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How to Waterproof Hiking Boots


Are you looking to waterproof your hiking boots?

Rain, snow, mud, and endless external elements can take a toll on your hiking boots. The more miles you cover, the more wear and tear your boot will go through. 

Hiking boots are generally waterproof and can resist moisture. However, over time, the water-resistant properties suffer a setback due to damage from weather and rough use.

As a result, you will need to waterproof your hiking boots from time to time. We will explore how to waterproof different types of hiking boots and the best ways to do it. 

So, gather your boots and follow our tips.

Waterproofing Hiking Boots based on Material

Hiking boots are made from all sorts of materials- leather, synthetic, fabric, nylon, nubuck, and trademarked membranes like Gore-Tex®. The material of your boot determines the method and solutions you will use for waterproofing.

Here is how to waterproof common hiking boots.

Leather Boots

Full-grain leather boots made from animal skin have natural water-resistant properties. They may also come with a waterproof membrane for better results. However, they will still need periodical waterproofing to keep your feet dry.

You can use several waterproofing solutions designed for leather. Wax-based creams and sprays are good options to treat leather hiking boots. 

You need to wet your leather boot and apply waterproofing for optimum results.

Nubuck Leather Boots

Nubuck is an affordable and less durable leather with minimum water-resistant properties. You will need to waterproof your nubuck hiking boots regularly to avoid soaky feet. The same applies to boots made of suede or similar materials.

Many wax-based waterproofing solutions will work for nubuck and suede hiking boots. You should dampen your boots and then apply the waterproofing solution for improved moisture resistance.

Synthetic, Nylon, and Fabric

Many manufacturers use proprietary non-leather materials to make hiking boots. Nylon, synthetic, a range of fabric - the list is almost endless. These boots are light and easy to maintain, with good waterproofing materials and membranes.

You can easily waterproof your synthetic boots using creams and sprays. Just be sure to clean your boots first.

Gore-Tex® Boots

Gore-Tex® is a super-duper waterproof boot. But still, it needs waterproofing to increase the longevity of the Gore-Tex® membrane. 

You shouldn't use grease or wax to waterproof Gore-Tex® boots as it may hamper the breathability. Try sprays and use a sponge for improved results.

Common Waterproofing Solutions for Hiking Boots

The market has endless waterproofing solutions for your hiking boots. Here is a look at the most-used items to waterproof your hiking boots-

Waterproofing Spray

You will find ample waterproofing sprays to keep your boots dry. However, you must choose the right spray based on your hiking boot material. 

Wax-based sprays are best for leather and nubuck boots. You will also find sprays for synthetic and nylon boots.

Be sure to clean your boots before you apply the spray. Additionally, apply the spray carefully to form an even coat for the best waterproofing.

Always hold your can 6-inches far from your boots for spraying. You can use a cloth to wipe off any extra solution from your boots.

Wax and Bee's Wax

Bee's wax and wax-based products are ideal for leather hiking boots. The wax forms a water-resistant coat on your leather and keeps moisture away. You will find uncountable wax sprays and solutions to waterproof your boots like a pro.

Always heat your wax using a blower or hairdryer before applying. It will melt the wax and make it easy for you to coat your boots. Plus, warm wax also settles better and creates a resilient coating.


Waterproofing creams are another excellent option to make your hiking boots water-resistant. You can buy a cream that is right for your boot material easily. 

Use a sponge or rag to apply the cream evenly on your boots. Be careful not to miss any crevices or seams around the laces. Use a dry cloth to remove any extra cream afterward.

Test a small portion of your boot before you waterproof your entire boot. This will tell you whether the material is safe for your shoes or not.

Steps to Waterproof Your Hiking Boots

Follow the steps below to make your boots resilient to moisture.

1. Clean Your Boots

Clean your boots thoroughly to remove any dirt, mud, and grime. You can use water and boot cleaners if that suits your boots.

Leather boots can also be washed with water.

2. Apply Waterproofing

Let the boots dry in shade before you use waterproofing. Leather boots should be a bit wet for the best application. Nubuck and suede boots should also be a bit damp for using waterproofing.

3. Dry Your Boots

Wipe off the extra waterproofing material with a cloth and let your boots dry. You can then go for a hike!

Waterproof Hiking Boots FAQ

1. Can WD 40 waterproof boots?

WD 40 is a good way to waterproof your boots even though it's not meant for that purpose. It can also protect your feet from winter elements. However, use WD 40 only when you don't have other means of waterproofing your boots.

2. Do Gore-Tex boots need to be waterproofed?

Gore-Tex is waterproof and doesn't need any additional treatment, at least in the first year or two. Nonetheless, you can still waterproof your boots for longevity and better results. Waterproofing your Gore-Tex won't harm your hiking boots.

3. How often should I waterproof my hiking boots?

How often you need to waterproof your boots depends on your use. Boots with waterproof materials can retain their properties for a year or two. Then you should apply waterproof solutions at least every few months.

Heavy users may need to waterproof boots more often. It may be a good idea to apply a coat of waterproofing before every hike.


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