By: Bowhunting Biologist Wade Nolan

Just a week ago I was in Alaska’s Prince William Sound watching 60-foot Humpbacked whales breech (leap into the air like a rainbow trout). What made it most interesting is that I watched this from my 14-foot Zodiac. Once a nearby whale sounded (dive) and his 16-foot wide tail fluke stood up vertical in the air giving me the impression that I was in a small boat…, which I was. We camped on an island, caught and ate fresh fish, mostly Pacific cod and ling and watched Mountain goats out on the steep rocky face of Cape Resurrection as they monitored their new kids. I was adventuring out there for no specific reason but to be there. It’s one of my favorite places on earth.


Alaska's Prince William Sound borders the Gulf of Alaska and spans thousands of miles of salt water wilderness graced with towering mountains and calving glaciers.

Alaska's Prince William Sound borders the Gulf of Alaska and spans thousands of miles of salt water wilderness graced with towering mountains and calving glaciers.

Alaska, like Pennsylvania this year, is a wet place in the spring. If you are an outdoorsman and you get into the outback you better have a plan to keep your feet dry. Wet feet ruin an adventure, be it a spring turkey hunt with your bow or a spring black bear hunt in Alaska. Wet is wet and it seeps into your enjoyment like a bad dream. Like most problems, there is a solution.

I stumbled onto this solution about 30 years ago while prepping for a Dall sheep hunt in the Chugach Mountains. We were backpacking in 18 miles to a very inaccessible valley that was full of good rams. The barrier that kept hunters out was a canyon where the roaring creek filled the narrow valley from side to side, plus it was glacial and the color of tea with cream. At times the water would be up to our pockets.

I had a great pair of new Danner boots and a friend had recommended that I treat them with Sno-Seal prior to the hunt. I was a newbie to Sno-Seal but I bought some in Anchorage and followed the directions…twice. I wanted to be sure that my leather boots were going to be waterproof for this ten-day hunt.

I had talked two other guys into going with me and we trudged through water for two days, largely bushwhacking with heavy packs and rifles and finally arrived in sheep heaven. One of my partners had his boot sole duct taped to the boot by the time we arrived. The other had wet feet for a week as his boots soaked up water like a wet diaper. I once figured that if his boots picked up a pound of water his legs carried about 36 tons of boot water on that hunt if he took about 2000 steps a mile. I on the other hand, had worked my plan.

An Alaskan Dall Sheep Ram plus dry feet.

My Danners had been treated with Sno-Seal and the leather didn’t soak up water. The stitching had also drawn in the bees wax compound and after one day of sun they were dry and comfortable for the entire trip. Danners also never fall apart. It is part of my plan on buying the best and then being able to rely on them.
The Sheep horns are looking at me in my office at this moment and they bring back some great memories. I learned a lot on that first sheep hunt. Some of what I learned I repeated just yesterday, with a new set of Danner boots and Sno-Seal.

I’m going to share a secret I learned decades ago that will still resonate decades from now for you. Before I tell you how let me tell you the why or the science behind this secret. Leather is porous and left to its own devices it will soak up water. Although most boot leather is silicone tanned that only means that the natural oils are replaced with a silicone/solvent mix that keeps the boot leather flexible. The problem with silicone or any boot oil you may daub on your boot is that oil moves in response to water. The technical term is that it “migrates” through the leather. The capillary action of water will cause it to be pulled into the leather, forcing the oil or grease onto your socks. I’m sure you’ve seen those “wet orange socks.”

Step one-Heat up boot.

The “why” or science concerning Sno-Seal is really remarkably simple. It is made of bee’s wax compound and some proprietary solvents. Bee’s wax melts at about 146- degrees, which is hot. The solvents allow the bee’s wax to be drawn into the leather’s pores and fibers when heated. Once it is in place it can’t move unless you heat the boot up to this relatively high temperature, which you won’t under normal circumstances. This means it stays put and provides long-term waterproofing. Furthermore, due to the unique qualities of leather, a boot can still breathe with Sno-Seal in place. This is important with a Gortex lined boot so foot perspiration can escape.

Here is the plan to follow. Get some Sno-Seal in that familiar blue and white can. Pull the laces out of your boots and warm them up with a hair dryer. Monitor the heating process. Don’t cook them. Although I’ve heard of guys setting the oven at 120 degrees and heating them on the rack…I’m not that brave. I’m dyslexic and I’d find some fishing lures that need organized and forget about the cooking boots. A hair dryer works fine. Blow some heat into the boot and warm up the interior.

Step two- Apply Sno-Seal to boot and be sure to cover all stitching.

Next get a small sponge or a rag (I use my fingers) and apply a coating of Sno-Seal to your entire boot. Pay special attention to sewn seams as Sno-Seal will be drawn into the stitching preserving and waterproofing them.

Step three- Add heat to exterior and melt in the Sno-Seal.

Now crank up that hair dryer again and “paint” the heat on high over the boot melting in the wax. You will see it being drawn into the leather as if it is water being drawn into a dry cloth. Spend some time heating and get the boot to absorb the Sno-Seal all over including the tongue. I remove the excess with a rag. Re-lace and go adventuring or hunting with dependable light, waterproof boots. Now is a perfect time to invest in your boots.

Adventure guys like you deserve dry feet.

For the Best in boot care go to: ATSKO