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How To Care For Nubuck Hiking Boots? | 3 Necessary Steps

One general rule of maintaining things is to offer proper care for them; and such is the case with hiking boots. Therefore, it has become for you to care for your hiking boots and extend their lifespan.

Generally, caring for your hiking boots includes cleaning, brushing, drying, conditioning them, and more.

Manufacturers make hiking boots from materials like mesh, leather, synthetic materials, and others.

Leather materials vary from nubuck, full-grain, split, faux leather, and more.

In this article, we will only be discussing how to care for your nubuck hiking boots to extend their lifespan. Also, we will discuss how to clean, dry, condition, and maintain your nubuck leather hiking boots.

In case you have not been caring for your hiking boots in the past, you will find this article useful. So, how do you care for nubuck hiking boots?

Let’s get right into it!

Cowboy Boots 1

How To Care For Nubuck Hiking Boots?

a pair of nubuck hiking boots

Before discussing how to care for nubuck hiking boots, let’s briefly mention how nubuck is different from full-grain leather. First, of course, nubuck isn’t as tough as full-grain leather, and it is because manufacturers sand the exterior skin of leather.

So, it’s the underskin of leather, which makes it softer and furry than full-grain leather. However, that doesn’t make nubuck leather inferior. On the contrary, nubuck leather is durable, and if you care for them properly, you get to use them for a long time.

So, what are the best ways to care for nubuck hiking boots? We will discuss why you need to care for hiking boots and how to care for nubuck hiking boots.

Step 1: Cleaning nubuck hiking boots

One primary reason you need to care for your hiking boots is so that you can protect them from external forces like dirt, grime, sand, water, and more. In addition, you should know that letting sand or dirt stay for an extended period in your hiking boots can reduce their lifespan.

Furthermore, it could make them dry, crack, and ruin the nubuck leather that manufacturers make your hiking boots from. So, how do you protect your nubuck hiking boots from external forces?

To protect your nubuck hiking boots from external forces, you need to clean them regularly. That means that you need to clean them as soon as you are back from a hike.

You should not wait till your next hiking trip before you think about cleaning your hiking boots. Of course, you would be tired after hiking, so you can relax a little bit and clean your nubuck hiking boots after.

What is the best way to clean nubuck hiking boots without ruining the leather? Here’s how;

Solution 1: Cleaning with water

sink full of water

One major way to clean nubuck hiking boots is to use water. You can use water to wash off mud that sticks on your hiking boots after a day on the trail.

So, you add nubuck cleaner inside the water and use it to clean your boots. You can use a soft brush or cotton to clean off dirt and grime on the boots.

Cleaning your nubuck hiking boots with water is safe, and you can insert them in the water. However, you shouldn’t soak it inside liquid for too long or for days.

This can damage the material, so clean for about 5 mins and leave them to dry.

After the leather is drained out completely, you need to brush the overall surface to get back furry finishes.


  • Simple, easy and straightforward
  • Require less cleaning effort or material
  • Works fine on light mud, sand or light stains


  • Some water marks can occur.

Solution 2: Cleaning with nubuck cloth

Last update on 2021-10-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Another way to clean nubuck hiking boots is to use nubuck cleaning cloth. This material is specifically for cleaning nubuck or suede leather effectively.

You can easily remove stains, soil, dirt with this cleaning material. It refreshes your hiking boots effectively and doesn’t require soaking the footwear in water or any other liquid.

It has no chemical in it, and will restore your hiking boots to its new looks. All you need to do is buy the nubuck cleaning cloth and rub all over the places of the boots.


  • Eco-friendly, safe, easy and effective
  • It doesn’t leave water stains on your hiking boots
  • Effectively removes stains, dirt, soil
  • It doesn’t require any cleaning chemicals or water
  • Buying easily


  • It may not work well on wet dirt

Solution 3: Cleaning with vinegar

use vinegar to clean hiking boots

Another way to clean your nubuck hiking boots is by using alcohol. Surprisingly, nubuck material is softer than full-grain leather but they don’t darken when being clean with vinegar.

This household material is available in your kitchen so you just need to grab the bottle along with a cloth. Then everything’s ready!

To clean your nubuck hiking boots with vinegar, mix water and the liquid in a ratio of 2 : 1 together in a container. Then, use a soft nubuck brush or cotton wool to rub the mixture on your hiking boots.

Leave them to dry overnight and brush the leather until it gets back to furry finishes.


  • It helps clean some heavy, bricked dirt, sand, mud off your hiking boots
  • It won’t harm the leather
  • The materials are available all around the house
  • It won’t darken the nubuck


  • You may need to repeat the process until getting expected results

Step 2: Conditioning nubuck hiking boots

nubuck hiking boots need conditioning

To care for your hiking boots, you need to protect them from drying and cracking. One thing that can make you abandon your nubuck hiking boots is if they crack.

They wouldn’t look so good, and you may have to get new pairs of hiking boots. And one way to preserve your hiking boots lifespan is by ensuring they look as good as new every time you wear them hiking.

