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Leather boot lining tlc.

So I recently snagged up a pair of La Sportiva Pamirs to replace the Scarpas that no longer fit me correctly. (More on that here.)


So far I really like them a lot. They are a substantial boot that is for sure and the fit couldn't be better and they are made in Italy. :)

With different leathers comes different ways to maintain them. 

I am typically an Obenauf's Heavy Duty LP user on my FGL boots and I am a stickler when it comes to maintenance of any of my gear. I am not a fan of membranes(gtx, etc) so leather treatment is all that much more critical for optimum on-trail performance for me.

I contacted La Sportiva and inquired about what would be the proper product to use on these boots and also asked if the Obenauf's would be okay to use. 

I received a response from La Sportiva that the Obenauf's is a no fly zone due to the oil content in the product and that Nikwax Aqueous is the way to for on this model. 

Okay, great but one problem...

The inner lining which is calf-skin also needs a lil love and I typically treat leather inners with the same product that I do the outer boot. 

Aqueous is a sponge on product that I am not really familiar with. I am thinking that being it is a sponge on product that it has the sponge built into the bottle(like a bingo blotter.)

So should I just squirt it out and apply it with my fingers to the boot lining or should I use a different method(or product?)

Seems like a pretty simple question but I would like to hear from others out there that have treated leather footwear liners in the past. 

Also if anyone has come up with any good ideas/methods for periodic cleaning of calf-skin liners in boots I am all ears. 

I have a method of doing so but that doesn't necessarily mean my way is the best way. 

Thanks TS. 

Nikwax Aqueous Wax for leather used to have a brush attached to the lid like an old bottle of rubber cement. The stuff smelt like white glue and resembled a watered down version of same. Then Nikwax came out with the "Bingo Blotter" bottles you mentioned.

I used to use Nikwax but have long since returned to the old Biwell or Snoseal; I find this works well and doesn't leave your boots smelling like a child's craft project.

I also use Biwell in side the boot by applying it with my fingers to the leather and soles.

As for cleaning of leather boot lining, I have seldom had to do it. But, the few times I have, I just take an old tooth brush or finger nail brush and get the worst dirt out. Then treat it as above.

I have heard mention of Biwell on more than one occasion here. Bill S said that it is pretty hard to get anymore. 

I wonder if this would be an option...

I really like the Obenauf's but if the manufacturer says that it is not recommended then I suppose I shouldn't use it.

Who would no better than the manufacturer right?

Here is another thread I was looking at in regards to the questions I posted above:

Some of the responses left me with more questions than answers though. 

So I just received another email from La Sportiva(different rep) stating the following:

"Typically, we recommend Nikwax Aqueous Wax Leather Waterproofing for waterproofing the outer boot of your Pamirs.  Obenauf's Heavy Duty LP looks like it would work as well, we just don't have much experience with it.  

For cleaning the soft leather lining on the inside of the boot, we recommend wiping out the boots with a damp cloth after every use and also conditioning with either Lexol or saddle soap."

Needless to say I just gave the Pamirs a treatment of Obenauf's. It darkened them up quite a bit but I could care less about looks. I want performance and longevity. 


Although not stated in the email correspondence I received from La Sportiva I wonder if treating the inner with Obenauf's would be a bad or good thing.

I am not a big fan of Saddle Soap but if they recommend that then I don't see the harm in treating the inner as well.


Would the Obenauf make it as soft as the saddle soap Rick? Then would the Saddle soap keep it more water resistant...

Lanolin is the key preservative in saddle soap.  Going with another product with that ingredient should also obtain the results you aspire on the inner lining.


denis daly said:

Would the Obenauf make it as soft as the saddle soap Rick? Then would the Saddle soap keep it more water resistant...

I have never had an experience with Saddle Soap that lead me to believe it would do anything to help in regards to water resistance. 

Mink Oil, yes(poor lil squished minks) but I am  not a fan of it nor do I use it anymore.

Years back I did but became wiser as time rolled on and with experience. 

 whomeworry said:

Lanolin is the key preservative in saddle soap.  Going with another product with that ingredient should also obtain the results you aspire on the inner lining.



