I never thought I’d start to sweat over the cost of leather conditioner.
Then again, I never thought I’d own over 20 pairs of boots.
And with that much leather lying around, the cost of conditioner really starts to add up.
That put me in search mode for a new conditioner that’s inexpensive, but still doesn’t darken the leather on my boots. I liked the way they looked when I first opened the box, so I prefer to keep them that way.
Which led me to Bick 4—the highly touted leather conditioner from Bickmore. After trying it out on several types of leather (vegetable tanned, Horween Chromexcel, and waxed rough-out), my verdict is in.
Scroll down for plenty of before and after photos so you can decide for yourself.
Bick 4 Leather Conditioner Overview
Bickmore leather care products have been around since 1882, and Bick 4 is their most popular offering by a long-shot.
Bick 4 has earned a reputation as one of the best low-cost leather conditioners, and for many folks, it’s the only product they use on their leather.
I certainly understand the sentiment—my experience with Bick 4 has been great, though I’m using it as a complement to other leather conditioners. It’s an excellent choice to give your leather a quick pick-me-up and restore some natural pliability.
It doesn’t provide any shine, contains no wax, and doesn’t darken your leather at all.
Things to Consider Before Buying Bickmore Bick 4
Bick 4 doesn’t seep into your leather, and it doesn’t provide much weather resistance. If you’re getting a work boot and you need a conditioner that’s going to weather-seal your boots, you’ll need a different product—something like Timberland Waximum Leather Protector will do the trick.
That said, wax-based leather conditioners can darken the leather and prevent proper conditioning in the future. That’s why I always recommend getting a separate boot for working. Because you can use a conditioner that’s up to the task of replenishing your leather after hard weeks of tough work-wear.
Bick 4 shouldn’t be used on suede, though you don’t have to leave it in the boot-world. Bick 4 works on leather bags, purses, etc.
Bick 4 Review
So how does Bick 4 stack up against some other popular leather conditioners?
My long-time go-to has been Venetian Leather Balm because it does an excellent job at rehydrating leather, and it doesn’t change the color of the leather much (a few shades darker, but the leather usually lightens back up in a week or so).
To test out Bick 4, I tried it on four types of leather: Horween Chromexcel, vegetable tanned, waxed rough out leather (Horween Waxed Flesh), and Thursday Boots Rugged and Resilient leather.
This gives a pretty fair representation of most boots on the market, and should answer the majority of questions you have on Bick 4 (though please write a comment below if you have any more!).
Honestly, Bick 4 performed just about the same on all four leathers I tried it on. Between the Horween Chromexcel, vegetable tanned leather, and waxed rough-out (also Horween in this example), the leather conditioning was light.
It did darken the Thursday Rugged and Resilient leather a bit, but only for a day or two. So ultimately, I’d say the conditioning level was the same here, too.
Bick 4 doesn’t penetrate into the leather very deep, which isn’t a terrible thing. In fact, for the waxed rough-out leather, this is a desirable trait.
Bick 4 was least effective on Horween Chromexcel. That leather is super rich and packed with oils and waxes, and if you have some old beat up Chromexcel boots, using Bick 4 would be a bit like putting out a fire with a cup of water.
In my case, though, I tend to condition often. Like every 3 months. So I don’t need (or even necessarily want) a heavy-duty leather conditioner. Adding a little conditioner every 3 months helps keep my boots fresh and new-looking without oversaturating the leather.
Bick 4 did well with the vegetable tanned leather—didn’t darken it at all, though it didn’t remove any of the scuffs. Still, it’s going to keep the leather supple and crack-free, so it does the job.
I’m most pleased with how Bick 4 does on the waxed rough-out leather on my Thursday Boots Logger. It restored the original color of the leather, and because it doesn’t contain any waxes on its own, it seemed to seep right into the leather and bring out that rugged patina.
For Chromexcel, I’ll likely continue using Venetian, as it helps restore the natural shine. Bick 4 basically has no shine to it (not that Venetian has a lot either), so it’s better suited to matte leathers.
Across the three boots I tested Bick 4 with, I didn’t notice a change in shade anywhere. This was really surprising to me, as I figured any conditioner would at least change the shade of your boot a little.
But Bick 4 really doesn’t.
This is partially because it doesn’t penetrate very deep into the leather. As I said earlier, if you have a super old beat up pair of boots that needs some proper TLC, Bick 4 isn’t going to cut it.
While Bickmore doesn’t publish their ingredients, I know this formulation doesn’t have any waxes in it. This is definitely a positive, as waxes can clog up the pores of your leather and reduce the lifespan of your boots.
What Do Other Reviewers Say?
My leather knowledge is focused mostly in the world of boots, but there are plenty of reviews online that give Bick 4 props for car-seats, purses, saddles, and more.
One interesting note that came up in several reviews is that some folks have had issues with other products like mink oil rotting the stitching in welts and along the seams of their boots.
While Bick 4 isn’t the most penetrating product, the proprietary formula doesn’t seem to have any negative effect on stitching.
Bick 4 Alternatives
Venetian Leather Balm
Venetian Leather Balm is a bit more expensive, but I’ve found it to be more effective with Horween Chromexcel leather.
