It seems everyone has their own method of cleaning, conditioning, and polishing their boots. There are a slew of products out there and each boot company seems to have their own opinion (along with pushing their own cleaning goods) on how to treat their leather shoes.
Personally, I like to keep it simple. The method that I use, with variations, seems to be doing just fine for my boots and does not take a long time. I wanted to keep the cost down as well and not having to own so many different products. Without certainty I can say that this way is not the best because I am in no way a professional leather crafter or cobbler. I encourage everyone to do their research and in the end come up with what they think is best for their shoes.
Red Wing Iron Ranger 8085s Before & After Cleaning and Conditioning
John Doe Shoes Natural Chromexcel Boots Before & After Cleaning and Conditioning
Why these Products?
I use Saphir products, which are well known in the dress shoe world as the "premier" shoe care product manufacturer, because of how well they provide nourishment to the leather. My main concern with boots is that the leather dries out and cracks. Having a shiny boot with no scratches, creases, or scuffs is not my priority as I like to beat them up so I don't use polish. I finish up with the leather balm because of the natural beeswax in it that provides waterproofing. Also, most leather balms are all natural, provide the leather with nutrients, and add a little extra conditioning. I have tried using just leather balm, which would be ideal, but the ingredients from the Saphir products really seem to moisturize the leather more.
This method does initially darken the leather but the color slowly returns to normal with wear. The developing patina stays put as well as some of the scratches and marks. If you prefer a more formal look and want to get the imperfections out than this method is not for you. I do not use cleaner, such as saddle soap, when wiping down my boots because the ingredients in some of those products can dry out leather, which is the opposite of why I do this method in the first place!
Always remember to use shoe trees between wears!