Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Billings, Montana
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Brooks saddles are made from fairly thick leather. Treated or untreated, they're not gonna "breathe" much (defined as allowing air to pass through), except where they are perforated. Being a natural material (animal hide) the saddle will darken as you sweat on it, form to your specific butt-bones and, after break-in, will probably be more comfortable than anything else (IMHO). Plus, they are durable & have class!
The treatment is to preserve the leather by replacing the natural oils (preventing excessive drying & hardening) & to minimize damage from outside moisture. Brooks (& others) don't recommend oils 'cause oil tends to soften the leather more, sometimes leaving it "stretchier", requiring more tightening, etc.
Although some folks like to soften the saddle with oil to ease break-in, the saddle will probably last longer & require less re-tightening if broken-in by riding & then ocassionally treated with Brooks Proofide or something similar to preserve the leather.
We haven't ridden anything but leather saddles for years, so I guess I can't comment on other current saddle materials!