I see this question often asked among my friends and peers. I, being a self-proclaimed shoe connoisseur myself, have had my fair bit of mishaps with water-damaged leather boots. And after having to throw away three of my favourite boots, I decided to tackle this issue head-on.
If you want the short answer, then no, leather boots are not typically considered waterproof. But there are ways to make a leather boot water-resistant so that you can wear it in the rain. Some manufacturers even produce specific water-resistant leather boots for people who live in a rain-intensive regions.
Even though the question is simple, there are a lot of topics to cover around this issue. And after going through this article, you should have a clear idea about everything you need to know about when it comes to leather boots and their number one enemy, the rain.
Are Leather Boots Waterproof?
When it comes to boots, many different types of leather are used, and in most cases, the leather is not waterproof. However, smooth leathers such as full-grain, patent, Nappa, or even calfskin show some signs of water resistance. This means they might not suffer too much from a light drizzle.
Suede leather boots, on the other hand, are quite sensitive to moisture. That is why you would never see anyone wiping off their suede boots with a damp cloth. The same principle applies when it rains. If this type of leather gets wet, you might notice discoloration, and the overall integrity of the shoe will get damaged.
Although leather has some level of moisture-resistance, without proper conditioning and treatment, it cannot survive long exposure to rain. That is why, if you live in a state that sees frequent rainfall, investing in a pair of waterproof leather boots might be better.
Is it OK to wear cowboy boots in the rain?
As it happens, leather cowboy boots are, in fact, safe to wear in the rain. These shoes are usually made with durable leather and come with proper treatment to make them highly water-resistant. That is why leather cowboy boots are extremely durable in most cases.
However, you do need to take care of them, every now and then, if you want to make them last. Sure, you can wear it out on a muddy field or during rain. But once you get home, make sure you wipe them off thoroughly and let them dry up on their own.
Speaking from personal experience, you do not want to let the mud dry up on your leather cowboy boots. Not only does it become much harder to clean up dry muck, but the durability of the boot also takes a severe hit. But as long as you are careful, you should be able to wear your cowboy boots in the rain whenever you want.
What happens to leather boots in the rain?
Unless your leather boots are waterproof, it is generally a bad idea to wear them in the rain. I had my fair share of shoes getting ruined due to water damage, and it never feels good having to throw away a nice pair of boots.
When leather boots get wet because of rain, you might not notice any immediate problems, especially if you wipe them off the moment you get home. But with continuous exposure to water and lack of maintenance can severely impact the durability of your boots.
The first thing you will notice is that the shoe cannot retain its shape all that well. It will look misshapen, and over time, the rigidity that it once had will all but disappear.
Over time, mold or mildew will start growing inside the shoe. At this stage, you have no other option but to throw it away. Repairing a shoe with this much damage is hardly worth the hassle.
How to Wear Leather Boots in the Rain? (3 Quick tips)
Instead of wearing your leather boots in the rain and submitting them to the mercy of nature, there are some simple ways to protect them. The following three hacks will help make your boots water-resistant to some level. So you will be able to wear them without fear even when it is raining.
1. Keep your shoes clean
It should go without saying that you should clean your shoes any chance you get. A clean shoe not only improves its appearance but can also make it more resistant to different forms of damager. With regular cleaning, especially when going out and after returning home, you can make your shoes much more resilient.
This simple task will make sure your shoes remain fresh if you absolutely have to wear them in the rain. Just wipe it off thoroughly with a dry and clean rag, apply the basic moisturizers and polish, and you should be all set. A clean shoe will be able to repel mud and dirt much better.
2. Waterproofing the boot
Even if your leather boots are not waterproof, there are ways you can waterproof them yourself. You can apply a conditioner or polish to make them resistant to water so that you can wear them without issues, even if it is pouring outside.
By waxing your boots, you can not only protect them from water but can also prevent mud, dust, or dirt from catching on easily. The process of applying wax can vary depending on the product you are using. So, make sure you follow the instruction carefully to get the full benefit of applying them.
3. Introduce a waterproof cover
If you live in an area that sees rain every few months, maybe consider getting a waterproof cover for your shoes. It is just a fancy plastic cover for your boots that you can put on or take off whenever you need it. And the best part about it is that you can take it with you in a small backpack.
With a waterproof cover, you can protect your shoes in an instant whenever it starts to rain. However, the main drawback of this method is that you need to take it with you everywhere. And if you are like me, there will be days when you forget to bring it.
How to Prevent Your Leather Shoes from Water Damage?
If your leather boots do get soaked, is there no other way to save them? Well, thankfully, there is. The first thing that you want to do if your shoes get wet is to take them off and dry them when you reach home. Take a dry towel and wipe it thoroughly.
Once you think the boot is clean, place it in a well-ventilated area. You always want to air-dry your leather boots. Applying heat from a blowdryer or any other heat source can damage it further. Once it is dry, you should be able to start wearing it again without issues.
To further prevent water damage, apply a wax-based polish or nano-protector. It will close the micro-pores on the leather, which will repel the water if it comes in contact. I would always advise wearing waterproof leather shoes whenever you are setting out on a rainy day.
Can You Wear Leather Boots in the Snow?
Snow falls in the same ballpark as rain, and as such, you should not wear a pair of leather boots in the snow. Since snow can leave salt accumulation on your boot it is in some cases even worse than rain. If you absolutely have to, I would advise pairing the boot with snow gaiters.
Taking care of your shoe exposed to snow is nothing different than what you would do if it were wet. You want to wipe it off with a dry towel and let it air-dry in a ventilated space. And if your leather boot is water-resistant, it should be able to conquer snow as well.
Preventing water damage to your shoe is always the better option than having to repair it. With proper steps and knowledge, you can protect your leather boots indefinitely. Nothing hurts more than having to throw away your boot just because you were reckless.
Now, you should have a clear picture of whether you can wear your leather boots in the rain. Here is a quick recap; if you want to wear your shoes in the rain, make sure you prepare them for the journey by applying wax or polish. This would help enhance its ability to fight against any moisture damage.