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Re: [pct-l] re: waterproofing

At 11:08 AM 3/23/98 PST, Ken Marlow wrote:
>A few months ago, Backpacker magazine did a review on waterproofing 
>materials on boots. I don't recall the month, but its the issue 
>(appropriately enough) with the boots on the cover. They put all the most 

The "Backtalk" section December 1997 Backpacker contains some stuff that
calls the "Boot Camp" issue into question.  In particular, Backpacker states:

As for the leather used in our lab tests, we assumed it was untreated and
ful-grain because that's what we requested from the supplier.  As it turned
out, the samples did have a slight silicone top coat, unbeknownst to us.
As pounted out by Gutting, that could impact test results.


There's a lot more to the boot leather/waterproofing story than initially
met our collective eye, so a followup report is in the works.

Gutting, who is the vice president of Atsko/Sno-Seal, Inc. said:

You state that "two out of three control swatches lasted almost to the
waterproof standard of 15,000 flexes."  Untreated leather absorbs water
like a sponge, and lasts only 100 or so flexes before leaking.  This should
have set off warning bells and made you realize your "untreated control"
leather was treated, probably at the factory, with silicone.  Our tests
have shown that silicone-treated leather withstands 10,000 to 15,000 flexes
before leaking.  What does this mean for your test?  Only silicone - or
floropolymer- based waterproofing treatments should be used on
factory-silicone-treated leather, and only after the factory-applied
waterproofing starts to wear off.  All other waterproofing products -
waxes, oils, fats, or combination treatments - cannot penetrate leather
treated with silicone.  It's like trying to waterprof a sheet of glass; the
treatment slides off the pre-treated leather.  Sno-Seal is a wax-based
product, so obviously it fared poorly if applied to silicone-treated leather.

All that said, I've been happy with the Tectron stuff (a floropolymer).
But all it really does is get the water to run off for a while.  In
persistent rain, or when walking through wet underbrush, my boots fill up
from the top anyway.  I've mostly decided to enjoy wet feet.

-- Jim Mayer

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