Best Oil For Leather Boots That Need That Extra Somethin’ Reviewed
There is a reason why leather footwear is considered more superior than its synthetic counterparts. Of course, when it comes to genuine leather footwear, in order for it to last as long as possible it needs to be properly cleaned and maintained. Today, we are going to focus on the conditioning part of the process and because of that, we’ve made a list of carefully researched products which were shown as one of the best goods for this practice that are available on the market. By choosing the articles preferred by the many, you will be able to take care of your leather footwear and be able to make a remarkable impression anywhere you go. If you are interested in getting your favorite pair of boots to look as good as new again, then you have come to the right place!
In a Hurry? The test winner after 6 hrs of research
No Animal Fats
No Harmful Solvents or Additives
Softens Stiff Areas
- Huberd’s Shoe Oil
- Sof Sole Mink Oil
- Moneysworth and Best Mink Oil
- Obenauf’s Leather Oil
- Red Wing Heritage Mink Oil
- Bickmore 100% Pure Neatsfoot
- Red Wing Heritage All Natural
- Kiwi Outdoor Mink Oil
- Snow-Proof Oil
- Fiebing’s 100% Pure Neatsfoot
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
1. Huberd’s Shoe Oil
No Animal Fats
No Harmful Solvents or Additives
Softens Stiff Areas
Relatively Weak Formula
It all started with a grease formula which was created especially for loggers, to protect their boots from Great Northwest winters. Huberd’s Shoe Grease Company was founded in 1921, and it has a long-standing tradition of putting together only the best shoe care products. What is special about this one, in particular, is that it contains no animal fats, as well as no solvents or additives that are harmful to leather.Read more
Some conditioning products tend to have a certain smell about them. This is usually not a sign that they’re going bad, it’s just the way their formula is. When there are no animal fats, there is no strange smell, either. Additionally, there is also no possibility of Huberd’s product turning rancid.
In order to preserve the consistency of the formula, some products use special solvents and additives which can damage your footwear in the long run. Fortunately, this is not the case with Huberd’s, as it doesn’t contain any of these potentially harmful substances.
Huberd’s is a solid formula which will keep your footwear conditioned and waterproof. It doesn’t have a bad odor, nor will it cause any undue cracks or flakes on the surface.
2. Sof Sole Mink Oil
Gives Beautiful Finish
For Outdoor Footwear
Prevents Drying Out
A Little Goes A Long Way
Can Darken Leather
Has A Slight Odor
Sof Sole is a brand which specializes in athletic footwear accessories, including but not limited to insoles, socks, and shoe care products. Whether you need something for the shoes you’re wearing casually, or to help you improve your performance in a professional sport, this label has it. It also makes this Mink Oil formula which is especially famous for its water repelling abilities. It can be used on a wide range of products - from footwear to purses to briefcases, and it helps prevent the leather from drying out, keeping it soft and supple.Read more
While all conditioners serve to nourish leather products and to keep them from going dull, the Sof Sole Mink product also gives them a beautiful finish. It is not shiny per se, but it is a certain type of glow which makes old footwear look like it’s brand new again.
This Sof Sole formula is best used for footwear which often faces the great outdoors. Dress shoes and sneakers which you wear to the office are not a good fit for this, as it is more geared towards heavy duty boots such that you wear during winter.
3. Moneysworth and Best Mink Oil
Doesn’t Alter Color
Comes With Applicator
Replenishes Natural Oils
Softens the Material
Moneysworth & Best Quality Shoe Care produces over 750 different types of shoe and foot care products all around the world. Their mink formula contains multi-refined oil of mink which deeply penetrates the material and provides both conditioning and waterproofing. It is specially compounded as a preservative for leather goods subjected to outdoor use, and some of its ingredients are lanolin, vitamin E and silicone. This special combination of ingredients makes sure that your footwear is smooth and supple and that you can wear it with pride.Read more
The silicone in this formula is responsible for protecting the material, the lanolin for giving it that soft feel and vitamin E is important for replenishing the natural oil of your shoes which dry out after repeated wet and dry cycles. All of this allows you to nourish your leather with the same thoughtfulness and care as you would your own skin.
