Ally Senuik, October 6 2019

Manitoba Mukluks: Product Information and Maintenance Care

If you're reading this then you are probably already aware that IHC is now a proud retailer of Manitobah Mukluks. These boots have become iconic throughout Canadian winters, being manufactured in Winnipeg. With the recent excitement of this new addition to our shoe collection at IHC, I wanted to tell you about my buyer's experience with these beautiful boots. 

When I first met my partner, he told me one of his dreams was to have a pair of authentic mukluks for his active winter life. Having grown up in Pembroke, he needed something to match his habits of snowshoeing, sledding and general exploration through high banks of snow,  whether it be for recreation, or just trying to get to his car after a dumping of three feet of snow. 

About a year after that, I came upon a great deal for a pair of Manitobah Mukuks a few months before Christmas. There was no second thought; how could I miss the opportunity to fulfil his dream and possibly score the title of best gifter ever?

A few weeks before Christmas, the weather turned and we were met with a huge amount of snow. Since he was using a pair of well used boots, I couldn't resist the urge to give him his gift early. I was not disappointed, his reaction was one of incredulous shock , gratitude and excitement. 

When he put them on his feet, he said there was an instant feeling of comfort, with the mix of fur and shearling creating a snug and cozy grip of his foot and ankle. It is worth noting that when I purchased the boots, the retailer (and Manitobah website) warned to size down if between sizes, as the boots fit big and the natural materials are prone to stretching with wear. 

Now, roughly five years later, the boots are still his favourite winter accessory, and have not shown the wear that five years brought. When first purchased, the Mukluk's leather is not yet treated.  Before any use, I treated the leather with a conditioner (to keep it supple and soft) and a protective spray (this helps to improve waterproofing and reduce salt damage). In terms of maintenance, caring for the boots is simple. Use a damp cloth to remove salt from the leathers throughout the season, as allowing it to build up can eat away at the material. At the end of the season, clean with a gentle soap and damp cloth, then once dry, treat again with a conditioner. Store in a cool, dry place, and keep a safe distance from pets (my cat enjoyed licking and chewing on the leather...) We've had minimal issues with any matting of the fur in the boot, never needing to use a brush to remove clumps, though that is an option should a problem arise. 

In addition, after this great buyer's experience with MM, the very next year I bought a pair of the Street Mocs for my mother to wear as slippers. As they heat their house purely with a fire place, it's known to be chilly in the mornings. 

The moccasins over-performed, still looking fabulous after four years of everyday wear, and stand as my Mom's most favourite lounge shoes. She wears them in and out of the house regardless of weather, taking advantage of the Vibram sole's durability and support. 

All in all, every person I've known to own a pair of Manitobah Mukluks has complimented them to no end, and with that, it is my plan this year to treat myself to a pair finally!

Every Sole Has a Story

Designed by Cree artist Heather Endall, each step in a Manitobah shoe leaves behind it a story of heritage, togetherness and nature. This is another unique design aspect that enhancing the wearer's experience.

FAQs from Manitobah.ca

How do I care for my Manitobah Footwear?

Protection: Use a silicone-based leather/suede protector. Do not spray fur, as it contains natural protective oils

To Clean: Leather can be cleaned using a gentle soap and soft brush. For salt, wipe down with a damp cloth. Even if they have been sprayed, salt is corrosive and can cause damage.

To Dry: Once wet, allow your footwear to dry naturally

Wear: Never pull fur when putting on or removing boot, fur sheds over time and frequent friction will cause the fur to shed much faster. Cross laces over before tightening to avoid tearing leather eyeholes

Storage: When ready to store them for the season you should clean them, allow them to dry and then pack them away in a sealed container away from heat, moisture and pets (a plastic storage tote works great.) You can also use a pool noodle, paper towel tube or something similar in the shaft to keep them upright during storage

Do Manitobah Mukluks have a left or right foot?

Our Mukluks and natural soled Moccasins are not built on a traditional foot last so there is no left or right foot. This method has been used on Indigenous footwear for thousands of years. Over time the natural materials will form to your foot and allow you to have a custom fit. Moccasins with the turtle vibram sole and all of our kids mukluks do have a left and right foot. 

What is the temperature rating on Mukluk boots?

Our sheepskin-lined mukluks are considered one of the warmest winter boots for northern winters and are rated down to -32 degrees Celsius. Partnering with Vibram has also allowed us to design a sole that allows your foot to bend. Research indicates that flexible soles promote proper foot movement and blood circulation to your toes. This means that in cold dry weather, our mukluks will allow your feet to stay warmer than almost anything on the market.

What are MM natural product limitations?

