The best way to protect leather boots is with diligent care. Winters, especially up north, can be brutal, and the main reason boots will start to deteriorate is due to salt and moisture. Unprotected leather can crack after drying out, which is why it’s important to properly clean, condition, and weatherproof your boots. Here are some tips from people who wear their Thorogood boots day in and day out through all seasons.

How to Protect Leather Boots in Winter

Caring for your boots in winter is simple. Here are some easy tips to help your boots (and you) endure the cold, wet, winter months ahead.

  1. Clean your soles – Pick up one of those work boot brushes to put outside your home. You don’t even need to take your boots off – simply brush the bristles over them to help get off the majority of the dirt, snow, mud, and salt. We know it’s unrealistic for you to diligently clean your boots every day after work but removing the majority of the gunk that will dry out and crack the leather is key.
  2. Wipe down your boots – We’re not telling you to sit down with a toothbrush and get every speck of dirt off, but you’ll be proactively protecting leather boots just by making sure the salt from winter roads isn’t sucking the moisture out of your footwear overnight.
  3. Use conditioner weekly – Kick off your boots, grab a cold one, and give your trusty work boots a quick clean with a damp towel. Then, get out your conditioner and oil up your boots. Feeling lazy? As long as you’re making sure the lower half of your boots get some love, it’ll cut down on the wear and tear of wearing leather boots in snow, slush, and salt.
  4. Waterproof your footwear – Forming a barrier between leather and moisture can improve your boots’ lifespan. When you wear leather boots in snow or wet weather, that moisture can take a toll on the integrity of even the highest quality leather.
  5. Dry boots properly – Groggily pulling on soggy boots on a winter day sounds AWFUL. Not only are you creating a breeding ground for mold and bacteria that make your boots stink, but you’re setting up your leather to form cracks and tears.

How Can I Give My Boots More Traction in Snow and Ice?

There’s a few ways to improve the slip resistance of work boots and shoes when you have to navigate snow, slush, and ice. Some of our favorite ways include:

  • Purchase the right boots from the get go. Making sure you choose footwear that has gone through slip-resistant testing and has the correct sole thread will help set you up for success.
  • Try a traction spray on rubber soles. You might need a few applications, and you’ll need to apply it when your soles are dry, but this is one way to improve slip resistance if you have rubber soles. We don’t recommend using this on PU, aka polyurethane soles.
  • Make a DIY grip. Adhesive spray and some sand can mimic the grip on a skateboard, helping your boots get better traction on slick and icy surfaces. You can use this on stairs, ladders, or other surfaces where you’ll be walking regularly.
  • Add tread tape. Put tread tape on steps and ladders, or areas that get slick when they get wet. You can even cut a piece to custom fit the bottom of your boots!
  • Add ice grips. If you’re in an area that has long winters or deep snow, ice grips can help you if you’re spending time outdoors. Some brands are versatile enough to wear indoors safely or while driving, so you won’t have to fumble with taking them on and off.

Adding traction to new boots can also prevent them from squeaking and keep you safer on the jobsite.

If you don’t have winter work boots yet, check out our guide on insulation levels. Stay warm and safe this winter!

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