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Once you've purchased a pair of hunting boots, you're going to want to know how to improve them - especially as conditions change and your boots experience some wear and tear.
All of us hunters can't purchase 3 to 4 different types of hunting boots for each specific situation. Many of us have to purchase 1 and hope they hold up to each one of our individual hunting seasons.
We're going to take a look at a few ways to improve, maintain, and take care of hunting boots as they are vital to any hunters success in the woods. Of course, you can only do so much with a bad hunting boot. We suggest really doing your research and find the best hunting boots available so these next steps become an added plus, not a necessity.
When purchasing a new pair of hunting boots, you might want to research the materials being used and whether or not they come factory-treated with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish.
REI provides a simple waterproof step-by-step guide in case you are looking for a quick summary.
1. Choose the right waterproofing treatment. (Travel and Leisure has a great list of the best waterproofing treatments for boots.)
2. Clean your boots.
3. Apply the waterproofing treatment.
4. Dry your boots.
Many hunters, outdoorsmen, and "boot experts" typically say it takes 80-100 hours to break in a pair of boots completely. Now, there's always caveats to this, but it's a good general rule to follow.
So we know how long it takes to break in a good pair of hunting boots, but how do we do it properly?
For me, I've always followed a few simple steps:
1. Never go hunting in a new pair of boots.
2. Take as many short walks as possible before you really break them out.
3. Wear thick socks with sock liners that wick away sweat at the beginning.
4. Add some vaseline. Yes, I said Vaseline! Do you know what creates blisters? Friction. And the best way to prevent friction is to add a little lube at the beginning.
For a more in-depth list of suggestions, I found this great article by BootSpy that walks you through some additional recommendations if you're really having a difficult time.
If you're asking yourself, "Isn't there only one way to lace up boots?", then don't worry. I thought the exact same thing. However, after doing some more research, there's actually a few additional ways to lace up a pair of good hunting boots, and they actually serve a purpose!
Of course, that doesn't mean you necessarily have to choose one of these methods, but it's still good to know.
The most standard form of lacing as it provides solid stability and comfort while being relatively easy to adjust.
A method that's very similar to the standard criss-cross, but provides added adjustability and less friction along the laces.
This particular style of lacing makes it very easy to adjust along the ankle of the boot so hunters can quickly remove for quick exits.
Used by paratroopers, ladder lacing ensures your laces will not move during the course of the day. However, this particular style can very difficult to adjust.
In all honesty, you can't really change the makeup of a hunting boot after you purchase a pair. And the amount of insulation and the materials used are going to remain permanent. However, you can take some additional steps to increase the warmth of your hunting boots in case temperatures really drop.
1. Wear Sock Liners: Adding a pair of sock liners helps to wick away moisture while keeping your feet dry.
2. Choose Merino Wool Socks: Similar to sock liners, Merino wool helps remove moisture from your feet while adding an additional layer of reliable warmth against your boot.
3. Add Waterproof Treatment: Once again, it's all about keeping your feet dry. By adding a waterproof treatment you ensure your feet stay away from outside water and moisture.
4. Use Heated Insoles: Personally, I'm not the biggest fan of heated insoles but I do understand their purpose. If you're up in a treestand and have limited mobility, these devices might be required for an added boost of warmth.
5. Add Boot Insulation Covers: Before heated insoles, a lot of hunters relied of insulated boot covers. While they're not necessarily impenetrable against cold weather, they do provide an extra layer of protection, especially against wind.
Storing a pair of hunting boots is not much different than storing your other hunting gear; however, unlike many other pieces of gear you can actually extend the life of your hunting boots by taking care of them after each and every season. For a quick summary of a few steps to follow, check out the list below.
1. Remove dirt and debris.
2. Clean both the inside and outside with scent free detergent and water.
3. Apply any conditioner or waterproofing treatment.
4. Ensure the boot is dry before putting them in storage.
Furthermore, I'd recommend taking a look at our blog summarizing how to store hunting clothes as these steps can be easily replicated for hunting boots.
Many hunters forget how important a good pair of hunting boots is until they get a hold of a bad pair. Honestly, if your feet aren't comfortable, you're not going to be comfortable - ultimately ruining any hunting trip.
As mentioned earlier, the best thing you can do is find a good hunting boot brand, and pick the style that fits most appropriately to your style of hunting. As hunters, we can always make slight improvements to hunting boots, but in the end there's only so much we can do.
For our blog about the Best Deer Feeders check it out!