There are products which do not penetrate well into the material and quickly wash off in wet conditions, losing their purpose. There are also those which have great penetration qualities but don’t allow the material to breathe. However, Moneysworth and Best formula is neither of these, as it restores natural oils deep in the material while at the same time keeping the air circulating.
4. Obenauf’s Leather Oil
Beeswax for Waterproofing
Shortens Break-In Time
Convenient Dauber Applicator
For All Footwear Types
Darkens the Material
Obenauf’s Leather Oil formula contains a mixture of natural materials such as propolis and beeswax. Beeswax, in particular, is a natural conditioner which provides water resistance while still enabling the material to breathe. This product comes with a convenient dauber applicator which saves you the trouble of figuring out how to get the conditioner out of its container and onto your shoe. It is especially effective in reviving and restoring old footwear which has dried out.Read more
There is also the added benefit that it helps shorten the break-in period for new, stiff designs. Break-in periods are a literal pain and our poor, sore feet could use a little help. Fortunately, Obenauf's formula is perfect to soften the uppers of stiff footwear and prevent us from getting blisters.
Like most other items on our list, the Obenauf’s product is also 100% made in the USA. It is made out of natural materials, providing water resistance and restoring old footwear, as well as making new, stiff footwear more comfortable for wearing. We are honestly having a hard time trying to find a flaw in this smooth formula.
5. Red Wing Heritage Mink Oil
Lanolin for Softening
Silicone for Conditioning
Provides Water Resistance
Softens the Material
Protects from the Elements
Another product from the great Red Wing Heritage brand, this Mink Oil is perfect for protecting your footwear and lengthening its life. It is made in the USA and is especially effective with Red Wing leathers, including Mesa, Muleskinner, Rough & Tough, and Yuma. Though, of course, it stands to reason that you can use this product just as effectively on any other type of leather goods.Read more
The ingredients in this particular formula are lanolin, which serves to soften the material, make it more pliable and supple so that your footwear is a breeze to put on and off, and also silicone, which conditions the material and leaves it protected against the elements. This Red Wing Heritage product does change color after application, so keep that in mind before you apply it to your favorite pair of shoes.
One more important thing when it comes to this formula is that it not only protects and softens the material, it also helps increase its water resistance! While your shoes perhaps won’t be ready for trudging across shallow streams, they will definitely hold their own in heavy downpours and inclement weather.
6. Bickmore 100% Pure Neatsfoot
No Petroleum Distillates
Made in the USA
Moisturizing and Softening
Naturally Repels Water
Darkens the Material
Not Good for Suede and Nubuck
Bickmore is a brand which proudly produces quality tested formulas since 1882. That’s 136 years of manufacturing products for treating leather! The Bickmore 100% Pure Neatsfoot is, as its very name suggests, a formula without any petroleum distillates, or rather 100% pure. It is used to soften and condition most products, and it naturally repels water. It works great on shoes, boots belts, baseball gloves, equestrian equipment and more. The Bickmore 100% Pure Neatsfoot is also completely made in the United States of America, with no part of it being imported from other countries.Read more
The great thing about the Bickmore 100% Pure Neatsfoot is that it penetrates all the tiny crevices and pores of your favorite shoes and provides them with much-needed nourishment. With this moisturizing product, your footwear will look as good as new in no time!
And not only that, footwear treated with the Bickmore 100% Pure Neatsfoot becomes waterproof. This product has the property of naturally repelling water, which protects your footwear from rain and snow, and extends its life.
7. Red Wing Heritage All Natural
100% Natural Ingredients
Mink Oil and Pine Pitch
Restores Life to Footwear
Improves Durability and Protection
Made in the USA
Darkens the Surface
You must have heard about Red Wing before, an all-American company which produces premium work and safety footwear. They also tan their own leathers, and as a result, have a full collection of products designed specifically to care for this material. Red Wing Heritage All Natural is a special blend of mink oil and pine pitch, and it works especially well with Red Wing designs, of course. However, it will definitely serve its purpose with other goods, as it is a great formula which keeps water at bay, and improves the protection and durability of footwear.Read more
The Red Wing Heritage All Natural is a product made from mink oil and pine pitch. The former helps with waterproofing and keeping your feet warm and dry inside your shoes, while the latter is there to keep the leather hydrated and healthy. It is a unique combination which works wonders on all products!
