Repairing Steger (and other) Mukluk Soles

When I asked my local mukluk makers if they would resole my otherwise healthy mukluks they said no. When I asked If they would tell me what they used originally to coat the bottom to make the soles they said no. Since the leather was starting to wear through this left me with two options: buy new ones, or resole them somehow. A while back a friend of mine told me that you could use 3M 5200, a caulking normally used for below the water boat repair applications. The first time I used it I could only find white, so that’s what I used. It lasted about 5 years. This year I found mahogany and I think once the shine wears off it will look great.

It also comes in black, which I think would look good on any color mukluk.

Mukluk

My 25 year old Steger mukluks still going strong, now that I got a new coat of rubber on the bottom…

 

Easy Resole

This method will describe what I think is the easiest way to repair your mukluks. Though it will not be like the original, it will be tough and work well. How good it looks at the end mostly depends upon your patience and care.

During the resole I needed to repair some of the leather on the heel. Easy! I turned the mukluks inside out, took a piece of leather scrap I had lying around, cut it to a round shape, and used contact cement to glue it on. I decided to glue the patch because of the location. I didn’t want a bump there from the stitching.

Once the glue cured I turned the mukluk right side out again and started the resole.

To do this resole you’ll need:

  • 3m product 5200 in white, dark brown, black, or mahogany. You can get this in several sizes. You’ll want the regular caulking gun sized tube.
  • Warmish temperatures. You’ll also want to do this somewhere outside or in a garage due to the fumes released.
  • To clean the soles well
  • A spreading tool like a butter knife or wood applicator.
  • Masking tape
  • Time. It takes several days to fully cure.
  • Optional:
    • A work platform (see photos)
    • Wax paper
    • Acetone
    • Small stiff paint brush

Step 1: Clean & Dry I just scrub with soap and water and a brush. Dry completely. Then clean with rubbing alcohol to help clean any oils off from your hands, etc.

As an additional step (I recommend it) you can clean off old rubber and stubborn stains/dirt with a wire brush or an electric wire wheel. This is what I would do to best insure a good physical bond between the old and new material. If using an electric wheel use a very light touch!

Mukluks

Mukluks on work stand. Ready for wire brushing

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Typical of Steger Mukluks, these soles have started to melt. Shoe Goo is seen on the edges. This eventually peels off and looks like a bad skin disease.

Step 2: Tape sides, if desired. I didn’t bother this time, but this stuff is STICKY so you may want to protect the areas of the mukluk that you don’t want the 5200 to get on. It won’t come off so be careful! I suggest bringing at least a thin layer up the side of the boot to help the sole stick, to keep slush off the leather, and to keep debris from getting between the old and new sole.

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Here I used the wire wheel and a wire brush to clean the sole. You can also see the scuff on the side where all of the original rubber came off. No worries!

Step 3: Apply Use a caulking gun to dispense the 5200 onto the soles, and a hard spatula tool to spread it around and up the sides as far as you want to go. It may run if you spread it on too thick. You can come back in a couple of hours and add to it, so don’t put too much on at once. The tube says it lasts 24 hours or so once opened, but I’ve found that if kept cold, then warmed up when about to use, it lasts a lot longer. Step 3 may be a 24 hour process, depending upon how thick you want to build up the sole and the temperature of your work space.

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Step 4: Tread. I’ve found that when only used in very cold conditions the 5200 grips and I don’t need tread. However when stepping out of a warm house onto snow, or in snow 25 degrees F or above it can get very slick, so I recommend doing the tread.

There are several ways to do this. If it’s not too worn you can just push the material into the old tread thinly so it doesn’t clog the patte

rn. Use a stiff piece of plastic/whatever for a spreader.

You can also apply the goo thicker, then dust with talcum power, and then cover the sole with clear plastic wrap and push into the material to make your tread. Pencil-width dowels can be used to insert the tread. Leave them there with the boots right side up on wax paper to cure. When cured simply peel the plastic wrap off.

The method that I now use is to create the tread pattern on the old sole. Squeeze a tread pattern out along the bottom, leaving it raised up as much as you want. Let it cure for 24 hours. Then come back and cover the entire sole with a thin layer of the material. This will seal the tread pattern into the new layer and prevent the tread from breaking off.

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Done for now, Just made my tread pattern.

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24 hours later, I come back and fill in the gaps using a wooden spatula and stiff paint brush to dab the material in to the low spots.

