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I have a pair of leather boots that are a couple of years old. They were fairly expensive and I'm not a big fan of discarding and replacing things so I'm hoping they can still be of use to me. The problem is that the boots leak through the leather.

The sole seems well sealed and I recently had a cobbler apply a new layer of glue at the sole to ensure this wasn't the issue. I believe the problem is the leather because my feet become wet after an hour or so of hiking in wet conditions and there is little to no beading of water droplets on the surface - the rain just soaks in.

I have waxed the leather repeatedly and tried both solid (at room temperature) and water-based waxes, following the label's instructions each time.

I have taken great care to not dry my boots close to a heat source but they have at times been left in a sealed car on a hot day in southern Canada.

Is there any hope for the leather in my boots? Does anyone have a novel remedy for reinvigorating the material and restoring some greater level of water repellency?

Any thoughts much appreciated.

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That sounds very strange to me- the leather itself seems like the last thing that would be letting water through, especially if treated with waterproofing products. My immediate thought would be to look at the stitching, including the tongue and gussets. How many pieces make up the uppers? If it's more than one, check those seams as well. Do you notice whether your feet start getting wet in a particular area?

Also, re: your car comment- I initially read that as California, which gave me a tiny bit of uncertainty, but I doubt your cars get nearly as hot in Canada. The worry is more with open flames or radiators, especially when the leather is wet.

  • Thanks for your input. The boots are shown here: fruugo.ca/asolo-power-matic-200-gv-mens-hiking-boot/… very little stitching where the wetness comes in - primarily across the top and sides of the toes. Also the problem is very similar in both boots, leading me to think it's how they've been treated rather than a specific failure – tomfumb Aug 19 '15 at 21:04
  • Also the lack of beading on the surface itself seems to indicate a problem – tomfumb Aug 19 '15 at 21:06
  • @tomfumb If you hadn't mentioned having the soles reglued, I would assume that the problem was the uppers detaching at the toe, so I'm not sure my knowledge covers this. I can't imagine why the leather itself would be permeated like that. My advice would be to contact Asolo- the warranty's long gone, but they might be better able to diagnose and remedy the issue. Also, did water bead on them previously? That sounds like they had a DWR coating, so I don't know if that's been one of the things you've tried. – Patrick N Aug 19 '15 at 22:13
  • The water-based wax I was sold with the boots is DWR. I'll try contacting Asolo - thanks for your input – tomfumb Aug 19 '15 at 22:55
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Greetings fellow Canadian.

I too have had to ensure my toes stay dry while snowshoeing to work or hunting polar bears in the hinterlands of Toronto.

You mentioned goretex liners. If that is the case, and you bought them through a real outlet, not a vintage store/ebay/whatever, contact goretex directly and they'll set it right. Seriously.

Otherwise there are two seperate things to consider:

  1. INSIDE: Goretex boots rely on the membrane to keep water out more than the exterior. If it is throughly soiled, it is compromised. Use dish soap and a toilet brush and warm to hot water to thoroughly wash out the insides then dry in front of a fan, 24 hours, NO HEAT.

  2. OUTSIDE: Some use waxes of various kinds and various animal byproducts, mink oil, dubbin etc. I used to as well, tradition. Then a tanner I met pointed out the obvious "we spend so much trouble removing all natural oils from the leather to preserve and stabilize it. why do you people keep insisting on reintroducing it?" Since then I have had much better luck with liquid silicon. To do this you need to strip off all the waxes you have already applied. Leather stripping products are actually just kerosene, so use that, then let them dry. Apply waxes over this if you like to prevent drying out.

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When I was in the British Army, the officially recommended way to soften new leather boots and to keep them waterproof was to fill them with cooking oil and leave for it to soak through the leather (some will eventually ooze out, so don't leave them on the carpet). You can drain the oil and store for future reproofing. Your socks might smell like French_fries(U.S)/chips(U.K) but it's cheap, simple and it works. I'm no longer playing soldiers but I still find it the most effective method for proofing leather.

  • That sounds like a solid approach but I'm a little worried about what it might do to the goretex liner. Presumably this approach was used on boots without an inbuilt sock-type liner? – tomfumb Aug 24 '15 at 15:24
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Mink oil or Sno seal are two brands I've had good results with. Preheating the boots with a hair dryer to open the pores is essential for either product.Hit the seams and inside bends first then just rub in a good coating all over and wait for it to soak in. Repeat if required.

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I understand otter oil\wax can restore water repellency.

http://helmboots.com/products/otter-wax-leather-oil

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