It's the item you wear the most but wash the least, so I'm going to share my tricks to eliminating odor in boots.
Keeping your feet dry is the most important step to preventing odors because smells develop from the bacteria that thrive in moisture. This is a tough task, since most boots are devoid of any breathablility.
The best way to keep the feet from sweating without having cold toes is to keep them at a constantly comfortable temperature.
That's a tough task when dealing with long walks and frigid temperatures that quickly rise in the midday sun. Trying to figure out how many and how thick you socks should be may seem impossible.
If you overdo your socks, your feet will sweat on the walk in. Then the moisture will get really cold, which negates the whole point of the thick socks.
Or even worse, having your feet go numb from cut off circulation as a result of squeezing too many pairs of socks in a boot will ruin a hunt.
"So how to stay warm and avoid odor causing sweat without overdoing socks?" you wonder.
One word: layer.
It's no different than putting on your heavy coat after you get to the stand instead of walking with it on. The challenge is layering your feet while wearing boots.
I use the layering technique without having to take on and off boots by having boot covers. The Arctic Shield boots covers are one of the best hunting gear investments I ever made. When I get to the stand, I toss in some heat warmer packs on cold mornings, and then zip up the covers over my boots before climbing the tree.
This also will eliminate the need for heavy, unresponsive over-insulated boots, making the walk in more comfortable and allowing breathing room for your toes that are covered with normal socks.
I do still use slightly insulated boots, along with thin liner socks and one pair of moderately thick socks on the below-freezing mornings. And with the addition of the covers, cold or sweaty feet is a thing of the past, no matter the weather.
However, odor still is an issue when walking miles and miles every weekend to hunt or on hot days when even the thinnest socks don't keep your feet dry. Here is the step-by-step process I use to eliminate odor:
First, I take out the insoles and wash them in the washing machine with scent-free detergent, and then I let them air dry.
For the main boots, I rinse them out. Then I'll put a few ounces of scent killer in the boots, add in some water and shake. I'll let them sit for a few hours or overnight.
I buy the scent killer by the gallon on sale for $10 on SportsmanGuide.com. If you pay the $8 for 8 ounces at the store, you may end up paying more to wash your boots than to buy them.
The next step is to empty the watery scent-killer concoction and place the boots in an air-blowing boot dyer until they are completely dried. Remember that Thinsulate material will take much longer to dry.
After they are dried, I'll apply a cup of baking soda in the boots, shake and leave for a few hours or overnight.
Finally I'll pour out any excess baking soda and put the washed insoles back in.
This method takes a couple days, so I do it throughout the week in between weekend hunting trips. Each weekend, I bring several pairs of boots so I always have a scent-free pair on hand, and then wash any used boots when returning.
With this method, foot odor should never be the cause of a spooked deer again.
As for a hunting update, I've yet to miss a weekend, and I've yet to have a great weekend. My crossbow broke last month, which will be the topic of my next article.
I did manage to take a nice 3-point with my bow from Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlilfe Refuge after getting frustrated with not seeing a nice buck from the stand all year.
Also, I lost a doe with a pass-through shot, great blood and four hour wait, and I had to pass on countless other does due to the thickness of the palmettos and thickets I've been hunting.
However, the tough times just keep me going back for more.