One of the first things you may notice in a product which needs conditioning is how lifeless and dull it is. The material can be cracked and flaky, and at a first glance, the shoe in question is for throwing away. However, with the help of Red Wing Heritage All Natural, you can restore life to it and bring it back to its original glory in no time.
The Red Wing Heritage All Natural is made out of 100% natural ingredients and with it, your footwear will be clean and shiny as though you have just yesterday bought it directly from the store!
8. Kiwi Outdoor Mink Oil
Outstanding Waterproofing Abilities
Keeps Footwear Flexible
Doesn’t Wear Off Quickly
Long Conditioning Process
No Applicator Provided
Kiwi Outdoor Mink Oil is an old favorite for many customers. For decades this has been one of the best waterproofing products on the market, and it still remains that to this day. This is a paste formula which smooths and conditions your footwear effectively and keeps it that way for a ridiculously long time. While you are expected to condition footwear every two or three months, with the Kiwi Outdoor product you can extend that time up to a year! It also prevents the upper from cracking or drying out and gives your shoes that healthy, shiny finish of new footwear.Read more
One can of this product could last you for literal years. The reason for this is that thanks to its unique formula, the Kiwi Outdoor Mink Oil can be used less frequently than other products, so when you purchase it, you can be sure that it’s a cost-efficient investment!
The Kiwi Outdoor formula will protect you from literally any type of wet conditions short of standing directly in water for a certain period of time. And even then, your feet are likely to stay drier than they would in any other type of footwear or with any other type of treatment!
We are amazed by the durability of this product, as little of it goes a long way. You don’t have to condition your footwear with it so often, and its waterproofing properties are nothing to sneer at.
9. Snow-Proof Oil
Repels Water Snow and Dew
Easy to Apply
Great For Hunting Footwear
May Need Extra Coats
Exactly what its name says, Snow-Proof Oil is for snow-proofing your footwear. It is ridiculously easy to apply, without any special application methods or tools, and it serves to repel water, snow, dew, as well as to keep your footwear soft and supple. This a simple, uncomplicated product which doesn’t come with any special bells or whistles, but which can still hold its own against the heavyweights in the same category, such as the Red Wing Heritage. It is specially designed for work and hunting boots, though it could also work well on any other heavy duty footwear.Read more
While most products here come with a special applicator and an entire manual on how to use them, this Snow-Proof formula is simple and easy! Just apply the product to your shoe, especially where there are stitches, let it soak in overnight, wipe off the excess and you’re good to go!
There have been reviews which declared this product just as good as some of the more popular, and more expensive, items in this guide. Don’t be fooled by the minimalistic design of its package - the Snow-Proof formula is every bit as effective as other products you have run into here and will keep your footwear just as soft and just as waterproof.
10. Fiebing’s 100% Pure Neatsfoot
Evens Out Stains
Fills In Creases
Protects Against Stiffening
Darkens the Material
Rancid Smell if Gone Bad
Advertised as a product which has been used by saddle-makers for over a century, Fiebing’s 100% Pure Neatsfoot is everything your footwear needs, especially if it’s subjected to rugged, outdoor use. The purpose of this natural preservative is to restore and replenish natural oils in leather goods. It also protects against stiffening of the material and helps make it soft and pliable. Fiebing’s 100% Pure Neatsfoot can also be used on gloves, jackets, horse saddles, harnesses, baseball gloves - you name it!Read more
With repeated use, especially in harsh environments, natural leather oils get washed off, and the material becomes dull and cracking. This is where a natural preservative such as Fiebing’s 100% Pure Neatsfoot comes in handy, as it extends the life of footwear by replenishing their natural substances.
Repeated wetting-drying cycles, such as when you go outside in the rain or snow and then come back and leave your footwear to dry in a warm place, lead to stiffening of the material. Fiebing’s 100% Pure Neatsfoot is here to prevent just that, and ensure that your shoes always remain soft and malleable to the touch.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
One of the main reasons why we like to condition our footwear is to make it waterproof. Various conditioners from this guide contain various ingredients which enable this - from beeswax to silicone, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of both natural and synthetic options. The way they waterproof our footwear is that they create a thin protective layer over the upper which keeps our feet dry as we brave the rain.
