How To Waterproof Hiking Boots

How To Waterproof Hiking Boots

When you hike, crossing puddles or getting into the rain is inevitable. These will keep your hiking boots wet and make your feet extremely uncomfortable.

So how to remedy this issue? Today’s post will give you everything about the topic “how to waterproof hiking boots.” Let’s find out now!

What Is Waterproofing?

What Is Waterproofing

Waterproofing means keeping water out of your hiking boots. In other words, waterproofing is an ability that can seal up materials so that water does not penetrate.

The critical factor about waterproofing is that we need to make sure the structure of your boots stays sound and in good condition for the lifespan of that structure.

Sometimes, waterproofing is just a water repellent which is a coating that allows the water to run off like oil on a deck or something similar to that.

Why Waterproofing Hiking Boots Important

Generally, it is essential to waterproof your boots because of the following advantages:

  • It helps protect your shoes from damage caused by exposure to water or moisture. Thus, it increases durability and retains color for your hiking boots.
  • Keep your feet dry and not blistering, making you feel more comfortable when hiking.

How To Waterproof Hiking Boots

Usually, boots are made up of different materials, including full-grain leather, nubuck leather and suede, and fabric. Therefore, waterproofing treatment and waterproofing processes will be dissimilar for each type. Specifically:

Waterproofing Full-grain Leather Boots

Waterproofing Full-grain Leather Boots

Although leather is a naturally waterproof material, it cannot be completely waterproof when it is too wet in a place such as a bog or when it rains. So it needs a little bit of artificial help to enhance this property.

One of the things that can help waterproof leather is dubbing waxes. These waxes are commercially available so that they can be purchased quite easily. They are formulated from many unique ingredients to help restore the waterproof to leather and help preserve the skin better.

Leather is usually made from animal skin so as time goes on, its moisture and natural oils are no longer the same as it was at first. At this time, the leather may appear cracked, or it becomes dry.

In this case, leather cream is the best solution. It will help your boots restore their original shine and help protect your shoes from scratches.

Below are steps to waterproof your full-grain leather boots:

Step # 1: Clean your boots

At this step, you need to remove the loose dirt on your boots first. Then use a towel dipped in warm water and wiped off the rest of the shoes.

If your shoes are stained too much, wash them with warm water. But note that you must not immerse the entire boot in the water basin.  Otherwise, it will be severely damaged or may even be unusable.

Step # 2: Dry your boots

Dry your boots

Before applying wax, cream, or gels for waterproofing, you need to let your boots dry. Be patiently dry your shoes in the sun to allow them to dry naturally. If you dry them with the dryer, they will be damaged.

Step # 3: Apply the treatment

Apply a sufficient amount of wax, gel, or cream to a dry cloth and then smooth over the leather.

It is best to start with a small amount of polish, gel, or cream first and then apply more if necessary. Avoid using too much at a time because this will make leather hard. If the wax you are using is too solid, melt it with a hairdryer.

Step # 4: Let your boots dry

After applying the waxes, let your boots dry for around 30-60 minutes. Remember to let them dry naturally instead of using a hairdryer or something like that.

Step # 5: Wipe off the wax

Use a dry cloth to wipe all the wax off, and your boots are now waterproofed.

You can watch this video to learn more about waterproof leather boots:

How to Water Proof Leather Boots

Waterproofing nubuck leather and suede boots

Nubuck or suede leather is not the same as regular leather. They are more subtle and have more feathers. Hence, applying thick wax on this leather type should be avoided as thick wax will damage the fluff on your boots. Wax sprays are the best option for this leather type.

Steps to waterproof nubuck leather and suede boots:

Step # 1: Clean your shoes carefully and effectively

You can clean the loose dirt using horsehair brushes or soft-bristled ones.

Step # 2: Let your boots dry

Your boots need to be dry before you apply any waxes to them. The best way is to let them dry naturally under the fan. A hairdryer is never a choice for drying leather.

Step # 3: Apply wax spray on your boots

Spray the wax on your boots at a distance of around 5 cm. That way, the spray can spread over your shoes.

Step # 4: Let the boots dry

After spraying the whole boots, let them dry naturally for about an hour. After drying, if you think the wax cover is not enough, you can apply a second one.

