7 Tips to Help You Weatherproof Your Shoes for Winter

iStock.com/Barringtonhd
iStock.com/Barringtonhd

The rain, ice, snow, and slush of winter—not to mention salted sidewalks and roads—are hard on footwear. But a storm shouldn’t stop you from wearing your favorite kicks. Here are seven tips for weatherproofing your shoes for bad weather.

1. Don’t immediately reach for the waterproofing spray.

While completely waterproofing your shoes may sound like the best option, in reality, it will leave you with very sweaty feet. Waterproofing sprays create a barrier to ensure that nothing can pass through the material—but that also means that your shoes won’t breathe, creating a little pocket of hot, sweaty air around your foot. You probably want to look for something that will make your shoes water-resistant instead. If you’re going to be standing in a puddle for a decent amount of time, just go ahead and wear your rain boots.

2. Pay attention to material.

You’ll need to approach weatherproofing your shoes differently depending on what material they are. Whatever water-repelling spray you choose, read the label to make sure it will work on the pair of shoes you’re using. While waxes work on leather shoes, sprays are better for suede or fabric. Some shoes—namely, patent leather ones—can’t handle water-resistant sprays at all.

You can definitely find water-repelling sprays that will work for most of the shoes in your closet, though. The highly rated Tarrago Hightech Nano Protector spray works for leather, suede, nubuck (the sanded leather often found in work boots), and textiles like velvet. One warning: If the shoes aren’t black or dark brown, make sure to test a bit of the spray on an inconspicuous area of the shoe first, because some sprays can change the color of the material.

3. Clean and condition first.

Before you try to snow-proof your footwear, you want to make sure those shoes are completely clean, whether you’re waterproofing your hiking boots, running shoes, or designer suede. Otherwise, you’ll just be sealing in dirt. You can use a cloth to dust off any debris, then apply a cleaning solution. Some experts recommend using simple dish soap on leather, but you can also get solutions specifically designed for premium shoes, like this one from the sneakerhead-oriented shoecare company Jason Markk. If you’re working with leather shoes, you should use a conditioner to moisturize the leather and keep it from drying out and cracking, applying a layer while the shoe is still wet from cleaning. According to The Wirecutter’s tests, the French-made Saphir Renovateur is the best conditioner on the market. Then, once that whole process is finished, go ahead and apply the protectant spray or wax.

4. Use vinegar to take care of salt stains.

Salt stains happen, but you can mitigate the damage with a little bit of white vinegar. The Spruce recommends a mixture of 1 cup cold water and 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar. Use a white towel or cotton balls to apply the diluted vinegar to salt stains. The acid will dissolve the salt, and the stains will disappear. The technique works best on fresh stains, though, so try to take care of the issue as soon as you can.

5. Get a brush.

Keeping your shoes looking their best is an ongoing process. You should brush grime off your shoes regularly—ideally after every wear. It’s an easy way to remove dirt, mud, and salt before they build up and stain the material. It may seem like a lot of work in the moment, but it will save you time scrubbing at those stains later.

For leather, The Wirecutter recommends the Hanger Project’s medium horsehair brush ($15) for leather shoes, citing its quality construction and high bristle density. You’ll want something a little different for more delicate materials. For fuzzy fabrics like velvet, Racked recommends the very reasonably priced Evercare Magik brush.

6. Pay attention to the seams.

For the most thorough protection against the elements, pay extra attention to where the sole meets the top of the shoe and any other seams where water might get in. Backpackers and outdoorsy types swear by the beeswax-based Sno-Seal. You apply that one with a rag or a gloved hand, so it's easy to dab a bit extra around the seams compared to the rest of the boot.

7. Spray gently.

When using a water-resistant spray, you don’t want to deluge your shoes. Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before spraying, but in general, most sprays should be applied at least 8 inches away from the shoe to get a more even application of the product. Let the shoes dry thoroughly before you go out in the elements. How long this weatherproofing lasts will depend on the spray, the shoe material, the weather, and how often you wear your shoes, so again, check the instructions on your particular product to figure out how long your shoes will remain protected from the elements. You may only need to wipe your work boots down with Snow-Seal once a year, for instance, while you probably will have to reapply the Tarrago Nano Protector Spray to your vintage velvet ballet slippers more often.

10 Rad Gifts for Hikers

Greg Rosenke/Unsplash
Greg Rosenke/Unsplash

The popularity of bird-watching, camping, and hiking has skyrocketed this year. Whether your gift recipients are weekend warriors or seasoned dirtbags, they'll appreciate these tools and gear for getting most out of their hiking experience.