There is something to be said about the difference between waterproofing and water resistance, both of which have their place in our list. Waterproofing essentially means that your shoe can withstand pretty much any type of wet conditions, including standing ankle deep in liquid. Good waterproofing products also waterproof the seams of your footwear, making them completely water-repellent.
By contrast, water resistance is a lower level of waterproofing. Water resistant footwear can help you in rainy weather, when you’re dashing from your office building to your transportation, or if you suddenly find yourself caught in a summer rain shower. However, any prolonged exposure to water may result in some of the moisture getting through, thus your feet may not end up being 100% dry.
The tricky part is that you technically can’t know if a product is a good waterproofing option for your particular brand of footwear until you try it. There is no way of visually determining if your boots are properly protected, and thus you will have to find a product which works for you through reading our guides and other reviews, and plain ol’ trial and error.
Water is not the only thing your footwear needs protection from. Other elements, such as snow, sand, wind and any other type of unfavorable terrain can also damage your shoes, and cause scuff marks or abrasions on them. This is true both for people who are on the clumsier side (hi, mom!), but also for those who are working jobs which are difficult and hazardous, such as on construction sites.
If you find yourself bumping into things a lot or - god forbid - if things often fall down around you, then you might want some abrasion resistance for your footwear. This can be achieved by investing money in some heavy duty preservatives for conditioning, which will protect your shoes and keep them looking new for longer.
Mink oil, especially, is a great choice for protecting hard-wearing boots which often find themselves in extreme circumstances.
A great benefit of conditioning your footwear - and again, one of the main reasons it should be done on a regular basis - is that this process keeps the leather soft, supple, and shiny. That’s right - it isn’t only about the rugged aspects, about protecting your footwear from the tough outdoors, but it is also for keeping your it as good as new, for restoring its original glow and for making it comfortable again.
That is not to say that all hope is lost for footwear which has lost its shine, is dull and cracking, grown stiff over the years. If your first thoughts were to throw it away - don’t! There is still hope for these poor neglected things, even if they haven’t been cared for in a long, long time. Thoroughly cleaning and conditioning with proper products can breathe new life into your shoes, and you will find yourself with a near-mint pair of shoes which you can continue wearing for even longer.
You may have already gleaned from our guide that conditioning tends to change the color of your footwear. These formulas are usually thick and viscous and they penetrate deep into the uppers, darkening the shade of the shoe to a degree which varies from product to product. Some people find this effect undesirable, and so they hunt for those rare formulas which don’t cause any discoloration, while others don’t mind it, or even prefer it.
If you are not sure if the product you purchased causes a color change or not, it is best to first test it on a small, inconspicuous area of your shoe. Choose a spot on the inside of the design, for example, and condition it as though you would the entire boot, before setting it aside for a while. You will see whether the color darkens, to what degree, if maybe it becomes lighter again over time, and whether or not all of this suits your needs.
Another key factor that we took into consideration when evaluating our items is their ease of application. Cleaning and conditioning footwear can be a long and arduous process if the products you are using have a complicated method of application, if you are not clear what type of brushes or cloths you are supposed to use, or - worst of all - if they tend to spill and run all over your hands and the floor, causing a mess.
Some options in this guide make your life easier by coming with an applicator of their own, which help you apply the product quickly and efficiently and spare your fingers from greasy stains. Those which do not usually come with a set of clear instructions on how to best apply them for maximum effect and minimum damage to your surroundings.
A Mink is a dark-colored animal in the Mustelidae family. This is the same family which weasels and otters belong to! They're semi-aquatic carnivores who are native to America and Eurasia.
Other Factors to Consider
What we mentioned before in this guide is that a good conditioning product easily penetrates leather and creates a barrier against water, sand, salt, and other unforgiving elements. At the same time, the formula is still supposed to allow the material to breathe. Leather is famously one of the most breathable materials there is, as it allows air to properly circulate in and out of the shoe, and it would be a waste to somehow block this very useful feature.
