How to Waterproof Hiking Boots - 3 Effective Methods
Don't have a waterproofing product for your hiking boots? Or maybe you prefer a more natural alternative? There are several methods you can use to waterproof your hiking boots, with ingredients and materials that you may already have at home.
This way, you can protect your feet from getting wet on those rainy hikes without breaking the bank.
Benefits of Waterproofing Your Hiking Footwear
Waterproofing your boots is a critical maintenance step that not only keeps your feet dry during soggy backcountry adventures but also prolongs the life of your favorite leather boots.
Regardless of whether your footwear is made of smooth leather, nubuck, or suede, applying a waterproofing treatment is essential.
Modern products such as Gore-Tex offer fantastic protection, but for those wishing to use alternative methods, there are plenty of effective options to consider.
Extends the Life of Your Footwear
Regular waterproofing treatment prevents water from saturating the leather, which can cause it to crack, warp, or become stiff over time. By keeping the material dry, you ensure that your boots remain supple, comfortable, and durable for years to come.
Enhances Comfort and Protection
A waterproof boot is synonymous with comfort on the trail. By ensuring that moisture doesn't seep in, waterproofing your hiking boots will keep your feet dry, preventing blisters and other discomforts caused by wet conditions. This extra layer of protection also acts as a barrier against salts and dirt, which can degrade the quality of the boot material.
Waterproofed hiking boots can vastly improve your performance on the trail. With the added grip and stability that comes from dry, well-maintained soles, you can tackle challenging terrains with increased confidence and safety.
Saves Money in the Long Run
By taking the time to waterproof your boots, you are effectively reducing the need for frequent replacements. Considering the cost of high-quality hiking boots, a simple waterproofing routine represents a smart financial decision for avid hikers.
With these considerations in mind, selecting the right waterproofing treatment for nubuck, suede, or smooth leather boots and applying it correctly is pivotal. The result is a comfortable hike, no matter the weather conditions, and a pair of boots that will serve you well on many an expedition.
Method 1: Using Beeswax
Perfect for fabric and leather hiking boots, beeswax is a natural waterproofing ingredient that can easily be found in most craft stores or online. Here's how you can use it to make your own DIY waterproofing solution:
- Clean your hiking boots thoroughly with a damp cloth and let them dry completely.
- Rub the beeswax onto the surface of your boots, paying extra attention to the seams and stitching.
- Use a hairdryer on low heat to melt the wax into the pores of the fabric or leather.
- Allow the boots to cool down and then use a clean cloth to buff off any excess wax.
- Repeat this process until you achieve your desired level of waterproofing.
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Method 2: Using Silicone Spray
Silicone spray stands out as a formidable option for waterproofing, especially for shoes and boots that are made from materials with a waterproof membrane.
This method ensures that the membrane continues to repel water effectively while maintaining breathability.
Here's a step by step guide for using silicone spray:
- Before you apply the waterproofing spray, make sure to clean your boots with a brush or cloth to remove any dirt and debris. Pay special attention to the lace eyelets and seams where dirt tends to accumulate.
- Ensure that the boots are completely dry before proceeding. Any moisture on the surface may hinder the efficacy of the silicone spray.
- Shake the can of silicone spray well, and in a well-ventilated area or outdoors, spray the silicone evenly onto the surface of your boots, including the tongue and lace area. Hold the can about 6 inches away from the boots for the best coverage.
- Allow the spray to sit and penetrate the material for the time recommended by the product instructions, usually around a few minutes.
- After the waiting period, check for any untreated spots. The surface of the material should consistently bead water. If necessary, apply a second coat for thorough coverage.
- Once finished, leave the boots to dry naturally away from direct heat.
Regular maintenance is key, so make sure to clean and re-waterproof your boots if necessary after your hiking adventures to guarantee lasting performance and protection.
Read related article: How to Choose the Right Shoe Polish - A Comprehensive Guide
Method 3: Using Mink Oil for Leather Boots
Mink oil is highly effective for waterproofing leather boots. This type of boot waterproof treatment is not advised for lighter-colored leather as it can darken the material. For those with dark-colored boots looking for a rich conditioning and waterproofing solution, mink oil can be excellent. To properly prepare your boots for this method, you should:
- Clean the boots using a soft brush or cloth to eliminate dirt, ensuring that the leather is pristine before the treatment.
- If your boots are particularly dirty, consider using a leather cleaner for a deeper cleanse and wait for the boots to dry completely.
- Once your boots are dry, use a cloth or sponge to apply a small amount of mink oil evenly over the surface of your boots, focusing on seams and potential entry points for water.
- After applying, leave the oil to absorb for a few hours, or as recommended by the mink oil product instructions.
- Wipe away any excess oil with a clean cloth. This will keep your boots protected and extend their lifespan significantly.
Remember that applying mink oil may slightly change the hue of your leather, so conduct a patch test on a less visible area first.
Regular use of mink oil can keep the leather supple and improve its water resistance, ensuring your boots are prepared for every hike.
Tips to Remember
- Always read product instructions carefully before applying any waterproofing treatment.
- It is essential to test the treatment on a small, less visible area of your boots first, in case it causes any discoloration or damage.
- Regularly clean and maintain your boots to extend their lifespan and ensure optimal performance on the trail.
- When applying beeswax or mink oil, use a cloth or sponge for better coverage and to avoid getting your hands too oily.
- For added protection, consider investing in a waterproofing spray specifically designed for hiking boots.
Make sure to check out Stone and Clark's Repellent Spray for a long-lasting and easy-to-use option that can keep your boots dry and ready for any adventure.
Hike Without Fear
Protect your hiking shoes and yourself from the elements by taking the time to properly waterproof your boots. With these methods, you can ensure that your feet stay dry and comfortable on every hike, no matter what Mother Nature throws at you.
Remember to regularly maintain your boots with these treatments for long-lasting protection and to save money in the long run.