1. Stanley Nesting Two-Cup Cookset; $14

Amazon

Stanley’s compact and lightweight cookset includes a 20-ounce stainless steel pot with a locking handle, a vented lid, and two insulated 10-ounce tumblers. It’s the perfect size for brewing hot coffee, rehydrating soup, or boiling water while out on the trail with a buddy. And as some hardcore backpackers note in their Amazon reviews, your favorite hiker can take the tumblers out and stuff the pot with a camp stove, matches, and other necessities to make good use of space in their pack.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Osprey Sirrus and Stratos 24-Liter Hiking Packs; $140

Amazon

Osprey’s packs are designed with trail-tested details to maximize comfort and ease of use. The Sirrus pack (pictured) is sized for women, while the Stratos fits men’s proportions. Both include an internal sleeve for a hydration reservoir, exterior mesh and hipbelt pockets, an attachment for carrying trekking poles, and a built-in rain cover.

Buy them: Amazon, Amazon

3. Yeti Rambler 18-Ounce Bottle; $48

Amazon

Nothing beats ice-cold water after a summer hike or a sip of hot tea during a winter walk. The Yeti Rambler can serve up both: Beverages can stay hot or cold for hours thanks to its insulated construction, and its steel body (in a variety of colors) is basically indestructible. It will add weight to your hiker's pack, though—for a lighter-weight, non-insulated option, the tried-and-true Camelbak Chute water bottle is incredibly sturdy and leakproof.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Mappinners Greatest 100 Hikes of the National Parks Scratch-Off Poster; $30

Amazon

The perfect gift for park baggers in your life (or yourself), this 16-inch-by-20-inch poster features epic hikes like Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Once the hike is complete, you can scratch off the gold foil to reveal an illustration of the park.

Buy it: Amazon

5. National Geographic Adventure Edition Road Atlas; $19

Amazon

Hikers can use this brand-new, updated road atlas to plan their next adventure. In addition to comprehensive maps of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico, they'll get National Geographic’s top 100 outdoor destinations, useful details about the most popular national parks, and points on the maps noting off-the-beaten-path places to explore.  

Buy it: Amazon

6. Adventure Medical Kits Hiker First-Aid Kit; $25

Amazon

This handy 67-piece kit is stuffed with all the things you hope your hiker will never need in the wilderness. Not only does it contain supplies for pain, cuts and scrapes, burns, and blisters (every hiker’s nemesis!), the items are organized clearly in the bag to make it easy to find tweezers or an alcohol wipe in an emergency.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiker Hunger Ultralight Trekking Poles; $70

Amazon

Trekking poles will help increase your hiker's balance and stability and reduce strain on their lower body by distributing it to their arms and shoulders. This pair is made of carbon fiber, a super-strong and lightweight material. From the sweat-absorbing cork handles to the selection of pole tips for different terrain, these poles answer every need on the trail. 

Buy it: Amazon

8. Leatherman Signal Camping Multitool; $120

Amazon

What can’t this multitool do? This gadget contains 19 hiking-friendly tools in a 4.5-inch package, including pliers, screwdrivers, bottle opener, saw, knife, hammer, wire cutter, and even an emergency whistle.

Buy it: Amazon

9. RAVPower Power Bank; $24

Amazon

Don’t let your hiker get caught off the grid with a dead phone. They can charge RAVPower’s compact power bank before they head out on the trail, and then use it to quickly juice up a phone or tablet when the batteries get low. Its 3-inch-by-5-inch profile won’t take up much room in a pack or purse.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Pack of Four Indestructible Field Books; $14

Amazon

Neither rain, nor snow, nor hail will be a match for these waterproof, tearproof 3.5-inch-by-5.5-inch notebooks. Your hiker can stick one in their pocket along with a regular pen or pencil to record details of their hike or brainstorm their next viral Tweet.

Buy it: Amazon

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Warby Parker Created a Spray to Prevent Your Glasses From Fogging Up When You Wear a Face Mask

They're smiling under the masks (because their glasses aren't foggy).
They're smiling under the masks (because their glasses aren't foggy).
Julian Wan, Unsplash

A face mask won’t keep you from getting enough oxygen, but it might keep you from seeing clearly through your glasses. When you exhale, your warm breath usually dissipates into the air in front of you. When you’re wearing a face mask, on the other hand, it gets funneled through the gaps around your nose and turns into tiny water droplets after colliding with your much colder lenses. In other words, it fogs up your glasses.

To prevent this from happening, Warby Parker has created an anti-fog spray that absorbs those droplets as soon as they form on your lenses, before they can cloud your view. It’s not the only product like it on the market—Amazon alone has dozens—but Warby Parker’s version has the added benefit of cleaning your lenses, too.

The perfect solution.Warby Parker

As Prevention.com reports, the spray is part of the company’s “Clean My Lenses Kit,” which comes with a bottle of anti-fog spray, a microfiber cloth, and a pouch for your glasses (or for storing the other two products in the kit). All you do is spritz both sides of your lenses, wipe them down with the cloth, and venture out for your fog-free day.

The spray works with any type of lens, which makes it a useful innovation even for people who just wear regular sunglasses. It can also come in handy during plenty of other fog-inducing situations, like sipping a hot beverage or cooking over a hot stove.

You can order a kit online for $15, or look for one in your local Warby Parker store. In the meantime, here are a few DIY ways to keep your glasses from getting foggy.

[h/t Prevention.com]

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