The boys and girls in blue wouldn’t get far if they let their boots give them calluses. Here to set you straight on looking after your new boots, the kind people of the emergency services and the armed forces give you the boot and foot-care tips that keep them comfy on patrol.
Tips for breaking in your boots
New leather can play havoc with tender skin, so do take heed of paramedic Charlie’s advice. She wears her boots around the house to begin with, also driving in them and crouching to improve their flexibility. The technician from the East of England Ambulance Service also says going a half size bigger means she can, “get away with thick socks in the winter.”
The same sizing advice goes for anyone planning brisk winter walks in their brogue or country boots, because exercise makes your feet swell. Just make sure there’s not too much room in the toe or as American emergency technician, Caitlyn says it can “lead to problems, especially when hiking or walking downhill”.
Which leads us neatly to blisters, for which the best cure is prevention. Writing on the Army Rumour Service forum, Welch Man recommends trial and error to find a boot / sock combo that works for you: “Find a good match, then buy a few of them.”
Tips for arch support
Beat police are famous for their flat feet – and low foot arches are far more common in the general population than high ones. That’s probably why most shoes and boots come factory-fitted with low arch supports.
That’s a problem if, like Caitlyn, you have high arches and you’re on your feet all day. She says: “The only way to adjust arch support is to replace the factory insert with one more appropriate to the wearer’s foot.”
And don’t forget to look after your ankles by making sure your boots offer plenty of support – as Emergency Medical technician, Christina says, you don’t want to “roll an ankle when it counts.” That’s good advice and an excellent reason to wear country boots rather than shoes during the winter when pavements are wet and covered in leaves.
Tips for spit and polish
Going for a mirror shine on civvy shoes is a mistake unless you’re ex-military, in which case, force of habit means you probably won’t be able to help yourself. But you should always look after your footwear properly.
Begin by getting yourself a decent shoeshine kit says former law enforcement officer Melissa Mann: “Use a small box with a lid to keep all of your items together and contain any shoe polish spills.” And invest in the right products to keep your shoe leather in tip top condition.
According to the British Legion, you don’t need a huge array of expensive products to keep your footwear in excellent condition. A tin of traditional shoe polish, a soft cloth, a little water and some elbow grease should do it.
Tips for looking after the leather
The Army Rumour Service forum’s Bullet Catcher swears baby oil keeps your leather soft… He says he rubs a thin layer into “stiff new shoes (and erm, boots)”. Meanwhile, Mush_dad rates mink oil, neatsfoot oil, dubbin, or even normal shoe polish which is great for leather as long as you, “apply loads of polish…and leave the shoes in a warm place”.
Meanwhile, fireman Volfirie uses beeswax for leather and bike chain lube on boot zips, adding that “Yes my boots have been in some BLOODY hot places and no, they haven’t caught fire – yet…”
Tips for cleaning walking boots
Wondering how the forces guys keep modern leather and Gore-Tex boots in tip top condition? The Army Rumour Service’s Mr Bane recommends using a good, stiff nail brush, warm water and bog standard unscented soap to give your boots a thorough clean.
He reckons unless you’re really thrashing your boots, Nikwax boot protector isn’t strictly necessary, but you might consider applying a smidgeon of brown boot polish to any leather areas – like around the lacing system.
With typical army irony, Mr Bane adds, “no doubt some RSM somewhere is experimenting to see if he can force a mirror shine onto them.” Enough said.
Do you have any tips for looking after your boots this winter? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Just head over to our Facebook page or leave us a message below.