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  1. #1

    Default Snow Seal - Experiences Please

    The first pair of hiking footwear I ever bought was back in 2009, a pair of Vasque Sundowners. I put about 1500 miles on them before transitioning to trail runners full time and havent looked back. Now that I am looking at some alternative, more protective footwear for winter hiking, I have come full circle back to the sundowners. I ordered a tin of snow seal, will this product if applied correctly protect my feet against wet and muddy conditions? I am not trying to get into serious winter hiking, I am simply needing to do 1 hike a month on the Sheltowee Trace through the winter months to stay on a schedule to complete the trail in 2021.
    Trail Miles: 4,042.4 - AT Trips: 70
    AT Map 1: 2004.8
    AT Map 2: 265.0
    Sheltowee Trace Map: 84.0
    BMT Map: 57.7
    Pinhoti Trail Map: 31.5

  2. #2
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    I still swear by the stuff for leather boots, even with all of the more modern products out there. I apply a generous layer to my winter hiking boots this time of year (well, except for my double plastic boots...)

    What I've always done, maybe many others do this; apply a generous amount everywhere then use a hair dryer to soak it in to all of the pores, like the stitching.

  3. #3

    Default

    Yes Sir, I'm old school and still use Snow Seal to treat my boots. I'd guess some will say more recent leather technology may not match-up well with Snow Seal but I find the product protects boots from leakage + keeps the leather pliable. After coating, I set my boots in a sunny place to allow the SS to warm and penetrate the leather. Happy Trails!

  4. #4
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    Default

    We used to put them in the oven lowest temp.

  5. #5

    Default

    It always worked good for me.

    Lots of good reviews on Amazon.

    https://www.amazon.com/Atsko-Sno-Sea...97&sr=8-2&th=1

  6. #6

    Default

    Anyone have an educated opinion on the various options (Sno Seal, Nikwax, Nature Seal, etc)? I've used all of them in the past, mostly based on what happened to be on the shelf in the closest decent store.

  7. #7
    Registered User soilman's Avatar
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    I started using sno seal back in the 70’s on my aborted AT SOBO. We carried a tin of it and would seal the boots every couple of days. Still use it on my leather boots. I use a hair drier when available. I think the sno seal helps repel water and keeps the leather supple. Works good in snow but your feet will still get wet if crossing a stream because water will enter at the welt.
    More walking, less talking.

  8. #8
    Registered User russb's Avatar
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    Yep. Agree with everyone. C Robs use of the harie dryer is a great suggestion. I also start with the boots warm. Heat boots with hairdryer, apply snowseal, heat again. Back in the day we just left them near the woodstove.

  9. #9

    Default

    The folks at Peter Limmer and Sons, a custom bootmaker for decades in the whites strongly recommended against Snow Seal. Their claim is it traps dirt and eventually make the leather crack. I have heard over the years the oven trick. They also did not recommend that as they said it would loosen up the glue used to build the boots. My original heavy duty leather hiking boots were waterproofed with snow seal and I did ultimately experience leather cracking. The trick with snow seal was if it cracked you applied it like drywall patch to fill in the cracks. After waiting 2 years to get my custom made Limmers, I switched over to their boot grease which was a lot lighter. Their claim is that their grease tends to sit on top of the leather restoring the water repelency without plugging up the pores of the leather. I wore out a set of soles and then stopped using them after five years and switched to trail runners. The boots are still somewhere around the house 20 years later and the leather is still in great shape.

    The fundamental problem is making boots water proof is a problem as your feet sweat and soak the boots from the inside out if the boots are waterproof. Unless you wear vapor barrier socks you need boots that can breath. You want water repelency to bead water off but you need the leather to breath. https://www.limmerbootgrease.com/inf...r-boot-grease/

  10. #10

    Default

    i didnt think much of snow seal,,, found it to be greasy and pretty much just stayed greasy and attracted dirt.. Like the more wax like wet pruff product from kiwi,, brushed it in and buffed it like their normal polish.
    More just to take care of the leather. Never really expect plain leather boots to be waterproof or handle steady down pours. More just for wet grass resistance.

  11. #11

    Default

    FWIW - I have been using Nik-Wax for years without complaint. Like Colorado Rob, I tend to prefer leather boots in winter conditions that require traction devices or snowshoes so I treat my leather boots every 90-days (more frequently if boots get scuffed up) and have not had any extraneous water leakage. I also use Smart wool socks (medium thickness hiking) that does an excellent job of wicking moisture from perspiration out of the boot, keeping my feet dry.

