by Victor Wanchena
One thing lowers my spirits faster on a ride than anything else; cold, wet feet. There’s just something about the clammy feeling that sucks the enjoyment out of riding for me. Fully waterproof riding boots do solve this, but often times aren’t practical. Whether commuting, running errands or just out for a quick spin, I don’t always want or need to wear heavy, dedicated riding boots. But when the weather turns wet, regular leather boots and shoes soak up water like a sponge.
To combat soaked leather and wet feet I tried all manners of leather protectors. Silicones and creams, spray-ons and rub-ins, they were all ineffective at best and a waste of money overall. The rub-in creams seemed to do little if anything. Silicones would repel a fine mist of water, but would become overwhelmed in serious rain. Silicone seemed to need frequent applications to keep it working. I will spare you the names of these snake oils in hopes that you keep them out of your mind.
My search for a leather weatherproofing finally led me to try Nikwax Aqueous Wax. I was skeptical to say the least and sure that it would behave no different than any other leather treatment, but willing to give it a go. As the Aqueous moniker implies, the Nikwax treatment actually uses water as the carrier of its wax solution. Given leather’s ability to soak up water, this seems a logical way to get the weatherproofing to where it needs to go; in the leather. Simply take your clean leather boots or shoes and apply an even coat of the Aqueous Wax, allow it to soak in for several minutes, then wipe off the excess. That’s it. No warming your shoes in the oven then frantically trying to work in some alchemist’s potion. Nikwax lets water do all the work for you.
Still skeptical after a much too easy application, I waited for a nice rain to give it a test. It wasn’t a long wait. When I picked up this month’s test ride, the Victory Kingpin, I found myself running through three-days of solid rain. I am happy and pleased to report that the Nikwax performed admirably through this worst-case scenario. I had applied it to my pair of Redwing logging style boots. On the Kingpin, with no protection for my feet, they lasted 30 minutes before becoming damp. Quite good in my opinion, but better yet was beyond that they never truly got wet. Once home, the boots seemed to dry much quicker. On a faired bike, I went hours with no hint of dampness. I have yet to reapply the Aqueous Wax, but figure that every couple of months would be sufficient.
Available from the Aerostich Rider Wearhouse or 800-222-1994, Nikwax Aqueous Wax sells for $7 and contains enough solution for many applications.