Aquaseal vs. Mink Oil

12:45 p.m. on November 22, 2009 (EST)
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There are conflicting views on this.

Some people say that Mink oil is the best for protecting delicate smooth leathers, yet others say it only ruins leather because it softens it and ruins the shape.

I've got a fresh pair of smooth brown leather Timberlands that need waterproofing.

I've got Aquaseal and Mink Oil, though not sure which is better.

Aquaseal is silicone based, while Mink Oil contains silicone and lanolin in addition to the mink fat.


These boots are for casual hiking, they're too expensive for that.

1:29 p.m. on November 22, 2009 (EST)
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Mink Oil is for boots? Darn, I bought gallons of the stuff because I couldn't bear the thought of all those little minks running through the woods squealing because they were low on oil. I'd planned to spend all next weekend oiling minks.

Wait a minute, I just read the label more carefully. Apparently I bought "Minx Oil". Do you know where I can find a minx that needs lubrication?

12:17 p.m. on November 23, 2009 (EST)
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...These boots are for casual hiking, they're too expensive for that.


I think you have your priorities reversed. Cheap "casual" boots are just fine. Good hiking and climbing boots tend to be much more expensive than "casual" boots (unless you are paying thousands for some chi-chi designer's brand name and signature. Since my feet are my transportation when hiking, climbing, or backcountry skiing, I would far rather pay $1000 for properly made, properly fit purpose-made boots than $20 for "casual" boots or shoes (unfortunately, street shoes are over $100 these days for even passable quality). Oh, part of the $1000 is for the bootfitter to make proper adjustments. Nothing is worse than getting blisters 20 or 30 miles out on a 50 mile hike, especially since it can result in a $5000-$10,000 evacuation. Since I have been paying close attention to the fit and quality, I have never gotten a blister or had a boot fail, and that's over the past 40+ years that includes a few big mountains.

2:24 p.m. on November 23, 2009 (EST)
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Timberland boots are expensive.......

Whether smooth or NuBuck leather.

As far as breaking in boots for Army desert terrain boots worked fine for hikes, but I'm in the Arizona desert.

$1,000 for boots is crazy......

I think my feet are pretty much blister-proof from breaking in military boots.

Then again, I don't hike glaciers.........nor have any desire to.

8:05 p.m. on November 23, 2009 (EST)
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Hey Division,

Just use the Mink Oil since your not going to put these boots to any real use.

This is a backpacking site, not a city walking site, so please understand that boots like Timberlands are not considered expensive, or fine leather, by most people here for technical purposes.

If it were me, I would contact Timberland and ask what they recommend on their leather, not all leathers are prepared the same way, and that makes a difference in what works best.

Good luck to you.

9:08 p.m. on November 27, 2009 (EST)
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1000 bucks for boots ? I have never paid this ? Am I missing something ? Thanks

12:19 p.m. on November 28, 2009 (EST)
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I like sno-seal as a heavy duty waterproofer for my all-leather backpacking boots.This product or mink oil radically darken most leathers.Sounds like you would be better off with a silicone spray like Camp Dry,more of a light duty water repellant.Besides,how much precipitation can you get in AZ.?

1:59 a.m. on December 8, 2009 (EST)
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Sno-seal has been the gold standard for what, 75 years?

12:11 p.m. on December 9, 2009 (EST)
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The reason for contacting the manufacturer is that the "best" waterproofing treatment depends on how the leather was prepared for the boots (or jacket, or in the case of my mountain man historical reenactment pants or motorcycle pants or chaps). Some leathers work best with an animal-derived oil (mink oil, neatsfoot oil), some with bees wax, some with silicone sealers, etc. There are specifically made sealers for Nubuck by reputable manufacturers like McNett and NikWax (most NikWax products, contrary to the name, do not contain any bees wax or petroleum-based wax, but are specific to the kind of leather or fabric).

As commented above, Timberland is a "popular" brand of boot maker and at the low end of the price range. There are a few $1000 boots, but these are custom-made or specialized mountaineering expedition boots for Arctic conditions.

Main thing is if your boots fit and work for the type of use you put them to, they are just fine. Timberlands do not work for my uses and do not fit my foot very well at all. I find US Army issue desert boots to be very hard on my aged feet. But if they work for you, then use them. If they start giving you blisters, then look for something else.

11:58 p.m. on February 5, 2010 (EST)
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Do NOT use "mink oil". It lets leather stretch and is a poor waterproofer. It's a very old (as in early 1900s) leather treatment but great for leather tire pump gaskets.

Nik Wax is the best leather waterproofing I know of, better than Sno Seal.


9:52 p.m. on February 6, 2010 (EST)
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8:22 a.m. on February 7, 2010 (EST)
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Obenhaufs Leather Seal(Heavy Duty LP boot grease)

That's what I use now too.

3:30 p.m. on February 7, 2010 (EST)
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I like it(Obenhaufs.) Asolo recommended Nikwax. I emailed them back and I got the green light on the Obenhaufs. Mink oil? I have a can of it somewhere around here. It all depends on the type of leather, and the way it was tanned(mineral, vegetable, etc.) I still use it on a few pair of work boots I have.

As far as Timberlands go. I have a few pairs. You can buy them here in Pittsburgh @ Burlington Coat Factory for around $39. They are primarily for kickin around town. It keeps me from burning up the soles on my "better boots" from my travels on sidewalks and asphalt.

I found Timberlands to be great for this purpose but when it comes to hiking/hunting(putting trust in what is on my feet) I will stick with Asolo and the Meindls(Alaska Hunters) I bought from Cabelas. Timberlands durability has turned into a big question mark for me over the years. Their products are just a name to me anymore, for the price(which by no means even @ retail is expensive) 1 can buy a pair of Red Wings or Danners that are by far a superior made boot. Just my opinion.

12:04 p.m. on February 25, 2010 (EST)
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I just tuned up a pair of Timberland leather hikers this morning. I always use the following with outstanding results:

1.) Stiff Brush

2.) Saddle Soap

3.) "Waxed Leather Protector" made by Timberland. I don't know what's in it, but it works great and can be found at any of their factory outlets, etc. I rub it right in with my fingers, usually two applications.

9:59 p.m. on March 26, 2010 (EDT)
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i use limmer boot grease for their boots and sno-seal or bee seal for everything else. the limmer grease has some silicone; sno seal, bee seal, and obenauf's don't. they all work pretty well if you apply them with some regularity. the point is to use something that conditions the leather but doesn't make it too soft, waterproofs the leather somewhat, but still allows the leather to breathe.

mink oil isn't a great long term solution because it softens the leather quite a bit, and leather shoes, even casual timberlands, fit best if they maintain their basic shape.

Timberland sells boot wax on its website that is pretty clearly intended to use on their boots. Google "timberland waximum." i know, it's a pretty weird name for the product.

6:17 p.m. on March 29, 2010 (EDT)
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I always used Obenhaufs LP for my fire boots while working on a 20 man fire crew in Idaho. My boots lasted four Summers of daily abuse and then some. I retired them to use as work boots b/c they were so heavy. I haven't found anything but silicone that doesn't make boots stretch at least a little but I agree that mink oil is bad for that. The same for lanolin. The guy who repaired my old Raichle Montagnas this last time (fifteen years and counting) says that I need to stick to beeswax-based treatment. My Army buddies say that the only thing to use is Kiwi boot polish. I don't intend to polish my mountain boots so I haven't tried that yet.

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