On my vegetable tanned and waxed leathers, they perform just about the same. Venetian will darken your leather a shade, though that darkening is mild and only lasts about a week. But Venetian also penetrates deeper into your leather.
If you’re OK reconditioning your veg-tanned or waxed leather every three months or so, Bick 4 is a less expensive choice.
If you’d rather condition once a year, or you’re working with a combination-tanned leather that’s packed with oils like Horween Chromexcel, I’d fork out a few extra bucks and get Venetian.
Saphir Renovateur is expensive. Like nine times more expensive than Bick 4.
But it’s got a great shine to it, helps beat back bad weather, and conditions deeply.
Saphir isn’t a very practical choice for frequent conditioning on everyday boots. But if you just picked up a really nice pair of dress boots and you’re looking to coddle the leather, Saphir Renovateur is top of the line.
I keep a bottle on reserve for the two or three pairs of dress boots I own. But I’d never use it on the waxed rough-out leathers because it’s pricey and the shine-factor is eliminated with waxed leathers.
My Overall Thoughts on Bickmore Bick4 Leather Conditioner
What I Like
Bick 4 doesn’t change the color or darken your leather.
An 8 oz bottle is relatively inexpensive and the amount of product means you can go on a conditioning spree.
The smell is super mild—you may not even notice it.
Because Bick 4 is a wax-free formulation, the pores of your leather will remain free and open.
What I Don’t Like
Bick 4 doesn’t do much to weather-seal your boots.
It has almost no effect on scuffs and scratches.
Who is Bick 4 for?
Bick 4 is an excellent leather conditioner for you if you’re looking for an inexpensive product to freshen up your boots, and you don’t mind going back and giving your boots some TLC every three months or so.
After giving Bick 4 a try, I consider it an essential part of a boot-care kit. It’s not my favorite conditioner—I prefer Venetian Shoe Cream over Bick 4.
But, I’m still happy with my purchase.
Bick 4 is the perfect product for when I want to give my boots a quick conditioning to liven up the leather. With 20+ pairs of boots, that can consume a lot of conditioner over time, so having something low-cost is awesome.
It doesn’t penetrate very deep into the leather, and it won’t remove any of the scuffs I pick up. But sometimes the leather is just looking a bit dry and needs a quick once-over to stay in optimum shape.
Bick 4 is part of my top three leather conditioners: Venetian as the heavy lifter, Saphir Renovateur for the top-shelf expensive stuff, and Bick 4 for quick care and rougher leathers that don’t need as much attention.
How to Use Bick 4 Leather Conditioner
Step 1: Clean Your Boots
To clean my boots, I usually just use a microfiber cloth and a horsehair brush to knock off excess dirt. If there’s a bit of mud caked on, I’ll get the cloth wet and break it loose.
However, if your boots are quite dirty and dusty, use a leather cleaner like Kiwi Saddle Soap.
Simply get some warm water, lather up a dauber brush, and suds up your whole boot. Make sure you clean all parts of the leather, as saddle soap removes some of the oils from the leather, and even cleaning will ensure an even color later.
After you’ve added suds all over your boots, use a towel or old shirt to wipe all the soap off.
Step 2: Let Dry
Let your boots dry for 12-24 hours after using saddle soap. If your boots are still wet, the Bick 4 will be less effective, and you risk oversaturating your leather.
Step 3: Apply Bick 4 Liberally with a Cloth
Using a microfiber towel or an old shirt, apply Bick 4 across the leather. Feel free to add a fair amount, and don’t hold back.
Bick 4 isn’t particularly potent, and I noticed that it doesn’t darken the leather at all where you apply it (some brands leave dark spots where you first make contact with the leather, and while it dissipates over a few days, it’s still a little unsightly).
After you’ve got an even coat, make sure you don’t have any excess conditioner hanging around in the welt.
Step 4 (Optional): Add a Second Coat
Bick 4 doesn’t penetrate very deep into your leather. If you’re using it as your main conditioner, or you don’t condition your boots very often (i.e. you don’t condition every six months at least), then I recommend going to a second coat.
Let the first coat dry for 4-6 hours, and then repeat step 3.
Step 5: Buff with a Horsehair Brush
Let the first or second coat sink in for 30 minutes to an hour, and then hit your boot with a horsehair brush.
This will even out your conditioner and give a slight finish to the leather. It’s important to note that Bick 4 doesn’t leave much of a shine, so a quick buff will do the trick.
Will Bick 4 darken leather?
No, Bick 4 doesn’t darken leather much, if at all. Even if you notice an initial darkening in the leather, it will fade back to its original color within a day or two.
Can you use too much leather conditioner?
Yes, it’s possible to use too much leather conditioner. With Bick 4, you don’t have to worry so much because it doesn’t penetrate very deeply. Don’t worry about applying too much leather conditioner, because you can always wipe off excess.
How do you rehydrate leather?
If your leather has started to crack, there isn’t much you can do to restore that. But you should rehydrate the leather as soon as possible. Any leather conditioner will help rehydrate your leather. A few of my favorites are Bick 4, Venetian Shoe Cream, and Saphir. If your leather hasn’t ever been conditioned, I’d start with Venetian.