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  • rcaffin
    As promised before Xmas. Html version in test folder as soon as I have posted this. ... Owner Review - Sno-Seal Roger Caffin Product Information
    Message 1 of 3 , Jan 3, 2004
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      As promised before Xmas.
      Html version in test folder as soon as I have posted this.
      Owner Review - Sno-Seal
      Roger Caffin

      Product Information
      Manufacturer: Atsko Inc
      Manufacturer URL: <a href="http://www.atsko.com">www.atsko.com</a>
      Year of manufacture: n/a
      Net weight: 7 oz (22 g)
      Cost: US$5.50 (7 oz)
      Container: Round '8 fl oz' pot with screw lid
      Review Date: 6-Jan-2004

      Product description
      This is one of those 'trade secrets' known to all experienced walkers
      and cross-country skiers, and many other outdoors people too I
      imagine. It claims to be just beeswax, but fairly obviously it must
      contain a few other more volatile ingredients as well - if only
      because pure beeswax is much harder than Sno-Seal. Its main use is
      preserving and waterproofing leather, especially boots, saddles,
      luggage, bags, coats, gloves and most anything else made of leather.
      That said, it has had other uses too.

      Product Background
      Leather is <i>not</i> engineered to make waterproof boots. It is the
      hide of an animal (if you didn't know already), and it has to do
      three things:
      Hold the animals insides all together
      Stretch and flex

      The first requirement means that it can at times be quite strong -
      good enough for boots and other things. The second means that things
      made of leather are usually far more comfortable to wear than things
      made of plastic - I have cross country ski boots in mind here. The
      third is a problem for us: anything which breathes can usually leak
      as well, at least once it passes on from its original owner. So
      leather is wonderful for cross country ski boots and mountaineering
      boots, but by itself you will get wet feet. In addition, once the
      original owner is no longer supporting it, leather can degrade over
      time if not 'looked after'.
      One way of keeping leather supple is to keep it wet. This
      approximates what the original owner did of course, but unfortunately
      that was not quite what we had in mind for boots and so on. The
      purpose of keeping it wet is to reduce the internal friction between
      the fibres, and even to allow the fibres to retain some flexibility.
      Another way of looking after the fibres is to use another lubricant,
      and various oils have been marketed for this. Unfortunately, many of
      them give too much flexibility and allow the leather to stretch
      badly. Fortunately, in between fluid oils and dryness we have
      beeswax, and Sno-Seal.
      Sno-Seal is a bit like boot polish, but much better. Boot polish does
      look after the leather a bit, but its main aim is to sit on the
      surface of the leather and keep a polish on it. Sno-Seal goes much
      further into the leather and does not really worry about the surface
      appearance. But it does a much better job of keeping the leather
      supple and, if applied in sufficient quantity, it also keeps the
      leather waterproof.

      Product Use
      Using Sno-Seal is simple. I get both it and the leather object nicely
      warm, and rub the Sno-Seal into the leather generously. In the
      process I usually get a bit on myself, but it is not noxious and does
      actually have a 'good' smell. It takes a bit of soap to wash it off
      afterwards. When this has been done many times the leather develops
      what can only be described as a deep glow. It will usually darken as
      well, so this must be borne in mind with fashion goods. If I want to
      be really fancy I can also apply standard boot polish every now and
      then to keep the surface appearance up. I have done this to my Scarpa
      XC ski boots for well over ten years now, and they still look
      The warmth bit should not be overdone: I leave my boots and the Sno-
      Seal in the sun on a hot day, or <i>very gently</i> warm them some
      distance from a fire to about the same temperature. Just warm to the
      touch is about right. It helps if the leather is moderately dry, but
      not bone dry in my opinion. I also use it on my pigskin 'Riggers'
      gloves which I use around the farm. Without Sno-Seal they may last
      for about 3 months before cracking and wearing out; with Sno-Seal
      they last for a few years. To put Sno-Seal on them I just keep
      rubbing my hands together like under a hot air hands drier.
      To repeat: it is not expensive, so one can be generous in the amount

      Other Benefits
      Two benefits are obvious from the above: the leather is preserved and
      cracking is stopped, and the leather is made more waterproof. Oils
      can do this, but they can also allow the leather to stretch, which
      does not happen with Sno-Seal. Oils can also evaporate fairly
      quickly, which beeswax does not. They can also leach out and stain
      fabrics in contact with the leather, while Sno-Seal has never done
      this in my experience. Animal fats have been used (I am told), but
      they run the risk of becoming rancid in warm weather. Other waxes
      could be used I imagine, but beeswax seems to have particularly good
      flexible properties. Atsko, the makers of Sno-Seal, claim that it
      does not stop the leather from breathing. Well, that may be so for
      the first few years, but I suspect my XC ski boots have enough
      beeswax in them now that there won't be much breathability left. Not
      mind you that I am complaining: they continue to give very good
      service in our wet Australian snow fields, even surviving fording
      flooded rivers once.

