How To – Waterproof Leather Boots
It’s getting that time of year when you need to give those long abused leather boots a make over.
1 – Clean ’em – Water works, though you can get some proprietary boot cleaners that work out a little expensive in the long term. Use a brush to clean out all the dirt from the seams. You should ideally remove the laces and wash them, but the aglets on ours had vanished and if we removed them then we’d probably not be able to get them back on (and we don’t have spares to hand). It’s worth checking for wear and tear on the laces too, as this is an ideal chance to replace them. If you’re not 100% certain they’re good enough, you can always replace them and use the old laces as emergency replacements to keep in your pack.
2 – Fix any loose rubber. Rather than wait for it to get worse you can patch loose bits before they become a real problem. You can add loads more use to a pair of boots this way.You may need to read our Shoe Goo review?
3 – Wax em! You can use the Nikwax Waterproofing wax for leather on wet or dry boots but you can’t beat the stinky proper waxy Nikwax for repellancy. We used the aqueous wax on these boots for 1200km on these boots, but this time we wanted to use the proper wax on these. To our horror, we found that Nikwax have discontinued this product! We’ll compare the new with the old in a review soon enough…
3a – This time it turned out we needed to add leather conditioner to keep them supple, this waterproofs in the same way as the regular waterproofing wax. You only need to do this occasionally to keep the leather supple as over conditioning can damage the boots. I tend to do this once a year or so. Ensure you get whichever wax you use into all the seams and all the nooks and crannies.
5 – Warning – 80’s Film Reference… Wax on – Wax off. Your boots will look a right mess once the wax is on, but leave them a few minutes (or whatever it says on the tin) before rinsing them under the tap and buffing up with a cloth. making sure you get rid of all the excess.
6 – Dry them out. It makes no harm to give the insides a quick spray with a shoe deodouriser before stuffing the insides of the boots with some old newspaper. If the insides of the boots are particularly wet, you’ll need to replace this a few times.
7 – Did it work? Finally – you can soak em in the sink overnight to see if they’re leaking! You can see if the waterproofing has worked just by splashing the boot with some water. If you do find that they leak after going through all this then it’s possible that you may not have got the wax into all the seams, or that your boots are leaking elsewhere. In which case, no amount of wax will help and you need to get them repaired or replaced.
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siDave Roberts founded Walk Eryri in 2004, with the aim of providing routes that are off the beaten track. Walk Eryri is now part of Mud and Routes which continues to provide more off beat routes and walks in Snowdonia and beyond. Dave has been exploring the hills of Eryri for over thirty years, and is a qualified Mountain Leader. Dave also established Walk up Snowdon, Walk up Scafell Pike and Walk up Ben Nevis just to mention a few.