Besides, a good conditioner can help refresh the color and nourish the textures.

How do you protect them from cracking and drying out?

Conditioning your nubuck hiking boots is one way to ensure that you preserve them. This will help them maintain their color, look, and shine. What’s the best way to condition your nubuck hiking boots?

Solution: Conditioning with professional nubuck conditioner

Kaps Renovator – Nubuck, Suede & Velour Leather Spray – Color Renew, Restoration & Care – Revitalize Shoes & Bags - Made in Europe (112 - Red)
  • HIGH-TECH LEATHER SPRAY: Kaps Renovator spray is based on a high-tech formula to make your nubuck,...
  • COLOUR RESTORE: It brings back the color and has a dyeing effect. Comes in various colors. There are...
  • NOURISHMENT: Bringing back color is not enough. That is why Kaps Renovator nourishes leather as...

Last update on 2021-10-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

You can care for your nubuck hiking boots by applying conditioners to them. It helps them to retain their clean, shiny and bright look.

After cleaning the boots, you then apply the conditioner on them. But first, you need to read the manufacturer’s instructions before application. Shake the bottle for a few seconds.

Then, test the conditioner on a spare nubuck material to see how it looks before applying it on your boots. After, then spray the conditioner over the area you want to condition, and use a nubuck brush over the area till it is dry.

Usually, nubuck conditioners don’t have oils that can damage the leather material. However, you still have to be careful when applying it as it may make your bright hiking boots darken or leave oil stains.

This usually happens if you don’t apply it properly.

You may need to repeat the process once or twice until getting the expected outcome.

I suggest you dry the boots with a hairdryer in low mode. That ensures the liquid drains out faster and prevents visible marks afterwards.


  • It is an excellent and professional way to preserve your nubuck hiking boots.
  • It prevents your hiking boots from cracking and drying out.
  • It removes some remained dirt after cleaning


  • It can be time-consuming.
  • Material may darken the hiking boots material
  • It may stain leather if you don’t apply it carefully.

Step 3: Waterproofing nubuck hiking boots

waterproof nubuck hiking boots

Nubuck is non resistant to water-based dirt. When the fabric stores water, they become stiffer and cracked after drying out. That’s very bad for prolonged usage.

So waterproofing nubuck is somewhat the best way to extend their lifespan. In addition, you should know that waterproof hiking boots help protect your socks and feet from getting wet when on the trail.

Sometimes, manufacturers make them waterproof right out of the box; however, their effect can be washed off over time.

The good thing is that you can keep your nubuck hiking boots waterproof with some products, which will have the same effects.

Solution: Waterproofing with proofing spray

Nikwax Nubuck & Suede Proof Spray-On,4.2 oz. / 125ml
  • Adds water Repellency to synthetic or leather footwear while preserving texture
  • Clean first with Nikwax footwear cleaning gel for best results
  • Spray-on application

Last update on 2021-09-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is one of the best professional waterproof products that you can be rest assured to use on your nubuck hiking boots. They contain good chemicals that don’t harm the leather or fabric quality afterwards.

The process of application is straightforward. What you need to do is spraying all over the surface of the boots evenly one time only. Don’t try to repeat the process as it will stiffen the boots unfortunately.

However, keep in mind that coating the boots with a waterproof layer will somewhat block the natural breathability effect of the leather. You may feel heat rising inside obviously.


  • It’s effective in maintaining nubuck hiking boots’ waterproof features.
  • It protects your feet from water when on the trail.
  • The application is easy.
  • Helps to maintain the leather texture.
  • It maintains the breathability of your hiking boots.
  • It is non-flammable.


  • You have to keep applying the spray at intervals as it washes off with time.

Does Nubuck Need Conditioning?

a pair of nubuck hiking boots needs conditioning

Yes, your nubuck may need conditioning. But nubuck will not adapt well to other ordinary leather conditioners.

You need to condition your nubuck hiking boots with specialized products that make for them only.

Conditioning the fabric helps to ensure that your hiking boots maintain their color and shine. Also, it prevents them from cracking and drying out.

After finishing the process, you need to brush the surface evenly so the leather can get back to its furry look.

Overall, conditioning your nubuck hiking boots is pretty easy and doesn’t involve much work or stress.

However, you should note that using a leather conditioner can leave some unexpected marks due to overuse.

To condition your hiking boots, you can follow the instructions under the conditioning solution we mentioned above.


Caring for your hiking boots helps ensure that they last a longer period. Otherwise, you would be replacing your hiking boots when you haven’t gotten to use them as much as you should.

In this article, we discussed how to care for nubuck hiking boots. We discussed the reasons you need to care for your hiking boots and the different ways you can care for them.

Also, we answered the question as to why you need to condition your nubuck hiking boots. If you haven’t been doing much about caring for your hiking boots, then you should start doing that.

The more you care for them, the longer you get to use them. Good luck!

Related post: How To Care For Leather Hiking Boots?

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