Wanted to share a few tips about how I care for my boots. I have two pairs of good leather boots. They are both top quality boots and are rather expensive to buy. When you spend $200 on a pair of good work boots, you’ve got to take care of them. Well cared for boots will give you years of reliable service.
This is a picture of my L. L. Bean Gore Tex Cresta Hikers. I received these as a gift from my dad in… 1997 or 1998 I think. I’ve work these all over the place. They’ve hiked many miles of wilderness such as a five day trek in the Cranberry Wilderness Area in West Virginia with my dad and two brothers. I take them anytime I’m traveling, just in case the car breaks down, etc and I have to hoof it a few miles down the highway. And they even look so good (at least in my opinion) that I wear them to church quite often.
The toes and sides get rubs and other abrasion marks on them. My solution is Kiwi mink oil. You can’t put mink oil on dirty leather, though. Use a stiff bristled brush to knock off any mud, and then a wet rag to wipe everything clean. I usually let it dry overnight. The next day use one of your old socks to rub that mink oil all over the place. Get it into every crack and crevice and make sure it absorbs into any areas that have been rubbed and look dry. Yes, this is a perfectly good use for the “holy socks” (socks with holes in them) that your wife keeps telling you to throw away but you can’t.
My other boots are Red Wing 4414‘s. They are 8″ lace-ups that are all leather, waterproof and have steel toes. I got the steel toe for working with beef cattle in the chute. I have been stepped on before by good sized calves while wearing rubber boots and it ain’t pretty. The boots get awfully heavy though, especially when you are chasing a few steers that escaped up and down the hills of Western Pennsylvania. Boy were my hip flexors sore the day after that one. I thought that if I wore them everyday eventually I’d become a stronger man and wouldn’t notice the added weight of the steel toes. That never happened.
I use the same procedure and products on the Red Wings as I do the Cresta Hikers. Something I want to be more clear on, though is the cleanliness. Never leave mud caked on your boots overnight so it dries out. Mud drying out will draw moisture out of the leather and you don’t want to do that. It’ll get it to the point where they are too dry and begin cracking. Manure is even worse. I have rotted out the stitching on a few pairs of boots over years of continuous exposure because I didn’t clean off the manure quickly.
If you need to spend lots of time in manure, rubber boots or rubber over-boots are preferred. My absolute favorites are 16″ Servus XTraTuf Neoprene boots. I don’t currently own a pair, but I did several years ago.