I may have to look into this further. Thanks for the heads up Ed. I don't see the point in treating the inner so early in the game but will do so as they are exposed to more & more use. 

Is this correct or should I do it now?

Good looking boots Rick; I personally like the way Obenauf's darkens up the leather.

Do the La Sportivas' come in wider widths than the Scarpas?

Mike G.

trouthunter said:

Good looking boots Rick; I personally like the way Obenauf's darkens up the leather.

Do the La Sportivas' come in wider widths than the Scarpas?

Mike G.


The Sportivas seem to be built on a last that has a wider forefoot than my Scarpas did. 

Other than that the fit elsewhere(heel, etc)feels quite similar. 

I tried this boot on at a REI and they felt awesome. Was going to buy right then & there at msrp but decided to wait and see if I could catch them on sale.

I waited for maybe a week or so and had/has them for $197.99 which was around  $100 off of retail. 

So then I was like "this is too good to be true; I am sure they do not have my size."

Well, sure enough they had 1 pair of 46.5s in stock and I bought them immediately.

Everywhere else I have looked wants around $300 for them. 

They still have the sale running but I am sure stock is limited. Odd that the women's version is still at retail and not on sale as well. 

I linked the sale above to the site reference. 

I just looked and they still have sizes 41-45 available as well as .5 sizes at the sale price.


I'd give the inner liners the most gentle treatment possible.  You treat the outside of the boot with a lipid to preserve flexibility, breathability and to retain a little moisture within the cell structure of the leather. The inners are exposed to oil and moisture and oil from your feet, so are less likely to crack and dry out. Applying a water resistant coating to the inners might actually impede breathability. So - I think the manufacturer recommendation is the wise way - wipe out the salt and grime with a damp cloth and clean the pores with saddle soap. Happy hiking Rick! I'll be on my third pair of running shoes before you need to re-treat your boots!

Actually from a generic point of view, what you treat leather with depends on how it was tanned.  Oil based tanned leather needs an oil based care product, while veggie base tanned leather responds well to silcone based treatments.



Rick, I've used "Montana Pitch-Blend Leather Oil" on linings with great success, and would recommend nothing else...wear your boots for a few hours to warm them up, take off one boot at a time, and work the oil in with your fingers. Spend an hour on each boot lining, rubbing in maybe 2-3 coats for the initial application. You'll need to judge how many coats to use based on how fast the first coat soaks don't want to saturate the entire depth of the lining, obviously. Set the boot aside for the night, and it'll be good to go the next morning.

Then, about a month or so later, depending on use, rub in 1-2 more coats, and you should be good to go for at least a year.

We need overmywaders to chime in here...he knows more about leather-lined FGL boots than anyone I know...

Basically though, what I have learned from him, and in general, is that every piece of leather likes to be in "a zone". The zone varies widely depending on the origin (what animal it came from), thickness, tanning process, and porosity of the leather. The relative sweatiness and oiliness of your feet also come into play. For all this crap we're spouting, you really might just want to get a few liner-conditioning products and a can of pure turpentine, and find out what "the zone" is for those Pamirs on your feet.

I like a lighter, oil-type product for my liners because I feel it keeps them more breathable...however, you definitely don't want your feet oil/sweat working its way into your liners, or you're eventually gonna have to strip them with turps/saddle soap, and re-impregnate them with good oils. If you've ever seen a pair of old boots with hard, cracked leather liners, it's usually not because they weren't treated with liner-conditioner, but because the conditioner was slowly replaced with foot oil & sweat, and then left to sit a while (e.g., seasonally, like when you switch to pac boots in the winter, or Chacos in the summer).

So I guess the overarching question is: Your boots do need TLC; are you a generous lover?

I have a pair of all leather LOWA's from 1974 that I've had re-soled twice.  Still my favorite backpacking boot but a little heavy for day hikes and the PU midsole, although it lasted a lot longer than an EVA would have, is about done.  I've just common leather cleaners and conditions on them over the years.

I've been looking for a good all leather boot with a PU midsole.  The GTX linings are water dams if you get your boot wet and take forever to dry.

November 24, 2020
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