The Best Way to Waterproof Leather Boots – Advice From an Ex-Soldier

No matter where you live – be it the deserts of Northern Africa, or the jungles of Belize – you’ll probably have to wear boots for at least part of the year.

Since I first watched Indiana Jones wearing his Alden Indie boots as a young child, I just knew I had to have a pair. I tend to prefer leather boots over the synthetic variety because, simply put, the patina that forms on them after years of hard use is just beautiful. But leather boots aren’t without their problems; they’re prone to stretching and – most annoyingly – leaking. Yes, whether you’re wearing a pair of classic desert boots or Wolverines, you’re in for a wet time if you don’t treat them properly.

One thing you don’t want getting wet…

Waterproofing a pair of boots really isn’t rocket science. You can buy a wide range of sealants, sauces, and gels, smear them around a bit, and within a few hours your boots are good to go. The problem is that these methods just don’t last very long, especially after the abuse of a hard winter or months of rain.

So with that in mind, here’s a slightly different method that should make your water proofing efforts last a whole lot longer. Feel free to skip ahead in the video by about a minute. You’ll understand why pretty quickly…

YouTube player

I apologize for the fellows babbling, but I think you’ll find that the rest of the material was pretty useful. After all, soldiers usually know a thing or two about making gear and equipment last a good long time, and boots are certainly a staple of a serviceman’s gear.

Remember, even in the desert it rains sometimes...
Remember, even in the desert it rains sometimes…

Also worth mentioning is that he was using Sno Seal to treat his pair of service boots. You can find the stuff for cheap online or just about anywhere, but as he mentioned in the video, the petroleum jelly combination also works just fine, and would most definitely cost even less money.

Something Better?

There are many ways to waterproof a pair of boots, and I want to hear about them. If you have any suggestions of your own, leave me a comment below! When I was taking a jungle survival course with an ex-soldier from the Guatemalan Special forces, he taught me that his method of keeping his feet dry was to simply puncture holes in the sides of his boots. That’s great and all, but I tend to prefer never letting the water actually get into the boot. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty fond of that.

(Photos by Aaron Escobar and Jeff Warren)




Photo of author


Chad is the co-founder of Unfinished Man, a leading men's lifestyle site. He provides straightforward advice on fashion, tech, and relationships based on his own experiences and product tests. Chad's relaxed flair makes him the site's accessible expert for savvy young professionals seeking trustworthy recommendations on living well.

2 comments on “The Best Way to Waterproof Leather Boots – Advice From an Ex-Soldier”

  1. Nice, useful article & video…I was wondering what type of cool black leather boots those are in that first photo in this article.



Leave a Comment