Is water damaging to footwear?

brown womens work boots next to a creek

Is water damaging to leather footwear? 💦⁠ ⁠ In a word .. yep! Leather and water ain't BFFs but there's things we can all do to help you get the best life out of your shoes.

Leather has some degree of natural water resistance but as it's porous it will never be 100% waterproof (not even those boots that are sprouted as "waterproof leather"!). Naturally getting shoes occasionally wet is unavoidable, but consistently worn in wet conditions will affect the longevity. Water strips the natural oils out of leather so as it gets wet, dry, then wet again, it will become brittle and crack.⁠ ⁠

All of our leather footwear is rated water resistant (WRU), which means the upper is fully tested and certified to global standards for water resistance 🏅 We apply a special coating during the production process and the leather is then able to resist the penetration of water to some degree. ⁠ ⁠

When you read about "waterproof boots", this purely means there's an internal waterproof membrane or bootie stitched into the shoe. The leather will still be affected by wet conditions (ie. the leather itself can only ever be water resistant, not waterproof).⁠ ⁠

The biggest factor in getting longevity with leather footwear is good ol' TLC. Our top tips are ..⁠ ⁠

➡️ Use a waterproofing spray on a regular basis (it also helps lock the colour in!).⁠

➡️ Clean and use a conditioner regularly (make sure it's suitable for the leather type - a napped leather like nubuck will require a different conditioner than a grain leather).⁠

➡️ If your boots do get wet, dry them slowly (without force drying).⁠

➡️ Don't continue to wear if wet. Have 2 or 3 pairs on rotation and ensure they dry out completely prior to the next wear.⁠

➡️ Internal moisture can be as much of an issue so if you suffer from sweaty feet or are in the heat, consider to rest your boots and rotate between pairs.⁠

➡️ If you are in super wet conditions, swap out into gum boots. Gum boots aren't ideal for long periods of wear as they aren't as supportive or structured, so just wear them for a short time.⁠

➡️ Don't put shoes into storage when they're wet or damp.⁠

We have a comprehensive care information page, so please click below to read through.

shoe cleaning and care kit