Somehow, despite what you see in this picture, I still have both pairs of boots, and both still are waterproof. I still wear them both for work, but I do suspect I'll need a new pair in the next year for hiking (Dear Danner Boot Company......).
But for now, they need to be kept intact, especially my Mountain Lights. It was clear from the texture of the leather - which was starting to crack - that a simple rub from my favorite sealer, Sno-Seal, would not cure what was ailing the boots. But in a few not-at-all-sketchy forums across the internet, such as AK47.net and Thumpertalk.com, folks have spoken of opening up leather boot pores with a heat gun and hot wax. I thought about it over the last year and finally decided to give it a try. Here's how it went, and how you can try it to (warning: heat guns are dangerous, do not ever use them, that is all).
First, you need a heat gun.
|Bad call: $190 price tag = ridiculous|
|Bad call: $8 price tag, catches on fire a little bit. Yeah, I bought this one.|
|Probably the right call: $22 price tag, probably no electrical fires.|
Alright, let's get nasty. Apply wax generously to your moisture-starved boot. Remember: it's going to drip somewhere when you start heating it up. Keep in mind what's downhill from your boot in your hand (i.e. hopefully not your living room carpet). Push the ball/plug of wax aggressively into the boot - you don't want the whole thing to move like a glacier when under heat. Turn the heat gun on LOW. The wax will start to melt, and then will quickly move downhill. Trust me.
If you're like me, you'll be shocked at exactly how much melted wax your boots will take - in my case, at least four times as much as a conventional boot waxing. Keep heating, and rub with a rag at the same time to help give yourself pretty universal cover. Work hard to get that toe box resealed - many splits from the sole occur here because the leather or stitchings can dry rot.
Give it a rest. Make sure the boots have adequate moisture, and let them sit for at least three days in a cool, dry place. The boot will actually sweat out a little moisture, which could be water, old sealant residue, new sealant residue, etc, so you will want to wipe them up again. Picture to the left is immediately after waterproofing. Following picture is from five days after waterproofing.
You can see the difference in the boots from having sat still, already waterproofed, and "figuring themselves out" from a hydrostatic standpoint. (Keep in mind that these particular boots have notched over a thousand miles in a half-dozen countries). And there you have it! Waterproofing your boots with a heat gun!