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Once the sole is done I start on the sides, taking the excess from the sole or adding from the caulking gun as needed to fill low spots. The side I like to have THIN.

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Using the brush to dab up and down. I take the excess and paint the sides.

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Step 5: Dry Time I keep the mukluks on the work stand and allow to dry slowly. Room temps are fine.

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Wood stove. This may be too close. You don’t want the runs……..

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Better! I didn’t want to smell the curing so this was out in my garage for several hours until they skimmed over, then I brought them inside.

Another method is to put them right side up on to wax paper.  Any sags along the edge onto the wax paper can be trimmed later once dry. If you keep your layers thin and even you won’t have a problem. I like this method for creating more flattened, even treads, which is good if you are wearing your mukluks on pavement or hard floors.

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Easiest Resole

Since I wrote this blog I have gotten so many positive responses, and folks asked if I would do it for them, so I started to do just that. For me to do your repair it will cost you between $50 & $75. If you have any questions or would like a quote you can send send an email to nativeways@hotmail.com with photos if needed.

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33 Responses to Repairing Steger (and other) Mukluk Soles

  1. The first time I did it, I made a “form” of sorts out of old 2″ insulation. Basically chiseled out a pattern, laid saran wrap in it, put the 5200 in, and stuck the boot in. Nice idea, but you waste a lot of expensive caulking, and it didn’t come out any neater than applying by hand. Eventually it seemed like some of the caulking started to bubble up in spots I had not cleaned well (because the original sole got soft and sticky, absorbing gravel and dirt. Nice thing is now I think by peeling off some of the old caulking, all of the dirt that was in there is cleaned out and the new stuff should stick better. It’s tough stuff. Also, by using a spatula to push it on I think you’re getting more contact than the prior method that may have trapped air bubbles in it.

    • Bean says:

      Thank you first for the information. I ended up using a paint on or dip flexible rubber. It covered the bottom very well , dried easy abd is very durable and flexible. It may be more slick than the marine product.
      I live in alaska and so far . The bottoms work great in the snow and cold. I have product left and may do one more layer with a grippy substance.
      Thanks for the inspiration

  2. John says:

    I’d like to know with what you cleaned the mukluk (i.e. a solvent based cleaner or a detergent type cleaner , and whether there is anything it does not stick to–for example will it NOT stick to plastic sheet wrap? What about wax paper? What about wear issues…I read on one moccasin site that a moccasin maker uses “vibram chips” as a “mix” in his wet coating meant to give more of a tuffer wear factor to the sole. What about clean up? What did you use–water based or solvent based. Can one dilute it to make it less viscose?
    I have been thinking about making a set of moccasins, but have been concerned about their propensity to wear quickly. I was looking for some kind of sole material that would allow me to have the softness and flexibility of a leather sole, with added toughness. Ideally, I was looking for something that would have great flexibility to allow me to walk more quietly in the woods and facilitate stalking. This sounds like a product coating that would allow me to do that. What do ou think?
    Any thoughts and advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi John,
      Thanks for writing. I just used a brush and soapy water to clean it.
      Not sure what 5200 WON’T stick to. Wax paper is a good idea.
      As for wear, it does pretty good, but again, I use these mukluks mostly in snow, so not a lot of abrasion. As of now I left them smooth, but I think I’m going to add the “knobbies” as described soon. They are a bit slippery in this new/wet snow we’ve been getting lately.
      As for clean up: Didn’t need to. I used a piece of wood to spread it on. I think Acetone works though if you make a big mistake. It did say on the tube, I just can’t remember now.
      The Vibram chips: I’ve used shredded tire rubber on a pair of leather shoes (moccasin style) and it is great. A bit less flexible maybe. You take contact or Barge cement, put a layer on the shoe where you want the tire material to stick, (kind of like a primer) wait 15 minutes for it to dry a bit. Then put another layer of the cement on, and then dip the shoe into the rubber. Similer to putting sprinkles on an ice cream cone I suppose. Once dry (wait 24 hours) you can wear them. Easy to re-do the soles. Just Barg the thin spots and dip in the shredded rubber.
      As for stalking purposes, the 5200 or Barge/rubber solutions thicken the sole of course. So it depends upon how sensitive you want the shoes to be.
      Good luck! Greg

      • Valerie says:

        How do you make the knobbies? I’ m so glad to find this, I was going to order a new pair but they don’t make them to order any more. Thanks I can’t wait till spring so I can try this!

