Bickmore has been in the leather care game since 1882, when they started out by making products to soothe sores on horses that were caused by their harnesses.
In the early twentieth century they started branching out into shaving cream and toothpaste and eventually their journey through the oozy creams of the world led them to make Bick 4, one of the most beloved boot care products in the industry.
Reddit’s Goodyear welt crowd often exalts Bick 4 as one of the best leather conditioners because it swears — swears — it won’t darken your leather. Too good to be true? I put to the test with my old pair of Alden Indys. (See my Alden Indy review here.)
Bick 4 Ingredients
- Proprietary blend
- Contains emulsifiers, conditioners, moisturizers
- Wax free
- Will not darken leather
A “proprietary blend of natural emulsifiers, conditioners, and moisturizers,” we don’t know much about what it’s made from.
This is advertised as “specially formulated to condition, clean, polish and preserve all smooth finished leather” and “ideal for reconditioning old or dry leather.” It also claims it won’t leave residue behind on your leather.
As far as ingredients, we do know that it’s wax free, which Bickmore claims is so that the product won’t clog the pores in the leather.
So let’s see how it fares on some old Chromexcel leather.
How to Use Bick 4
- First you want to clean your boots. I just use Leather Honey’s Leather Cleaner. Put a tablespoon in half a cup of water and apply it with a cloth. Wait for the boot to dry before getting started with the Bick 4.
- Then you just shake well and apply with a cloth. (You can always use an old t-shirt but I prefer to use this lint-free microfiber cloth.)
- You’re instructed to apply this liberally. Unlike many competitors, they don’t have as much of a “less is more” “only use a dime-sized amount for the whole shoe” philosophy. Because Bick 4 doesn’t seep in quite as deeply into the leather as a lot of other products, you can use as much as you want, within reason.
- Note that you may have to apply two coats, depending on how dry the leather is: the leather soaks up the conditioner the first time and the second coat gives it more of a finish. Wait ten minutes between applications if you go this route.
- Wait a half hour and buff the boot with a horsehair brush. This helps to bring out more of a shine, though given the absence of wax, this product isn’t great at shine.
[Want to know how to condition Red Wing boots? Check out my video guide to mink oil versus boot oil.]
Bick 4 Results
Lo and behold, the leather didn’t darken at all. This is extraordinarily rare, even among higher quality products like Venetian Shoe Cream. The leather is definitely more supple and pliant after applying Bick 4.
Similar to neatsfoot oil, it doesn’t sink very deeply into the leather, which means you might need to apply it more regularly than something like mink oil.
It did a good job of bringing vibrance back to the leather, which is noticeably more supple and pliant. It did a decent job of reducing scuff marks — it wasn’t as great as pricier products like Saphir, but I was still impressed for the price point.
It’s also not great at water resistance. If that’s important to you, Bickmore suggests using their Gard-More Water & Stain Repellant.
[Learn more in my guide to waterproofing nice boots.]
Bickmore Bick 4 Price
This is a very inexpensive conditioner: $17 for 16 ounces, a little over $1 per ounce. Compare that to industry leader Venetian Shoe Cream at $3 an ounce, Cobbler’s Choice and Otter Wax for between $4 and $7 an ounce, and Saphir Renovateur for $9 an ounce.
Bickmore Bick 4 Pros & Cons
- Doesn’t darken
- Makes leather supple and pliant
- Wax free (if that matters)
- Not much of a shine
- Doesn’t penetrate very deeply
- Not great for water resistance
- Good, but not great at removing scuffs
It’s super cheap, it moisturizes leather, and it won’t darken your shoes. This is pretty much a slam dunk. It’s not the best conditioner out there — like I said, it’s not as good as pricier products are removing scuffs, plus it needs to be applied pretty frequently and does penetrate all that deeply. But it’s definitely a good product to reach for if you shoes need a little pick me up.