Sunday, December 21, 2014

Three ways boots can come waterproofed

Wet boots are heavier than dry ones, which is just one of many good reasons
to get waterproofed boots. Photo courtesy of ise_80 / Photoree.
When day hiking in the wilds, you’ll generally want to wear waterproof boots. You may have to cross small streams, muddy trails, or dew-covered grass. Any of those situations as well as others can leave your feet wet and uncomfortable while making the walk more difficult, as wet boots are heavier.

There generally are three ways your boots are waterproofed.

One method is breathable lining. Fabrics such as Gore-Tex are sewed into the boot to keep moisture from passing to the sock and foot. The downside of such waterproofing is that the outside of the boot still absorbs water, resulting in increased wear and tear on the footwear, not to mention leaving the boots heavier so long as they are wet.

Another method is waterproof leather. In this case, an external coating – such as a durable water-repellent treatment (also known as DWR), oil or wax – is applied to the leather. Poorly constructed boots still will let water in if stitches are missing or threads are loose. If the boots become saturated, the coating likely won’t be enough to keep your feet dry.

A third method is boot construction aimed at preventing moisture from getting to the sock and foot. Such construction includes taping or sealing seams as well as using special stitching.

Typically, at least two of the methods are employed in any hiking boot you purchase.

Your best bet is to get a hiking boot with breathable lining and then add a DWR on your own. Another reasonable alternative is to go with waterproof leather that boasts superior construction, though this is the most expensive route.

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.