When it comes to footwear, leather is one of the most durable, comfortable, and versatile materials. It’s not uncommon to own a pair of suede, calfskin, or nubuck leather shoes for several years or even decades. Classic leather footwear stands the test of time, and it’s generally suitable to wear year-round.
When the air gets crisp and the days get shorter, booties for women and men are a go-to closet staple, especially leather types of boots. But what about rainy weather? Are leather boots waterproof? Untreated leather isn’t inherently waterproof, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it should only be reserved for dry days.
Vionic is here to set the record straight. Here’s what you should know about wearing leather boots in the rain, what may happen if the material gets wet, what to know about waterproofing boots, and what types of leather waterproof boots are suitable for wet weather.
Can You Wear Leather Boots in the Rain?
As we mentioned, leather isn’t considered a waterproof material on its own, but calfskin, nappa, full-grain, patent, and other smooth leathers offer a little bit of water-resistance. A suede boot, on the other hand, is a bit more sensitive to moisture. Think of it this way: If you can wipe off your full grain leather boots with a damp cloth without damaging or discoloring the leather work boot material, a few raindrops probably won’t be the end of them.
However, leather is a somewhat permeable product, meaning liquids can eventually pass through if it’s not treated to repel water. If you walk out into a torrential downpour or step in a puddle, there’s a good chance water will seep through.
What Happens if Leather Boots Get Wet?
Unless you live in terrain like Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, or somewhere else in the Southwestern United States, you probably expect to see precipitation at least a few months of the year. When it comes down to it, boots are the best type of shoe to wear in wet weather, but you’ll want to be cautious with leather.
As we said, a tiny bit of moisture is usually nothing to worry about. But when a leather boot becomes wet from heavy rainfall or deep puddles, water will likely seep through. When the material dries, you can expect it to become somewhat stiff and potentially misshapen. Also, prolonged wetness can lead to mold or mildew growth, and at that point, it’s almost impossible to save a pair of boots.
If the forecast indicates substantial rainfall, you might want to opt for a pair of waterproof leather boots, like the styles from Vionic. We offer plenty of waterproof boots, booties, and water resistant shoes for women. Since winter weather can be unpredictable, try to make the best judgment call before heading out for the day. If your leather boots get a little bit wet, don’t panic. Just be sure to let them air dry or blot any wet spots with a clean cloth.
Another thing to keep in mind is that faux leather is more water-resistant than genuine leather. The material is usually made of plastic and treated with polyurethane or another synthetic coating. Faux leather is non-porous, meaning air and liquids can’t pass through. While this prevents water from getting inside, it also makes boots less breathable, which can lead to sweaty feet, and as a result, moisture on the inside.
Can You Make Leather Boots Waterproof?
If you currently own one or more pairs of leather boots you absolutely love wearing, you might be wondering how to waterproof leather boots.There are a couple of ways to treat leather footwear to protect it from water damage. If you’re wondering how to waterproof shoes, the first option is to use a waterproof shoe spray, and the other is a DIY method involving beeswax and a hairdryer.
You can find a waterproof spray for leather footwear online and at most shoe stores. There’s a wide range of brands and variations to choose from, but they typically contain the same active ingredients. The most important thing is to look for a weather-proofing spray with silicone or acrylic polymers, which create a water-repellent barrier.¹
Place your boots on a large piece of plastic or paper in a ventilated area. Holding the leather waterproofing acrylic or silicone spray roughly 8 inches away, evenly coat the entire uppers, making sure to get the seams. It might be helpful to place your hand into the shaft of the boot to get the best angle. Avoid saturating your boots-they should be covered with the waterproofing treatment but not dripping wet.
Let your leather boots air dry for one or two days before wearing them, and repeat the process every month or so. Virtually all types of leather shoes can be waterproofed with a spray. If you’re working with suede boots, this is the only option, as the beeswax method can ruin the material.²
Waterproofing leather boots with beeswax requires a little more elbow grease, but anyone can do it. You’ll need a golf ball-sized piece of beeswax (or a slightly larger chunk if you’re working with tall boots), which you can buy online, at hardware stores, or at a craft store.
Starting with clean, dry boots, rub the waterproofing wax over the entire uppers in an even layer, almost like you’re coloring them in with a crayon. Be sure to cover every inch of the leather with a generous layer, leaving no cracks or spaces, especially along the seams.
Next, you’ll run a blow dryer on full blast over your boots. Focus on one area at a time while holding the dryer a few inches away from the material.³ As the beeswax warms up, it’ll liquefy and then disappear into the leather. When it re-solidifies, you’ll have a transparent waterproof coating on your boots, and they should look no different than they did before.
Do I Need to Waterproof My Leather Boots?
You don’t have to waterproof every pair of boots you own, but you should consider waterproofing a leather work boot or hiking boot because these are the types of shoes most likely to come into contact with water – and nobody wants wet feet! That being said, both the waterproofing spray method and the beeswax waterproofing method usually won’t leave any noticeable residues, so you don’t have a lot to lose by treating them. However, you may want to test a small patch on the inside of your boots before waterproofing shoes all over the outside to make sure the spray or wax doesn’t cause any discoloration.
If waterproofing your leather footwear seems like a hassle, buying a pair of ready-made waterproof boots might be the way to go.
Weather-Resistant and Waterproof Boots from Vionic
At Vionic, boots are one of our absolute favorite footwear styles for men and women through the fall and winter. can be dressed up or down, they go with most ensembles, and they keep your feet warm—what’s not to love?
No matter the season, we believe you should be able to go outside without worrying about what the weather might do to your footwear. That’s why we created a line of comfortable, stylish, waterproof boots for women. They’re the perfect addition to rainy day outfits.
Premium Waterproof Leather
Many of our women’s boots are crafted out of premium waterproof leather. The material is coated with a special finishing treatment for added moisture protection. If you get caught in a rainstorm, water will bead up on the uppers, leaving your feet dry and warm.
Our water-repellent boots and ankle booties are expertly crafted with seam-seal technology. This makes them virtually impenetrable and gives you peace of mind in splish-splashy weather. It’s no wonder we love them as shoes for rainy days.
You can count on waterproof zippers with a seam-seal tape on the interiors too. This ensures your boots aren’t vulnerable along any cracks or crevices. The leak-free zippers also make it easy to get your boots on and provide a secure fit.
Vio-Motion Support Technology
As with all footwear from Vionic, our waterproof leather boots are embedded with our innovative Vio-Motion Support technology. This ensures orthotic arch support, stability, and cushioning are all built right into the sole without sacrificing the look of the shoe.
Whether you prefer heeled styles, slightly flatter boots, or combat style boots, we’re confident you’ll find something you love when you browse our collection. Shop waterproof boots for women from Vionic today.
Don’t need a fully waterproof winter boot option? Take a look at our weather-resistant line.
1. Karen Iorio Adelson and Alex Ivker. “How to Weatherproof Shoes and Boots, According to Experts”. The Strategist. Updated Apr 27, 2020. https://nymag.com/strategist/article/best-waterproof-sprays-protectors.html
2. Samantha Peters. “How to Waterproof Leather Shoes, According to a Shoe Repair Expert”. Footwear news.Mar 6, 2019. https://footwearnews.com/feature/best-waterproof-leather-shoes-sprays-protectors-1202756536/
3. Geoff Nudelman. “9 Tips on How to Waterproof Shoes Ahead of Winter Weather”. September 21, 2016. https://www.themanual.com/fashion/9-tips-on-how-to-waterproof-shoes-ahead-of-winter-weather/