Monday, November 15, 2010

These Boots Are Make For Walkin' (In Snow)

One of the most important pieces of equipment I have for winter carriage driving are my boots. Working in winter without the proper footwear is, simply put, insane. Because, for me, if I'm warm and dry I can go for hours; If not, I'm screwed. The winter weather in Utah comes in varying degrees of moderately cool, cold, and cold & wet. Cool and cold don’t need much preparation for me. My winter boots are not the stylish type one could pick up at a regular shoe store. Mine are the heavy duty kind you buy at places like Sportsman's Warehouse or Cabela's. In other words, boots heavy enough to use as a weapon.

Not all boots are carriage driving ready. Unlike some winter activities that allow the participant to walk, thus helping circulate blood flow, we do a lot of either sitting or standing around, sometimes in several inches of snow. I have two metal screws in each of my feet due to bunion surgery several years ago, so cold transference happens at a faster rate for my feet then to other, non-metal infused folk. So I take my footwear seriously.

It helps to start with a good brand of boots. I've used Coleman, Sorel and Ranger. The Sorel boots were warm but because I used a charcoal foot warmer, the sole melted, so I do not find them durable. I like the Ranger boots the best because they have removable liners that can be dried separate from the main part of the boot, thus expediting the process. Plus I have yet to melt the bottoms. However, even though the Ranger boots as labeled "Water Proof", they are not, in my experience, 100% waterproof. They are more like "Water resistant." And in my field water resistant doesn't cut it.

First I check my boots for any damage. If I have any separation issues, cuts, or melted spots I use Shoe Goo.
I "repaired" the soles of the melted Sorel boots with Shoe Goo, but I don’t wear them for work because the Shoe Goo soles don’t work as well as an insulator as the original rubber plus there is no longer any tread on them and that makes them slippery to walk in. I keep them at home and wear them when shoveling the driveway.

Next, I remove the liners and laces because they just get in the way. Then I brush off any dirt/shavings/manure still clinging from the last time I wore them.

Then to the suede/leather I apply a product called "Sno-Seal." It is a beeswax based water proofing ointment-like substance that comes in a jar. It works best if the boots are warm because it helps melt the product deep into the leather/suede.

After I apply the Sno-Seal, I let the boots dry for a while, then I apply Kiwi Camp Dry to any fabric areas of the boot.
It is a silicone spray water proofing agent. I usually apply two coats, just to be sure. Then I let then whole thing cure for a day or two and test it under running water.

Finally, I have a warm water-proof pair of boots I can use five nights a week night for the six weeks of Christmas carriage driving, so my feet stay warm and dry.

1 comment:

Lou said...

SD - I love snow seal. I used to down hill ski and wore my hiking boots for all snow activities (except skiing, of course) with gators to protect my jeans. I've had my hiking boots for years, and they are still good to wear!

Stay warm, a cold storm is coming through CA and headed your way!