Step # 5: Buff the leather fibers

Now you can use a horsehair brush to buff your boots. Note to do gently, or it will damage your boots. That way, your boots will be shiner.

Those who want to find out more about how to waterproof and preserve nubuck and suede boots can watch this video:

How to Waterproof and Preserve Nubuck Leather Hiking Boots

Waterproofing fabric boots

When talking about fabric boots, we can’t help but mention Gore-tex, a famous brand providing different fabric shoes, clothes, and accessories. If you want to get quality boots, you can try this brand.

Unlike other shoes, fabric boots are not easy to waterproof because the fabric is a material that will soak in water. However, there are also ways to waterproof them. Below are the steps:

Step # 1: Get your boots clean

To clean your fabric boots, you need to prepare a toothbrush and soap-water solution first.

Then, you dip the bristles of your toothbrush in the soap-water solution and gently brush the fabric. After that, rub the soap-water residue off with a clean damp cloth.

Step # 2: Let the boots dry

After cleaning your boots, you should let them dry naturally under the sunshine or the fan. If you are impatient and use a hairdryer to dry them, that will damage your boots.

Step # 3: Apply a waterproof spray

When your boots are dry, you will apply the waterproof spray all over them. Then, let them dry for a while. You can use another coating if necessary.

How Effective Are Waterproof Shoes?

How Effective Are Waterproof Shoes

Although we don’t want to, we still have to say that no boots are fully waterproof in reality. To waterproof, the material must lose its ability to breathe.

If you have worn the yellow rubber boots, you will know that they keep your feet dry every time you walk through puddles. However, sweat will build up when you exercise or walk too much. That will cause discomfort in your legs because the boots have decreased or lost their ability to release air.

To avoid this issue, the manufacturers designed hiking footwear more breathable. But this means they have lost their ability to waterproof. In this case, waterproof hiking boots will play a role in wet conditions.

However, dirty sand and other types of dirt can ultimately contaminate the fragile waterproof membrane. Thus, it affects the ability to keep your feet dry from inside and outside.

The best way to keep your shoes waterproof might be to clean them consistently. However, it is not always a suitable choice for extended trips or harsh terrain.

Height is also a factor that you should consider when making options. The water-resistant lining can keep extreme rainfall from seeping into your boots. Nevertheless, when you wade through flowing creeks or try to cross a deep river, the waterproof layer can’t afford to prevent water from spilling inside the shoe.

Hiking boots with higher ankles are more helpful, but they are still water-permeable if you run out of feet while crossing streams.

Top Best Waterproofers for Boots

  • Best for leather: Garde Grain & Stain Water Repellent.
    This waterproofing spray comes from Apple Brand, a brand in the U.S. It protects your boots from rain and stains and can be used for all products like shoes, handbags, boots, furniture, wallets, and so on. One highlighted feature of this waterproofer is that it will not affect the appearance of your products.

  • Best for suede: The Art of Crep Protect Spray
    This spray is also an American brand – the Crep Protect. You can use it as a waterproofer for suede, nubuck, or even canvas. It can protect your boots with an invisible barrier, repel the liquids, and prevent stains.

  • Best for hiking and outdoors: Kiwi Boot Waterproofer
    This type of spray offers rugged silicone protection for hiking and outdoor boots. Because of its unique formula, it can bond to fabrics and leather. Accordingly, it builds a formidable barrier to prevent water from soaking into your shoes but still makes them breathable.

To sum up, the article has shown you all the crucial details about how to waterproof your hiking boots. Whether you are a backpacker or a hiker, it is essential to learn this topic. That way, you will know how to protect your shoes from soaking into water.

Please feel free to comment to ask more questions about the topic. Thanks for reading!


Do I have to clean my hiking boots before waterproofing them?

It would help if you did that. If not, the waterproof spray or waxes will stick on the dirt instead of your boots.

Do hiking boots last longer after being waterproof?

In theory, it is so, but the reality depends. If you experience frequent rain or cross streams, the waterproofing will quickly lose its effect.

How long should I spend to waterproof my hiking boots?

It is impossible to say precisely how long. It depends on how long your boots will dry after cleaning. As you have to let them dry naturally, the time will be quite long.

What can I use to waterproof my boots?

Depending on what materials your boots are made up of, the waterproofers can be spray, waxes, or gels.