I felt compelled to write this guide because of all the misinformation about water proofing moccasins on the web! I have been wearing mocassins for over 60 years and I have many customers ask me about this problem! People if you wear mocassins in water you are going to have wet feet! The only thing you can do is dry them out and start over. That is exactly what Indian people did,that is what all our fore fathers did before the invention of rubber. Actually one of the best all weather moccasins is coated with a nice layer of rubber! You can keep your feet dry in those. Crepe and other soles as you see on these boots help. Also you might notice they have a different toe stitch that is not as open. I will get you a better photo later if you can't see the difference.
Historically our forefathers also had different coatings they used,pitch the same pitch from the pine sap they treated bark canoes with to prevent leaks,bear grease,tallow,almost any waxy substance will slow water down for a bit until it washes out.
I knew a Odawa Elder who was a life long trapper who would "pitch" his mocassin boots every winter and put rubber bands around them from car inner tubes around the feet to provide traction! He would dry them every night by the fire and pitch them the next day with his special formula and head into rainy or snowy weather to walk his trapline.
The fats from next to the hide of most animals works in differing degrees, mink, skunk,coon,deer, everybody had their own formula to coat their footwear and the truth is the early people would rub just about any thing on a mocassin or mocassin boot to keep it from absorbing water. As soon as the grease or substance added to coat the leather washes out your feet are going to get wet. They are also going to get very slippery without a tread of some type on the sole. I nearly broke my neck several times taken chances wearing soft sole mocassins year around without tread on snow or ice,and if you talk to
moccasin year arounders they will all tell you the same story! That is why modern mocassin makers in the Northern Climes put a sole like this on the Mocassins.
If you see authentic historical photos you will see feet wrapped in just about anything to provide a tread.
Pitched rawhide cross strips provided some traction. The mocassins in historical foul weather are not usually a pretty sight if you can even see them. Winters were tough for our forefathers but they took their time moving about in them!
You don't see much of the pretty beadwork in the mud and snow either.
Most of those pretty moccasins are seal skin muk luks and if they are sewn properly they do not leak!
I am not talking about contemporary Hollywood" mukluks", they are just that Hollywood" mukluks" pretty marketable but little real foul weather fighting substance! Sealskin or fish skin is the only real mukluk!But you cannot import the fine sealskin products into the U.S.A. anymore thanks to the severely damaging anti fur and seal laws passed in the politically correct 70'and 80's. Also wearing a moccasin in snow is a lot different than wearing one in water. You can repel some snow if it isn't too wet and the weather is freezing or below. The frozen boot itself provides a coating! the old timers were more in close with actual temperatures than what most of us with modern heating systems are.Many of them could read temps accurately without a thermometer within a couple of degrees and they would wait for those temperatures to move about and do chores,outside work,etc.
I know you are all going to ask me this next. What about modern boot or mocassin preparations and water proofer? I honestly do not know of any that are going to insure dry feet. They all do a little something to add substance to the leathers but modern silcone sprays,Snow Go, Snow Guard,Cadillac Shield,Fiebing products,Even good old Bag BALM, etc but I have found that these all eventually wash out, some pretty rapidly. I would like someone to show me that there is truely a worthwhile water proofing to use on natural hide mocassins.I think most of them just add more chemical damage to our feet,our bodies, the air we
breath,to the environment and global warming. We need to stop once in awhile to build a fire and dry our moccasins out! Just like we need to stop once in awhile and smell the flowers! Some of the new synthetic materials are a different story however. I am familure with Gore-Tex it does a outstanding job if the boot or mocasssin is sewn properly for keeping water out.
These are the best waterproof soles with real traction I have seen used on modern MukLuks
Do you ever wonder what one of our forefathers would have given for a pair of these or a new synthetic warm dry mocassin boots like a "Gore- Tex" boot. I think my old Odawa friend would have given half his winter furs for a pair! LOLOL