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How To Waterproof Hiking Boots—Instructions, Tips and Advice

Even the highest quality waterproof shoes and boots eventually lose their original waterproof finish. You’ll know when water no longer bead’s up on your boot’s surface. Fortunately, the process to bring your hiking boots back to water-resistant life is quite simple. Besides the obvious advantages of keeping your feet dry in wet weather and on puddle-prone trails, waterproofing your hiking boots can greatly extend their life. This is particularly true when your boots are regularly exposed to wet conditions. Read on for step-by-step instructions for waterproofing your hiking boots.

How to Waterproof Hiking Boots—Instructions, Tips and Advice

Backroads Pro Tip

Remember, waterproofing your hiking boots isn’t just a one-time-only thing. For the best results, reapply the waterproofing treatment every few months. This will help keep your boots in prime condition longer!

How to Waterproof Hiking Boots

1. Choose the correct waterproofing product for your hiking boots

The first thing you will you need to do is determine the material of your hiking boots. Are they full-grain leather, nubuck, suede, or a combination of fabric and leather? Each of these materials requires a particular waterproofing product. If you’re unsure of what material your hiking boots are, you can visit the manufacturer’s website to find specific information about your boot. As a general rule of thumb, wax-based products are best for full-grain leather boots, while waterproofing sprays and cremes are the best choice for suede, nubuck, and fabric hiking boots.

2. Prepare and clean your hiking boots

A waterproofing product won’t do much if your boots are caked in mud and dirt. To prepare your boots for waterproofing, start by removing the laces. Then, use a brush to remove any dust and dirt from the boot’s surface. Finally, to both clean and prepare your boot for the waterproofing treatment, run your boots under water until they are thoroughly soaked. If you’re having trouble getting your boots appropriately soaked, try wrapping wet towels or rags around your shoes and then letting them sit like that for a few hours.

3. Apply the waterproofing product to your hiking boots

With your hiking boots clean and fully soaked, apply the waterproofing treatment by following the instructions included with the product. For wax-based waterproofing, it’s best to warm the wax with a hair dryer before applying it to your boots. For sprays, we recommend doing several coats while holding the spray about 6 inches from your boot. Be sure to get in every seam, crease, and around the hardware. These are the places where leaks are likely to occur.

4. Dry your hiking boots

To dry your boots and lock in the waterproofing product, you’ll need to find a place with good ventilation, stable temperatures, and low humidity. Keep them away from any external heat source including the sun as it could cause the glue that holds your boots together to deteriorate. Fans are okay to help speed up the drying process.

Backroads Pro Tip

A good way to speed up the drying process of your boots and shoes, whether you’ve just waterproofed them or you fell in a river, is to remove the insoles and stuff crumpled newspaper inside your shoes. The newspaper will help absorb any remaining moisture in your boots. Just be sure to swap out the newspaper when it gets damp.

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