How to Waterproof Hiking Boots

If you love roaming the outdoors and hiking, you’ll know one of the most important considerations on any hike is the weather, and whilst every precaution can be taken, the weather remains unpredictable and it’s quite likely that from time to time, you’ll be caught in wet weather while hiking.

Being prepared for the weather and varying terrain whilst staying comfortable is crucial for hiking, especially on long hikes that may involve camping outdoors overnight for a stint. One of the most important pieces of hiking kit that you’ll need to keep dry and waterproof is your hiking boots. If they get wet and take in water, they become uncomfortable and gradually cause blisters which can be painful.

So, what are the best products available for waterproofing hiking boots? Keep reading to learn some of the best ways to keep your boots dry, waterproof, and maintain maximum comfort for hiking in any conditions or terrain!

How to Waterproof Hiking Boots

When Do You Need To Waterproof Hiking Boots?

As almost all new hiking boots will be manufactured with a water repellent finish, new boots will not require waterproofing and should remain durable for some time. You may find that after a few hikes, particularly in wet terrain, that the water repellent finish may start to wear off, and this is when it’s time to replace it.

A good way to check if your boots require waterproofing is when you no longer see the water bead and roll off the fabric of the boot, or when you see wet patching forming in the fabric anywhere on the boot.

Here are the steps we’re going to run through so you can keep your boots dry and comfy:

  • Purchase the right waterproofing treatment for your boots
  • Clean your boots thoroughly (do not let boots dry)
  • Apply waterproofing treatment to the entire boot and allow it to dry
step 1

Purchase The Best Waterproofing Treatment For Your Boots

The main steps to waterproofing hiking boots begin with purchasing a trusted waterproofing agent that is compatible with your boot. Hiking boots are typically made with full-grain leather, or suede leather, which is more coarse in texture. There are also Gore-Tex®/membrane and smooth-skinned leather hiking boots.

Waterproofing treatments are available in gels, sprays, and liquid form that can be diluted with water and applied to hiking boot fabric.

Leather/Fabric Hiking Boots

One of the easiest all-purpose waterproofing treatments that are suitable for leather and fabrics is KIWI Boot Waterproofer. This spray-on treatment is ideal for hunting boots, hiking boots, and outdoor activity boots, providing a tough and durable silicone waterproof barrier whilst allowing materials to breathe.

KIWI Boot Waterproofer

KIWI Boot Waterproofer

  • KIWI Boot Waterproofer provides tough silicone protection for work and outdoor boots
  • Spray has unique formula that bonds to leather and fabrics
  • Creates an extremely tough water barrier, while still allowing materials to breathe

Nubuck/Suede Hiking Boots

For those with nubuck or Suede boots, it’s best to use a waterproofing treatment that is made specifically for your boot material, and KIWI Suede; Nubuck Waterproofer is a great option here. Much the same as above, it comes as a spray and is easy to apply to your hiking boots, providing protection from water and stains.

KIWI Suede & Nubuck Waterproofer Spray

KIWI Suede & Nubuck Waterproofer Spray

  • KIWI Suede & Nubuck Waterproofer Spray provides protection against water and stains
  • Waterproof spray for shoes is suitable for all types and colors of suede and nubuck leather
  • Keep your shoes looking new

With both examples above it’s best to thoroughly clean your boots first, spray your boots from a distance of around 6 inches and apply an even coat to the boot material. You’ll need to allow time for the first coat to dry and then repeat the process again.

Gore-Tex®/Membrane Hiking boots

Newer brands of hiking boots are nowadays using a Gore-Tex® membrane or other types of breathable waterproof membranes that use a polymer membrane and the outer fabric of the boot will have a chemical coating that prevents moisture from penetrating the inner membrane.

This coating will eventually wear off with time with regular wear and tear, exposure to dirt, detergents, and other materials. You will want to reapply a waterproofing treatment to Gore-Tex® hiking boots when you see that water starts to soak into the boot fabric, or when you see that water no longer beads from the fabric.

