False claims about "water resistance" by QLD manufacturer of ugg boots

What is the definition of “water resistant”?

I recently purchased ugg boots from a Queensland based Australian company UGG Since 1974 because they claim two of their substantially more expensive boot types are “water resistant”. On their website for the napa leather uggs, they advertise “Gearing up for a wet, snowy winter? You’ll be needing a pair of these then. With a premium quality leather exterior and a thick, fluffy sheepskin inside, these are the ultimate UGGs for building snowmen and preparing for a snowball fight as they feature a water and snow resistant exterior.” They even claim in a recent email promotion that they “will keep your feet dry in this rainy weather”.

None of this is even close to true as walking outside on a damp or frosty morning on to short grass, the moisture quickly seeps in making the inside of the boots and then my toes very damp. Living in rural Tasmania, this is extremely uncomfortable and defeats the whole purpose of spending good money on these.

My emails to the company have been met with accusations of trying to substitute my uggs for gum boots! It’s frustrating and a shame that the only way to now proceed is to lodge a formal complaint with the Office of Fair Trading.

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There are two aspects of this. Firstly what does “water resistant” mean? For equipment it is the lowest level, followed by “water repellent” and “waterproof”. here is a description from one footwear vendor:

What Are Water-Resistant Shoes

On the other side of the spectrum, we have water-resistant shoes. These shoes can:

  • Lessen water penetration to a small extent
  • Keep your feet dry from external and internal moisture
  • Keep your feet cool in the summers

Unlike waterproof shoes, water-resistant shoes are only somewhat resistant to water. So, while a few splashes here and there won’t hurt, they can still quickly get wet.

Others are similar.

The second problem is the advertising as suitable for building snowmen or being in a snow fight. I don’t live in an alpine area but I suggest that “waterproof” would be more suitable as snow melts on the warmth of your body and the activity is prolonged, not just a quick dash across a snowy pathway. It looks to me that the example given of suitable activity is not consistent with the description.

[edit] You may get more use out of them by treating with Dubbin, I have found it improves water repelling of leather boots quite a lot.

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It is worth reading their website to what they mean by the statement ‘water and snow resistant’. It states:

Can I Wear my Ugg Boots Outside

Yes! UGG boots are designed to be worn both indoors and in the elements. However, it is important that your UGGs are protected as any water or oil that comes into contact with the suede will damage it. We highly recommend that you use a suede protector spray on your boots before use, which will allow the boots to repel water and keep them clean. You can re-use your protector spray every six months in order to maintain a protective coating on your boots.

It could be assumed that similar information was provided with the boots (or at the point of sale).

Did you use a suede protector spray? If not, it is unlikely that your ugg boots will be water or snow resistant. If you use a spray, then they ‘can be’ water and snow resistant.

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They don’t look like suede to me.

The boots I purchased are not suede, they are leather on the outside with the sheepskin for the inside. The water is penetrating through the seam stitching from the sole to the boot which appears to have been done very poorly. Yesterday it took just 6 minutes on short grass for my toes to be wet. I purchased them specifically so I could wear them inside and when necessary take my dog outside so he can do his business without having to change my footwear as I have had to do in the past. I have a disability which often makes it difficult to simply change shoes.

Thank you for the suggestion of using Dubbin. The water is penetrating through the low quality stitching that joins the sole of the boot to the rest of it. I have had a friend suggest siliconing the stitching but this shouldn’t be necessary given their claims of “water resistant”

They also recommend using a leather protector for leather UGGs, here is an example…

It appears you expect your uggs to be water proof rather than water resistant. Water resistant usually means it can cope with infrequent and short term contact with water. Water proof usually means will prevent water intrusion during prolonged exposure with water.

You might be better trying to find fleece lined gumboots if you need a waterproof boot.

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A similar observation of many different types of footwear.
Our grass is usually wet in the mornings until we’ll after sun up. After rain it can stay damp or puddle for days-weeks.

The only styles of footwear that we’ve found reliable outside have two features.

  1. The upper is of leather or has a water repellant finish, EG Gortex.
  2. The soles are moulded to the upper, either directly or through an adhesive that creates a water proof joint.

For convenience I often wear socks and suitable slip ons inside, and exchange these for a pair of easy slip on and off rubber boots for those short outdoor excursions. There are short legged versions of rubber boots available. Also a number of options including boot beetles to assist with getting them off if it proves difficult to stretch down. We are trying to keep what is outside in/on the grass outside.

Note: depending on our age and mobility not all types of footwear are safe options.

Since it is apparently necessary for your situation, you could try to minimise your ongoing frustration and ‘get it done’ by trying Dubbin, a bees wax, or a mink oil treatment. I used the latter two types for camping boots for decades and they worked well to seal stitching holes as well as treating the leather. I never tried Dubbin.

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It is a kind of boot polish without colour or solvent. It is a soft mix of oils and waxes so it is easy to rub into cracks and it stays soft and so can be applied fairly thick without cracking and falling off. Like all these things it has to be reapplied from time to time.

I think their quality has gone downhill. I always bought UGG Australia slippers. The moulded soles come away, worst of all the heel collapsed. On inspection it’s a cheap honeycomb type plastic with no padding other than the inner sole. I had to buy another pair but this time I saved $100 by going to Big W and they are better.

Thanks Phil…will try Dubbin…also looking at natural products for the inner parts of shoes to keep out the ‘Odour’ of wetness.

Curiosity got the better of me.
Something like this product perhaps.

Lots of helpful hints from the community. Even the brand has some clear advice. One might think that rain would be anticipated to run off and collect around any stitching on the seams.

The outer layer of leather appears to be a sheep skin product?

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I think it is this one. Which goes on about snow fighting in them. Napa leather is soft leather with no particular waterproofing ability. If the seams leak the type of leather don’t matter.

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This website explains difference between water resistant and waterproof fir shoes (meaning)…

For walking on wet grass, one needs a waterproof shoe. For odd splash if water here or brief exposure to rain (running from a car to the front door), water resistant will suffice. Expectation water resistant will be close to that of a waterproof shoe, is unreasonable.

In effect, almost any shoe/boot is water resistant, but not all are waterproof. The term water resistant might be considered ‘puffery’ as a result - a statement which has little meaning.

The claim the Ugg boots are water resistant is correct. If they said they were waterproof, that would be a different matter and would be misleading under the Australian Consumer Law.

Yes, saying water resistant is OK. The problem as I see it is confusing people by saying you can play in the snow in them.

As long as it doesn’t melt, any shoe can withstand snow. If it melts, any water resistant shoe will get wet in a short time.

Maybe they should say powder or dry snow…or as long as the snow stays as snow.