There is nothing worse in the woods than wet feet. Wait, getting eaten by a bear is worse, but #2 is having wet feet in cold weather. It can cut a wonderful day in the woods short, leaving you absolutely miserable. Let’s talk about how to waterproof leather boots, shall we?
The following article actually comes from Shay Skobeleva, who we ran into on Reddit. When she’s not running around with dry feet, she’s running a tutoring company called Altiora Tutoring in NYC. She did an excellent job of documenting how to waterproof leather boots. Check it out.
“After my winter boots started absorbing water and getting my feet wet, I decided to take action. The commercial waterproofing spray I tried didn’t work, So I went for a more primitive option: beeswax!”
To get started, you’ll need leather (not suede) boots, beeswax, something to melt it in, an old toothbrush, and a heat gun (or something else that gets hot, I’ve seen candles, blowtorches, and blowdryers used.)
If your boots are dirty, you’ll want to clean them before coating the dirt with wax.
I used a baby wipe to clean off the dirt and salt. Make sure your boots completely dry before waxing them!
I melted the cosmetic grade beeswax with one of those scented oil lamps, and a little help from the heat gun because I’m impatient.
Dip your toothbrush in the melted wax, and brush it on the leather until it’s all covered. Try not to get it on suede or fabric though.
waterproofing your boots
waterproofing your boots
Use the heat gun to melt the wax, while using the toothbrush to smooth out the melting wax. It should absorb right into the boot. The toothbrush might melt a little, which is fine. Hold the heat gun just far enough to melt the wax without melting any synthetic parts of the boot, or burning any fur.
Here’s one finished boot next to the other. Sometimes lighter color boots can change color as the absorb the wax, and this one turned from a light brown to a chocolate brown. I was willing to take the risk though, and I kind of like the new color better.
Sometimes the wax doesn’t melt completely, so I reheat and brush it in more until it’s completely absorbed.
Here’s the same process on black boots. As you can probably guess, this leather isn’t going to change colors.
Melting with the heat gun.
Here, the right boot is all done, and I haven’t started the left yet.
Rubbing the melted wax in with the toothbrush.
Looking at the brown boots again, I noticed that it had unevenly colored. I melted in another layer to even it out into a darker brown.
Second layer of wax melted in.
Comparing the finished black and brown boots. The wax makes them a little shiny, but it’s still supple and doesn’t cake up with wear.
Here’s a comparison of the newly waxed boot to one I waxed a month ago or so. Interestingly, they started out as the same color, but for some reason, the color didn’t change at all with the women’s boot during waxing, but turned into a chocolate brown for the men’s boot. Maybe they had been treated with something different during manufacture? Either way, I’m pretty happy with how they both look IRL, and our feet don’t get wet anymore!
Great job Shay! Thanks for letting us share it with the 50 Campfires community!