Boot Care and Restoration

We all know that leather boots are made from the skin of cows. What we sometimes fail to remember is that leather requires care just like our own skin does. Yeah, yeah it’s another thing to do but maintaining your boots will make that investment last so much longer.

My leather boots are a pair of Intermediate Cold Wet Boots (ICWBs), NSN 8430-01-349-3687 to 8430-01-349-3782. They were commonly known as Bosnia boots because of where they were most issued and had several iterations over the course of their issue. They have a Gore-Tex liner and Vibram sole, making them an excellent choice for the exact environment they were designed to perform in. After two Eastwinds and several other shorter excursions, my boots were in pretty rough shape and I knew I needed to retire them to reserve status or find a way to restore them to front line condition. In the past I’d shone my boots wit kiwi shoe polish, and while it has it’s place, a hard working boot needs a bit more tender loving care. I stumbled upon several videos by  Youtuber Wranglerstar who taught me a thing or two about how to bring my boots back from their dilapidated state.

The first of these videos is above and other notable mentions are included in his Boots playlist. Now, while his focus is on boots made for wildland firefighting, the methods stand true for any leather boot that has a rough life.

Step one in my boot restoration process was to remove the laces and simply scrub off the remaining caked on dirt. The leather was rough from neglect and was drying out. I followed this up by deep cleaning the boots with saddle soap. I’d thought my boots had been clean before but boy was I wrong! Similar to my wife’s face wash, the saddle soap pulled out layers of dirt that I would have never gotten out otherwise. After working in and wiping off a few coats these boots were ready for their treatment.

Several coats of Obenauf’s heavy duty Lp over few days as described by Wranglerstar followed by oil and waterproofing spray from the same company not only brought my boots back to in front line condition, they looked great and I could really tell that the leather was simply in better condition.

As noted above, I previously used Kiwi polish to prep my boots for an event, only for them to look dried out and tired after a short time. Now, the leather is softer, more pliable and maintains it’s moisture even after continued use. Bottom line? They’re like a new pair of boots, and they look great to boot!

Now, one disclaimer – the Obenauf’s products are not made to give your boots that military gloss shine! They are designed to take care of the leather and in turn make your boots last a very long time. My boots do have a bit of a healthy gleam but if you need that high gloss you’ll need to polish your boots after caring for them.