So the time has come for your trusty Blundstones to prove their worth, to forge on when other boots fall short, to take you places others would only go with Sorels or Kamiks. Leather boots will take you anywhere but you have to take care of them properly. Here’s how you can winterize your Blundstones (or other, lesser boots).
There are a lot of products out there for waterproofing. Mink oil is a popular choice and gives leather a nice shiny finish but I find it doesn’t repel water as well as dubbin. This is because mink oil is 100% natural oil while dubbin is a combination of natural oil and silicone. On the other end of the spectrum is Sno-seal which is a bees-wax product. It is by far the best waterproofing product I’ve used but it made my feet sweat more than the oil products. Dubbin is great for waterproofing, it stops salt stains, it breathes well, it’s easy to apply, it’s cheap, and it makes your blunnies look brand new.
The instructions will tell you to use a cloth but you needn’t bother with that. Just use your fingers. You’ll have better luck getting it into all the seams and creases that way. It’ll also tell you to wipe of the excess. Don’t bother with that either. the excess will soak in or evaporate overnight. I dubbin about once a week, just quickly, to make sure I don’t have any problems with salt stains, which is my next topic.
DEALING WITH SALT
For anyone who doesn’t take care of their boots as well as I do, salt stains are a reality. In Canada we deal with winter like we deal with bland food: cover it with salt. That salt dissolves in water, we walk through the water, our boots get wet, the water evaporates, and the salt is left behind. The best solution, as with most things, is prevention. If you keep your boots waterproof then they won’t get wet and all salt stains will remain on the surface and easy to wipe off. If you don’t dubbin every week then the salt will get in. The best way to get it out is with a solution of vinegar and water in about 1 to 3 parts. Splash it on, rub it with your fingers or a rag, soak it as much as you need to, and the stains should dissolve. And, of course, when you’re done apply another coat of dubbin.
Good boots should last you for many years. If you let salt stains build up, your boots won’t last you through the winter. Five minutes once a week is all it takes to never worry about salt stains again.
INSULATING AGAINST CONDUCTION
There are two ways heat can leave your feet: conduction, and radiation. Conduction is heat transfer by way of physical contact. Blundstone already has provided us with a polyurethane sole which is less conductive than latex or rubber. But there’s more that you can do. Wear wool socks. I love SmartWool or Lorpen ski socks. They create a layer of air between your feet and the leather boot to keep heat from escaping. Also try Blundstone’s sheepskin insoles. They’re wooly and prevent conduction through the soles and into the ground.
INSULATING AGAINST RADIATION
It’s not as bad as it sounds. We lose heat through electro-magnetic radiation. Just like wrapping a potato in tinfoil will make it bake faster, wrapping your foot in something shiny will keep it warmer. The only available method that I’ve seen is thermal insoles. They are usually felt with a reflective mylar layer to stop heat from radiating away from your foot. You could wrap your whole foot in mylar but then it wouldn’t breathe, it would get wet, and you’d be cold. You can get thermal insoles at Dollarama or, if you like your insoles, you can just cut tinfoil to the shape of your boots and put it underneath.
Using these tricks, I have worn my Blundstones out in weather as cold as -20 celsius with very comfortable feet. Admittedly, sometimes it gets colder than that. Sometimes you need more coverage than Blundstones can offer. It hurts me to say so, but sometimes you need bigger, warmer boots, like your Sorels or Kamiks. They’re rubber, knee high, and rated for -40 celsius. But you probably aren’t going to encounter those conditions often, if at all so I say save a cow, or a rubber plant. Make your one and only pair of boots go farther.
My question to you: what do you do to keep your toes warm on cold winter days?