How to Care for Leather Hiking Boots: Tips and Tricks

Leather hiking books are must-haves if you hike a lot. The right footwear can make or break your hiking trip. With this, it is no longer surprising that many people consider it as an investment. They do not hesitate to spend a lot on high-quality leather hiking boots, especially if they are sure that it will be durable and comfortable.

To keep your leather hiking boots in perfect condition, care and maintenance is important. Spare time and exert effort to clean your footwear regularly. This will not only make them look good, but it will also help extend its lifespan. With this, if you want to know how to care for leather hiking boots, keep on reading and learn from the tips we’ll share in this post.

From regular cleaning to waterproofing, there are many things that you can do to keep the leather hiking boots in its peak condition. The steps mentioned below will look at the best things you can do.

1. Choose the Right Cleaning Products

One of the first things to do is to pick the right cleaners and conditioners. Genuine leather may not react well in some cleaning materials, so you need to be choosy. Pay attention to the instructions from the manufacturer and see if they have a warning on the cleaning products that you should and should not use.

2. Clean Your Hiking Boots

Now that you know the right products to use, the next step is to clean your boots. A good practice is to clean it as soon as your return from the hiking trip. You should also perform deep cleaning once in a while.

Before you clean your leather boots, take off the laces. Use a brush with soft bristles to scrub the surface and get rid of dirt. If you need deeper cleaning, use running water and a cleaner. Do not forget the sole. This is the dirtiest part of the boots, especially if you hike muddy terrains. Use a stiff brush to get rid of the dirt stuck under the boots. A stick or pocket knife can also be helpful to dig mud or dirt that has already hardened on the soles.

3. Apply a Leather Conditioner

After the regular cleaning of the hiking boots, it is now time to show more tender loving care by applying a leather conditioner. This is effective in keeping the leather supple, and hence, preventing it from cracking. However, use it sparingly. Overdoing it can do more harm than good. Follow the instructions from the manufacturer on how to best apply the leather conditioner.

4. Waterproof Your Leather Boots

Over time, the waterproofing of your boots can become weaker. With this, it is important to apply a waterproofing agent. In most cases, this is an oil-based product that you have to directly apply on the surface of the boots. This will provide a protective layer that will repel droplets of water that get in contact with the boots. Different manufacturers will have varying instructions on how to apply the product, so make sure to follow their directions religiously.

5. Dry and Store Your Boots

Make sure that you thoroughly dry the hiking boots after cleaning them. Use a fan if you want to dry the boots quicker. However, it is not recommended that you use any heat source, such as a blower. This can damage the quality of leather.

Once the boots are dry, take note of their proper storage. Keep it in a place that is away from heat and humidity. Otherwise, mildew and mold can be a problem. Never store the boots in a plastic bag as it can cause problems when it comes to breathability. However, it is crucial that you keep it in enclosed spaces to prevent dust from ruining the material.

Pro Tips

To preserve the quality of your leather hiking boots, below are the most important tips to keep in mind.

  • Clean your boots immediately after every use. As soon as you get home after a hiking trip, find the time to clean your shoes. Otherwise, mud or dirt can harden. In turn, they will be harder to remove in the future.
  • To take care of your boots, it is recommended that you avoid saltwater. It can rust the metal eyelets, which is one of the sure-fire ways to ruin the appearance of your footwear. If you accidentally soak your shoes in saltwater, make sure that you rinse it as soon as possible.
  • Take out the insoles of the boots after use. This is a part of the shoe that can hold moisture and can affect other parts when not removed. Especially if the insole is wet, it can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Not to mention, this will be a source of unwanted odor. It is also a good practice to dry the insoles under the heat of the sun. This also has a deodorizing benefit.
  • Break in your leather boots but do it slowly. Let it shape and blend based on your foot. Take it out for short walks or hikes. Once it is lighter and more pliable than what it originally was, you can now apply a leather conditioner.
  • Using a shoe tree is also recommended, especially if you don’t use your shoes for a long time. This will help in retaining its shape. Without a shoe tree, it can be easily prone to be deformed.
  • If in case mold forms in the shoe and you want to take it off, use a cleaning solution of 80% water and 20% vinegar. Soak a cloth in the mixture and use it to wipe the shoes. Let it dry before storage.
  • To speed up drying of the boots, you can stuff it with newspaper. This will help in absorbing water from the surface. Even if you are in a hurry, however, do not use any heat source to dry the shoes.


Knowing how to care for leather hiking boots is important to preserve the quality and performance of your footwear. Especially if it is from a popular brand, chances are, your boots are expensive. So, don’t let your money go to waste by ignoring care and maintenance. Exert a bit of an effort to take care of your boots and make it last longer while assuring the best in terms of your comfort.

Leave a Comment