Leather Boots

3:02 p.m. on October 22, 2012 (EDT)
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I am looking for a decent pair of mens walking boots, in leather. that are totally waterproof and can be re-soled.

I've bought quite a few brands of boots (last ones were Hi-Tech) that are advertised as being waterproof but after short usage start to let water in despite being treated with Grangers G-Wax; probably leaking where the upper joins the sole.

I only use the boots for walking my dog in long grass so don't need boots for 'serious' hiking etc.

Can you offer and advice on what boots you would recommend?

I've been looking at the 'Zamberlan Men's 1020 Novolao Walking Boot' but it's horrendously expensive.

3:29 p.m. on October 22, 2012 (EDT)
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4:28 p.m. on October 22, 2012 (EDT)
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I question whether you can call any leather, or leather combination boot, "totally waterproof". At some point, they will leak. Keeping any leather boot, especially around the welts, coated with the appropriate oil, grease or wax, will keep them about as waterproof as possible. Rickard-Ponvert(Paraboot) makes a line similar to the Vercor, but with a flexible sole. They are expensive, but worth the money. You might also try a Maine Hunting shoe, developed for just the sort of situation you describe.

5:30 p.m. on October 22, 2012 (EDT)
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2X on the Maine Hunting Shoe. I bought a pair for work. Not the best hiking boot, but they will keep your feet dry. If you are just out walking, I wouldn't even worry about keeping your feet dry. I have a pair of full leather boots that I wore hiking and kept them on when crossing streams (going shoeless in moving water is a bad idea in my opinion). Once across, I took them off, wrung out my wool socks and put them back on. Within about 20 minutes or so, my feet were fairly dry.

If you insist on dry feet, get a pair of Gore-tex lined boots and wear gaiters-you can see mine in my photo. That may be why your feet got wet-no gaitiers. Get tall ones, I'm not sure how useful short ones are.

5:39 p.m. on October 22, 2012 (EDT)
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The original 'waterproof/breathable' membrane is leather. Your skin does a pretty good job, doesn't it?

I like leather because it's up to you to maintain it - if your feet get wet, you can't just blame it on the material! Covered in a good aqueous wax, and redone every so often, your feet should stay dry.

However, leather hiking boots, especially good ones with a reliable W/B membrane cost money, and once you up the ante by asking for them to be re-soleable, you're up in the $300-500 range. That being said, I know lots of people who love their Hanwag Alaskas or Zamberlan Tofanes enough to pay a couple of hundred dollars just to get new soles for them.

I hate to say, it but for the uses the OP is describing (easy walk with dog in tall grass) maybe a pair of rubber boots might work best.

7:30 p.m. on October 22, 2012 (EDT)
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Rubber boots, maybe, but remember that rubber boots (and plastic boots like ski and high altitude mountaineering boots) are completely waterproof and non-breathable. In a short distance, in warm weather (or even subfreezing weather if you are exercising hard) your socks can still end up getting completely soaked from your sweat condensing. Wicking liner socks can help - some.

The big problem with waterproof linings, such as Goretex and even eVent, dirt and your body oils can and will eventually clog the liner. And after a while, the liners tend to stretch and sag, bunching up and causing blisters.

For the OP - what temperatures are you walking the dog? Wet grass says it is pretty humid, which suggests you may be sweating, which includes your feet. That may well be a contributor. Although quality full-grain leather (no gtx liners) does a great job as a waterproof/breathable foot cover, too thick a coat of wax or oil, or soaking from walking long distances in vegetation wet with water (hence sealing the pores) can shut down the breathability of the leather. Reason wading a stream lets the boots dry quickly is you aren't in the water for very long.

I had a talk a few months back with a Lowa rep about treating the boots (I have a pair of excellent Lowas that I have worn for years and resoled once). The recommendation, to my surprise, was a silicone sealer. But it depends on the tanning process used. You would be best off talking directly to the manufacturer for their recommendation. For high quality boots, there is usually a tag/folder attached with the specific recommendation.

