Oil tanned leather is one of the most popular tannages in the leatherworking world. It is a strong and workable leather; commonly used to make products rugged enough to stand up to the outdoors. Not only is it a strong leather, but it is also sleek and stylish enough to make high end bags, shoes, and boots!
Oil tan starts out as chrome tanned but then goes through a process where the hide is packed with oil and wax which gives it its distinctive hand feel. The process makes the leather more supple than the chrome tan it started out as. The process gives the hide a semi-soft and semi-flexible temper. Furthermore it increases the durability and adds water resistant properties alongside it’s rustic look.
For this reason oil tan is commonly referred to as “Boot Leather”. Popular brands utilize boot leather to create both stylish and work boots alike. Hides typically come in a smooth 5-6 ounce thickness which is perfect durability for a work boot.
The utility of this leather is not just limited to boots, it’s also great for journals, belts, straps, wallets, backpacks, satchels, and chaps. Some oil tan leathers have “pull-up” which means when the leather is pulled or stretched a lighter color can appear. As a result it gives it a rustic look and puts an emphasis on bends, folds and creases.
Another important aspect of oil tan is its maintainability. You can easily apply leather care products with a sponge, rag or just simply with the tip of your finger. Through heavy use, rugged terrain and high moisture areas your oil tanned products will stand the test of time with proper care.