Waterproof vs water resistant winter boots: Different types in the spotlight

Megan Smith
 min read

Waterproof vs water resistant winter boots, not all boots are made the same.

Waterproof vs water resistant winter boots: Different types in the spotlightSome are waterproofed in the factory during the tanning process of leather, others are sprayed, and there are boots which feature some kind of proprietary waterproof membrane.

Think of water-resistant boots as merely water-repellent whereas waterproof boots contain a membrane which is truly watertight.

Having said that, both terms are often used interchangeably so make sure to understand what is being referred to.

Waterproofing is an important feature to consider when choosing your winter boots.

Almost all women’s winter boot models are waterproof; if they are of good quality, that is.

Have a look at our top wide calf rain boots guide for some excellent examples.


Waterproof vs water resistant winter boots: Different types

There are different categories of waterproof winter boots:

Waterproof vs water resistant winter boots: Waterproof membranes

These winter boots contain a waterproof membrane inserted between the outer and inner layers of the boot that blocks water entry.

Winter sport boots often have this type of membrane, since it protects against water but still allows the feet to breathe well.

This should be a priority if you practice a sport outdoors.

Several brands have developed their own waterproof membrane.

While many of them are of good quality, others are not of the same caliber.

Therefore, it is important to find out about the characteristics and composition of the brand’s waterproof membrane before making your choice.

Boots which need to be treated with an extra waterproofing product

In spray or cream form, the waterproofing product is a solution for boots with no coating or waterproof membrane.

Waterproofing is often used on footwear usually worn indoors but will be worn outdoors in milder winter conditions.

In addition to protecting boots or shoes from water, the waterproofing product also offers protection against stains.

Of course, applying a waterproof product can be a great way to protect your favorite shoes or boots from water.

But their performance is in no way comparable to that of waterproof winter boots with sealed seams or an included waterproof membrane.

What is waterproofing?

The term waterproofing means impregnating with a waterproofing agent, i.e., soaking with an active substance with waterproofing properties.

When waterproofing, the waterproofing product modifies the properties of the material to which it is applied.

The term waterproofing describes a process of refining fabrics or leathers.

This process makes the materials waterproof, also known as hydrophobic or water-repellent.

While there are different waterproofing methods, they all involve applying certain substances.

These substances are usually emulsions of kerosene or wax, silicone, or fluorocarbon that form a film on the leather.

How to properly waterproof your boots?

Remove all dirt and dust from your boots and allow them to dry to ensure complete waterproofing.

When spraying, waterproof the boots as evenly as possible by keeping a distance of 10 inches from the boot.

Be sure to carefully waterproof the leather parts and the seams, edges, and laces if applicable.

Repeat this process 2 to 3 times.

Several thin layers protect the boot better than one thick layer.

Make sure the boot does not get too wet.

Finally, let winter boots dry completely before wearing them, especially in rainy weather.

What to avoid during a waterproofing treatment?

While boot waterproofing can be done easily, there are some things you should avoid when trying to do it yourself.

Inhaling strong chemicals can also be harmful to your health.

To avoid this, use a mask. It is strongly recommended that winter boots be waterproofed outdoors or in well-ventilated rooms to avoid breathing harmful aerosols.

If you have been in direct contact with the product, wash it off and seek medical attention immediately if you experience any irritation.

Do not try to speed up the drying process by using an unnatural method such as a hair dryer.

This could cause cracks or dry out the boot material.

Boots should be left to dry in a cool area of the house overnight.

You could also let them air dry in front of a fan.

You don’t want the boots to be kept in a closed area.

Never apply these waterproofing products directly to your feet.

Boots with waterproofing on the leather

In this method, the leather used in the manufacture of waterproof winter boots is bathed in a waterproofing product during the tanning process.

In most cases, when winter boots are made from leather coated with waterproofing, the seams of the boots are also sealed with a special glue to be completely waterproof.

Because of these extra production steps, these winter boots are often more expensive but their waterproofing is extremely reliable and durable.

Why does leather attract water?

The leathers used for footwear (with the exception of waxed leather) are natural materials that attract water (hydrophilic materials) due to the pores and fibrous structure of the leather.

During the tanning and finishing of shoe leather, all the pores on the surface are deliberately not completely blocked to preserve the leather’s breathable properties.

Compared to other materials, leather is therefore not completely waterproof.

Because of their open fibrous structure, suede and suede leather are particularly hydrophilic, while smooth leather and patent leather are less so.

The hydrophilic property of leather is one of its specific advantages.

It can absorb a large amount of moisture, store it and then evacuate it, making it an ideal material for the inside of the shoe (absorption and regulation of foot perspiration).

This positive property in itself, however, is not an advantage in wet and cold environments.

Factory sprayed boots

Once manufactured, boots in this category are simply sprayed with a waterproof protector before being distributed for sale.

Although these boots are less expensive, their waterproofing is much less effective and sometimes no longer effective after only a few weeks.

Waterproof vs water resistant winter boots: The benefits of waterproof boots

  • Waterproof boots are protected from dirt and grime. When boots are constantly exposed to water, they dry out faster and can wear out.
  • Over time, the material can crack. This will not be a problem for boots that have been treated.
  • Keep your feet warm by wearing waterproof boots. You will avoid getting sick.
  • You can catch a temperature or other illnesses if your feet are wet. Therefore, be very careful to keep your feet dry, especially in winter.
  • Blisters and sores can occur if your feet get wet from wearing the wrong boots. This can cause severe pain and make it difficult to do the things you love. Blisters take time to heal.
  • The smell of wet feet in boots can also cause a bad smell.

Waterproof vs water resistant winter boots: Conclusion

Regardless of the difference between waterproof and water-resistant boots, the point is that wearing waterproof boots can help keep your feet dry, which will result in healthier feet.

Waterproof boots are required for work involving liquid substances, such as water.

It is important to be prepared for emergencies, such as being caught in the rain, if you enjoy the outdoors, like hiking or trekking.

If the course crosses muddy puddles, wearing boots that will not let the water through is preferable.

Wet feet and socks can make walking with wet feet uncomfortable.

About Megan Smith

Megan has been fighting overweight and her plus size since her teenage years. After trying all types of remedies without success, she started doing her own research. Megan founded Plus Size Zeal to share her findings. She also developed various detailed buying guides for plus-size people in order to make their lives easier and more comfortable. Read More