6:30 a.m. on October 23, 2012 (EDT)
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Thank you for your input gentlemen, you've given me a lot to think about; it's very much appreciated... :)

1:57 p.m. on October 23, 2012 (EDT)
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Bill, you are right about the treatment and the tanning process. A good rule of thumb is using a wax type treatment(Snow Seal, Biwell) for chrome tanned leather, and an organic oil based treatment(Hubbard's Shoe Grease, dubbin, mink oil) for oil tanned leather.

2:11 p.m. on October 23, 2012 (EDT)
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Erich,

Biwell is no longer sold under that name, as I discovered to my dismay a couple years ago when the Biwell company was bought out.

2:44 p.m. on October 23, 2012 (EDT)
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After looking some more on the Internet I was impressed (or gullible - not sure which yet) and bought a pair of Redwing Irish Setter Men's 878 Trailblazer 7" Waterproof Lace-up Boot through Amazon.com.

I'm in the UK and the best deal I could find was through E-Bay for about £110; I got them from Amazon.com for £47 !!!

OK, I had to pay shipping costs to the UK which put the price up to £75 but it was still a lot better deal than I could get for a similar quality boot anywhere in the UK, or the rest of Europe.

We're always being 'ripped off' with prices here in the UK and it get my blood boiling!!

Anyway, it'll take about 10-20 days for the boots to arrive and when they do I'll let you know how I get on with them.

Thanks

6:16 p.m. on October 23, 2012 (EDT)
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Interesting that they show as 'Waterproof' but specify only that they are full leather without a liner or external coating. You'll want to find out what kind of waterproofing compound you'll have to use to keep them that way. See Ehrich's and Bill's advice above.

6:21 p.m. on October 23, 2012 (EDT)
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I did ask them this and the response I got was...

"Our style 878 has a built-in waterproof system so it does not need any additional waterproofing treatment. The leather used is cowhide and goes by the name Maderia Leather."

6:24 p.m. on October 23, 2012 (EDT)
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I was planning on using Grangers G-Wax on the boots to help counter the ingress of water and to keep them conditioned.

1:17 a.m. on October 24, 2012 (EDT)
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Biwell gone, Bill? I guess I'll have to hold on to the tubes I have left. Who makes it now?

Maderia Leather sounds like something similar to "Galluser Leather", a company that supplies leather to Paraboot and others.

4:36 a.m. on October 24, 2012 (EDT)
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All the Limmer boots that are lightweight or heavier (i'm excluding their ultralight) use chrome-tanned leather.  they sell boot grease that works very well & is not overly expensive. 

6:26 a.m. on October 24, 2012 (EDT)
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I'll throw my vote for Obenhauf's Heavy Duty LP into the mix.

obenhauf-s.jpg

It's the only thing I use.

The only pair of leather boot I don't use it on is my Danner Super Rain Forest work boots and that is because they are Gore-tex lined.

Here is a link to Obenhauf's page:

https://www.obenaufs.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=20&product_id=30 

In regards to the whole leather vs Gore-tex subject I do not use boots on the trail that incorporates a membrane.

If I take the time to take care of say my Scarpa's they are just as waterproof as a gtx boot imo.

Another positive is that they dry alot quicker.

8:23 a.m. on October 24, 2012 (EDT)
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+1 with Rick's suggestion.

2:14 p.m. on October 24, 2012 (EDT)
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Erich said:

Biwell gone, Bill? I guess I'll have to hold on to the tubes I have left. Who makes it now?

 Erich,

Toko, the XC folks, bought Biwell in about 2007. Their shoe care page is here. I haven't tried any of them, since the nearest shop carrying Toko products is in Truckee, some 200 miles from me. I do have a small supply of Toko ski waxes, though, and they are quite good. For ski orienteering, I have been using their klisters, since most of the Ski-O events nearby are in typical Sierra near-freezing weather and not too cold.

December 22, 2014
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