If you have smooth leather boots, bags, or other gear that you want to waterproof Huile de Vison, Mink Oil, is hard to beat. It is combined with beeswax for a better consistency to work into leather.
Don’t use this dressing on suede or fabric boots. The tub says that it can be used on plastics. I suspect that this should be done sparingly like applying ArmorAll to your car’s plastic parts. The price has gone up considerably since I purchased it. It is now $4.99 for a 3 oz tub.
It makes your hands really waxy, but just do a couple of washings afterwards with dish soap or grease cutter.
Use as little as possible, but enough to thoroughly soak into every pore of the leather. Work it well into the seams. Let the boots sit in a warm spot, or overnight, and then wipe off the excess with a lint-free rag or a paper towel. The quality of the clean-up rag can be matched with the quality of the item you are cleaning. Your hiking boots don’t really need to look parade ready!
Not only does the mink oil do a good job of keeping water out, but it softens and protects the leather. When I switched to using this dressing instead of wax based liquid applications. the same style boot that had been wearing out in two years is now on year number four. The mink oil kept the boot from cracking across the top where my instep meets my toes and the boots get creased.
If you look at the picture the boot on the right is dried out, and not waterproof at all. Even a 20 minute walk in wet grass soaks through. The left boot has now been treated with the mink oil, and you can see how much better conditioned the leather looks. (Don’t worry, I also did the right one!). I could probably now walk through a small stream and not get wet feet.
It has a pleasant waxy smell, not pungent and musky like an actual mink smells.
Of course, any waterproofing will wear off and the boots will need to be re-treated, but depending on weather and use conditions, mink oil treatments last longer than anything else I have tried.