After enduring the sharp edges and ledges of trails less traveled; constant soakings from creek crossings, rainy days and snowfields; and bumps and bruises from scrambling through pathless expanses of deadfall, boulders and obstacles, your boots may be looking a little ragged and worn, a bit tested and tired.
With the season at end, your leather boots are susceptible to drying and cracking - not to mention the effects of scrapes and abrasions from your hard use and abuse on the trails. Now is the time to show them some love for getting you (and your feet) through the season relatively unscathed.To ensure long-lasting performance and that they are ready to go again next year (or next month, next week, or tomorrow), you should take some simple steps to clean and condition your boots. Now, if your boots show deep gouges or tears, they may need more than cleaning and conditioning, perhaps the services of a professional cobbler. But, let's start with the premise. If you take care of your boots, they will take care of you.
Conditioning and waterproofing works best when your boots are clean and still wet or damp from a good cleaning. The moisture will actually draw in the conditioning and waterproofing treatments and create a longer lasting result.
Start the cleaning process by removing the laces and insoles to ensure you can reach all areas, especially into the folds and crevices around the tongue. Remove the worst of the dirt and mud by brushing, wiping or spraying lightly with warm water; then remove any remaining dirt and residue with a soft bristle brush and warm water. You can also clean the interior using warm water. This will not damage the lining.
Now that your boots are clean and still damp, this is the best time to apply treatments because the leather pores are open and waterproofing can penetrate more deeply renewing the durable water-repellent (DWR) finish. We recommend a waterproofing spray such as our Meindl Wet Proof, which is proven effective for treating and retreating leather footwear. Just be sure to apply the Wet Proof before applying a wax treatment so it can fully penetrate into the leather. If you were to apply Wet Proof after wax, the wax would prevent it from penetrating as deeply and the treatment would not be as effective.
That said, leather does need a regular application of wax, such as our Meindl Sport Wax. After waterproofing, apply the wax with a sponge or cloth over all exterior leather areas, making sure to work it into the nooks and crannies of the tongue, welt, and connecting point of the upper and sole.
CAUTION: Do not apply oils or grease. These can cause boots to lose strength and stability. Wax is the key. Beeswax - like Meindl Sport Wax - is one of the oldest conditioning treatments used on leather boots and it's what we still recommend today. Leather is a natural product made of fibers with natural qualities (and pores that need to breathe) and Sport Wax helps preserve those natural qualities while preventing it from drying and cracking, without clogging pores. So, again, beeswax. And our Sport Wax also protects hooks and eyelets from corrosion, so apply it accordingly.