In the world of throw away convenience and disposable everythings the thought of caring for something you own seems more and more like hard work. I'd argue however that not only does maintaining those few choice possessions you really value isn't just good practice, it's a good for the soul. Nothing gives me that humbling sense of self more than nurturing my boots, the things that get me there.
This blast blog of photos hopes to give you an insight into how I look after my boots every once in while, when I'm home from the trail.
I use a nail brush, a cloth and leather balm. Pictured is Wilmas Bear Cream, which I find works very well but the smell certainly isn't for everyone. Good old fashioned dubbin is also very good.
First job then is to brush off caked on dirt with the nail brush, if the mud is dry in this case it pretty straight forward. If my boots are coated in wet mud, a bucket of water to keep rinsing the brush in is worthwhile.
Next job is to wet the brush to clean and remove built up residue to improve breathability, finishing with a damp cloth to clean the leather. A good tip here is to use hot water as it opens up the leather and you get a deeper clean.
Then I leave boots in a warm place to dry for a while, but avoid direct or high heat like radiator as I've now essentially striped the leather of its protection it can crack if it dries out too vigorously.
Once dry and while my boots are still warm I get stuck in with the leather balm. Using your fingers here is another good tip for a couple of reasons: one the warmth of your hands helps to melt the balm and the leather allow it to penetrate more deeply, and two you can feel in ever detail where you're getting the balm and where you've missed. The added friction from your fingertips also help to penetrate the leather. Use little and work it well into the leather, a common mistake is to pile loads of balm/wax onto the leather with the idea that you're creating a coating to protect and waterproof the boot; in fact in my experience this method rubs off very quickly in wearing your boots, what you actually want is to get the balm to permeate into the leather deeply to truly nourish and re-proof it.
Once again leave I leave them to dry in warm place, but this time for much longer to allow the balm time to thoroughly soak into the leather (preferabily overnight).
I then lace them up with paracord (a good tip if you want to have some paracord on you at all times, and better than a paracord bracelet as you'll easily be able to unlace your boot even if the weather has chilled your fingers).
And that's all there is too it really.
I hope you find this useful, and I'd love to hear what you do to your boots in comments below.
All the Best