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Restoring Your Old Rubber Boots

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Knee high rubber boots are the footwear choice that many hunters make for spring turkey season. Many hunters use them for deer hunting as well, and there are lots of quality options out there to choose from. A pair of decent rubber hunting boots will run you from eighty dollars to nearly two-hundred dollars depending on the boots and although there are some durable products on the market, none of them will last forever.

At some point, even the highest quality boots will spring a leak, and undoubtedly, the cool camo finish that you selected will begin to fade. All is not lost however, as with a little work you can extend the life of your boots (and the investment that you made in them) by fixing the leaks and revitalizing the finish.

What you need:

  • Old Pair rubber boots
  • Medium grit (like 80) sandpaper
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Marine Formula GOOP
  • A few permanent markers (we used black and green)

Step 1. Find every leak in the boots. Some of them are obvious, but there may be some subtle leaks that you cannot see. Ideally you can find some water outside and stand in it with your boots and bare feet. Leaks that you could not see will make themselves known (better now than in the field, before a multi-hour sit!).

Step 2. Fix the leaks. Start by roughing up the surface around each leak with the sandpaper, be sure to go at least an inch past in every direction whenever possible. Next, remove any oils or dirt that may limit the adhesion of the Goop by rubbing the whole area vigorously with the rubbing alcohol and allow a few minutes to dry. Finally, apply a liberal amount of the Marine Formula Goop to the spot. We used an economy-style foam brush from the hardware store to feather out the thick adhesive and also spotted the finished adhesive with the foam to knock down the extra gloss that the adhesive has, but a piece of cardboard or popsicle stick would work equally well.

Step 3. Revitalize the Finish. After the Goop dries, get out the permanent markers and your reading glasses. Likely the faded camo finish is visible on your old boots, it’s just faded. Start by tracing the lines in the old camo that you can see with the black marker. It’s amazing how the pattern will begin to ‘pop’ after you’ve refreshed some of these lines. After you’ve done that, it’s up to you how detailed to get with the markers. Clearly a lot of turkeys have fallen victim to hunters wearing solid color boots, but hey, a little extra attention to this step can make your boots look pretty cool.

You should be able to extend the life of your boots for several seasons by putting a little time into restoring them. Fixing a few leaks a year certainly beats buying a new pair every few years, and leaves you a little more money for that high end choke tube, and the latest decoy, and a new box call, and a ground blind and a new…(insert any one of a number of items that you ‘NEED’ to be a successful turkey hunter).