Apply a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) to your boots that are water-based and available in liquid form (or a spray can) so you can apply it to your boots with an even coat. It is important not to use wax or grease as they will prevent breathability in the fabric and make the Gore-Tex® less effective.

Gear AID Revivex Durable Water Repellent

Gear AID Revivex Durable Water Repellent

  • Restore water repellency on GORE-TEX jackets, bibs, ski pants, gloves, drysuits and waders; add repellency to nylon tent flies, down jackets and backpacks
  • Long-lasting, spray-on formula is washable and provides all-season protection from water, oil and stains; one 10.5 oz can treats 2-4 jackets
  • DWR spray maximizes breathability and enhances performance of all types of waterproof-breathable fabrics

Wax/Grease Based Waterproofing For Smooth-Skinned Leather Hiking Boots

Although less common nowadays, wax-based or grease-based waterproofing treatments are still available and can be used in a similar fashion on any smooth-skinned leather hiking boots, providing protection from water, oil, and stains.

Grangers Paste Wax

Grangers Paste Wax

  • Formulated to provide enhanced protection to leather footwear
  • Produced using natural beeswax for improved performance
  • Protects against water, oil, and stains

To apply the wax, remove the boot laces, and use your fingers to smear the wax evenly over the leather portion of the boot. Once applied evenly, you should use a shoe brush to brush off any excess wax and give your boots a shine.

Be aware that the wax treatment will leave a waxy residue that cannot be removed and may make it impossible to bind or glue a new sole to the boot.

step 2

Clean Your Boots Thoroughly

You will need to properly clean your hiking boots before applying any waterproofing treatment, and this will allow the treatment to penetrate the fabric of your boots and work as effectively as possible.

You will need a stiff-bristled brush, a cloth, and a boot cleaner to effectively clean your hiking boots and prepare them for waterproofing. It’s worth purchasing a pack that contains all of the items in one, such as GEAR AID Revivex Boot Care Kit with Spray, Cleaner, Brush, and Eraser.

GEAR AID Revivex Boot Care Kit with Spray, Cleaner, Brush, and Eraser

GEAR AID Revivex Boot Care Kit with Spray, Cleaner, Brush, and Eraser

  • PVC
  • Made in the USA
  • Protect footwear from water and stains and keep them looking new with this all-in-one suede and fabric boot care kit

Just be sure to check what material your hiking boots are made of and purchase the appropriate waterproofing treatment as we mentioned above.

Steps to cleaning your boots:

  • Remove the shoelaces from your boots.
  • Use a brush to scrub off the excess dirt and dust from all areas of the hiking boots.
  • Where necessary, add some water to the brush and apply some cleaner to remove stubborn stains and dirt.
  • Completely remove any detergent or cleaner from the boot and ensure the boots are wet enough that the fabric has absorbed water.
step 3

Apply Waterproofing Treatment To The Boot And Allow To Dry

It’s important to apply the waterproofing treatment while the boots are still wet and the fabric has absorbed water. If you’re applying a treatment to leather boots, ensure the leather is soaked and that water has absorbed into the leather completely (this may take some time).

Steps to apply waterproofing treatment:

  • Submerging your boots in a sink full of water for a couple of hours will be sufficient time to allow the water to penetrate the leather in your hiking boots.
  • To apply the waterproofing treatment, carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions as steps may vary depending on the product.
  • Allow boots to dry at room temperature and in a space that has low humidity. If you want your boots to dry faster, you can use a fan.
  • Do not use a heat source to dry your boots.

Keep Your Hiking Boots Waterproofed

The great outdoors is a fun and interesting place to be. Having the right gear can make the experience even more enjoyable. After all, even if you have checked the weather before a hike, you never know when you might need to cross a stream or accidentally step into a puddle of water along the way.

If you want to get the most out of your hiking boots, always keep them waterproof. Your feet will thank you later! As instructions vary between brands and for different boot materials, always follow the guidance provided by the manufacturer and you will be on your way to many more happy adventures.