  3. Hannah says:

    Hi,

    Could you tell me approximately how much of the caulking it took to completely resole two shoes? And were the new soles as flexible/soft as the originals?

    Thanks!

    • Greg Weiss says:

      Hi Hannah,
      One tube was enough for both boots.
      The 5200 once cured is very flexible, but not quite as squishy soft as the original latex soles. I’d highly recommend making the knobbies or some other tread on the bottom, or they will be slick to walk in snow when temps are 25F or above. When it’s really cold it doesn’t seem to matter as much.
      Greg

    • Greg Weiss says:

      It took a little less than 1 tube of caulk to do both soles. It is very flexible.

  4. Sid says:

    thanks for the post, got a pair of arctics with a hole in the sole, any chance I could use your method to just patch one spot?

    • Greg Weiss says:

      Hi Sid,
      Is the hole through the leather or just the rubber. You can for sure use it for just through the rubber, and to save some $$$ I might try a tube of ShoeGoo first. I had a hole in the heel of mine and had to patch it from the inside with a round piece of leather. I was able to turn the boot inside out, and glue it in with Shoe Goo. Then I turned it back out and patched the outside with the 5200 method described.
      Good luck!

  5. Sid says:

    unfortunately it’s through the leather as well, I’ll give your patch method a try, still no snow here in Winnipeg so I got some time.
    Thanks for the advise

  6. Elsie Pernat says:

    I used a product called Lexel on the heels of my mukluks, let dry for a few days, wore them twice in snow so far seems to be working…

  7. Mark says:

    Could you explain a bit more about the ‘knobbies’? Did you use the adehesive to replicate choco chip looking knobbies, or actually imbed something into the goop?

    • Greg Weiss says:

      I used the adhesive while the base layer was still tacky to just dab them on. Took a look recently and most of them are still on. I think I waited a bit too long (the sole cured too much) before putting these on. I would do it as soon as possible after applying the base so that the base and tread will cure together. Otherwise you risk having them separate from the incomplete adhesion.

  8. Herbie Rice says:

    I finally applied my 5200 tube on my Mukluks. I am sooooo happy to have
    found your website, as I even called Eli, Mn and they did not have any
    ideas to redo my soles. Mine are not wore through, but I can see the leather mostly on the right boot. I rode snowmobile in the Rocky Mountains and that requires a lot of bracing and locking the boot on the sled. These boots are the warmest boots I have. I have not figured out WHY they are so warm. I can’t wait to see how this works. Will apply knobbie chips tonight for sure. I was so happy to get my 5200 in Black. They look like new boots after 12 years. I have never worn these boots in anything but snow for snowmobiling and ice fishing. Never ever a cold foot!!!! So happy to be able to revamp them. Thanks a bunch for this website!

    • Herbie Rice says:

      Well, My Mukluks are like NEW!!! I actually just put a whole new layer of the 5200 tube and dobbed the little knobbies on with a wooden stick. Worked great! I dobbed mine right away and it worked great!! Am waiting for the ice to go spearing. Like I said I have always wore these in snow and have been careful not to wear in the shop or where there are any petroleum products like oil or fuel. I bought my black Mukluks in 1994. Now, they are almost 22 years old and are like a new pair!! Still so dang warm!!! Still can’t figure out why they are the warmest boot I have ever had. But they are!!!

      • Greg Weiss says:

        Nice Herbie. I’m glad that it worked for you. It’s a shame to throw out a pair of boots when all the matter with them is a bit of gooey sole. Let us know how your traction scheme worked. Feedback is always appreciated.

  9. Diane says:

    This is a godsend posting. I have a pair of customized mukluks that I purchased in 1990 or so and the boots are in great shape but soles became sticky. I was thinking of using the plastic tool dip which I believe is what someone did above, but may switch to the caulk. But now to the slip factor two thoughts/questions stepping in sand to coat the bottom? and some one suggested applying the product that is used to coat truck beds as there is mixed in “grit” Has anyone tried any of these?

    • Greg Weiss says:

      Hi Diane,
      In my experience the 5200, without “knobbies” is slippery in hard-pack snow, temperatures above perhaps 20f. With the knobbies they are good. I’ve seen folks turn the boots upside down and apply tape along the edge to build up a form of sorts, so they could make the sole thicker. I presume that you could roll up paper or some other type of degradable material to stick in to the sole in whatever pattern you wanted, then when cured, rip out as much as you can and soak the bottoms in water to dissolve the rest, and you’d be left with the pattern.
      Tool dip is OK, but in my experience will peel more easily along edges. 5200 is kind of nasty stuff and takes a long time to cure, but lasts.

