LONG TERM REPORT - Atsko Sno-Seal - Richard Lyon
- Html version with photo will be posted to Tests folder shortly.
LONG TERM REPORT
SNO-SEAL® ORIGINAL BEESWAX WATERPROOFING
March 31, 2006
Personal Information and Backpacking Background: I've been
backpacking for 45 years on and off, and regularly in the Rockies
since 1986. I do a weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-
day trips. I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000
to 13000 ft (1500 - 4000 m). I prefer base camp backpacking, a long
hike in with day trips from camp, but I do my share of forced
marches too. Though always looking for ways to reduce weight, I'm
not yet a lightweight hiker, and I usually choose an extra pound or
two over foregoing camp conveniences I've come to expect.
Male, 59 years old
6' 4" (1.9 m) tall, 200 lb (91 kg)
Dallas, Texas, USA
rlyon AT gibsondunn DOT com
Manufacturer: Atsko, Inc.
Provided in: 8 fl oz (237 ml) jar. Other available sizes and
product variations are listed on Atsko's website,
http://www.atsko.com/, and in my Initial Report.
MSRP: USD 6.95
Net weight of jar, per product label: 7 oz (200 g)
Total weight of jar, as measured: 8 oz (227 g)
Contents: "Contains no silicone." The only ingredients actually
mentioned are beeswax and "a solvent."
Warranty: None found on website or container.
Recommended uses (from Atsko's website and other promotional
materials, with my one comment in brackets): All "split, sanded,
suede [but see following paragraph], rough and recycled leather";
specific products identified are boots, gloves, chaps, belts, hats,
harnesses, saddles, and horse blankets. Oiled cotton clothing. As
a wax finish for wood. "To fill stitching holes in tents." Horses'
hooves. "Severely dry and abused skin."
Atsko does say that Sno-Seal will provide necessary waterproofing
for suede, but goes on "Not recommended for suede leather. If used
on suede it will darken and flatten the nap, changing the
appearance." As reported previously, Danner Boots, whose new suede-
napped Light IIs I purchased last fall, recommends against Sno-Seal
for the same reason.
Additional information about how to apply Sno-Seal is included in my
Further testing. Except for one instance noted in the second
following paragraph, I have not applied additional Sno-Seal to any
of my test items. That one re-application came after all reported
Since filing my Field Report I have worn my ski "Sprint Pak" on two
additional in-bounds ski days. No precipitation on either day, but
the usual exposure to snow when I fell (at least once) and the grit
and grime of ski lifts, and I had a leak in the water bottle carried
inside the pack. Sno-Seal kept the leather panel completely dry,
though the adjacent Cordura portions of the pack were wet or icy
from the leak. As before, there were no water or salt stains on the
One Friday evening I placed my normal weekend footgear, two pairs of
Timberland shoes that I had earlier treated with Sno-Seal, in a
bathtub and then filled the tub with water up to the cuffs of the
lower-cut shoes. When I inspected the shoes next morning the inside
of all four was completely dry. Later I had the chance to test Sno-
Seal on these shoes in the real world. North Texas's long drought
ended with colossal rains one March weekend, over nine inches (23
cm) near my house. While walking the dogs during and after the
downpour I wore a pair of slip-ons that (as noted in my Field
Report) received only one application of Sno-Seal. My feet were dry
where protected by the shoes, though my socks were soaked from the
rain and standing water. I wore the other pair, lace-up Chukka-
style boots, to inspect the flood damage to my basement and lower
level of my house. Though the shoes were caked with mud and silt,
the waterproofing performed flawlessly. As a precautionary measure
I re-applied Sno-Seal after cleaning off these boots so they'll be
ready for the next rain.
Continuing to break in my leather Scarpa hiking boots, I gave them
the bathtub test, with results identical to those with the
Timberlands. After retrieving them from the tub I put the boots on,
restrung the laces, and walked to the end of my street and back,
about 1.5 miles (2.4 km). The boots did not feel soggy or sodden,
and I noticed no additional weight that could be attributed to
Finally, I selected a pair of medium brown penny loafers and applied
a dosage of Sno-Seal to the right shoe on each of three successive
Saturdays. Here is a photo that indicates a slight darkening of the
treated shoe, bearing out Atsko's warning about use on lighter
Here are my observations (in italics) on the test criteria I set out
in my Initial Report:
Effectiveness of waterproofing. Will Sno-Seal actually prevent
absorption of water and consequent increase in weight, as Atsko
claims? In all instances the answer was an unqualified "yes." Will
my feet stay warm and dry? Except for leaching down from socks that
get wet above the shoe cuff, yes. Will the Gore-Tex lose any
breathability? None noticed on any of the three pairs of Gore-Tex
boots that I tested.
What's the proper dosage? I've always applied it once, let the
boots dry, then apply a second (and sometimes a third) round. I'll
test one pair of shoes with a single application only. My limited
testing on this point indicated that a single treatment suffices.
How long does a treatment last? The shoes that receive a single
application will be examined for "leaks." No leaks noticed on any
shoes. Four months may be inadequate testing for a firm conclusion
on this, but it coincides with my long experience wearing shoes and
boots treated with Sno-Seal.
Preservation. I shall examine older shoes and my ski pack for any
sign of leather rot or deterioration. I'll examine the ski pack for
salt stains. Outstanding results on this criterion; if anything the
treated leather is softer, more pliable, and less dry than other
untreated shoes. As noted in my Initial Report, I used Sno-Seal
regularly on a pair of Danner leather boots for many years. Through
two re-solings and countless miles through mud, dust, rain, and
snow, the leather portions of the shoe uppers remained in good
condition. I wish I could have had them re-soled again.
Cosmetic effect. I'll check each pair of shoes and the ski-boot
panels carefully for darkening of the leather. Some darkening on
the treated shoe in the test pair, supporting my earlier
observations on the Danner boots and Atsko's warning.
Sno-Seal is reasonably priced, easy to apply, and does all that its
manufacturer claims. In several decades of outdoor activities I
haven't found its peer for waterproofing leather. And it doubles as
a hand salve! I can't think of a bad word to say about it. Sno-Seal
will remain a mainstay in my gear closet for years to come.
Thanks again to Atsko and BackpackGearTest for the opportunity to
evaluate this old friend.