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Winter boot accessories

Winter boot accessories include such items as boot trays, shoe and boot stretchers, boot dryers and shoetrees.

These are the "extras" that you may not have thought about but definitely need to have to help maintain your winter footwear in tip top shape and condition. Having spent money on your winter boots and shoes, it makes sense to look after them properly so they will last a few winter seasons. What I list here is necessary in my opinion as the basics for winter footwear care.

During the fall is when you'll most likely find the different boot accessories you'll need.  After all, the fall is the lead up to the winter season. These items can be readily found at larger department stores and specialty shoe stores although you may pay a little more for them there.

What do you need?

Here's a quick summary of what winter boot accessories you'll need:

  • Boot trays (several)
  • Boot dryer (electric-powered or natural air-drying)
  • Boot stretchers (more important to have)
  • Shoes stretchers (less important to have)
  • Shoetrees (keeping shape and natural air-drying)
  • Boot brush stands (to help control debris and dirt).

It sounds like a lot to get.... but prolonging the life of your winter footwear over several seasons will be worth the trouble I think. 

Where to keep your winter boot accessories

A perfect place to keep your winter boot accessories is in the "mud room". The mudroom is another name for usually the back or side entrance area of your house where you are able to keep all the necessary winter gear, umbrellas, rain gear, boots etc. for you and your family. 

If you don't have the luxury of a mudroom-like space then hopefully you'll have a closet in which to store these things when they are not in use.

Boot trays

You'll definitely need several boot trays at any home entrance to your house. Any mud, debris, dirt or snow you pick up on your boots and shoes from being outside needs to be contained. Better a messy mudroom than in the rest of your house.

Made of plastic, rubber or PVC, the boot trays can easily be cleaned by hosing them down outside in the spring. They come in a few different sizes, colours, materials and textures.

Tips for tray buying:

  • Avoid buying the brittle plastic kind as it's very easy to break the tray edges
  • Make sure the bottom of the tray has parallel ridges or cross hatch markings all over so the snow and slush can easily drain away from your footwear
  • A high raised edge all the way around the tray is best, again to keep the water, slush and salt contained.

Storing them is easy as they can be stored vertically (once cleaned) and out of the way until next season.

Boot dryers

You can get both electric and non-electric boot dryers i.e. natural air-drying.

Electric plug-in boot dryers stands use 110v to 120v power and are made of heavy duty ABS plastic material. Warm or cool air is forced up through each vertical tube into the inside of whatever item you are drying. 

Typical models have two long and two short drying tubes while other models can dry more items at a time like two pairs of shoes or boots. The forced air makes moisture evaporate quickly.

Another benefit is that it also controls or at least minimizes any odours, mold and mildew from getting a start. On average, drying time is between one to two hours although it could take longer, depending on what you have drying. For extended ski trips, a boot dryer is a pretty good thing to have on your trip.

Some electric-powered boot dryers are multi-purpose. Besides drying shoes and boots, they also dry:

  • Mittens
  • Gloves
  • Bags 
  • Socks
  • Hats

Depending on the model, these devices can also dry athletic shoes, work boots and ski boot liners.

There are even some models that can dry fisherman waders and long hip boots.  Make sure that the model you are buying has removable drying tubes to give you greater flexibility in drying awkward or bulky items that need extra space while drying.

Boot stretchers

Having boot stretchers are another key winter boot accessory. If you are really concerned about how the boots still fit your feet after a year in the closet, buying a boot stretcher will certainly help. These devices only work on materials that have 'give' in them like leather or suede but not vinyl for example. 

Be sure to get a two-way boot stretcher as it can help with expanding both the length and width of the boot. Boot stretchers come in different types and shapes while some are adjustable and others are not.

Generally, they are sold individually so either you have to buy two or stretch your boots one at a time if you do it yourself. Otherwise, a shoe repair shop can do this task for you for a small fee. 

Shoe stretchers and Shoetrees

Winter is messy and your footwear will suffer without doubt so one of the best winter boot accessories are shoe stretchers. They are also known as "shoetrees" too. 

Both shoe strechers and shoe trees gently stretch your boots and shoes. Shoe stretchers come in pairs and can be made of wood and metal, plastic or a combination. Both types echo the shape of the foot for keeping the shape of the shoe as close to its original shape on the day you bought them. 

Shoetrees are made of cedar wood because of its properties of reducing odour and moisture although you can also get just plastic shoetrees or a combination of both. 

Having a wooden shoetree allows your shoes and boots to air and dry out naturally so the shape of your footwear is better preserved. Between using a shoetree and a boot dryer where you need to, it's important as the inside lining needs to dry out completely. Nothing quite so icky as putting your feet into still-wet boots! Over time, you might want to replace the boot insoles, as these will suffer more than the boot lining.

Like with anything, when you start searching, you'll find quite a variety of different type of shoes stretchers too. 

Boot brush stands

Having a boot brush stand is a good winter boot accessory to have near your entrances. It's a compact U-shaped shoe length stand with stiff bristle brushes that you brush the underside of your boots and shoes on. It helps you minimize the amount of slushy snow, dirt and other debris that gets tracked into your home.  If you have a mudroom in your house, this is a good spot for it. Otherwise, you might like it just outside the entrance to your house.  

Swiping your winter boots and shoes through a boot brush works on both the sides and soles. The stiff polyester bristles remove compacted materials from soles and heels. The softer vertical polyester bristles work on the upper part of the shoe or boot by brushing any loose debris off. 

With some searching you might find a fun shape like a porcupine-styled boot brush stand besides the utilitarian U-shaped one generally found in household retail stores.

Now you'll still need to take actual care of your boots and shoes. You might also think about getting some additonal footwear protection like buying overshoes and perhaps ice grips  that can fit over your boots and shoes for walking on icy pavement.

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