How to Waterproof Hiking Boots and Maintain Them
We all want full gear when hiking since it will allow us to enjoy our hiking without dealing with any mishaps. Waterproof hiking boots are one of the most important gears that you need to have, as your feet carry the weight of your whole body.
However, the waterproof feature can fade because of several factors, and most especially if your boots have been with you for many years. You don’t need to worry, though, because it is possible to re-waterproof your hiking boots, so you don’t have to replace them immediately.
With that in mind, you need to know how to waterproof hiking boots properly. As similar to any other processes, doing it wrongly might damage your hiking boots more. To help out and give you a better understanding of boots waterproofing and waterproof boots, we will explain the importance of buying waterproof hiking boots, provide a step-by-step guide on waterproofing your hiking boots, and some maintenance tips to help keep your hiking boots functional for a long time.
The Importance of Buying Waterproof Hiking Boots
You are probably worried about so many things when you are searching for hiking boots. You pay attention to the size because you don’t want them to be too big or too small for your feet. You also worry about the price of the boots and other features such as traction, weight, comfort, and durability, which would help you on your hike.
Definitely, those are all important but you should never forget to check the waterproof feature of hiking boots. You have to keep in mind that some brands are not offering this type of feature or they have pairs that aren’t waterproof. If you think you don’t need it and you can just get a regular pair of hiking boots, here are some of the scenarios where waterproof hiking boots would be beneficial:
1. Unexpected Rain
When you are hiking, rainstorms come unexpectedly. It may be sunny a few moments ago, but suddenly, it might turn dark in just a few minutes and will start to rain. Are you prepared for such a situation?
If you don’t have a pair of waterproof hiking boots, your feet and socks would be soaking wet. It is pretty uncomfortable to walk around with a wet foot, right?
Wearing a pair of waterproof boots, whether it’s summer or winter, is then something to consider. With that being said, the waterproof feature does not imply that your feet will be completely dry, as there are many ways for water to go inside your boots. But, having waterproof hiking boots will at leat give you a layer of protection from having soaking wet ffet and socks.
2. Muddy Trails
Muddy trails are common when you are hiking. If you are not hiking in a snowy mountain, almost all the tracks are full of mud. Technically speaking, mud is soil, but it won’t become mud without being wet. Thus, when you step on mud, the water present in it will seep through your boots if it doesn’t have any waterproof feature.
Your boots will absorb the water from the mud, and your socks and feet will become wet. Needless to say, dirty and wet!
You can always find a way to go around muddy puddles, but there are a lot of instances when you have to step on them to proceed. Investing in a pair of waterproof hiking boots or waterproofing your boots is then a better choice.
3. Snowy Mountain
Have you ever tried hiking in a snowy mountain? Stepping on snow is like stepping on a shallow river. Basically, snow is just frozen water so if you stepped on it, the water will seep through the boots and your socks would become wet.
You don’t have any way around this because if everything in the area is snow-covered, you don’t have a choice but to go on with it. Waterproof hiking boots could guarantee that your feet will stay dry even if you have to step on thick snow.
How to Waterproof Hiking Boots
Now that you are fully aware that a pair of waterproof boots is a necessity, let us teach you a recommended way of waterproofing your boots. This will be helpful if you already have a pair of hiking boots, and you have no budget or plan of buying a pair of pre-made waterproof boots. Nonetheless, this can also be used for used and old waterproof boots.
Waterproofing hiking boots is straightforward. Actually, you don’t need to have any technical knowledge to do this as the process itself is very simple.
Different types of boots are made from various materials. There are also a lot of waterproofing products meant for different kinds of materials. If you want to know how to do it, here is the step-by-step guide on how to waterproof hiking boots.
Cleaning the Boots
The most important thing to do before you waterproof your boots is to clean them. The waxes and sprays you will use to waterproof boots won’t be effective if it is too dirty.
Actually, you have to clean your boots after using it as much as possible. Don’t let the dirt and grimes stay there for a long time. It is also better if you won’t use your hiking boots if they are dirty.
If you are going to waterproof your hiking boots, it will take more than a simple cleaning. You need to clean the boots thoroughly.
Here is what you need to do:
- You have to do a deep clean on your boots, so remove the laces and insoles and clean them separately.
- Let them soak in water for a couple of hours before you start brushing the dirt away. This is the best way to soften up the dirt on your hiking boots.
- Although not mandatory since you can always use regular soap or mild dishwashing soap to clean your boots, it is suggested to use a specialized boot cleaner. This will be more effective and gentler on the boots.
