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5 Best Leather Conditioners for Boots: Top 11 Tested and Reviewed

William Barton
Expertise:

Boots, Leather, Heritage Fashion, Denim, Workwear

William founded BootSpy in 2020 with a simple mission: test and review popular men’s boots and give a real, honest opinion. Since then, we've welcomed over 5 million readers on our boot reviews and boot care guides. Reach out to him for your own personalized boot recommendation at william@bootspy.com. Or join 50,000+ subscribers on the BootSpy YouTube channel, or send him a message on the BootSpy Instagram. Read full bio.


Last Updated: Apr 3, 2024
14 min read

There are hundreds of leather conditioners for boots available, and many of them serve a specific purpose. I know I was confused for years about which products to get to clean and condition my boots.

That’s why I picked up the 11 most popular leather conditioners and tested them all in a controlled environment—now you can easily decide which is the best leather conditioner for your boots.

My Top Picks Preview

Finding the best leather conditioner for your boots used to require deep forum searches and watching tons of videos. 

I know I personally spent hours researching which conditioner works best with a certain kind of leather like Horween Chromexcel.

And then I realized—I’m the boot guy. It’s my responsibility to make this easy. 

So I bought 11 of the most popular boot conditioners and tested them on raw pieces of undyed vegetable tanned leather rounds.

You’ll see how much these leather conditioners darken the leather (if at all), and I’ll also show how deep the conditioning is, plus how much weather resistance each conditioner adds. 

By the end, you’ll know which leather conditioner is the best for your boots. 

How Did I Come Up With My List?

You can watch the entire process of how I tested these leather conditioners above, but I’ll also break it down here so you can skim if you’re short on time. 

I bought 11 of the most popular leather conditioners for boots and I applied the conditioner to undyed vegetable tanned leather rounds. 

The three biggest factors for deciding a good leather conditioner are:

  1. Does it darken the leather, and how much?
  2. How well does it moisturize and soften the leather?
  3. How much weather resistance does the product add?

My tests are focused on those three factors. I don’t really care too much about the smell (except for with Huberd’s, which has a powerful bacon smell that makes my wife sick, lol). 

Ease of application is also somewhat important, but if you’re like me, you’ll go to any lengths to use the best products on your boots

My Recommendations

Of the 11 leather conditioners I tested, five really stood out as exceptional. I’ll discuss the conditioners that didn’t make it to my final five picks later, but to make the process of picking the best leather conditioner for your boots, I decided to narrow the options down to only the best. 

Best Overall: Venetian Leather Balm

venetian leather balm conditioning test 1

Venetian Leather Balm takes the top prize for the best leather conditioner. In my tests, it had the best balance of deep leather conditioning without changing the color of the leather significantly. 

You also get a bit of weather resistance as well from the waxes in the formulation. And depending on how you apply Venetian, you can also bring out a subtle shine in your leather if that’s what you’re after (but you can also keep it matte if that’s your preference).

venetian leather balm with leather care tools in background

What I Like

  • Venetian doesn’t darken your leather.

  • It performs well on a very wide range of leathers, including Horween Chromexcel, hot stuffed leathers, natural vegetable tanned leathers, and more. 

  • It offers deep conditioning and a bit of weather resistance, too.

What I Don’t Like

  • Venetian can become separated, so you need to shake it thoroughly before using it.

The Verdict

If I could only recommend one leather conditioner, it’d be Venetian Leather Balm. It’s the most versatile leather conditioner of all 11 I tested. 

It’s great for work boots and dress boots alike because it absorbs deep into the leather, it adds a bit of weather resistance, and it doesn’t change the color of the leather at all.

Best Overall
Venetian Imperial Leather Balm

After testing 10 of the most popular leather conditioners, Venetian came out as my top pick because it nourishes leather, doesn't change the color, and actually adds a decent amount of weather resistance as well.

Check Price Watch Our Comparison on YouTube

Best for Waterproofing: Obenauf’s Heavy Duty LP

obenaufs conditioning test 1

If you don’t care about darkening the leather of your boots and you just want them to be as weather resistant as possible, then Obenauf’s Heavy Duty LP is the way to go. 

Obenauf’s and Huberd’s Shoe Grease are really close in terms of waterproofing. I found that Huberd’s Shoe Grease softened leather a bit more, while Obenauf’s has a higher wax content and added more weather resistance for longer. 

For both of these, I’d only use them on work boots—they darken the leather too much to use on casual or dress boots. 

If you’re breaking in new work boots and want to soften them up, Huberd’s might be a better option, but from a purely waterproofing standpoint, Obenauf’s Heavy Duty LP does an incredible job and lasts the longest.

What I Like

  • Obenauf’s has a high wax content, so it adds a ton of water resistance and it lasts a long time.

