There are certain parts of your gear that are absolutely essential to your well-being on any mission. Tactical footwear is definitely one of the main requirements that help you get the job done.

tactical footwear military boots worn by a person standing over a yellow boat cleat in the rain


From protecting your feet to providing support and comfort to carry through every mission with your head in the game, your boots are a serious matter. When it comes to caring for tactical shoes and military boots, there are a few things you can do to help extend your footwear to make sure they last mission after mission.

Help Your Boots Last a Lifetime with These Tips

Here are our top 3 tips for tactical footwear and military boot care.

  1. Don’t Cheat the Break-In Period: Breaking in a new pair of combat boots can be painful, but this is just a part of the tactical lifestyle. Once your boots achieve that expertly broken-in state, it will be like your feet and boots are one, but until then you just have to suffer through it. Some people say you can break in your boots by soaking them in water or caking mud on them and leaving them in the sun to dry – this is false. Most tactical boots have a waterproof coating, so you aren’t really breaking them in with that method. In reality, you have to break your boots in from the inside out and not the other way around. The only way to break them is to wear them enough times until they are broken in.
  2. Check Your Soles: Once you have achieved perfectly broken-in boots, you may be tempted to just hang on to them until you retire to avoid the hassle again. However, while most tactical boot shafts are made to last, your soles are a different matter. The soles of shoes are designed for durability and high performance, with features like superior traction and shock absorption. However, they can still undergo wear and tear due to the weight they bear. That’s why many tactical boots have the option of replaceable soles. If you have that type of boot, part of your military boot care is to consistently check your soles. A worn-down sole isn’t going to do you much good on the field, so make sure you still have good traction and the rubber isn’t worn down to the outsole.
  3. Know How to Clean Them Properly: When it comes to caring for military boots, we can’t stress enough the importance of cleaning them regularly to keep them in great shape.
Of course, there are tricks to cleaning your boots the right way. Follow these tips to make sure your boots will last a lifetime:


  • Remove Build-Up: Make sure you brush off any buildup of dirt or mud with a brush and use the right type of bristle for your fabric. When cleaning nylon and leather boots, it's best to use a soft bristle brush. Suede boots require a special brush to prevent any damage to the material.
  • Use Warm Water: For most boots, the waterproof coating makes it easier to clean since they don’t stain the way other footwear would. You can easily clean nylon boots without a ton of elbow grease by using warm water and a mild detergent like a dish soap. Suede can be wiped down with a moist towel and soapy water, but make sure you don’t soak them. For leather boots, you will need a special cleaner.
  • Clean the Interior: Aside from cleaning the exterior, the inside of your boots may need a little TLC to keep them clean and fresh. To clean the interior of boots, you can wipe them with a soapy damp towel. If you have removable soles, take them out and wipe down the insides for a more thorough cleaning. Always allow them to dry completely before replacing the insoles to avoid mildew or other unpleasant effects of moisture.
  • Polish Properly: How you polish your boots will depend on the material they’re made of. If you have suede or nylon boots, polishing them is usually out of the question. If you have leather boots, you will need to polish them to keep them looking appropriate for uniform standards. You want to choose a polish with silicone as the base ingredient because it will provide the best sheen and conditioning for the material. Our post on caring for leather boots has additional maintenance information for this type of boot.
  • Waterproofing: While some boots are waterproofed during the manufacturing process, you may still need to check this matter occasionally since it can wear off after excessive use. Leather boots are rarely sold as waterproofed, so you may need to waterproof them yourself as part of routine care. Applying a protective layer to the surface of your boots will help restore waterproof levels as needed. You should always spot-test to make sure there won’t be any issues. For more info, review our resource on how to waterproof tactical boots.

Caring for tactical footwear and military boots is essential not only for extending their lifespan but also for ensuring your comfort, performance, and safety during demanding missions or outdoor activities. By following these tips, you can maintain optimal functionality and keep your boots in top-notch condition. Remember, investing time and effort in caring for your boots will ultimately pay off, as they will continue to serve as reliable companions in your toughest challenges, providing the support and protection you need to excel in any situation. So, take care of your boots, and tackle your adventures with confidence. And if you’re in the market for a new pair, check out the quality options we offer here at TD!