Introduction: How to Rubberize Moccasin Soles

About: If there's one thing I've learned about being an adult, it is this: there's always another project. Over the years, I've tackled a ton of projects and built some cool stuff, and now I'd like to help people wh…

I have a pair of deerhide moccasins that I made from a kit I got for Christmas. They're great - comfortable, lightweight, and they make me feel more in touch with the earth.

There's only one problem: the soles get torn up walking on anything but grass and they get soaking wet and tear even easier when it rains. Not to mention they slide on rocks and road paint when they're wet. Now, store-bought mocs sometimes have a rubber sole sewn onto them. Then again, store-bought mocs cost upwards of five times what my kit cost.

I present to you now a low cost alternative that should prolong the life of your moccasins and hopefully keep your feet dryer and add some traction.

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Step 1: Materials

You will need the following:
  • (1) pair of clean moccasins (my kit was ~$14)
  • (1) can of Plasti-Dip (or similar) rubberized tool dip ($11 at Ace Hardware)
  • rough-grit sandpaper
  • 30" or more aluminum foil
You might want:
  • (4) pairs of socks
  • (4) soda/beer bottles (empty or not)
  • newpaper to lay down
I would like to note that the can of Plasti-Dip warns against using the product in an unventilated space.  The fumes that came from that can can't have been good for me.  I would suggest doing this outside.  Or even better, inside an industrial hood vent.

Step 2: Make the Tray

From your roll of tin foil, tear off two sheets about 15" long.  Then stack them on top of each other and roll the edged over a couple times, making the rolls about 1/2".  Fold the edges up to form a tray a little bigger than your moccasin.

Step 3: Sand the Soles

Using the coarse-grit sandpaper, scuff up the bottoms of the moccasins a little.  There will be some leather dust, so make sure you clean it off.  The point of the scuffing is to give the rubberizer something to grip onto.

Step 4: Stuff the Moc

Use those socks to stuff the inside of the moc to try to get a foot shape going.  My thinking is that I want the rubberizer to dry in the shape that it would be if my foot was in the moccasin, and seeing as I don't feel like keeping my feet from moving for 4 hours while the rubberizer dries, this is a good substitute.

Step 5: Load the Tray

Open up the can of Plasti-Dip and pour a line into the tray.  Go easy on it - a little goes a long way.  You'll probably be surprised how much gets covered even with a little of the rubberizer.

You should by no means have to use the entire can, or even half of it.  I think I used maybe 1/5 or 1/6 of it for the two mocs.

Step 6: Apply Rubberizer to Moccasin

Now's the fun/hard part.  Smush the moccasin into the rubberizer and try to get an even coat all over the sole.  Then try to get some a ways (1/4" should be good) up the side of the moc.  That should give you a little more waterproofing.

If you have spots you just can't get with the smushing, use a stick or brush to apply more rubberizer to the tough-to-reach spots.  Also, the rubberizer will probably be uneven and appear drippy so use the stick to smooth it out.  You might want to leave more rubber where your foot would contact the ground (see the third pic to get an idea of what I mean).  I couldn't get any pictures of this step since I was doing this myself.

The can says that the rubberizer needs a good 4 hours to dry.  However, mine were dry to the touch after about a half hour, possibly due to the fact that I'm applying it to porous leather instead of nonporous steel.

Step 7: Finished!

After letting the mocs dry the allotted time, pull the socks out and try them out!

Hopefully everything went well and you got even coverage over the moc.  If not, you can always add a second coat of the rubberizer.

As I just finished this, I haven't had a chance to try them out in inclement weather but I'll update when I do.

Step 8: Update: Two Months Later

Funnily enough, I randomly decided to post the "After" pics exactly two months after I completed the Instructable.

The moccasins have held up pretty well I'd have to say.  I took them many places, including a long hunting excursion where I had to drag a deer out of the bottom of a valley at night and just general walking through the city.  The rubber did a good job of keeping my feet dry from ground moisture out in the woods.  I would say more moisture got absorbed from my feet than the ground itself when I was wearing these.

For how thin the rubberized sole actually is I'm plenty happy with the results.  The second two pictures show part of the sole pulling off, probably because the bottom wasn't completely clean when I applied the rubberizer.  It doesn't seem to be coming off much more though so I'll probably cut that off.  The fourth pic shows where I scuffed through the rubber on the big toe area of the moc.  I must have dragged it on the cement or something.

All in all, I think it was worth the time and effort.