- You need to keep the hiking boots wet before the waterproofing process begins. As a matter of fact, the best time to start the waterproofing process is right after cleaning your pair of boots.
Waterproofing Your Hiking Boots
Cleaning your boots won’t make it waterproof. You need to buy a specific product to apply a waterproof coating to your hiking boots.
Most waterproofing products right now are made for suede or nubuck and full-grain leather. Hence, you should read the product descriptions before you apply them on your hiking boots and make sure you know the material of your boots.
Here is a step-by-step procedure:
1. Soak the Boots in Water
The leather or material should be fully soaked in water before you start applying the waterproof treatment. If it is taking a long time, try to put your hiking boots through running water.
You can also wrap a wet towel around the boots and let the material absorb the water. This stage will allow the boots to absorb the waterproofing treatment effectively. If you put the treatment on dry boots, it will only wear off after wearing the boots.
2. Apply the Waterproof Treatment
The application of the waterproofing treatment varies depending on the product you are going to use, so read and follow the procedure carefully.
3. Dry Your Boots
This is the most critical part of the process because this will solidify the waterproof layer in your hiking boots. Never wear your hiking boots unless it is completely dry, especially after applying the waterproof treatment.
Don’t dry the boots under the sun and never use a hairdryer to speed up the process, especially if the material is leather since it will crack. What you need to is dry the hiking boots under normal temperature where there is enough airflow.
You can also use a fan to speed up the process a bit. You can also use a paper towel or newspaper. Just stuff them inside the boots and change them regularly when they are already wet.
4. Do It Regularly
Waterproofing your hiking boots is not only done to protect your feet from moisture and water. It provides the functionality that you need while protecting your boots. That said, you can do the waterproofing treatment after three to four months or three to four times a year.
Other Maintenance Tips for Hiking Boots
Since we already mentioned the maintenance of your hiking boots through waterproofing, we will give you other essential tips on how to keep them in tip-top condition. You have to remember that the more you use the boots, the faster the boots will deteriorate. If you can maintain them, you can prolong their life.
Tip #1: Clean it Before and After your Hiking
If your hiking boots were stocked in the cabinet for weeks or months, you should clean them before you wear them. No matter where you put your pair of boots, it will accumulate dust, so you need to clean it properly and dry it before you use it for hiking.
Also, after you return from your hike, you should clean your hiking boots immediately. You cannot let the dirt and grimes stay on your boots for a long time. Using dirty hiking boots will only make the deterioration faster.
Tip #2: Remove the Insoles After Your Hike
The most common mistake of hikers is keeping the insoles inside the boots after the hike. If you are not planning to clean your hiking boots as soon as you came back home, you should at least remove the insoles and let them dry.
The insoles hold the moisture from your feet. If your feet are sweating and wet, or your boots get wet from water, all the sweat will be absorbed by the insoles. If you let it stay in your boots, it will become smelly, and bacteria will stay there. Let the insoles dry overnight and put them back in your boots.
Tip #3: Regular Waterproofing
We already mentioned that you need to waterproof your hiking boots regularly. The waterproofing treatment will not only prevent water entry and moisture build-up, but it can also protect the boots and make them last longer. You can use any wax or spray waterproofing products.
Tip #4: Avoid Saltwater
You should not wear your hiking boots near the sea or ocean and never soak them in saltwater. The main reason is that saltwater can easily rust metal eyelets. When the eyelets start to rust, you will surely have a hard time replacing them.
If you accidentally soaked your hiking boots in saltwater, you have to rinse them off with clean, fresh water.
Tip #5: Don’t Store Your Hiking Boots When Wet
Before you store your hiking boots, make sure they are clean and dry. You cannot simply dump the hiking boots in your cabinet or shoe shelf because they will smell really bad and microorganisms would grow in and on them.
A lot of things can happen when you are hiking, especially since there are a lot of unexpected trails and most of them would involve water. It is very uncomfortable to continue the hike when your socks and boots are soaking wet.
That is the reason you have to waterproof your hiking boots, or you can just simply buy waterproof hiking boots. Waterproofing your hiking boots provides a lot of benefits. It can protect your boots from water and moisture, and it can also help lengthen their lifespan.
The guide mentioned above can help you waterproof your boots properly. As for the maintenance tips, every part of the boots needs to be maintained if you want the pair to last longer. You also have to know the dos and don’ts of using hiking boots to lengthen its lifespan.
At the end of the day, it is all about taking care of your hiking boots. Waterproofing is just one of the things that you have to do to make it more functional and to protect it from wear and tear.