Oof, you hate to see that.
New pair of boots. And the first day out, you scrape the toe against a step.
Sure, they were looking good. But now they have scratches all along the toe.
It happens to the best of us. You can get it out, though. A high-quality leather conditioner should do the trick.
I’m always testing new conditioners to see their relative strengths and weaknesses, and this time, I’m testing out Blackrock Leather ‘N’ Rich.
Keep reading to see what to expect from this conditioner, and whether there’s a better choice out there for you.
Blackrock Leather ‘N’ Rich Overview
Blackrock Leather ‘N’ Rich is an American Company based in Nashville, and it has a pretty cool story.
In 1976, the Christian Brothers western footwear store opened up in Illinois. The owner wanted to give his customers a balm product so they could care for their new boots easily, so he started making his own with a carnauba wax base.
Now, his grandson has taken over the business and exclusively makes Blackrock Leather ‘N’ Rich as the sole product of the brand.
Blackrock is based in Nashville, Tennessee, and the formulation is exactly the same as it was back in the 70s.
Things to Consider Before Buying Blackrock Leather ‘N’ Rich
Blackrock Leather ‘N’ Rich doesn’t waterproof your leather. If you’re looking for a product that will add a significant layer of water protection, I would look specifically toward a waterproofer or mink oil.
Blackrock’s biggest pro is that it doesn’t alter the color of the leather, nor does it clog up the pores of your leather.
For some work boots, color isn’t important, so adding a ton of mink oil is a good choice to help condition and waterproof the leather. But Blackrock is a much better choice if you want to preserve the original color of your boots while giving them a little “pick-me-up.”
Blackrock Leather ‘N’ Rich Review
Applying Blackrock Leather ‘N’ Rich is super easy. I tried mine out with the Helm Hollis boot (pictured), which uses a hot stuffed Rockford leather.
Blackrock works the best with similar oily and waxy leathers—Horween Chromexcel comes to mind as a very popular leather that Blackrock would mesh well with.
Many videos I watched showed the founder using Blackrock on a pair of Red Wing Iron Rangers, which has a more matte leather. I don’t think I’ll use Blackrock on my Iron Rangers as the high carnauba wax content adds a bit more shine than I’d like on that boot.
That said, the application is a breeze. After dusting off the boot and removing the laces, take a nickel sized amount of balm on your finger and use your fingertips to spread the balm across the entire boot.
You really don’t need to use much to cover the entire boot. Blackrock applies smoothly and evenly.
Some products, like Venetian Shoe Cream or Bick 4, tend to absorb quickly, so getting an even spread is difficult. That wasn’t the case with Blackrock.
Blackrock Leather ‘N’ Rich doesn’t darken leather at all. If you’ve had your boots for a while and they’re covered in dust, then it may seem like it’s darkening the leather, but that’s really just the leather accepting the conditioner and returning to its original color.
I’ve tried Blackrock on both brown and black boots. Leather darkening is only really an issue on brown boots in my experience, and as you can see, there’s virtually no noticeable difference in the leather color with and without conditioner.
Leather ‘N’ Rich has decent conditioning power, though other products like Venetian absorb deeper into the leather.
If you have really dry leather that hasn’t been treated in years, I would reach for Venetian over Blackrock because Venetian has much more of an oil base, whereas Blackrock is more waxy.
One isn’t necessarily better than the other, but if your leather is dry, you need to start off by plumping it back up with oil.
As a standalone, Blackrock Leather ‘N’ Rich is decent with its conditioning, but the high wax content doesn’t penetrate very deep into leather, which means if your boots are in serious need of TLC, you’ll want a different product like Venetian.
The reason I like Blackrock with Horween Chromexcel so much is because Blackrock is a wax-based conditioner and can restore the natural shine that Chromexcel has.
Blackrock Leather ‘N’ Rich doesn’t act like a polisher: don’t expect to get a high gloss or anything with this product, but it’ll preserve the oils and waxes that make some boots shiny.
Again, I’m using my Blackrock on the Helm Hollis, which is made with Rockford leather, another hot-stuffed high-shine leather. Because Blackrock restores waxes, it helps preserve the original look of the boot.
