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Waterproofing your camping boots.

Discussion in 'Attire' started by happyflowerlady, Nov 28, 2014.

  1. happyflowerlady

    happyflowerlady Survivalist

    We always used Neatsfoot oil on our boots to help make them waterproof, and also to make the leather last longer, and be more soft and supple to wear. Mink oil is also really great for waterproofing boots, or other footwear.as well. I always put it on my cowboy boots, even though they seldom got wet, but just because it kept them comfortable to wear. When you have real leather boots out in the woods, keeping them soft, dry, and supple is important.

    In the wintertime, when I was not out riding horseback as often, I would drag out all of my tack, take the bridles apart, and wipe everything down and then put the Neatsfoot oil on everything.

    We bought the Neatsfoot oil from the local shoe store, and they sold it in a whiskey bottle. It must have come in a larger container (maybe in gallons?), and we just kept refilling the same old bottle. Then, I would set it on top of the old oil stove in a small pan so it would heat up a little bit. Once it was heated up, it would soak right into the leather, and I used a large artists paintbrush to put it on my bridles and saddles. The tack spent the night strewed all over the floor in front of the fire, and by morning, the Neatsfoot oil would be soaked into the leather, and I could re-assemble all of the bridles and put everything away. Even though it was out in the barn all winter, nothing ever got moldy after it had been well oiled. As long as you keep leather well-oiled, it will last practically forever, and be as good as new.
  2. campforums

    campforums Founder Staff Member

    Is Neatsfoot oil specifically intended for that purpose? The name almost makes it sound like it is. I have a shoe spray that I got at the store I bought my shoes which I use on all my shoes when I get them. It doesn't really do anything in regards to waterproofing but it does prevent dirt and other stuff you might get on your shoes from sticking which makes them look new longer :) However I think that product is more intended for fabric shoes than it is for leather boots.

    I don't think leather boots are all that popular these days, other than leather dress shoes... But I can't see those needing to be water proofed anyway. My brother has a pair of leather cowboy boots, maybe I will ask him if he wants to try an oil based product on them because I have seen how well oil repels water.
  3. happyflowerlady

    happyflowerlady Survivalist

    Neatsfoot oil is made just for conditioning leather, and it is one of the best ways to keep it looking good, and will make is last practically forever. It is water repellent; although if you are going to have the leather in a LOT of water, then Mink Oil is even better to use becasue it is specifically designed to keep the water out.
    My dad was a power lineman, so he had the tall line boots that came almost to his knees, which he needed to wear when he was climbing power poles. Usually, he was not in a lot of water, and just the simple coating of neatsfoot oil protected the boots well enough. In the winter, it was cold enough that the snow didn't penetrate, but during the muddy, wet spring; he would sometimes put on the Mink Oil for extra protection.

    If your brother has cowboy boots, he may already be using neatsfoot oil on them to keep the boots conditioned. It will darken leather, so if his boots are very light tan, then he might not want to use the neatsfoot oil; but if they are a dark brown or black, he would be fine.

  4. JoshPosh

    JoshPosh Pathfinder

    This is a interesting subject. We Hawaiians don't worry about waterproofing at the beach. We wear tabis. They are footwear designed to give you traction while walking on the rocky shore and coral reef in Hawaii waters. They get wet but they dry off easily. Trust me, we got some jagged coral reef that will rip your skin to shreds. You need a pair of these if you are going to do any walking on the beach or rocks.

    tabis.jpg images?q=tbn:ANd9GcR18_cqebSUF7Lwen4EbdYCvEMDnWxOWprqzCaFqVUrgaQnxKJA_w.jpg
    happyflowerlady likes this.
  5. happyflowerlady

    happyflowerlady Survivalist

    Those are pretty cool, and a great idea for using on the beach. We have a similar thing called "water socks". They are stretchy on the top, and have a traction sole on the bottom.

    Where yours has kind of a top like a sock, the water socks just cover the foot. So, why they call them water socks is beyond me! Yours look a lot more like a sock, and water socks would seem to be an appropriate name for those.

    I usually have a pair for in the summer, because they are cooler than a regular shoe, and you can wade around in the water and not worry about rocks or getting the shoes wet. Water proofing boots is not for the beach here, either. It is done to protect the boots if you are hiking and happen to get them wet, and also because the oil protects the leather from drying out and keeps it supple to wear.
  6. campforums

    campforums Founder Staff Member

    I had never heard of water socks until just now, I used to use a pair of water shoes but I didn't really like them and now I just use a pair of regular shoes which I have designated for getting wet and muddy. It seems that there is quite a difference though between water socks and water shoes. Aren't you afraid you might step on a sharp rock or branch and cut your foot? They don't seem to offer much protection or a very thick sole to prevent a puncture. They look almost as if they are meant as socks... as their name implies haha :p

    Water Socks:

    Water Shoes:
  7. REI, and I'm sure others, offer waterproofing sprays. Danner Boots says that these sprays are good for suede or nubuck leather and advise against other waterproofing agents and conditioners on these materials due to darkening of the leather. I like the sprays because they cause water to bead up and run off the outside of the boot while still allowing water vapor to move outward. Good leather hiking boots often have a Gore-Tex liner that keeps out water that might enter through seams. They also let water vapor escape, but it would go into the boot leather and not escape outside if the leather was thoroughly sealed with mink oil or some such. That's probably not a major concern for short hikes because the leather itself would absorb the water. After awhile, I suspect the leather would get saturated and rather unpleasant for walking.
  8. campforums

    campforums Founder Staff Member

    Thanks for the summary. I have found that in general, it can be very hard to get nasty odors out of leather. The best solution for that is probably to just make sure that you air your boots out after they encounter any moisture so that you don't get bacteria and fungus growing in there (which is what causes any stench)---such as after a long, sweaty hike or if you've been stomping through puddles.

    I've never owned anything made with Gore-Tex, mostly because of the cost. Would you say it is worth it?
  9. I don't own much Gore-Tex, but I got these Danner Combat Hikers for $99 on closeout and they have Gore-Tex liners. So far they have been great, dry feet even wading in a creek. Of course they don't do any good at all if the water overtops the boot. Anyway, those boots were redesigned a little (different top lacing and different sole) and now go for $300 as Danner Crater Rim boots. I have some old REI rain gear with Gore-Tex that works well too. It would be overkill if you're just running from one covered place to another, but if you want to take a long walk on the beach in the rain Gore-Tex is great.
  10. 2sweed

    2sweed Natural Camper Staff Member

    I owned one pair of water shoes and they worked well when going swimming in the river in Florida, protecting my feet from getting cut on broken clam shells and small sharp rocks. At the ocean beach they were not as good as sand quickly built up in the shoes making then uncomfortable. However, as a temp shoe to get from point A to point B, or even using them for showering at campground restrooms was a good thing.

    happyflowerlady likes this.
  11. campforums

    campforums Founder Staff Member

    Ah yes, those are basically the kind I was talking about in my earlier post. They are great for when you are swimming in a place like Florida where the beach is covered in tons of tiny sharp shells... some areas had more shells the sand if I remember right. However some of the rivers I've tried using them in have larger rocks which can cut up your ankles since they are very low cut.

    $99 seems very reasonable for a pair Gore-Tex and (I guess?) leather boots. Boots especially last a lot longer than shoes I find. Have you had a chance to test them by wading in a creek? And did you apply and sprays or treatment to them or just use them as is?
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