How to waterproof hiking boots

Updated April 17, 2017

Maintaining dry feet while hiking is about safety, not just comfort. Hiking with wet feet increases your risk of blisters and sores. Regularly applying waterproofing wax or spray, starting with the first time you wear your boots, is one of the best ways to make your feet, and boots, last longer. Even if you applied waterproofing solution before, if moisture no longer beads on your boots, it's time for another application.

Clean your boots off using a damp cloth. Removing surface dirt provides an even surface for the waterproofing application. Even if your boots are brand new, a quick cleaning with a damp cloth removes any factory sealants and chemicals that can affect the absorption of the waterproofing substance.

Apply waterproofing agent to boots using an old sponge or the enclosed applicator. Use the product designated for your particular type of boot, such as leather, fabric, suede or Gore-Tex. Apply a liberal amount of whichever product you use. Use your paintbrush to apply the waterproofing agent around the especially leak-prone areas like your boot seams and soles.

Remove any excess waterproofing agent with a paper towel. Areas with an excess amount include those with visible clumps of waterproofing agent.

Wait five minutes and apply a second coat of waterproofing agent. New boots will only need two or three coats, while older, worn down or cracked boots will require between four and six coats to protect the weakened material.

Place your boots in a location between 20 and 23.3 degrees Celsius to dry for at least 24 hours before wearing them. Never place your boots near a heat source at any time; heat can warp leather and shrink rubber soles.


Re-waterproof your boots between three and four times a year depending on the level of use and exposure to moisture.


Choose an inconspicuous area to spot-test the waterproofing agent on your boots. Many waterproofing products will darken leather significantly, so take this into account when choosing a colour.

Things You'll Need

  • Waterproofing spray or wax
  • Damp cloth
  • Paintbrush
  • Paper towel
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About the Author

Christina Bednarz Schnell began writing full-time in 2010. Her areas of expertise include child development and behavior, medical conditions and pet health. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international relations.