Another factor for you to consider is the value of the product itself. By this we mean, whether or not the amount of the product you get is worth its price, and also how long the product lasts for you. Usually thinner formulas are used up more quickly, as more of them is needed to cover the entire shoe, while thicker compounds can last up to a few years even if you use them on a regular basis. However, this ‘rule’ is not set in stone, since there is that golden rule when it comes to applying conditioners, that says that ‘a little goes a long way’.
After everything you’ve read about these products for restoring your footwear, we hope that you feel confident enough to go out there and choose a product which works best for you. Keep in mind the purpose of your shoes and what you would most like to achieve by conditioning them - whether it is to waterproof them, to keep them protected against weather and other factors, or if you simply wish to make them look good again - and select a product accordingly! Good luck!
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What is the difference between regular boot and mink oil?
These two types are actually very similar in terms of characteristics but have vastly different purposes.
Mink oil is a thick compound obtained from fatty deposits under the coat of mink. Today it is very difficult to find this product in its pure form, and even then it is not something often used in regular shoe conditioning. The reason for this is that mink compounds are very heavy and viscous. They can’t be absorbed very well and can cause a significant darkening of leather. Additionally, mink products can go bad and cause an unpleasant smell and rotting as well.
Mink products today are only used to condition footwear which is regularly exposed to harsh conditions, such as winter boots in extreme environments and work boots. Once mink compounds are on, they are impossible to wipe off, and the shoes can’t be buffed to shine any longer.
One more reason mink products are hardly used these days is that they often contain synthetic additives that tend to dry out the material and prevent it from breathing.
Boot oil, on the other hand, is something that you can find everywhere, a product most commonly used for shoe conditioning. While it is not as heavy duty as mink products, it can still provide adequate waterproofing and preserve the material. It is safe to use on all types of shoes, from regular autumn boots to gleaming dress shoes, and it is a great option for hydrating, preserving and protecting your footwear.
q: How exactly do I use my product?
Each product that you purchase for conditioning your footwear will most likely come with its own set of instructions on how to make the most out of it. However, there is a general guideline on how to properly go about it:
- Clean your shoes before applying the formula! Any dirt or grime which remains can cause discoloration or somehow prevent the product from fully penetrating into the upper.
- Testing the product is vital. Choose a small area of the shoe which isn’t easily noticeable, and apply a drop of the oil. More often than not, conditioners can cause darkening of the shoe, so you need to make sure that you like the final product before committing to it.
- If the product has an applicator, use it. If not, you can take a clean cloth instead, and even apply the oil all over the shoe surface. As you’re doing this, remember that less is more. The first coat should be quite thin, and you do not want to saturate the material with the product.
- If you feel like your shoes could use a second coat, wait for at least one whole hour before applying it. This is necessary for the first coat to get properly absorbed into the shoe surface.
- After you have applied all of the coats and all of them have been properly absorbed, then use a horsehair brush or a clean cloth to remove any excess.
q: How often should I condition my boots?
If we’re talking about winter or work boots, those which are sturdy and built to withstand extreme conditions, and if you wear them often, then you should condition them once a week at most. If the footwear is more casual or dress, worn on occasion, then conditioning every one to three months is fine. There are some signs which you can look out for, to know if your shoes need conditioning or not:
- Leather is dull or lighter in appearance
- It has scuff marks, scratches or flakes
- Your footwear has been in extended contact with water, salt or any other unforgiving elements which have the ability to dry out the material
q: Is there such a thing as putting too much product on my footwear?
There certainly is! We’ve already mentioned how little oil goes a long way, and that is definitely true. Too much of the product can almost be just as harmful to your footwear as no conditioning at all.
If you over-oil your boots, this can cause stains or streaks on the surface. The leather could use its breathability and split or otherwise crack more quickly.
q: Can I use coconut or olive oil as a conditioner?
In general, it should be avoided. The problem with coconut oil is that it is easy to over-apply and thus it can lead to all the negative consequences we have mentioned in our previous answer, about putting too much product on your shoes. Additionally, coconut formulas also cause a significant darkening of the material.
Olive products are not recommended either, as they leads to faster deterioration and discoloration of the leather.
q: I’m already using a polish, can’t I just skip the conditioning part?
It is best that you don’t. While polish does bring that appealing shine to your shoes, and some polish products may contain a smidgen of conditioning substances, they are not adequate enough to properly nourish your shoes.