Hiking Boots - Waterproof?

I’d love to know which hiking boots I can rely on to be waterproof - Inspite of the labels that claim Waterproof, I get tired of having wet socks.


I don’t think any hiking boots are waterproof. While some materials may be better at repelling water (say leather compared to some synthetic materials such as Gortex, nylons, vinyls or synthetic leathers).

I have had boots made of a range of different materials and none have been waterproof. They are water resistant, but all over time allows water penetration.

Boots also tend to leak at the shoe tongues and around joins in materials (through the join or stitching).

The best boots I have owned were some full leather Rossi Falcons. These has good water repellence, especially if a silicon based leather protector was used regularly on the surface. They also were good wearing. I wore them extensively for a few years and at one stage walked for about 1/2 day mostly in knee high water on the Routeburn Track in NZ - the boots were drenched and feet wrinkled. After drying out over night in a drying room, a coating of sealant/leather protector…they were near perfect again after a few hours wear (when the leather soften again).

I try and look for full leather boots which have good quality stitching and soles. I would recommend full leather boots (not Nubuck finish) which can be protected and sealed using a silicon based leather protector (internet search for these as there are a number of products available).


My Gortex lined leather work boots were great at keeping my feet dry. I also used to regularly spray them with Scotchgard or other water repellant spray. I don’t require them anymore, now even for my leather boaters I use the spray to improve their water repelling qualities. This needs to be a regular application if they are used in wet conditions eg rainy weather or dewy grass. Nothing is perfect so when hiking it is best to take a couple of pairs of socks so they can be changed if they become wet.

If using the spray or the “paint on” repellants, ensure the stitching gets adequate coverage, and look for tongues that are higher and stitched in further up than a standard type boot/shoe.


I have trekked extensively in Australia and overseas and would recommend that you get a light weight soft leather pair of Gortex lined boots. Gortex not only repells water but it will also allow your feet to breath and stay dry. The worst type of boots IMO are the types that are heavy, stiff and that do not allow your feet to breath.


According to Switchback travel:
‘We hate to say it, but no hiking shoe or boot is 100 percent waterproof. Why? In short, in order to provide total waterproofness, a fabric would have to sacrifice all breathability.’

As Hardyakka says, your best bet is Gortex lining in something lightweight.
Happy hiking.


Maybe consider some gaiters too to provide some extra protection? The specialty bushwalking stores with sales assistants not just cashiers are good for try ons and advice.
I’m only a fair weather walker - gortex Scarps boots have been dry so far


Hi, sorry I’ve taken so long to respond but my husband swears by the KEEN brand of waterproof hiking boots. They aren’t overly expensive for such a sturdy and yes waterproof boots. I hope this helps.


Another part of the answer relates to the choice of socks. Our feet sweat. Whether we like to admit it, it’s a reality of walking in boots.

My preference is for merino wool based or polyester blend socks. The first for general wear and the second for things like ski boots which need a sock that confirms and stays in place reliably. I don’t have a particular brand or supplier of sock. Many of the labels come and go in months or after a year or two. Other store brands can change product suppliers at will. I tend to buy just one or two pair at a time guided by what seems to have similar feel, weave etc to socks that I have liked from prior purchases. If they are still around in 3 months and the first pair are great I might stock up with a few more.

As for …

I rely exclusively on these

No boot however is truely water proof. Even my preference has it’s limitations once the depth of water you are standing in exceeds the freeboard. Mine have been in daily use with this years wet SE QLD turnout.

I’ve found leather boots of all types don’t breath but offer the best protection and support. If in the jungle, wet feet are unavoidable with sweat from inside and water from the outside. Should we also qualify whether the type of boot best for hiking can change with the environment. Tramping NZ South Island snows in early spring is very different from the Kokoda track (any time of the year) or the spinifex and sandy vastness of the Aussie inland, very large snakes included.

It’s inevitable, experience of one, wet feet are unavoidable, various causes. Carry spare socks and dry out your boots as @phb relates. Cold feet though are the one thing none of us can put up with.


I have a pair of Keen walking shoes which have been very good - coming up to 8 years old…no sole left and has been mended a few years ago…and a pair of Keen sandals - 3 years old. Both have been good shoes and good for those with broad feet as they are a broad shoe.

Have different hikers which need replacing in the near future. Will definitely be looking at the leather Keens as an option.


I agree that they are great for those with a broader foot but maybe you can contact them to find which ones would be best for you.


I bought some Scarpa hiking boots about 5 years ago - maybe 6. I took them to the arctic and all over the place. They kept my feet very dry. I spoiled my perfect dry foot run just recently by standing in mud, much deeper than I thought! On the down side, the out soles have just come off after my last days tramping in fiordland. (lucky it was the last day!). Looking at the next layer of sole, I doubt any glue will be able to fix them, because the rubber/plastic/whateveritis is denaturing and granular. Sad. Anyway, I can tell you that hiking boots are indeed pretty waterproof if you get the right ones. We use a combination of gumboots (in and out of boats and boggy situations) and hikers.


Thanks everyone - You’ve made me realise most of my problem stems from not regularly waterproofing my boots. Cheers. Yvonne


No hiking boots are cheap to buy all afe expensive. Sure do vary in price. Seems to be more choice than many years ago when only a few brands existed. Pays to look around if on sale.

I had a pair of scarpa from years ago didn’t fit my foot but were bery good at the time. The price them is expensive now. Still are many brands around

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