How to dry leather walking boots

Drying walking boots or hiking boots is an important part of their care, and if you do it wrongly you can shorten the life of your boots.

How to dry Leather Walking Boots


The key word here is ‘slowly’. Putting your leather boots on a radiator or near a fire will dry them out too quickly –  from the surface inwards – and lead to cracking of the leather and possibly also damage to the glues which hold the boots together.

First thing’s first – undo the laces, pull out the tongue and expose any areas of the boot where water would have trouble evaporating from. It’s also a good opportunity to check the laces for damage which could cause them to snap on the trail. If you can remove the insoles, do that too.


Then, take the opportunity to brush or wipe off any mud or dirt which will hold water on the leather and cause it problems when drying out. Give them a rinse with cold, clean water if necessary.

The best way to soak up loads of water from the fabric of the boot if it is saturated is to stuff the boots full of newspaper or tissue, which will absorb a surprising amount of dampness. Remove the paper after the initial dampness has saturated it, and then leave them empty.


Placing the boots in a warm, dry room can help speed the process up. An living room should be fine.

If your leather boots have a waterproof membrane (Gore Tex, Sympatex etc.) then bear in mind how this works. When you have a warm foot inside the boot, it pushes moisture outwards towards the cooler, drier air. If, all of a sudden, you reverse this by having warm air outside the boot and cool air (or paper) inside the boot, moisture will move the other way and leave your inner damp. It’s not a fault with the boot. If you have to put on a damp boot in the morning, try a wicking sock made of wool to help speed the reversal of the membrane.


When the boots are dry, don’t forget to treat the leather (it is skin, after all!). Rub in some leather conditioner which is suitable to the type of boot you have. If in doubt, contact your boot manufacturer to find out what the original treatment for the leather was, and what is best to re-treat it with. Add it until the leather can’t absorb any more, unless it says differently on the bottle.

This guide has been sponsored by Zamberlan, manufacturers of hand-made leather boots since 1929. For more information on Zamberlan’s range of boots take a look at their site, here.