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We decided to escape Mari Gras and visit Breckinridge, Colorado, and I’m not sure if cowboy boots are waterproof or suitable for wearing in the snow. So I decided to research them before I pack for our trip.
Leather cowboy boots are not waterproof, but they are water-resistant, and they aren’t good to wear in the snow either. Snow and excessive moisture cause untreated leather boots to dry and crack. If you intend to wear cowboy boots in water or snow, treat them with a product to protect the leather.
Many people choose boots based on their looks, but you need to read this article first if you plan to wear your boots in the snow or water.
Leather Boots are not truly “waterproof.”
Although some boot manufacturers claim their leather boots are waterproof, they’re not; they’re technically water-resistant. Before we delve too deep into the differences, here is our list of the best water-resistant leather boots:
|Ariat Hybrid Rancher Waterproof Western Boot||100% Leather; Shaft measures approximately 11.5" from arch; Heel measures approximately 1.5"||Click Here|
|Dan Post Men's 69681 Waterproof Boot||100% Leather; Shaft measures approximately 13.5" from arch; Boot opening measures approximately 15.75" around||Click Here|
|Irish Setter Work Men's 83912 Marshall 11" Pull-On Steel Toe Waterproof Work Boot||100% Leather; Shaft measures approximately 12" from arch; Heel measures approximately 1.5"||Click Here|
|Wolverine Men's Floorhand Waterproof 10" Soft Toe Work Boot||100% Leather; Shaft measures approximately 10.75" from arch; Heel measures approximately 1.75"||Click Here|
Leather is made from the hides of animals and is naturally porous, meaning liquids can penetrate the material. In order to transform skins into leather for boots and other products, hides go through a series of treatments.
The moisture resistance capability of leather boots is dependent on leather quality, retanning, and the finishing techniques used to process the leather. Water-resistant leather is designed to repel water while allowing a minimal amount of absorption.
Water-resistant leather isn’t waterproof.
Water-resistant boots hold up well for brief walks in the rain but aren’t designed for wading in water. Waterproof leather boots are made of highly water-resistant material.
They can be submerged in water for short periods without causing damage to the leather. However, leather boots are never truly waterproof like rubber boots are. The choice of degree of waterproof protection depends on the degree of moisture protection you require.
Water resistance is an essential characteristic of leather. It protects your feet against the elements and preserves the leather. Optimal leather work boots have a balanced water-resistant finish.
Leather needs to breathe for moisture evaporation.
While prevention of water penetration is desired, moisture should be able to pass the leather as freely as possible, or at least be absorbed, to ensure proper acclimatization inside the boots.
The leather needs to breathe so perspiration and moisture can evaporate. But the leather should not soak up too much moisture because it will lose its ability to protect your feet against heat and cold.
Leather cowboy boots can tolerate snow.
I’ve worn the boots pictured above in snow, water, and mud. After a bit of cleaning, they show little wear. Expensive cowboy boots made of exotic skins shouldn’t be worn in the snow.
Some cowboy boots designed as work boots are made of heavy, water-resistant leather and can tolerate winter weather better. But are cowboy boots suitable for wearing in the snow?
Water-resistant leather cowboy boots are fine to wear for brief walks through the snow. But cowboy boots aren’t made for extended periods in the snow because they absorb too much moisture.
Leather boots will stiffen, lose their pliable texture, and sometimes even rot after they’ve gotten too wet. Further, cowboy boots don’t provide adequate warmth for your feet, especially once they’re wet. And typical cowboy boots have slick soles that don’t grip the snow.
Treating leather boots increases their moisture resistance.
Besides the apparent reason for keeping your feet dry, there are other objectives for treating your boots to resist moisture. Treated leather resists staining, increases the lifespan of your boots, and keeps them looking and feeling good.
I’ve used mink oil for years, and my boots hold up well in all climates. You can order online through Amazon, but I typically buy at one of our local stores. Mink oil can be found at Tractor Supply and any western store.