The HELM Boots Hollis has a solid balance between a workwear aesthetic and a more dressy, narrow shape. Its two strong-suits are its quality leather and overall comfort with the lining and insole.
I don’t like using Blackrock on my Iron Rangers because that’s a fairly matte leather. There is a high wax content in Leather ‘N’ Rich, and I find that the added shine, though minimal, is more than I want for my 8111 S.B Foot Tanning Company leather.
What do Other Reviewers Say?
From 30-year old Wesco Firefighting boots, to sun-damaged leather couches, reviews for Blackrock Leather ‘N’ Rich run the gamut.
Hundreds of reviews are almost entirely positive, but there were a few negatives sprinkled in.
The most common complaint is actually a product of over-applying the product. Some say that their couch was still sticky after using Blackrock (which is almost always a case of overuse).
Start with a small amount and make sure it’s absorbing into the leather. Even with well-conditioned boots, I didn’t have to wait more than three minutes for the product to almost entirely absorb. After that, just a quick buff and shine with a microfiber towel and there was no residue left over.
Blackrock Leather ‘N’ Rich Alternatives
Venetian Leather Balm
Venetian Leather Balm is more of an oil base compared to Blackrock. I like it because it doesn’t darken the leather at all, similar to Blackrock, but it does a better job with dry and worn out leathers.
In my experience, Venetian absorbs deeper into leather, which is critical with dry leather specifically.
Blackrock is a better product if you want to bring shine back, though. Venetian doesn’t have the same shine factor as Blackrock.
If you want shine and waxy protection, go Blackrock. If you want deep dry leather restoration, go Venetian.
Saphir Renovateur is the best of the best. It’s also the most expensive by a long shot.
If you’re working with exotic leathers, or your leather has deep scratches in it, I would stump up and get the expensive Saphir.
If your boots are in relatively good condition, or the leather isn’t an exotic, I’d stick with Blackrock from a pure price perspective.
Saphir does an amazing job bringing oils and waxes back into leather without darkening and while adding shine—it’s a do-it-all product. But if you own a lot of leather goods, you can tally up quite a hefty bill with Saphir.
My Thoughts Overall On Blackrock Leather ‘N’ Rich
What I Like
Blackrock leather conditioner doesn’t change the color of leather at all.
If your leather has some shine to it, like Horween Chromexcel or Bermudez Rockford leather, Blackrock does an excellent job preserving that natural shine.
It applies smooth and easy.
What I Don’t Like
There’s a chemical smell that’s unpleasant up close.
It adds some shine, which isn’t always desirable if you want to keep your leather matte.
Who is Blackrock Leather ‘N’ Rich for?
Blackrock is an excellent conditioner if you’re looking to keep your boots looking fresh and classy. While it’s not great for bringing old leather back from the dead, it can keep relatively fresh leather looking fantastic for years.
I’ve been using Blackrock on all my Horween Chromexcel boots like the Wolverine 1000 Mile, and Grant Stone Brass Boots. I’m also using Blackrock on my Helm Hollis (Bermudez Rockford leather).
The price is right for Leather ‘N’ Rich, and I like that the high wax content keeps my leather looking classy and adds a bit of water resistance.
If I had a boot that was dried out and on the verge of cracking, I’d opt for Venetian Leather Balm, which penetrates deeper into leather to restore oils.
Still, I’m really pleased to find Blackrock Leather ‘N’ Rich as a cheaper, but still effective alternative to Saphir Renovateur.
Does Blackrock Leather ‘N’ Rich darken leather?
No, Blackrock Leather ‘N’ Rich doesn’t darken leather at all, but it will restore the original leather color, which may appear darker than what you’re used to.
How do you use Blackrock Leather ‘N’ Rich?
Simply apply Blackrock Leather ‘N’ Rich with your fingertips and spread evenly across the entire surface of the leather. Wait for it to absorb for three to five minutes, use a buffing brush, and then use a microfiber towel in a circular motion to bring out the shine.