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The 3 Best Hide Tanning Solution Brands

My great-great-grandfather was a cobbler who tanned his own hides. Back then, he did not have access to modern tanning solutions and had to do it the old-fashioned way. Here is a section of leather he made that has been passed down through the generations.

A Piece of Leather Tanned by Jordan Lafayette Gay
Made by Jordan Lafayette Gay, born 1844.

Whether you are an amateur tanner or are looking to upgrade your toolkit, it never hurts to find something to make your craft a little bit better. Nothing is more important than the tanning solution.

The best modern hide tanning solution brand is Cumberland’s, as its products offer unbeatable quality for their given price point. If you want to invest in a higher-end option, choose Advanced Training Solutions. For amateurs, Melby Outdoors is the way to go.

In the following sections, I’ll take you through three of the best tanning solution brands on today’s market and how to get your hands on them. Additionally, I’ll cover everything you need to know regarding what makes a good hide tanning solution and what to avoid when choosing a brand.

1. Cumberland‘s

Cumberland‘s Fur Tanning Formula (available on Amazon) is one of the best alternatives in today’s hide tanning market. The brand is well-renowned among enthusiasts for its safety, accessibility, and the odorless experience it provides.

This tanning solution, in particular, is one of Cumberland’s best-selling products, which comes as no surprise considering the unparalleled value for money it offers. The product is extremely user-friendly, as it comes equipped with a pamphlet that makes the whole tanning process a breeze.

Cumberland’s Tanning Formula is the best choice for those looking to achieve an effortless and even tan without breaking the bank. This option isn’t only feature-heavy, but it’s also the cheapest out of all options mentioned on this list, making it the ideal choice for most hunters.

You won’t have to take my word for it, though, as thousands of tanners also vouch for this product, praising its quality and convenience. 

Not only are the provided directions clear and easy to use, but you can also adjust them according to your liking and still get excellent results. For example, if you’re used to a true and proven tanning method, you can still use this solution even if your approach doesn’t match the one recommended in the pamphlet.

Additionally, due to the ingredients this product features, the hide tanning process will be more effective and much quicker than it would be with other alternatives.

However, keep in mind that if you’re working with a piece of leather that’s especially sensitive, the solution might make its texture a bit tougher. So if you’re planning to hand-sew the material, it might be harder to pierce a needle through it.

That said, the issue shouldn’t be a cause of concern as you can easily combat it by using sandpaper to break up the skin and then applying mink oil (sparingly). Afterward, you’ll want to continue to work the hide for a few days to let the oil soak in. As long as you take the time to do so, you won’t have to worry about the solution toughening the material. 

In addition, I want to emphasize the importance of removing all meat and fat from the skin before you begin the tanning process; otherwise, the solution won’t work. You’ll also want to ensure that the material is completely dry before attempting any alterations. If necessary, try the salt layering method to speed up the process. This approach will not only dry out the leather much quicker but will also help preserve it better.

2. Advanced Tanning Solutions

The runner-up on my list is the Advanced Tanning Solution’s Tanning Kit. As far as quality and ease of use go, make no mistake, this product is excellent. But given its price point, it might not be accessible to all hunters.

Granted, this is a tanning kit and not just a bottle of solution; therefore, you’re getting a pretty extensive range of products for what you’re paying, including:

  • Fleshing tool
  • Pickle tan
  • Disposable gloves
  • Degreaser
  • Protective mask
  • Stone silk powder
  • Degreaser

However, seeing how most experienced hunters already own most of these products, the premium price might be an unnecessary expense. For amateur hunters, on the other hand, the all-in-one Advanced Tanning Solutions kit can help guide them better through the tanning process.

The brand is as all-inclusive as it gets as far as hide tanning solutions go. So although you’ll be making a pricey investment, you’ll receive excellent value in the form of convenience.

You can use the multi-purpose solution on the hides of various small mammals, including foxes, rabbits, and other similar animals. The end product always comes out soft and stretchy, giving higher-end brands a run for their money.

You’ll also be pleased to learn that the kit provides plentiful amounts of solution, enough to tan an entire bear or mountain lion.

Additionally, the excellent-quality, sizey products aren’t the only components that make this kit worth its price. The company also offers unparalleled customer service, which has left many Amazon reviewers raving about their experience. Therefore, knowing that there’s always going to be a helpful, timely solution to any of your concerns can help put your mind at ease when it comes to making such a costly investment.

3. Melby Outdoors

For hide tanning amateurs on a budget, the Melby Outdoors Fur Tanning Kit is the way to go. The brand offers everything you’ll need to tan your hide at home in a neatly-wrapped package that includes one of the highest quality solutions.

Not only does the company provide excellent value for its given price point, but you’re also guaranteed free shipping on all orders inside the US. That’s because the brand itself operates fully inside the US, meaning its products undergo the strictest quality and safety controls.

Therefore, if you don’t have much experience in tanning hide and want to try your hand using a less expensive alternative, I’d highly recommend going for the Melby Outdoors Fur Tanning Kit. Their instructions are short, clear, and easy to follow, and the results are stunning.

Furthermore, this is yet another company that receives high praise for its customer service. So if you’re unsure about any steps in the tanning process, don’t hesitate to reach out to the seller, as they’ll gladly assist you.

What Makes a Good Hide Tanning Solution?

Hide Used for Tanning Stretched in a Loom

Choosing a tanning solution that works well with your hide and overall requirements might be more challenging than you think. And seeing as some of the brands are expensive, not knowing how to shop for the best hide tanning solution can cost you.

Let me also point out that no solution will work as you want it to unless you first prepare the hide for tanning. You can follow this simple guide for more information regarding the process if you’re new to it.

A good hide tanning solution consists of biodegradable, preservative-free ingredients. It’s spreadable and workable, all the while maintaining a decent drying speed. Additionally, it doesn’t have too much alcohol, which can cause the hide to wilt.

As long as you keep this product description in mind, you’ll always be able to pick a hide tanning solution that provides high-quality results without fail. All products mentioned in this list exemplify the description. So when in doubt, you can always opt for one of them.

However, regardless of how reputable the brand you choose is, it’s always a good idea to test the solution on a small patch first to see how it takes. Doing this helps you understand whether the product is fit for use or not. It’s also an excellent way to test out different tanning approaches so you can narrow it down to the one that works best with your materials.

What To Avoid When Choosing a Hide Tanning Solution?

With so many hide tanning solution brands in today’s market, it can be hard to tell which ones are worth investing in and which ones aren’t. Usually, the only way to differentiate them is by trying out the products first. However, there are a few details you can watch out for to help you rule out options that likely won’t work.

When choosing a tanning solution, you should avoid products with a pH level higher than 2. Secondly, steer away from products that list a wide range of additives and preservatives on their ingredient list, as these components rarely work well with natural materials such as leather.

For more, check out Best Knife for Processing Deer | Hint: You Need Two.