    Dropdeadfred has a good point. My chief complaint with oil-based "paste type" products was following application they can attract dirt and detritus from the forest floor, making the boots difficult to clean and prep for a re-coating. Though Nik-Wax may need more frequent re-application, my boots are far easier to clean off so subsequent applications are better received by the leather. No cracks in the leather, no breakdown of stitching, and no water entry from snow or rain.

  12. #12
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    I wish I still had my ~20 year old Zamberlan boots that I sno sealed twice a year or more, no cracks or weirdness whatsoever. I gave them away a couple years ago only because my feet have "grown" (AKA, spread out from use...) and they stopped fitting. I highly doubt sno-seal damages leather boots. BTW, it's bees wax, not any sort of oil, though maybe the actual molecular formula is similar? I barely scraped out a "B" in my one college chemistry course.

  13. #13

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    iwas surprised to see the bees wax in the description and thought maybe the product had changed since I bought some in 1988 for my Ft Lewis boots on the advice from uniform store. Used it a few times and seemed greasy.
    Although now that I think about it. I bought toilette seals which are or used to be pure beeswax to use to seal the chambers of percussion revolvers and patch and ball style rifles and the stuff is more a thick grease than a wax like parrafin or candals.
    Another issue After using sno seal, your boots aint gonna shine until you completely get it out by saddle soaping.

  14. #14
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dropdeadfred View Post
    Another issue After using sno seal, your boots aint gonna shine until you completely get it out by saddle soaping.
    Ex military? Or current? Not sure who else polishes hiking boots! :-) But for those that do, yeah, sno seal is probably a bad choice. For the record though, I've never had dirt buildup issues with sno sealed boots, I do think it is important to get that wax "melted in" properly (dryer or oven or whatever).

  15. #15
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    For any more serious conditions in the mountains we use leather boots exclusively.

    Over the many decades of hiking, I've tried out pretty much any product that got recommended for nursing my boots.
    All of those products worked, not perfect, but OK.

    One event stood out by far, though: For a few days I had an on-site work in an industrial plant spraying bees wax (dissolved in alcohol) onto marble piles.
    The boots I was wearing doing this work got to be completely waterproof til the end of their life. It was like a charm or a miracle.
    I still have a tin half-full of the stuff this plant was spraying but unfortunately can't reproduce the same perfect result.
    This leaves me to conclude that its not only a qestion of, which product you are using, but also which process you apply.
    My guess is, that those 3 days of on-site work at the spraying plant applied the perfectly ultra-fine layers of wax multiple times while the warmth and the constant movement of my ever-walking feet worked the stuff deep into the leather.

    My most recent technique is, to apply a good coating to my winter boots the evening before every hike and put the boots atop the central heating oven over the night (that might be at 40C).

  16. #16

    Default

    Back in the day when everybody wore waffle stompers for hiking, I used Sno Seal on my Vasque boots. I don't remember problems with dirt etc. I think it might be related to the amount you applied to the boot and if you used heat after application of the product. I remember being somewhat amazed by how well the leather soaked up the Sno Seal when you hit it with the hair dryer. Owned the boots for about 10 years and never had cracking problems.
    If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything.

  17. #17
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    Back in WWII, the boots that were issued to US soldiers and marines were flesh-out leather that needed to be "dubbed" before they were worn. The dubbing was a beeswax-based compound which was basically the same as Sno-Seal. Soldiers applied the dubbing to the boots when they were issued, and it could be kind of a greasy mess, but they wiped off the excess and the boots stayed clean -- and almost reasonably dry.
    fortis fortuna adjuvat

  18. #18
    Garlic
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    My climbing partner and I have several decades of experience together and have always worn similar gear. But he's a Nikwax guy, I'm a Snoseal guy. We never discussed it, certainly never argued about it, but I liked the way my leather boots looked and performed with Snoseal, and he always liked his with Nikwax, and we both will forever. Neither of us had any accelerated aging or deterioration with either product.

    I use the Snoseal on leather upholstery and my leather bicycle saddle.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  19. #19

    Default

    wonder how slick it is once applied... I learned long ago the hardway.
    Armor all is not an acceptable product for cleaning and conditioning saddles.

  20. #20
    Garlic
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    A friend used Armor All on the front bench seat of his 70s Cadillac. His wife drove without a seat belt and on the first left turn she ended up hugging the passenger side door. Gladly no one was hurt. Lessons learned.

    Snoseal actually increases friction a little, sort of a gummy feel.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

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