Boot Care – A Small Investigation

Disclaimer

At the time of writing this I am currently employed by Cotswold Outdoor. However, this post represents my views and findings only. These may differ from official advice and guidelines found on the Cotswold site.

Introduction

Having worked at Cotswold Outdoor for a couple of months now, I have seen a number of pairs of boots that have been returned because the customer has reported that they are leaking. (If purchased with an Explore Card customers have a two year warranty on all items). It has been apparent that some of these boots have not been cared for at all. When I serve a customer who wants to purchase footwear I always try to offer advice about aftercare. I therefore thought I should look at what I do myself.

Customers also ask me to recommend the best product to use for aftercare, so I thought I would experiment with a number of products.

The Boots

A number of pairs of boots are involved in this study. They include:

Aftercare products

The products used in this study include:

Initial Clean

My three pairs of boots (Manta, R-Evo and Q3) were washed with lukewarm water with a dash of washing up liquid. When dry the boots were as shown below.

Clean and Dry R-Evo boots

Clean and Dry Q3s

Clean and Dry Mantas

Initial Proofing

The Q3s have been proofed in the past with Grangers G Wax, so I thought I would continue to use this on these full leather boots. The two pairs of Scarpas both have large amounts of soft leather on them as well as fabric and rubber. So what to use on them?

The Grangers Paste Wax is designed for maximum nourishment and protection and is recommended for smooth leathers – what would be the effect of using this on the suede / nubuck leather on my boots. The Paste Wax is also supposed to give maximum protection at the cost of reduced breathability. The Nikwax is for smooth leather and on the back of the tube warns that it will convert nubuck to a smooth waxy finish.

I decided to do one boot with the Paste Wax and one boot with the Nikwax.

The results are shown below.

Waxed R-Evos
Left boot (nearest camera) with Paste wax. Right boot with Nikwax

Waxed Mantas
Left boot (nearest camera) with Paste Wax. Right boot with Nikwax

The Paste Wax was applied with my fingers and was therefore easier to work into the leather. Whereas the Nikwax has a soft sponge applicator that was not as precise as my fingers, hence the white lines around the edges on the right boots.

Putting them to the test

Last weekend we went to Wales for a couple of days. I wore the R-Evos on a 3.5 mile walk around the Precipice Path, just north of Dolgellau. And I wore the Mantas on a 10 mile ascent of Cadair Idris. After getting home on Sunday and allowing the boots to dry in the porch overnight they look like this:

R-Evos

Dirty R-Evos

Dirty R-Evos

Mantas

Dirty Mantas

Dirty Mantas

Another clean

These boots, along with a pair of my girlfriend’s boots were cleaned using a brush and water (no detergents). Water beaded up on each boot, showing that the wax was still there and doing its job.

Left R-Evo

Left R-Evo showing beading water

Right Manta

Right Manta

In contrast my girlfriends boots were absorbing the water used to wash them.

Conclusions (so far)

Based on these results I think I will accept the nubuck turning into smooth leather and continue to use Paste Wax on the leather parts of my fabric boots.

Next Steps

Once these boots are dry I will reproof them with Paste Wax and Nikwax and see what happens next time I wear them.

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