Maintenance of suede hiking boots
Lundhags hiking boots or suede shoes are made to withstand rugged conditions and long walks in the forest. Yet they still need care and protection from time to time.
Regular care can significantly extend the life of your boots. Get help on how to best maintain your suede hiking and trekking boots.
What is the difference between leather "skins" and "hides"
When we talk about hiking boots in Swedish, the terms "skin" leather boots and "hide" leather boots are often used interchangeably, and it can be confusing to know the difference.
The skins of large animals such as cows, horses, elk and buffaloes are often called hides. At Lundhags, we mainly use cowhides. On the other hand, if the skins come from small animals such as lamb, goat, reindeer or deer, they're called "skins". In English, the term leather is often used to refer to both "skins" leather and "hides" leather.
Thicker hide leather is more durable and resistant to wear and tear than skins leather, and is therefore excellent for rugged hiking boots, hunting boots and mountaineering boots. Yet, we like calling them all "leather" boots.
In general, leather hide boots are more durable, robust and easier to clean than fabric boots. If you take good care of your leather boots, they'll last for years. But remember that leather is a natural raw material. And just like your own skin, leather boots also need proper care. You can see and/or feel when the leather dries out. It loses its shine. Then it’s time to nourish and moisturise them.
Suede is found in the layer under the fully tanned leather and is made by removing the grain (hair side) of the skin. Grease is then rubbed into the leather and processed until the grease penetrates, making the leather soft, durable and resistant to moisture. Suede is usually made from lamb, but goat, pig, deer and calf can also be used. It can either be kept natural, where breathability is very good, or it can be treated to withstand greater stresses.°
Suede has different names in different languages. In Norwegian, the word “suede” stems from German, which in turn derives it from French chamois leather. The chamois is an animal of the goat family found in the Alps. And chamois leather was traditionally tanned in this way. But in German, they have switched to calling suede “velour leather”. The English word “suede”, on the other hand, derives from the French “gants de suède”, which means "gloves from Sweden". And as if that weren't enough, suede is called "mocha" in Swedish, after the Yemeni city of the same name. What suede is called in Yemen, however, we are not sure...
Suede and Nubuck hiking boots
Nubuck and suede material tend to dry out more easily and need more frequent care than smooth leather.
To protect Nubuck and suede from moisture and dirt and to keep the leather soft and smooth, they require regular treatment with impregnation spray specially adapted to Nubuck quality leather.
When wax is applied to suede and Nubuck, the 'hairy' surface becomes saturated and the leather will change its appearance. To preserve the hairy and delicate surface, you should go over it with a special brush to prevent “hairs” from settling after you have finished impregnating.
Read about shoe care here.
Cleaning and maintenance of hiking boots
When cleaning your boots, it is important to remove visible dirt before washing them with a soft brush. At this point, you can use a cleaning agent designed for leather products.
It is important to allow the boots to dry well before further treatment with impregnation spray and wax.°
For Nubuck and suede, use products specifically formulated for this type of leather to maintain its surface structure. If you want to achieve a brushed surface, do not brush with a cloth at the end. There are special brushes to re-fluff Nubuck leather. Before this, a liquid impregnation is used. If Nubuck leather is lubricated with wax, it will eventually look and perform more like smooth leather.
How often to maintain your hiking boots
How often you need to maintain your boots depends on how much you wear them. If you add shoe polish in moderation to your boots, it can be done regularly — and preferably before a long trip. You can also carry a waterproofing spray in your rucksack if you know you will be putting your boots under a lot of stress. If you are storing your shoes for long periods, lubricate them to prevent them from drying out.
If you notice that your boots start to absorb water (dark stains) in certain areas, it’s a sure sign that it’s time for re-impregnation. Before major trips or hunting, it goes without saying that your boots need to be treated thoroughly.
On properly impregnated and treated boots, water will settle as drops on top of the leather. This means that the leather is protected.
A little about the type of boot to choose
If you're heading out into challenging terrain, choose a stiff sole that provides a good grip when climbing and scrambling. If you are going to use crampons on your boots, a stiff sole is also an advantage.
In softer terrain, heavy mountain boots can become heavy and uncomfortable. A thinner, softer sole is better suited for this, providing better grip on wet surfaces.
We’ve gathered frequently asked questions about how to care for your shoes in aFAQ.