      • Diane says:

        Diane here again. Over the summer, I applied the 5200 and that went great. But of course I forgot about the slippery comments and nearly killed myself sliding out of the house. So now to add the knobbies? do you have a source to find them? and attaching them – ideas on the rubber cement or apply another layer of 5200? or better yet maybe I should email you about sending them to you to finish the job.

    • Greg Weiss says:

      Hi Diane,
      You should be able to use the 5200 on top of your old layer, just clean it very well with rubbing alcohol first. You can purchase the 5200 in smaller sized tubes.

      • Diane Turner-Murray says:

        do you have a source for the rubber kobbies?

      • Greg Weiss says:

        Sorry for the confusion. I make everything from the 5200. A small squeeze tube of it would cover what you need nicely. Just dab it on where you want, and make the heel thicker and fill it in with more material as this will be the spot that wears quickly.

  10. Whitney H. says:

    Oh this is fantastic. I have my original pair of chocolate mukluks that I have worn for 14 seasons and love very much. Unfortunately, because I scuff my heels when I walk, and wear them everywhere-not just in snow-I have worn a hole in the right boot heel-right to the felt liner! I was brainstorming how to fix that just yesterday. Thankfully I stumbled on this site today. Once the snow melts I plan on following these directions for patching and re-sole ASAP. Hopefully I’ll get another 14 years out of these babies.

  11. Stephanie says:

    Wow, a little sad to see how long my boots have lasted in comparison. I’ve only had them for a little over a year. Granted, I have worn them literally every day since I got them. Going to try this next time I get into town. I live in southeast Alaska and have been coating the leather in Hubbard’s grease every so often; my feet haven’t been cold or wet – that is, until the front end of the soles wore off. Got my toes wet for the first time a couple of days ago. Panic! $350 a year, even for the perfect boots, just won’t cut it. Excited to try out the sealant and hopefully save the boots for another season or three.

    • Greg Weiss says:

      You must have the summer weight boots? My winter ones would be too warm to wear year-round.
      I have a pair of Neoprene boots for the slushy season, as I didn’t want to make the leather impermeable on the mukluks. I only use the Mukluks in cold (20f or less) and with snow, so they last longer. They just didn’t seem to last with the road chemicals getting on them from parking lots and such.

      • Stephanie says:

        I actually have the Quetico Tall. I am just constantly freezing and love these boots, so I’ve not bothered to get another pair of shoes for summer. There was only one day last year when it got into the eighties and I had to fold the boots down to cool off. We don’t have pavement here, just moss and gravel trails. I guess it’s just too much for the soft sole because the ground is not often snow-covered.

  12. I also have Steger Mukluks. Same story – Steger won’t resole them. My 10 year old Mukluks are in perfect condition, except for sticky, gummy soles. We were warned not to walk over any petroleum products, and I thought I was being super careful, but when we moved to town I must have stepped in something. Now I have a gooey mess on the bottom. When you say to clean with soap and a brush – is it this type of mess you cleaned off the mukluk sole or is there another way to deal with the icky sticky?

  13. Debby says:

    Once upon a time I heard the treads in Steger’s mukluks soles were done by combing across the sole with a hair pick before the sole sets up.
    Thank you for all the info. My mukluks are in desperate need of refurbished soles.

  14. Rand weborg says:

    The soles on the Steiger Mikluk-the best winter product on the planet, will break down and become “gooey” if they come in contact with certain chemicals cakes. You may need t even be aware of what you walked in that caused thus reaction. In my case, I had spilled anti-freeze on my garage floor-not a lot, mind you, just a small puddle. I stepped in it inadvertently and within a day my soles were like a sticky gum. I became aware of it when I took a step away from the kitchen sink and the rug came with me. Anyway, I think oil, mineral spirits, gasoline, and certainly anti-freeze is what causes the problem. My delemna is di I resole my 22 year old mukluks for 50-80.00 or Sping for $170.00 and a new pair.

    • Greg Weiss says:

      It’s true, you can get a new basic pair for around $185 including shipping, many folks have more expensive all leather ones that benefit from timely repair.

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