Leather will never be able to withstand water like rubber boots because of its porous nature. However, there are some steps you can take that will increase the leather’s ability to resist water absorption.
Clean leather boots before applying a conditioner.
Clean your boots thoroughly. Use water and a soft cloth and wipe down your boots. No need to use soaps, sprays, or chemical cleaner. If you have some stubborn spots, use a brush and wipe down your boots again.
If you can’t get your boots clean with water and a rag, there are some commercial cleaners available that work fine. Just be sure to test a spot that is inconspicuous before you spread it over your entire boot.
Follow the instructions on the cleaner’s container and remove any excess moisture with a dry clean rag. Once you’ve finished cleaning your boots, allow them to semi-dry, but not in direct sunlight.
Thousands of Amazon customers have reviewed the following leather cleaners, and all have a high rating. Here is a link to Amazon reviews so you can read what other people have to say about the products:
- Chamberlain’s leather cleaner: customer reviews
- Leather Honey cleaner: customer reviews
- Saddle soap: customer reviews
Leather conditioner makes your cowboy boots last longer.
The leather of your boots can outlast its soles if they are adequately cared for. Treating them with a leather conditioner is advised, but do you know why it’s necessary? I decided to do some research to find out.
Over time leather loses oils and moisture, causing it to stiffen and crack. Leather conditioners are designed to prevent cracking and stiffness by replenishing the oils and nourishing the fibers to restore their natural flexibility.
Once your boots are thoroughly clean but still damp, apply leather conditioner. Damp leather is more porous and easier to penetrate than dry leather, so the conditioner lubricates the fibers better.
Leather conditioners also protect the surface of leather from stains and, over time, deepen its color. Apply a small amount of conditioner with a soft cloth. Excessive conditioner clogs the pores of the leather and prevents it from breathing, which leads to rotting.
Unless you use your boots in harsh conditions, they only need to be conditioned every six months. Most good leather conditioners provide all the water resistance your boots need. Waterproofing leather boots are not recommended because leather must breathe, or the fiber will rot.
There are three basic types of leather boot conditioners.
There is a huge selection of leather boot conditioners on the market. However, there are only three different types of conditioners.
Leather conditioners come in three forms: condition creams, conditioning oils, and wax conditioners. Each provides the same essential function; it is just a matter of personal preference, which type you choose to use.
Conditioning creams don’t alter the color of the leather.
Leather conditioning creams provide surface protection and typically don’t affect to color of the leather. A conditioning cream that does a really great job protecting leather boots is Tarrago Shoe Cream. It containers wax and conditioners to protect and replenish damaged leather.
Conditioning oils penetrate leather really well.
Conditioning oils penetrate leather pores and are very effective conditioners for leather boots. Conditioning oils have been used for centuries to maintain leather goods.
We recommend Neatsfoot Oil. It’s a tried and proven substance for conditioning leather. It’s a heavy oil derived from cattle bones and keeps leather strong and pliable without affecting the color of most leathers.
Wax conditioners provide leather surface protection.
Wax conditioners don’t penetrate the leather but provide surface protection from water. These conditioners seal leather by forming a protective layer over the leather’s surface.
The wax provides a barrier against acids, oils, and moisture that could damage your leather boots. But leather must breathe, or it will eventually rot. To avoid this, remove the wax periodically. Successful brands of wax sealant are Jobsite’s Grizzly Grease and Sno-Seal Original Beeswax Waterproofing.
Here are links to customer reviews for other popular leather conditioners.
Leather Honey conditioner: customer reviews
Chamberlain’s leather milk: customer reviews
Lexol Leather Conditioner: customer reviews
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I love animals! Especially horses, I’ve been around them most of my life but I am always learning more and enjoy sharing with others. I have bought, sold, and broke racehorse yearlings. I have raised some winning horses and had some that didn’t make it as racehorses, so we trained them in other disciplines.