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Written by Brad Heath
The majority of cowboy boots are made out of leather. Leather cowboy boots are made to hold up in wet wintery conditions, as most of them are water-resistant. However, let’s be clear that leather cowboy boots are not waterproof.
Leather cowboy boots can withstand small amounts of water, but can become damaged if they are exposed to excess moisture for long periods of time.
When leather boots are continuously wet, the boots can become stained, wrinkled, and begin to grow mildew. Prolonged exposure to water also causes the leather material to warp so that the boot doesn’t properly fit your foot.
An occasional rain is one thing, but snowy-wet weather conditions is another beast that your cowboy boots have to withstand. When it comes to wearing cowboy boots in snow, you’ll want to look for a few factors:
On traditional leather cowboy boots, the soles can be pretty slick. When you mix a slick sole with ice or snow, it could easily lead to an injury. For snow cowboy boots, we suggest finding a boot that has a textured sole to give you more grip in winter conditions.
Not only do cowboy boots for snow need to be waterproof, they also need to be stain proof. Snow and ice that gets on your boots will leave water stains.
If you’re outside for long amounts of time in the cold weather during the winter, you may also want to consider getting a boot that is insulated. If you’ve ever worked outside in the cold, you know that when your feet are cold, your whole body is cold. An insulated boot will make sure that you stay warm while in the frigid temperatures.
When someone asks my go-to choice for waterproof cowboy boots, I automatically tell them to shop for the Ariat brand. These leather cowboy boots have a rubber grip sole to keep you secure in wintery conditions, and they’re waterproof. These boots can be worn for hours and hours and they’re extremely comfortable and durable too.
The heel is 1.5” and the shaft is 11.5” from the arch.
Another personal favorite of mine and a close second is the Wolverine brand cowboy boot. These boots are also 100% waterproof with a grip rubber sole. The heel on these is a bit taller, 1.75” with a 1.25” platform. The shaft is around 11” from the arch. I like these because of how sturdy they are. The boots are comfortable to wear for long periods of time. If you have a wider foot, these offer a nice wide fit too.
We all know that sometimes brand new cowboy boots are not the most comfortable. If you’ve just purchased a pair of boots for winter weather and need to get back to work quickly, there are a few hacks you can use to break them in fast.
The best way to stretch new leather cowboy boots quickly is to use steam to your advantage. A great way to do this right in your own home is to hold the boot upside down over boiling water on the stove. As the steam rises into the boot, the leather material is able to expand.
Once your boot is warmed all the way through, you can remove it from the steam and allow it to cool down enough that you can touch it. Then, you should put your boots on for at least 30 minutes and walk around them. The warm moisture inside of the boots allows the boots to shape to the exact shape of your foot and voilà! Your boots are broken in - in less than an hour.
Boot stretchers are inexpensive and they really work. Although this takes a bit longer than the steaming method, it’s still very time efficient. I’ve found that placing my boots on a stretcher for around 8 hours usually does the trick.
This is a great trick if you’re breaking in your boots in the snow or cold weather. You can simply place a really thick pair of socks on, or several pairs of regular socks, and have your boots stretched out in a day's work. This isn’t the most comfortable method, but hey, it will keep your feet warm.
If you can’t afford to buy a pair of boots specifically for winter weather, there are few precautions that you can take to your standard leather cowboy boots to give them the best shot at longevity.
Leather boots have to be dried slowly. (Yes, this means that your fireplace or your space heater is not the best way to dry your cowboy boots.) When leather is exposed to high heat levels, it can cause damage similar to water damage. It’s best to slow-dry your boots so that the leather is able to retain its shape.
If you do have a couple of pairs of boots, keep them rotated when you’re wearing them in snow or ice. If you wear the same pair of boots day after day and continually expose them to moisture, they won’t be able to dry properly and will damage quickly.
Applying boot conditioner to leather boots helps to protect your leather, make it last longer, and it provides a moisture barrier too.
This tip is a little bit iffy, because cowboy boots are such a big investment. There are lots of waterproof sprays out there, but make sure when you are applying something new to your boots that you apply a very small amount to a test area first. You never know how certain ingredients will react to your boots, and the last thing you want to do is ruin a nice pair of boots trying to waterproof them.
A lesser-known option for waterproofing leather cowboy boots is using 100% mink oil. Mink oil has fatty acids that act as a moisture barrier on leather boots. All that you have to do is massage mink oil onto your leather boots, wipe off any excess, and allow the boots to dry slowly and naturally. Again, it is suggested to apply a small amount to test how the oil reacts on your boot material.
You may find this video helpful on How to Waterproof and Condition Leather Boots:
Salt is extremely damaging to leather. If your boots are exposed to snow salt, to prevent damage, it’s best to clean them as soon as possible.
Cold weather does not damage leather boots; but it can cause the leather to become rigid. To keep your boots in optimal shape, keep them conditioned during cold weather months.
The measure of how safe cowboy boots are on ice depends on the material of the sole. Some soles are extremely slick and will be dangerous on ice or in snow. It’s important to find a boot that provides some traction.
If you have waterproofed your leather cowboy boots they should be waterproofed again as soon as you notice that water is no longer beading on the surface. If you wear your boots daily during the winter, you’ll probably need to perform your waterproof routine at least once a month.
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