that may have accumulated. Be sure to avoid the boot’s stitching when using a brush.
  • Note: If you are cleaning suede leather boots, water isn’t as helpful. Instead, use a dry, soft-bristled brush to agitate any stains or dirt.

Cleaning Non-Leather Boots

When cleaning non-leather boots, you can follow the same process as cleaning leather boots outlined above. However, since synthetic materials aren’t prone to drying out and cracking, you don’t have to worry about avoiding water. Feel free to submerge and scrub until your synthetic boots are to your standards of cleanliness.

man lacing up his crispi boots in the woods

Drying Your Hunting Boots

Properly drying your leather hunting boots is crucial. After each use, allow them to air dry naturally in a cool, well-ventilated area. Avoid exposing them to direct heat sources or sunlight, as this can cause the leather to dry out too quickly and potentially crack. Slow drying is key for leather, ensuring that it retains its shape and durability for your next hunt.

If you prefer a more efficient and quicker drying method, consider using a premium boot dryer, like Hedgehog. These dryers provide gentle and controlled airflow, helping to remove moisture from the boots effectively while maintaining their quality.

Conditioning Your Hunting Boots

Once your leather boots are clean and dry, you’ll want to treat the surface with a conditioning cream. Conditioning your boot’s leather will improve its breathability, durability, and waterproofing abilities, ultimately extending the lifespan of your boots. Apply the cream with a soft cloth or applicator, give the product time to soak into your leather boots, and wipe off any excess.

Our Hunting Boot Experts offer a few notes for conditioning your hunting boots:

  • Keep in mind that conditioning will darken the appearance of your leather
  • When choosing conditioners, avoid products with heavy oils, as they can weaken the adhesives holding your boot together
  • Look for products from your boot brand, as these products are formulated to work best with your specific boot materials. Some brands state that using other conditioners will void their warranty.
  • If your brand doesn’t carry a conditioning cream, look into products from popular brands like Kenetrek and Crispi.

If you have non-leather or synthetic boots, you can still enhance their water resistance by using a waterproofing spray designed for synthetic materials, like this one from Crispi. A waterproofing spray will help maintain your boot's durable water-repellent properties—just make sure to follow the product’s directions for application.

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Storing Your Hunting Boots

When the hunting season comes to an end, it's important to store your hunting boots properly. Find a dry, cool area to keep them away from moisture and extreme temperatures. Avoid storing them near direct sunlight or heaters as this can damage the boot’s materials.

By following these simple steps for caring for your hunting boots, you can ensure their longevity and optimal performance, enabling you to fully enjoy the great outdoors. Happy hunting!

With any further questions regarding caring for your hunting boots, stop by your local SCHEELS to speak with a Hunting Boot Expert.

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