  • It’s easy to apply evenly across your leather so you don’t end up with any dark spots (not true with Huberd’s). 

  • Much better for wildland firefighting boots like Nick’s and White’s due to the the wax content vs Huberd’s tar content.

What I Don’t Like

  • Obenauf’s significantly and permanently darkens the leather. 

The Verdict

I only recommend Obenauf’s Heavy Duty LP on work boots that you don’t mind darkening. It’s a functional leather conditioner for your boots, and it’s not going to return your leather to how it was when it was new. 

But if you want to add a layer of water resistance to your leather, Obenauf’s is the best product out there. 

A good runner up was Huberd’s Shoe Grease, but overall, I found Obenauf’s easier to apply, plus the wax lasts longer on leather than Huberd’s heavy tar content.

Best for Waterproofing
Obenauf’s LP

Heavy Duty LP is heavy on beeswax, so it's one of the best waterproofing agents you can put on your work boots. But I'd skip it for dressier and more casual styles because it darkens the leather significantly.

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Best for Restoring Cracked Leather: Leather Honey

leather honey conditioning test 1

If your leather is seriously beat up and in need of deep conditioning, I’d use Leather Honey. In fact, after I tested Leather Honey on some of my boots, I also used it on a leather ottoman I have that sits next to a window and got really dried out. 

Leather Honey is a fitting name, because it has a honey-like texture to it. It darkens the leather somewhat, but I only really recommend Leather Honey on leather that’s in serious need of conditioning. 

I like conditioning my boots, so the leather never gets to a point where it’s dried and cracking. However, if you work a job where your boots get wet often, or if you need to clean them several times per month (like if you’re on a farm or work with concrete), then the deep conditioning aspects of Leather Honey might be exactly what you’re looking for. 

Overall, I think Leather Honey is best as a leather “restorer” rather than a standard leather conditioner. 

What I Like

  • Leather Honey was able to penetrate deep into the leather and offered some of the best conditioning.

  • It’s relatively easy to apply, but I do recommend warming it in your hands to ensure an even coat on your boots.

  • It adds water resistance to the leather. 

What I Don’t Like

  • If you don’t warm it up in your hands, its syrupy texture can lead to spots in the leather that absorb the conditioner more than others.

The Verdict

If you’ve got dried, cracked old boots and the leather needs restoration rather than a little “pick me up,” then Leather Honey is the way to go. 

For me, it darkens leather too much to be used on a regular basis for most of my boots. But when I come across leather that’s been neglected for years and seriously needs deep conditioning, Leather Honey is my go-to product.

Best for Restoring Cracked Leather
Leather Honey Leather Conditioner

Leather Honey is a fitting name, because it has a honey-like texture to it. It darkens the leather somewhat, but I only really recommend Leather Honey on leather that’s in serious need of conditioning. Overall, I think Leather Honey is best as a leather “restorer” rather than a standard leather conditioner. 

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Best for Dress Boots: Saphir Renovateur

saphir conditioning test 1

Saphir Renovateur is expensive and you don’t get much in each bottle. It’s also my favorite leather conditioner for dress boots and exotic leathers. 

I use Saphir for dress boots because it conditions similarly to Venetian Leather Balm, but you can work up a greater shine with it. 

Normally with my casual boots, I don’t like too much shine anyway, so I actually avoid Saphir on those ones (plus Venetian is much more affordable). But when I’m putting on my dress boots for a wedding or a special occasion, I like to re-condition the leather and bring out as much shine as I can without using polish.

What I Like

  • Saphir has a similar level of conditioning and weather resistance as Venetian Leather Balm, but also adds more shine.

  • It’s really easy to apply evenly.

  • It’s fantastic for exotic leathers like crocodile or ostrich.

What I Don’t Like

  • It’s the most expensive leather conditioner on this list. 

The Verdict

If I’m conditioning my dress boots, I bust out the good stuff and use Saphir Renovateur. I find Saphir to be on par with Venetian Leather balm in terms of conditioning, weather resistance, and not darkening the leather. But Saphir adds more shine to the leather. 

I don’t always like that added shine for my casual boots, which is the main reason why Saphir isn’t my top recommendation. 

But for my dress boots, it’s Saphir Renovateur every time.

Best for Dress Boots
Saphir Medaille d'Or Leather Renovator
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Budget Pick: Bick 4

bick 4 conditioning test 1

Bick 4 is a solid leather conditioner, and I mainly like it because it’s so affordable. A bottle costs about the same as the other brands, but you’re getting eight ounces. 

It’s not a perfect leather conditioner: it doesn’t get deep into the leather and it adds very little water resistance.

