Keeping your feet dry is one of the most important things you should do out hiking. Wet feet are not only uncomfortable but can be dangerous in the cold and contribute to blisters. Waterproofing your boots is easy. 20 minutes of work can keep your feet dry and boots in great shape.

WHY WATERPROOF YOUR BOOTS?

1. DRY FEET PREVENT BLISTERS

The first and most obvious reason is to keep your feet dry. Dry feet on a hike is far more comfortable and helps prevent blisters.

2. ODOUR

You might have a waterproof membrane in your boots like Gore-tex. Re-waterproofing helps moisture and odours escape through that layer.

3. EXTEND LIFE OF YOUR BOOTS

Another reason to keep your waterproofing maintained is to extend the life of your boots. You don’t want to buy new boots every year. They aren’t cheap. Cleaning, waterproofing and drying your boots will keep money in your pocket.

WHEN SHOULD I WATERPROOF MY BOOTS?

You don’t need to waterproof your boots every hike. There are 2 cases to watch out for, whenever they get particularly dirty or when water stops beading on the surface of the boots. Usually, a few times a year if you are hiking a lot.

WHAT TYPE OF BOOTS DO YOU HAVE?

To waterproof your boots, you need to know what material the boots are made of, and every material uses a different product for waterproofing. The process is the same, but the product you buy needs to match the material of the boot. If you’re not sure what material your boot is, you can always look it up.

THE PROCESS: HOW TO WATERPROOF BOOTS FOR HIKING

STEP 1. CLEAN BOOTS

The first step to waterproofing your boots is to clean them. Waterproofing waxes and sprays won’t do much if your boots are covered in mud and dirt.

Clean your boots after every use if you can. The less mileage you put on them dirty, the longer they’ll last. You can wash with water and a soft brush. You’re just looking to get all the dirt off the outside.

When you’re going to re-waterproof, it’s time for a deep clean. Take out the laces and insoles and get as much dirt off as you can. If necessary, you can leave them in an inch of water for a couple of hours to loosen tough dirt on the sole.

STEP 2. WATERPROOF BOOTS

Each boot material is different so you’ll need to buy the product that matches your boot. If you are worried about changing the colour of your boots with wax or spray, test a small inconspicuous area first.

For a wax-based type of waterproofer, warm it up first and then wipe on your boots. Make sure to cover the entire boot. Wipe off the excess and then buff to a shine.

Some waterproofers are water-based. For the cremes, apply with the applicator and rub everywhere on the boot. You can use a clean cloth to get it into the tricky parts.

For sprays, cover the whole boot from about 6 inches away. Do a few thin coats. Some products will need a second coat.

Applying on damp boots will help it soak in.

Whatever type of waterproofer you use, it’s essential to get into all the seams, creases and around the hardware. Those are the spots where the material is punctured or bends a lot and are most likely to leak.

When you are looking around for waterproofers keep in mind conditioners are different than waterproofers. Some products do both. It’s good to condition once in a while, but it softens the leather. Condition too often and they won’t be supportive enough.

STEP 3. DRY BOOTS

Wet leather isn’t as supportive or breathable as dry leather so ideally, you should dry your boots before you go anywhere. For some waterproofing products, drying solidifies the waterproof layer you want.

Dry in normal, stable temperatures with good ventilation. External heat causes the glue holding your boots together to deteriorate. To speed things up, put newspaper inside to soak up the moisture and change as needed.

WRAPPING UP

Store your boots in a dry, well-ventilated area with a stable temperature, and you’ll have waterproof boots that last you a long time.

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Pat Falvey

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