Maintenance of Nubuck hiking boots

Lundhags hiking boots and shoes in Nubuck leather are made to withstand tough conditions and long hikes in the forest. But they still need to be cared for and protected from time to time.

Regular care will significantly extend the life of your boots. Here are some tips on how to best maintain your Nubuck hiking shoes and boots.

The difference between leather hides and skins

When talking about hiking boots in Sweden, the terms leather "hide" boots and leather "skin" boots are often used interchangeably, and it can be tricky to know the difference.

The pelts of large animals such as cows, horses, elk and buffaloes are often called "hides". At Lundhags, we mainly use hides from bovine animals. On the other hand, if the pelts come from smaller animals, such as a lamb, goat, reindeer or deer, they're called "skins". In English, the term leather is often used for both "skins" and "hides".

Thicker leather hides are more durable and resistant than leather skins, making them ideal for rugged hiking boots, hunting shoes and cross-country boots for use in the mountains and countryside. Yet in Swedish, we often call them leather "skin" boots.

In general, leather boots are more durable, robust and easier to clean than fabric boots. If you take good care of your leather boots, they will last for years. But remember that leather is a natural raw material. And just like your own skin, leather boots also need to be cared for. You can both see and feel when the leather dries out. It loses its shine. Then it’s time to add nutrients and moisture.

Nubuck leather

Nubuck leather is leather that looks like suede but is water-repellent. On Nubuck, the outermost layer is completely removed and you end up with a brushed, velvety finish. Nubuck leather loses its characteristic sheen if you use ordinary oil and cream products. For the maintenace of Nubuck, there are special products that both protect the leather and preserve its appearance.

Nubuck is basically the same as full-grain leather, but the smooth surface has been brushed off for better breathability and a finer, slightly fuzzy appearance. Nubuck can also be confused with suede, which has a similar “velvety finish”. But Nubuck leather is the outer layer of the hide, while suede comes from the weaker inner layer of the hide. Nubuck is therefore slightly more durable, but less soft than suede.

Maintenance of suede and Nubuck boots

Nubuck and suede materials dry out more easily and need more frequent care than shiny leather.

To protect Nubuck and suede from moisture and dirt and to ensure the leather stays soft and fine, a regular treatment with an impregnation spray specially adapted for Nubuck quality leather is required.

When using wax on suede leather and Nubuck, the “hairy” surface will become saturated and the leather will change appearance. To preserve the hairy and fine surface, you should go over it with a special brush so that the “hairs” don't settle after you finish the impregnation.

Cleaning and maintenance

When cleaning your boots, it's important to remove any visible dirt before brushing them with a soft brush. Please use a cleaning agent designed for leather products.

It's important to allow the boots to dry thoroughly before continuing with the impregnation spray and wax.

For Nubuck and suede, use products specifically designed for this type of leather to maintain the surface structure. If you want the brushed surface, do not polish with a cloth at the end. There are special brushes for scuffing Nubuck leather. First, use a liquid impregnation. Lubricating Nubuck leather with wax will make it look and function more like smooth leather over time.

How often should hiking boots be maintained?

How often you need to clean your boots depends on how much you use them. Applying moderate amounts of shoe polish to your boots at regular intervals is a good idea — and preferably before a long hike. You can also bring a waterproofing spray in your bag if you know you're going to put your boots through a lot of stress. When storing shoes for long periods of time, lubricate them to prevent them from drying out.

If you see that your boots are starting to absorb water in certain places (dark stains), it's a sure sign that it’s time for a new waterproofing treatment. Before a long hike or hunt, it goes without saying that the boots should be given a full treatment.

On properly impregnated and treated boots, the water settles on top of the leather like drops. This means that the leather is protected.

We’ve gathered frequently asked questions about how to care for your shoes in aFAQ.