Now that we’ve gotten the polish boots taken care of we can move onto the more fun ones; more commonly known as oil tanned boots, or greases (consider that my admission of personal bias). These boots don’t take a shine, and they aren’t meant to. Instead they’re kept matte and well conditioned with products like Huberd’s, Obenauf’s, or Aussie Leather Conditioner.
In Canada, this will probably be the harder of the two kits to put together since leather conditioner is strangely hard to come by…but it will double as a care kit for all your leather clothing (and furniture!), so it’s worth it. And just like with a polish kit, this is something you can spend years building up, so start with the basics and then use very trip stateside to build up your stash.
Speaking of the Basics:
- Saddle soap or pure glycerine soap.
- A small spray bottle.
- A soft cotton towel.
- Horsehair Dauber. With Grease kits you really only need one to clean with (confession time: My cleaning dauber for polish boots and grease boots is the same brush)
- Horsehair Shine Brush – this you really do want to keep separate from your polish shine brush. Polish and grease do not play well together.
- Leather condition of choice. Huberd’s is definitely my local standard, but bootblacks online seem to be just as happy with Obenauf’s and many with Aussie Leather Conditioner and some with Chelsea Leather Food too. Pro-Tip So far the only place I know in Souther Ontario that carries Huberd’s is Dimar Shoe Repair in Geulph. If you know of another – please let me know!
Again, I’m not going to be able to provide you all the goodness you could pick up by joining your local bootblack community…. but I will say (because my google fu has failed me) , the process of cleaning and caring for your oil boots is much like polish boots. In fact, the first steps are all the same, but instead of applying polish, you apply a thin coat of grease/conditioner, wipe off the excess with your shine brush, apply a thin coat of Dubbin, wipe off the excess and you’re good to go.
One more thing – although is can be really tempting to clean and condition your leathers all the time because of how good it feels to be running your greasy hands all over them, over-conditioning your gear will actually weaken the fabric and shorten it’s lifespan. Conditioning should really be more of a quarterly activity. If you find it getting dirty, clean it, but skip the conditioning step; soap and Dubbin only.