Updated: Jan 6
A few finished Mukluks
When I asked the maker of my mukluks if they would resole my otherwise healthy footwear they said "no". When I asked If they would tell me what they used to coat the bottom so that I could repair them myself they said "no". I'm not sure what the big secret is. Within a few years the material that they use becomes sticky, picks up dog hair, and stains whatever it sits on. So I had a choice; buy new ones, or resole them somehow.
Over the years I've tried several methods of resoling mukluks and other types of shoes. Once I found something that worked I created this page so that others could resole their own mukluks. Once I realized that few people wanted to do the work themselves I started a side business resoling mukluks. After repairing perhaps 80 mukluks I have it down pretty good.
This page will show you the general process of how I do what I do, but there are a lot of nuances to getting it right which I can't cover in detail. If you send your mukluks to me it will likely come out better and be more cost efficient than if you do it yourself, but if you're feeling adventurous, go for it!
First you need to repair damage
Your house is only as stable as the foundation it sits on. If you've been procrastinating putting on your new sole you may find that a hole has formed at the toe or heel. No worries! The easiest way to make a good fix is to turn the mukluks inside out, take a piece of leather scrap, cut it to into a rounded patch, and use contact cement to glue it on. I like using glue rather than sewing because there are no lumps to deal with. Almost all shoes use some type of contact cement to attach the soles, so you shouldn't have any issues with this simple repair. Once the glue is cured, turn the mukluk right side out again. Good to go.
Both of these mukluks have a hole in the toe. One has been repaired, and one is inside out to show the patch done with contact cement.
Pros: Very strong sole material. Easy to apply. Best method if your soles have gone beyond sticky to the "goopy" stage where you can pull pieces off.
Cons: Slippery on wetter/warmer snow if you don't have some type of tread material on the bottom. Also it will never come off if you spill some on your uppers.
This method will describe using a strong caulking material (3M 5200) to create a new sole on your mukluks. Though it will not be like the original, it will be tough and work well. How good it looks at the end depends upon your patience and care.
To do this resole you’ll need:
3m product 5200 in the color of your choice. (I like black). You can get this in several sizes. You’ll want the 10oz option for most Mukluk soles, so that you have enough material to build up the warn sole.
Vented work space. The fumes are not healthy so you’ll want to do this somewhere outside or in a work space vented with a fan.
To clean the soles of any loose material and dirt. If you applied "shoe-goo" or similar you will want to get it off, or at the minimum rough it up with 60 grit sandpaper.
A small plastic or wood spreader.
A stiff bristled small paint brush. I prefer using a flux application brush like for soldering copper plumbing. I find them in the hardware store.
Time. It takes several days to fully cure.
Optional: A work platform (see photos), Wax paper, Acetone (thinner) and a glass jar with lid to shake/mix the acetone and 5200. I also add ground up tire rubber for traction.
Step 1: Clean, Dry, and mask I just scrub with soap and water and a brush. Let 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. This is what I would do to best insure a good physical bond between the old and new material. You may also want to use a lint roller to get off any hair.
Mukluks on work stand. Ready for wire brushing
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.
Now mask the areas that you don't want to get new material on. You can use duct tape, but I use blue painters masking tape and it works well.
Step 2: Apply Dispense the 5200 onto the soles, and a hard spatula tool to spread it around on the sole only at first. It may run if you spread it on too thick, so if you have holes/gaps you want to fill you will need to do that first, then come back later and see if you can apply more without it running.
Laying a thicker amount of material on the heel.
Step 3: 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 some type of tread.
My favorite tread is to dip the freshly applied sole in shredded tire rubber (see below tire method) In this way you can have the 5200 strength and color coming up the sides, while also having the grip of the tire sole on the bottom. Best of both methods! Don't have tire? Maybe you can find a substance that will work to grind up or otherwise apply.
Step 4: Sides: Once the sole is done to the thickness that I want, with the tread that I want, I start on the sides. Now you have had some time to get a feel for the medium, which you will need to make sure drips and runs don't happen on the sides.
