How to Keep Your Cowboy Boots in Top Shape
Cowboy boots are a long-standing American tradition. They’re uniquely masculine and rugged—and comfortable enough for the low maintenance man who likes to spend most of his time outdoors, whether on a trail ride or camping under the stars. If they are cared for properly, they can last for years and be highly functional on all kinds of terrain. Is it any wonder that they have remained a staple of Western culture for decades? From the Rockies to the Appalachians, cowboys across the nation rely on authentic leather boots to add a touch of rustic style to their wardrobe—and to stay comfortable when they saddle up.
Unfortunately, city slickers and born-and-bred country boys have one thing in common: they both make a few very common mistakes when it comes to maintaining their boots. You’d be surprised how many outdoorsmen have never conditioned their boots. You can always tell whose boots have been properly cared for and who treats them carelessly, because unconditioned leather becomes worn and damaged over time. Whether it’s your first rodeo or you’re simply hoping to learn some helpful tips on how to keep your boots in better shape, follow these simple steps and you shouldn’t have a problem, no matter where your trail may lead.
1. Stock up on leather conditioner and other useful products. This is crucial. Bottles of leather conditioner, such as those manufactured by Leather Honey, can easily be purchased through Amazon or at your local tack store. Once applied, conditioner sinks deeply into the leather, rather than simply coating it in a thick wax or offering a superficial shine or polish. Conditioner is the only surefire way to keep your leather in healthy condition.
However, with all the options available on the market right now, you might be a little confused or overwhelmed. There are many different types of leather care products that you might find online or at your favorite farm and country store. The first is soap, which is best for thick leather. The second is conditioner, which targets the interior of the leather rather than simply coating the surface. The third is polish, which provides a smooth, gleaming exterior finish.
2. Consider your local climate and the type of leather your boots are made of. If you live in a dry climate like Nevada or Arizona, you’re probably accustomed to exceedingly hot summers without much humidity. If you consider what this type of weather can do to unconditioned leather, you might understand why it’s so important to invest in leather care products. Dry heat can cause leather to crack, particularly in the places where you move and bend your foot the most, so if you leave them unconditioned in a desert clime, your boots will quickly begin to lose their luster.
Another thing to consider is the type of skin your boots were made from. If your boots are crafted from alligator skin, they will require more specific maintenance than other types of leather. If you want your expensive boots to last for years, or even decades, you will have to take the time to research the type of skin and what it requires in terms of upkeep and cleaning.
3. Avoid water. For the most part, moisture is a good thing for leather, since it helps keep the interior supple, soft, and smooth. But the key is finding a leather conditioner that is primarily oil-based, as opposed to water-based. Water can wreak havoc on leather, since it draws moisture out of the material and encourages the skin to start cracking. Many types of leather conditioner are water-resistant, so they help keep the oils locked in for a long time after application.
Leather conditioner does not simply rest on the surface of the leather. It is intended to sink in very deeply and infuse each individual fiber with moisture. This is most effective when the conditioner is oil-based and able to spread and coat every single fiber.