OR for Sno-Seal - Roger caffin
- As promised before Xmas.
Html version in test folder as soon as I have posted this.
Owner Review - Sno-Seal
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
It works Washing my hands afterwards
Would we keep using this?
Name: Roger Caffin
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
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
- --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "rcaffin" <r.caffin@t...>
> As promised before Xmas.Hi Roger,
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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.
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
http://BackpackGearTest.org : The most comprehensive interactive gear
reviews and tests on the planet
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]