I sometimes use acetone to thin the material to peanut butter like consistency and use the acid brush to apply. This makes a thinner coating on the sides, which saves weight. You can also apply full thickness. Use a respirator when using acetone!
Step 6: Dry
A finished pair of Mukluks using the 5200 method, tire shreds on the bottom.
Tire Rubber Resole
Pros: Very easy and forgiving to apply. Less slippery then the 5200 sole without tread.
Cons: A bit stiffer than the 5200 when cold. Glue fumes.
To do this resole you’ll need:
Shredded tire granules. You will want to strain and use the smallest bits for your mix. I use a kitchen colander to do this. Save the large bits for the mukluks to sit in when drying.
Foam brush. 1" works well. You may need two if you let it dry out between coats.
Ventilated work space. You’ll want to do this somewhere outside or in a vented work space due to the fumes released.
A spreading tool like a butter knife or wood applicator.
Time. 2 days to a week to fully cure depending upon temperature.
A work platform (see photos for examples)
Tray with sides. Nice for catching rubber material as you work.
Step 1&2: See 5200 method for cleaning and preparing your mukluks
Step 3: Prime the surface
Prime the surface to be coated with barge cement and foam brush and let dry.
I will "prime" the soles of these mukluks with Barge cement
Step 4: Mixing
You will be making a thick paste of tire rubber and Barge cement that should not run. You can play with the amounts, but essentially you want to be able to spread it with your tools fairly easily, without it being runny. DON'T use thinner for this mix. If you want it thinner, just add more glue.
Step 5: Application
With a paint stirring stick spread the goop on in as even a layer as possible... 1/4 inch thick.
I do the soles first, then thin what is left with more Barge cement and come back and spread up the sides. I then sprinkle dry rubber over the entire sole.
Step 5: Let Dry
At least 48 hours. Viola! Finished tire resole.
As I mentioned, the above is only an overview of what I do. There are nuances to mixing the materials, and making it neat in appearance.
For most resoles I recommend the tire rubber resole. For mukluks with issues the 5200 may work better/last longer. It's best to send photos from several angles and I'll make a recommendation.
I am currently only offering the 5200 type resole as I have found that it works for all types of problems. (And the fumes are better for working indoors) I charge $75 for the resole and I add tire tread. This includes return shipping to USA lower 48.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with photos. I'll send you information and let you know if your mukluks are good candidates for a resole.
1/5/21 - "I meant to write much sooner -- thank you so much for the mukluk resole. They are beautiful. I gave them to my friend for Christmas and it was so special that she could have her mom's mukluks repaired. I'm so grateful that I found your website and that you could help bring them back to life. I do have some family members that need mukluk repair, so I'll be sharing your website with them. I hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday!"
1/5/21 - "Wow! I rec'd the refurbished mukluks today and they look amazing. Thank you so much. I face-timed my daughter in Boston to show her the results and she was ecstatic and cannot wait to try them out. You did great work and I would certainly recommend your service to anyone with boots in need of repair."
"Hello Greg - MANY THANKS TO YOU! My mukluks arrived today and I am thrilled with the results! I will happily recommend you to anyone I can. I just walked around outside with the dogs, shoveled some snow, walked on the lake and basically gave them some quality time outside :-) Thank you again, and I wish you a very Merry Christmas and all the best in 2021 - stay safe!"
"Got them. Both pairs look and feel great. I'm grateful to you for being a fixer-of-things. We need more folks like you in our throw-away world. I have tried to throw away my shoes for the past three years, but couldn't bring myself to do it. Now I know why! Also, funny anecdote. We try to eat healthy, local, organic. About 11 years ago I asked for those mukluks for Christmas. I showed a picture of them to our 6 year old and asked if he might like to get them for me. He responded, "they look pretty good, but are they organic?". Yes, I told him, they're about as close as you can get with boots! Thanks for saving my organic boots."