Fur: Fur sheds over time. Frequent friction will cause the fur to shed much faster. Fur should not be pulled on or subject to abrasive chemicals or salts. It can be spot cleaned with a non-abrasive soap, but otherwise it has natural oils to protect it from most elements. We do not recommend spraying your fur with sealants or synthetic sprays.

Crepe: Crepe is a soft, natural rubber. Crepe soles should only be used for indoor and light outdoor use. They are not intended for everyday urban use and cannot withstand highly abrasive concrete environments. 

Suede and Leather (non waterproof): These natural materials are soft and porous and absorb water. We do not treat these hides with waterproofing chemicals. Please treat your mukluks and moccasins appropriately to protect them from the rain and snow. We recommend using a silicone-based spray to help protect our suede and leather products. Do not spray the fur areas because they contain natural protective oils. The best tool for ensuring the long life of your mukluks is diligence. If they get wet, make sure they are dried thoroughly and spot cleaned. Dark dyes may also tend to run, just like your favourite denim. A stiff bristled brush is another great tool for removing dirt or discolouration from Suede. 

Pompoms, ties and straps: Please be careful with your pompoms, ties and straps and do not pull hard on them. It is best to tie your mukluks once in a good knot than to keep retying them.

How is MM fur sourced?

For thousands of years our people have been using leathers and furs to create beautiful and functional footwear and we are proud to carry on this tradition. The furs and leathers we use are by-products of the meat industry. We are essentially taking a material that is considered ‘waste’ and utilizing it to make our moccasins and mukluks like our ancestors have always done. We buy furs from tanneries that buy them from a variety of farmers who sell the meat for food.

What is the MM Fur Policy?

We buy furs from tanneries, who buy them from a variety of farmers who sell the meat for food. In sourcing these furs; we're using materials that would otherwise be considered “waste” and utilizing them to make our moccasins and mukluks, just as our ancestors have always done. 

The best way to be mindful of the conditions that the animals are kept in is based on the quality of the fur. A healthy fur is the sign of a better treated animal; healthy fur is lush and full, and it wouldn't be patched-together to hide defects. We’ve become experts in recognizing great fur and we’re intent on making sure nothing gets wasted.

 What Materials do MM use?

 Fur: We use rabbit fur for all our fur styles. All the natural materials we use, including fur, are by-products of the meat industry of mainly Asia and Europe. We pride ourselves in taking material that is considered ‘waste’ and utilizing it to make our mukluks and moccasins, just like our ancestors have always done

Leather and Suede: For most of our products, we use cowhide for the suede/leather, the only exceptions are the products made with deerskin. Our leather is full-grain, which is extremely durable and water-resistant. Over time, full-grain leather develops a rich, dark patina that highlights the natural characteristics of the material. Most of our leather and suede materials are not treated and are not considered water proof. See “Waterproof Technology” section for more details about our waterproof styles.

Sheepskin: All Manitobah Mukluks and some moccasins are made with Sheepskin Shearling in the foot bed. Sheepskin soothes the skin and caresses the foot, keeping you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. These unique insulating qualities of sheepskin have been known for generations. It is why, today, we put sheepskin in the sole of every Manitobah Mukluk.

Sheepskin also assists in creating the best possible fit, it is made to mold to the shape of your foot creating a comfortable custom fit. Our products have a zero drop, which means there is no arch support

Crepe: Some of our footwear is made with a crepe sole. Crepe is a natural material that’s made from latex tapped from trees like the Pará rubber tree. This type of sole is suitable for indoor and light outdoor use, but is not suitable for everyday urban use and will not withstand highly abrasive concrete environments. 

Deerskin: Deerskin leather is a gift from nature. Soft, supple yet durable, deerskin is among the finest leathers in the world. Markings such as scratches and wrinkles enhance the beauty and are your assurance of superior quality. Deerskin is a more delicate material compared to cowhide suede/leather. Please note that we are unable to ship any Deerskin products to the U.S. without the purchase of a special importation license from the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement. 

Waterproof Technology: We offer select styles of adult mukluks that are waterproof and both styles of children’s mukluks are waterproof. These styles are tagged online as waterproof and can also be filtered. Manitobah conducts rigorous waterproof and temperature testing using a minimum 50,000 flex standard. Our AuthenTEC Waterproof System is inspired by pine pitch and spruce gum, the traditional waterproofing materials used by our ancestors. The Waterproof Half Mukluk is made with waterproof suede and is sealed 4" from the bottom. It is sheepskin lined (like all of our mukluks) and is rated to -32C.

Dyes: We use water based aniline dyes, which have been rigorously tested and are not harmful in any way. It is normal for a bit of colour bleeding to occur (like your favourite pair of jeans) but will stop after the first few wears.

Information sourced from Manitobah.ca

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