Rehabilitating My Boots

I love my boots. They’re heavy, but solid. They’re perfectly waterproof, except for the large holes at the top where my feet slide in. I wear them around town in wet or slushy conditions, and on the trails in all conditions. They’ve served me well for seven years.

But they’re getting older. The tread on the bottom of the soles is not as sharply-defined as it was in the beginning. The toes and sides are nicked, gouged, and scratched in multiple places. The surface of the leather has lost much of its original color and sheen. And after I’ve been walking in the woods on a cool gray day in late fall or early winter, they’re soaked with water and caked with mud.

I took a picture of my feet at the moment I completed my Northeast Ohio Loop of the Buckeye Trail. And the worn, weary boots tell as much of a tale of my adventures as all my blogging about things. Honestly, though, I love that about the boots, too.

So when there’s time, I like to show some love to the boots I love.

I start by banging off whatever mud can be loosened with a few slams on the sidewalk outside. Then, I bring the boots back inside. I soak an old rag and rub off the rest of the mud and dirt that didn’t come off outside. I pull out the laces and set them aside.

After these steps to clean the boots, it’s time to condition the boots. I’ve got a whole box of shoe maintenance supplies to aid in this task. First, I apply a generous layer of dark brown shoe polish to all exposed leather. Second, I add extra shoe polish to the parts that are especially scuffed and worn. And then, I leave them to soak up the polish for awhile.

Later, I buff the leather to bring out the shine. Generating the requisite friction makes my arms tired, but the energy cost is so worth the benefit. When I’m finished, the boots glow. They look almost new again. Still, they’re not perfect, so I use a special adhesive called Shoe Goo to try and heal some of the larger scratches and gouges. And after the Shoe Goo is applied, I need to let the boots rest, again, for a solid twenty-four hours.

After the Shoe Goo has had time to set, I apply a final layer of shoe polish, just touching up the spots where it’s needed. I give it one last buff — and then I coat the boots with a waterproofing spray. After the boots have been freshly waterproofed, they need another 24-48 hours of rest. And then they’re ready for regular usage again.

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