Getting the right hiking boots is an important decision, a decision that will make your hiking experience enjoyable or not. Part of the decision is whether to purchase waterproof or nonwaterproof boots. And is it worth buying waterproof boots, are waterproof hiking boots really waterproof?
Unfortunately, no boot is completely waterproof. Even with waterproof material such as Gore-Tex it will not prevent 100% of the water entering a boot.
The waterproof material is breathable preventing most water from entering the boot. A small amount of water will always enter the boot. If there is a puncture to the waterproof membrane water will enter the boot via the hole.
So now I have answered the main question, let me answer some of the other questions related to boots, water, and waterproofing
How long does waterproofing last?
From experience, within 1-2 years of moderate use most waterproof membranes being to wear out above the toe creases where you walk.
This timeframe also depends on how often you wear them, the terrain you wear them, and how they are treated.
If you are wearing them every day or so in tough rocky terrains where there are bumps the membrane will degrade faster reducing the waterproofing properties.
What is Gore-Tex?
According to Wikipedia, “Gore–Tex is a waterproof, breathable fabric membrane and registered trademark of W. L. Gore and Associates. Invented in 1969, Gore–Tex can repel liquid water while allowing water vapor to pass through and is designed to be a lightweight, waterproof fabric for all-weather use’.
How long do Gore-Tex boots last?
Although guaranteed for life, from my experience Gore-Tex waterproofing on hiking boots lasts between 1-3 years.
This timeframe does depend on how well the boot is treated and frequency use.
What are the benefits of waterproof hiking boots?
There are numerous benefits of waterproof hiking boots. The obvious benefit prevents a boot full of water that you have to trudge around in.
Hiking with cold water is not only uncomfortable but also makes for heavy going.
A boot full of water can cause rubbing of the boot on feet, causing blisters that are not only painful but could become infected.
An example of a popular quality waterproof boot is the Salomon Quest. The improved outsole of Quest 4D 3 GTX with its new lug design allows for a better grip.
It is suitable for varying terrains from uneven rocks to dirt, mud through to snow.
If you are looking for a waterproof hiking shoe (which is my preference) a good option is the Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX.
The Salomon X Ultra comes with excellent toes protection.
Toes protection is something I recommend as a “must-have” when choosing any trail shoe or boot.
The Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX comes with a 2-year limited warranty and will set you back $247
What are the benefits of nonwaterproof hiking boots?
Nonwaterproof hiking boots do allow for better breathability than waterproofed boots.
The advantage is less sweaty feet, more comfortable, more hygienic with less chance of bacteria forming.
Can I make non-waterproof shoes waterproof?
There are waterproof sprays made from silicone that covers the boot.
These sprays are made from silicone and work only for a short time before the silicone wears off.
The downside to these waterproofing sprays by the coating layer of silicone prevents the shoe from breathing, leaving your feet in sweaty condition.
Should I buy waterproof hiking boots?
If your planning on hiking in areas where there is snow, bodies of water like swamps, creeks, fjords then Waterproof hiking boots are the best choice.
In dry, warm climates nonwaterproof boots should be suitable. In fact, with improved breathability than waterproof boots feet should experience less sweat.
Alternatively, you can look to purchase quick-drying boots or shoes. In the event, they get wet their material allows for quick drying.
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