I was on vacation last week and one of my many projects was to break in a new pair of Asolo TPS 520 hiking boots. My old Asolos finally died and I wanted to get the new ones ready for my next section hike on the Long Trail, over Mt. Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont. I don’t want any blister issues on that hike, so I logged about 100 miles on day hikes in the Shawangunks in order to get the new boots well broken in.
This evening I cleaned the new boots up and applied a heavy coat of Sno-Seal beeswax waterproofing to them. I’ve been using Sno-Seal for over 30 years, ever since my father bought me my first pair of leather Raichle boots in Switzerland when I was 16 years old. I’ve used it on a wide range of leather shoes since them, from cross country skiing boots to hiking boots and wing tips.
Sno-Seal is different than most other waterproofing treatments because it dries on the outside of your boot rather than soaking into the boot leather itself. This helps protect the leather and won’t add additional weight to the boot itself since it doesn’t soak the leather and impair it’s breathability. If you’ve ever hiked in wet boots, you know what I mean: they feel like cinder blocks.
Whenever I apply Sno-seal to boots, I pay special attention to the seams on the back of the boot and where the leather is bound to the sole on the sides and front. I add an additional bead of beeswax in these spots (show below) which is drawn into the seam when the beeswax dries. This is facilitated by heating the boots with a hairdryer or resting them in the sun on a windowsill.
Sno-Seal is safe to use on Gore-tex-lined boots and has less impact on boot breathability than waterproofing preparations that soak into the leather itself. Regardless, Gore-tex breaks down eventually and you want to make sure that the most critical seams are sealed and waterproofed from the get go at those locations where water is the most likely to leak in.
Sno-Seal is available under $10. A can this size (note the can has changed) will last for years.
Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.
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