      There are a couple of things to remember about Sno-Seal. They are not
      bad things, but it helps to be aware of them.
      Using Sno-Seal on suede is going to make it a <i>lot</i> darker. It
      will also make it a lot more waterproof of course. So yes, I do
      sometimes use it on the split leather or suede found on some joggers
      and approach shoes, but the first one or two applications will really
      soak it up. For very light runners with chrome-tanned suede leather
      trim I usually don't bother: their life is too short and the chrome
      tanning process lasts long enough.
      I did try to put Sno-Seal on some very new leather boots once, and
      failed completely. I found that some boot manufacturers now put a
      polyurethane coating on the surface of the leather to give it
      increased water resistance. This works: the Sno-Seal just won't go
      in. This is not a problem: I save the Sno-Seal until that PU layer
      has worn off.
      Some footwear is made with a 'breathable' layer inside, ostensibly to
      stop your feet from getting wet. Materials used include Gore-Tex,
      Simpatex, XYZTex and so on. The experienced walker will realise three
      problems here. First of all, regardless of the claims of the
      manufacturers, most feet sweat too much and overload the 'breathable'
      layer from the inside. Feet still get wet. Secondly, there is a large
      hole at the top of the boot, and water can get in here (like when
      fording flooded rivers). Thirdly, such a layer does nothing to
      protect and preserve the leather, so I still have to use something
      like Sno-Seal on the leather. What do you think happens to
      the 'breathable' layer when I have put the 10th layer of Sno-Seal on
      the boot? Right: the leather gets completely clogged up and any
      breathability fails. Atsko claim otherwise, but having seen how
      loaded the leather on my ski boots is, I don't believe them. My
      conclusion is that these breathable layers are a pure marketing
      gimmick designed to allow the vendors to charge more. I place more
      faith in the Sno-Seal.

      Other Uses
      Sno-Seal really is mainly just a harmless beeswax. This means it can
      also be used for things like chapped hands, emergency lubrication,
      waterproofing repairs to gear in the field, cracked lips, binding
      heavy thread and so on. It also makes a fair finish for wooden
      articles instead of paint or varnish, especially if several coats are
      used. Quite a nice glow can be had from a nice bit of dark timber.

      Likes Dislikes
      It works Washing my hands afterwards
      It's reliable

      Would we keep using this?
      We do.

      Biographical information
      Name: Roger Caffin
      Age: 58
      Gender: M
      Height: 1.66 m (5' 5")
      Weight: 63 kg (138 lb)
      Email address: r dot caffin at acm dot org
      City, State, Country: Sydney, NSW, Australia

      Backpacking Background:
      I started bushwalking (the Australian term) when I was about 14 yrs
      old, took up rock climbing and
      remote exploration walking at University, later on took up ski
      touring and canyoning. These days I do all my trips with just my
      wife. Our preferred walking trips in Australia are long ones: about a
      week in the general Blue Mts (east coast of Australia) and Snowy Mts
      (alpine) regions, and up to two months long in Europe and the UK. We
      favour fairly hard technical trips in remote country and prefer to
      travel fast and light. Our ski touring trips are usually 5-7 days
      long as well, with full packs and tents. The Australian ski fields
      are not very cold, so the snow is often wet. In between we still do
      fairly long day trips: it's a form of relaxation. Having discovered
      that 20 kg (44 lb) packs are no longer fun, we have become believers
      in ultra-lightweight walking. Typically we carry an ultra-lightweight
      tent (we need full insect proofing here), Therm-a-rest mattresses
      (for comfort), lightweight sleeping bags, lightweight packs, a
      lightweight butane/propane stove, light climbing rope (frequently
      used) and very light parkas. I would carry about 12-14 kg (26-31 lb)
      total for a week, my wife would carry a bit less (more when skiing of
      course). I dislike allowing good gear to fail, so I Sno-Seal my ski
      boots after every trip..

      I am also the maintainer of the Australian aus.bushwalking FAQ web
    • Graham Blamey
      ... Hi Roger, Thanks for your Owner s Review. Do not worry if nothing happens with it for a few days. All our editors are volunteers and your report will be
      Message 2 of 3 , Jan 3, 2004
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        --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "rcaffin" <r.caffin@t...>
        > As promised before Xmas.

        Hi Roger,
        Thanks for your Owner's Review. Do not worry if nothing happens with
        it for
        a few days. All our editors are volunteers and your report will be
        to an official edit within seven days. If you have not had a response
        an Edit Moderator via the list within this timeframe, please let us
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        a better review, as well as making things easier for the official
        Please put REVISED at the start of your re-post, if you take this

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      • Andrew Priest
        Hi Roger Thanks for your Owner Review. Reads well as always. When you are ready please upload to
        Message 3 of 3 , Jan 12, 2004
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          Hi Roger

          Thanks for your Owner Review. Reads well as always. When you are ready
          please upload to
          or Reviews > Footwear > Care Products > Atsko Sno-Seal.

          When you upload the HTML copy of your Owner Review please click the radio
          button labelled, Owner Review. The file name is not relevant.

          Andrew Priest
          Senior Edit Moderator

          At 05:31 PM 03/01/2004, you wrote:
          >As promised before Xmas.
          >Html version in test folder as soon as I have posted this.
          >Owner Review - Sno-Seal
          >Roger Caffin

          http://BackpackGearTest.org : The most comprehensive interactive gear
          reviews and tests on the planet

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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