But it’s inexpensive and you can use it on a wide variety of leathers without worrying about darkening the leather at all. 

Bick 4 on Vegetable Tanned Leather

I use Bick 4 sometimes on my cheaper boots when I’ve only worn them a few dozen times and they’re not in serious need of conditioning. 

I still mainly use Venetian Leather Balm because it’s going to preserve the leather and extend the life of my boots significantly (which is important when you’ve got a pair of boots that cost $200+). 

Bick 4 with rag and boot

But if you’re looking for the least expensive leather conditioner while still getting a decent product, then Bick 4 is my recommendation. 

What I Like

  • The standard bottle is 8oz, so you’re getting a lot of product which is great if you want something you can condition your boots, couch, and car seats—as a general leather conditioner, Bick 4 is solid. 

  • It doesn’t darken leather.

  • There’s no wax, so it leaves the pores of the leather completely open.

What I Don’t Like

  • It doesn’t penetrate deep into the leather and can take several coats if you truly want to condition your boots well. 

  • It doesn’t offer much of any water resistance, so it’s not ideal for preserving your leather. 

The Verdict

If you want a lot of leather conditioner and you don’t want to spend much, then Bick 4 is a good choice. 

While it has its pitfalls like the lack of water resistance and the fact that it doesn’t penetrate deep in the leather—it’s still a solid product and the price is right. 

I like having Bick 4 on hand because it can handle light conditioning duties and it doesn’t darken leather at all—you can use it on car seats, couches, jackets, as well as on your boots. 

Even though Bick 4 comes with more in the bottle, you’ll probably have to use twice as much per conditioning to get the same effect as products like Venetian Leather Balm or Saphir Renovateur.

Budget Pick
Bickmore Bick 4 Leather Conditioner

Bick 4 is an outstanding addition to your leather conditioner collection. It’s inexpensive and perfect for giving your boots a pick-me-up without changing the color at all. It doesn’t penetrate deep into the leather, so you should use a liberal amount, and you may want to do several layers, but the price is right.

Check Price Read Our Review

6 More Boot Conditioners That Didn’t Make My List

Mink Oil

Mink oil is mainly used as a waterproofer for leather. And when I tested mink oil against heavy hitters like Huberd’s Shoe Grease and Obenauf’s Heavy Duty LP, I found it wasn’t nearly as effective at keeping water from absorbing into leather. 

mink oil conditioning test 1

While mink oil works in a pinch, the heavy oil content can also lock moisture in and rot out the stitching in your boots if you’re not careful and don’t fully dry it. 

Overall, I just don’t think mink oil is as effective as more wax and tar-heavy formulas for waterproofing, despite the fact that it darkens the leather just as much. 

Sof Sole Mink Oil for Conditioning and Waterproofing Leather

Remember how supple and gorgeous that boot leather was when you first saw it out of the box? You can thank the leather’s natural oils for that, a lot of which is lost after a few months of wear. Restore these oils by conditioning your boots with a quality mink oil conditioner like this one.

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Blackrock Leather ‘N’ Rich

Blackrock leather n rich before and after oil leather

I like Blackrock Leather ‘N’ Rich a lot actually, but to me it falls in a similar category as Venetian Leather Balm and Saphir Renovateur, though I think both of those products do a better job for what they are. 

I’m all for using Blackrock on my boots, but I just reach for Venetian more often because of its deeper conditioning, or I’ll opt for Bick 4 for more light duty conditioning.

Lexol

lexol conditioning test 1

I don’t recommend Lexol for conditioning boots. I believe Lexol is mainly for conditioning car seats, though I’d still rather use Bick 4 for something like that. 

Lexol is thin and watery, and when I tested it on the vegetable tanned leather rounds, it was almost as if I didn’t treat the leather at all. 

It performed the worst on my conditioning and weather resistance tests. Though to it’s credit, Lexol doesn’t darken leather. 

Cobbler’s Choice

cobblers choice conditioning test 1

Cobbler’s Choice doesn’t darken leather and offers solid penetration into the leather. Overall, I find this conditioner sits in the same position as Blackrock Leather ‘N’ Rich: it’s a good product, but it just doesn’t condition as deeply as Venetian Leather Balm

If you have a bottle: it’s good stuff to use. But if you’re only buying one leather conditioner for your boots, I still think Venetian Leather Balm is the way to go. 

Red Wing All Natural Boot Oil

Red Wing Boot Care 2

Red Wing All Natural Boot Oil uses pine pitch and mink oil and it does a good job with conditioning. 

