We talked to industry experts and got their opinions on how to protect your work boots from old man winter. Keep these tips in mind or there’s a good chance your boots will fall apart!
In this guide we’ll cover:
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- How to prepare your boots for winter
- How to protect them from the snow
- How to keep your feet warm
- Extra life hacks for winter that don’t involve flying to Southeast Asia!
How to Prepare Your Boots (and Feet!) for Winter
Winter is coming. Blizzards, wet snow, early sunsets…white walkers—nobody is in a rush to get the worst season of the year started. But, it never hurts to be more proactive. In fact, if you just take a few simple safety precautions, your boots (and feet) will survive the season easily.
1. Evaluate Your Work Boots
The first harsh weather of the year is hard enough for those of us who work outside. The last thing you need is to throw a split boot seam on top of your wintertime woes.
Before you even strap them on, give your boots a good once over. Wash them with a damp rag first so you can better inspect them. Next, check the:
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How do they feel? If there are tears, start shopping for a new pair. Replace the laces and consider minor repairs to the soles if necessary.
2. Lather ‘em up
Do you have leather boots? If so, now’s the time to slap some oil on ‘em. You can find affordable oil all over the web or at your local shoe store. Be kind to them and give them a thorough rubdown. Don’t neglect the seams!
Pro TIp: The best oils mix mink oil with wax.
3. Waterproof ‘em
Even if your boots are already waterproofed, spraying extra waterproofing on them is a good idea, especially if they went through a tough winter last year. Find the right waterproof spray for your material and go to town.
How to Care for Your Boots in Wintertime
Winter is here. The biggest mistake most people make (aside from ignoring the hoard of the dead beyond the wall) is not taking good care of their boots every day when they come home. We know you’re tired, but it’s worth the extra few minutes. Use these tips and your boots will last for years.
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- Clean salt off your boots IMMEDIATELY: Your town most likely uses salt to de-ice the roads. Road salt is a major factor in boot wear and tear. It can ruin the fabric and cause the zippers and hooks to get rusty. Clean them with a damp, warm cloth or whichever cleaning agent your manufacturer recommends (desalting agent). Hack: Baking soda and water helps!
- Dry your boots away from direct heat: Direct heat will ruin your boots. A heater or flame will cause the material to dry and crack. Dry your boots in the mudroom, on a coat rack, or in the basement. Anywhere but on a direct heat source. TIP: If your boots can’t hold their shape, stuff them with newspaper!
- Deodorize your boots: This is more for everyone else’s sake. Remove the soles of your boots and wash/dry them COMPLETELY. Add as much baking soda as necessary to completely remove the odor. Trust us, everyone will thank you.
- Store your boots in a pebble tray: This is a Martha Stewart-level lifehack. If your shoes are damp, store them by the door in a tray full of pebbles. This will help them dry way faster and get the sand off the bottom.
If you can afford it, we highly recommend buying a second pair of boots for the winter. Alternating between two pairs will drastically increase the lives of both. You don’t have to invest as heavily in the second pair as you do your main pair. For example, you can use one pair for light days with no snow and the other for Storm-of-the-Century blizzards.
Winter Life Hacks for Your Feet
A great pair of winter work boots is the ultimate “life hack,” but there are more steps you can take to help your feet get through the winter.
- Waterproof your feet with plastic bags: It sounds crazy, but it really works! If your feet are getting cold, it’s time to buy a new pair of boots. If you can’t do that right away, wear plastic bags to keep your feet dry until you can.
- Buy boots that are slightly big: Your feet will swell during a hard work day, so you’ll appreciate the extra space. You should also buy a pair of boots slightly on the big side so you can wear heavy-duty (warm) socks.
- Carry several pairs of spare socks: Keep them in your purse, place them in your glove compartment, or leave them in the office—whatever you have to do. Just make sure you have some on hand.
- Treat your feet: Treat your feet well after work. A hot bath, a foot massage (thanks, honey!), Epsom salts, and plenty of rest are just what the doctor ordered. Also, consider doing foot and leg stretches to ease the pain and make work more bearable the next day.
- Wear wool socks: Wool is a great insulator. Unlike cotton, a nice pair of wool socks will trap your body heat inside and keep you warm and toasty even when the weather outside is frightful.
Never Wear Suede in Winter!
In general, we DO NOT recommend buying suede winter boots.
Suede is an extremely delicate fabric and does not mix well with water (in any form). Even if they are technically “waterproof” suede boots, they still won’t be as durable, comfortable, and warm as something made from leather.
Winter is coming, and you should prepare your boots accordingly. Make sure to treat them well, clean them regularly, dry them right, and, most importantly, protect your feet! You should invest as much as you can afford on a pair of boots. Investing a few extra dollars now is well worth the extra years of use and protection you’ll get out of a great pair of winter boots.