When you invest your hard-earned money into your best hunting gear, including boots, it means you don’t want them to tucker out within a year or two of good use in the woods.
I’m always on the search for better boots. I have some that I like, from Wolverine and Wood ‘n Stream and also some slip-on neoprene, but I’m always on the lookout for something that could be lighter, warmer, have more traction and help me be comfortable. The venerable LaCrosse Alpha Burly is such a popular hunting favorite that many hunters just call ’em “my Burlys” and everyone knows what the mean.
The Wood ‘n Stream series is pretty tough to beat, in my opinion, for a solid lace-up boot. They’re crafted well, feel great, have a wide toebox that allows your feet to do what they’re supposed to do without pinching, and enough cushioning to be quite comfy on a walkabout.
Taking care of your boots will make them last longer. That’s not some kind of fashion statement. It’s just being smart about your gear. Try these five things to help extend the life of your boots and get more good hunts from them in seasons to come.
Remove Mud, Dirt
Mud gets into seams, crevices and pores, dries hard and then helps break down your boots. Remove dried-on mud with a stiff brush including along the seams of the sole. If they’re lace-up boots, remove the laces and get any mud out from the tongue. Then clean them with water and let them dry.
If you’re wearing boots made completely of leather, getting the mud off is doubly important. Leather doesn’t like mud and water. Boots with leather and Gore Tex or other fabric? They’re more tolerable but still need some brush-water love. Full leather boots? Get to work so they don’t ruin.
Use A Good Sealer
I know everyone has favorite. Some guys like mink oil, beeswax or neatsfoot oil, or something else. I like Atsko Sno-Seal beeswax. Good folks, good company and a solid product. After cleaning my boots I’ll let them dry, and then put them on a window sill in the sunlight or by our fireplace. Not too long, of course, because I only want the leather to get warm.
Then I’ll apply a light coating of Sno-Seal with my fingers and rub it in well. I let that sit a little more in the sun or by the fire to warm up, and then apply another coat. I’m basically giving my boots a massage. Then I put them aside for the Sno-Seal to set. Make sure you get into the seams, too.
Keep Them Dry
When your feet sweat it gets the inside of your boots wet. When the inside of your boots get wet and don’t dry out, they smell like vultures feeding on dead goats in summer. Don’t let your feet smell like vultures feeding on dead goats in summer.
A boot dryer like this one will keep them dry, less stinky and ready for action in no time. If you’ve been hunting or working and they’re just sweaty-wet, let the dryer do its job. If you dunked them in the creek and they’re soppin’ wet, drain the water, stuff them with newspapers to sit and absorb as much as possible, and after a few hours then put them on the dryer.
These boot dryers don’t make any noise. You likely won’t think they’re working. But they do. They work well and I’ve used them for years. Be sure to get one or two for your home and hunting camp.
Repair Holes, Cracks
Man, I’ve seen everything from duct tape to boot laces to gobs of silicone sealer used for holes, cracks and tears in boots. Use what you like and think is best. I’m a fan of Shoe Goo, which a lot of runners and joggers use. Another pretty phenomenal sealer is SG-20, which is designed to work on neoprene and thin breathable fabrics, such as summer waders. I’ve used SG-20 and it’s stout.
When the season’s over a lot of hunters toss everything in the garage for a few days (or longer) or leave our boots at camp until we return in spring for turkeys or summer for work days. Don’t neglect your boots. Take them home for a good cleanup and to make any repairs or, before leaving camp, at least give them a good cleaning. That way when you return you can seal them and be ready to go.
Another good thing to use is Dead Down Wind Boot and Storage Powder, which can be applied to your feet or in your boots. It’ll help keep your dogs feeling cool and comfy, and will help keep your boots from smellin’ like that goat-eating vulture.