how to dry wet boots

With our combined experience in the Australian Defence Force, and lessons learned in the hunting grounds of New Zealand and Australia, we know firsthand how important it is to take care of your boots. We also know the best ways to dry boots fast.

Your boots are one of your most important pieces of equipment when you’re out in the field. But Even the best army boots won’t last forever, and taking care of them properly can help you extend their life, and improve your comfort, mobility, and safety.

A common question we get is about drying our tactical boots. There are a few ways to do so nowadays. Here’s what we recommend you do if your boots get wet.

Step 1: Clean Mud, Salt and Corrosive Substances Off Boots

In the amphibious environment, our boots are exposed to saltwater and other corrosive substances that can cause the leather to deteriorate quickly. Similarly, in the bush, our boots often end up covered in dirt which can impact the boot’s flexibility and resistance over time.

Whilst your boots are already damp, clean them thoroughly to prevent long-term damage to the boot’s materials. Rinse your boots with fresh water after every use before your dry them thoroughly. It’s ok to make them a little more wet than they already are.

Before drying a boot, use a damp cloth to wipe away the mud. If necessary, wash if with fresh water. It’s OK to make the boot more wet than it already is.

Another trick is to use a mixture of warm water and vinegar to clean your boots, as this can help remove tough stains and odors without damaging the leather.

Step 2: How to Dry Boots Fast

Whether you’re an active or part-time defence member, a weekend hiker or a hunter, your boots will get wet. Boots are constantly exposed to moisture, mud, water and rain.

Drying your boots thoroughly after each use is important, as a damp and humid environment can cause bacteria and mould to grow inside the boots. Plus, damp boots give blisters and will make your time out field painful.

There are four most common ways to dry a boot fast. They involve using towels or sock as an aid, followed by air drying using a fan or boot heater.

Start by Manually Drying Off the Boot (aka the towel or sock methods)

Using a towel can help to absorb excess moisture from the inside of the boots and speed up the drying process. The idea is to:

  • Stuff a towel inside the boot so that it covers the entire footbed and reaches up to the inside top of the boot.
  • Press down on the towel to absorb the moisture from the inside of the boot.
  • Remove the towel from the boot and replace it with a fresh, dry one.

Alternatively, you can use dry socks (you might need a lot of them), put it on and put your foot inside the boot. Press down and around to absorb the moisture and repeat with a new dry sock until it doesn’t come out wet anymore.

Remove The Laces and Insoles

Unlacing your boots and removing the insoles will help them dry faster.

Once you’ve done all you could to remove moisture from the boot, you need to remove the parts that you can:

  • Remove the laces and dry them separately; this allows you to open up the boot wider
  • Remove the insoles and let them dry separately; this allows the insoles and the inside of the boot to dry faster)

Step 3 : Air Dry the Boots or Use a Boot Heater

Here’s how you can dry the inside of your boots fast. Whether you choose to air dry your boots or use a boot heater will depend on the equipment you have with you, and the urgency of the situation. Air drying is the most common option, but using a boot dryer is the most effective one.

To air dry the boot, you should ideally put it wide open in front of a fan. In the absence of a fan, we like to leave them to dry on a our garage boot rack.

Nowadays, a quality boot rack can be bought for under $50, so it’s a no brainer for us. We like these two the best:

Decent boot dryers cost less than $50. It’s a no brainer for us.

Waterproof your Boots

Waterproofing military boots is crucial to ensure that soldiers’ feet stay dry and comfortable in wet and cold environments. Wet feet can lead to blisters, fungus, and other foot-related issues, which can compromise a soldier’s ability to perform their duties effectively.

By using boot spray waterproofing products, you can protect your boots from water damage, protect your skin from injury, and increase your boots’ longevity.

How often you should waterproof hiking boots? As a general guideline, it’s a good idea to waterproof your hiking boots at least once every few months or after several uses in wet or muddy conditions.

However, if you notice that your boots are no longer repelling water as effectively as they used to, you may need to waterproof them more frequently. Check the manufacturer’s instructions or recommendations for waterproofing outdoor boots.

Waterproof your boots regularly, once they are completely dry.

Preventing Cracked Soles and Dry Outs

In the desert environment, our tactical boots are exposed to extreme heat, sand, and dust, which can cause them to dry out and crack.

To prevent this, we keep our boots clean. We also sometimes use a leather conditioner to keep them supple. It’s a good habit to dust off the boots regularly to prevent sand and dust from accumulating inside, and use a waterproofing spray to protect them from absorbing dirty particles that will dry it out.

Here’s an important one: when drying out your boots, remember to avoid direct heat sources as these can damage the materials and cause them to crack or shrink.

Getting Rid of Boot Smells

Preventing boot odor is essential to maintain the hygiene and longevity of your boots. One of the best ways to stop your boots from smelling is to let them air out regularly.

  • As often as possible, remove the insoles and let them dry separately.
  • Another tip is to wear moisture-wicking socks to help prevent sweat buildup.
  • If your boots smell, you can sprinkle baking soda or activated charcoal inside them and let them sit overnight.

There’s also boot fragrance and boot deodorant out there but most of us can’t be bothered.


Taking care of your field boots is essential for any veteran or outdoor enthusiast.

By prioritizing proper cleaning, waterproofing, and conditioning, you can ensure that your boots will provide the protection you need to tackle any exercise or adventure. By taking care of your boots your boots will take care of your feet.

Similar Posts