I think compared to straight mink oil, it’s better for preserving and adding weather resistance. But it falls short in every category compared to other products.

red wing boot oil conditioning test 1

It doesn’t condition like Venetian and it doesn’t waterproof like Obenauf’s. Even for Red Wing Harness leathers, I prefer Venetian. You can see what Venetian looks like on the Red Wing 8111 Iron Ranger Amber Harness in the video below:

View this post on Instagram

Huberd’s Shoe Grease

Huberds Shoe Grease after application leather darkening

Huberd’s Shoe Grease is fantastic for adding a weather resistant layer to your boots. But I don’t use it because it gives my wife a crazy headache and smells like old bacon. 

A lot of guys actually love the smell—I don’t mind it either way. But even if my wife is gone and I condition my boots in the back yard and wash my hands profusely…she knows. 

huberds shoe grease conditioning test 1

If that’s not a consideration you care about, I still think Obenauf’s is a slightly better product for water resistance. Obenauf’s is easier to apply and I like the wax content compared to Huberd’s high pine tar content. 

You’ll certainly want Obenauf’s over Huberd’s if you’re a woodland firefighter and conditioning boots like Nick’s or White’s—pine tar can be flammable, where wax is less so.

Best Leather Cleaner for Boots

If your boots aren’t super dirty, most of the time a quick conditioning is all they need to look as good as new. 

But if you want to give your boots a bath and really clean up the leather, you can use something like saddle soap

However, if you choose to use a leather soap, you will want to condition the leather as well. Like with all soap, saddle soap strips off oils and waxes, which will leave your boots more susceptible to damage unless you condition the leather. 

Fiebing’s Saddle Soap

View this post on Instagram

Fiebing’s is my go-to saddle soap. I’ve also used Kiwi Saddle Soap. Honestly, I can’t tell any difference. 

As far as I can tell, saddle soap is saddle soap. The main differences you’re going to see in your leather care set-up are with the boot conditioner. 

But if you’re looking for a saddle soap recommendation, Fiebing’s is what I use now and it works well. Check out how I use saddle soap in the video below:

View this post on Instagram
Fiebing's Saddle Soap

My favorite saddle soap. This stuff does a great job at cleaning and reviving any type of leather back to glory---including boots. It's easy to apply and you should see instant results after just one treatment.

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Saphir Omnidaim 

View this post on Instagram

I haven’t talked about cleaning or conditioning suede at all yet. That’s an entirely different topic. But if you’re curious about how to clean suede leather, the best product is Saphir Omnidaim

I’d only use it if you really need to. Generally, you can clean suede with a brush and a suede eraser only. But if you get oil on your suede, you’ll have to bust out the Omnidaim to get the oil out. 

I learned this because I dropped a fat pizza pepperoni on my beautiful suede loafers once and needed to not look terrible for a business meeting the next day. 

Saphir Omnidaim Nubuck & Suede Cleaner
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Which Is Best for You?

The leather conditioner I reach for most often is Venetian Leather Balm. It offers the best balance of deep conditioning, weather resistance, and it doesn’t darken leather at all. 

Venetian Imperial Leather Balm

After testing 10 of the most popular leather conditioners, Venetian came out as my top pick because it nourishes leather, doesn't change the color, and actually adds a decent amount of weather resistance as well.

Check Price Watch Our Comparison on YouTube

If I was going to prep up work boots for a rugged job, I use Obenauf’s Heavy Duty LP. It’s mainly a waterproofer—it’s decent with conditioning, but expect it to darken your leather boots permanently. 

Obenauf’s LP

Heavy Duty LP is heavy on beeswax, so it's one of the best waterproofing agents you can put on your work boots. But I'd skip it for dressier and more casual styles because it darkens the leather significantly.

Check Price

And if your boots are starting to crack because the leather is so old and worn, try Leather Honey—it darkens the leather, but it’s also the deepest conditioner. That said, I don’t like to use Leather Honey as a regular conditioner—I find Venetian to really be the sweet spot. 

How often should you condition your boots? I like to do it every six months or so. I make a day of it. 

View this post on Instagram

But depending on how much you beat up your boots, you may want to condition more often than that. Or, if you just wear your boots casually and you want to develop a strong patina, then conditioning more like once a year is a good option. 


FAQs

What is the best thing to put on boots?

The best leather conditioner is Venetian Leather Balm—it doesn’t darken the leather, conditions deeply, and adds some weather resistance.

Is leather conditioner good for boots?

Yes, leather conditioner is great for boots. Using the right leather conditioner can help your boots last years longer just by keeping the leather supple and flexible.

What is the best way to condition leather boots?

Brush your boots with a dry rag and get all dirt off of them. Remove the laces. Use your leather conditioner of choice and apply across the entire boot. Let the conditioner soak in for 5-10 minutes. Then brush with a horsehair brush. At this point, you can apply another layer if the leather needs more conditioning, or if you condition regularly, you’ll likely only need one layer.

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