Wax Your Leather Boots

It’s finally, mercifully, welcomely, raining in California. Well, Northern California at least. Thing is, once it starts raining up here, it stays wet for months. Lots of narrow, redwood-and-fern packed valleys that don’t ever really warm up or dry out properly—hence the redwoods and ferns—so that means your footwear needs to be ready to deal with wetness and muck and cold.

For the last few years, I’ve moved away from trail runners in favor of boots. I hate that trail runners wear out so fast, and at a certain point, I stopped caring how fast I hiked and how little my kit weighed. Boots are comfortable, last many years, offer far more protection, and begin to feel like trusted friends.

Nubuck and suede are great for lessening the cost of nice boots, and are durable and tough, but there’s something about true leather that feels and smells much better.

So, that’s mostly what I wear when out and about when its boot weather (warm summer/spring/fall days excepted).

And if you’re wearing your full grain leather in poor weather or on rocky trails, you want to protect them.

I spent the past couple weeks caring for my boots with cleaners waterproofing and preparing them with wax, trying a couple different brands and formulas, and Nikwax’s Waterproofing Wax is easily my favorite.

It’s simple.

Wash the boots, or at least ensure they’re free of dust and dirt. Squirt some wax on to the leather whether dry or damp, then work it into the boot. Get deep in there, especially around the seams. Then, with a fresh, clean rag, buff the leather to a shine. Bang. Surface scuffs will be dulled and blended, a protective waterproofing is applied, and the leather breathes with life.

Here’s a quick video to show how it works, but my goodness, my boots are revolutionized. (The boots above are Kodiaks, a legendary Canadian boot maker, and I’ll get to those later).

I also tried a few other waterproofing waxes, from bees wax to a spray on aerosol, but nothing else provided the shine and the satisfying coverage of the Nikwax.

– Justin Housman

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