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  1. #1

    Default Silicone My Boots?

    My supposedly "waterproof" Oboz are not...waterproof. I do not want to go back to heavy leather boots and Sno-Seal though. So I'm thinking about using silicone waterproofing spray on them. Don't remember the model but they are like so many with an upper of both some leather and some cloth.

    Have you tried this? How well did it work? Did it damage the boots?

  2. #2
    Registered User
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    Bad Ischl, Austria


    At the beginning of my recent hiking career I've tried to waterproof clothes and shoes by spraying whatever stuff I got recommended.
    None of it did any more good that fend off a light sprinkle, not anything came close to be called waterproof.

    For shoes, I wear non-waterproof shoes or boots and wrap the socks in plastic if conditions get really wet.

  3. #3


    FWIW, my experience with "waterproof" trail shoes has been enlightening given the overstatement of waterproof. While Gore-Tex fabric membranes are indeed waterproof, they can be defeated by dirt that gets into the fabric. It's really not the shoes fault given their design and water entry points involved, low shoes and tongues without webbing invite water into the shoe from splashing, shallow puddles, mud, dewy grass, etc. Suffice to say, if it rains for a day or three, your feet will be wet, which leaves mitigation as the only real defense.

    Using silicone spray or DWR treatments on Gore-Tex shoes are not recommended by most manufacturers, though stores sell this stuff for a variety of purposes, not all store personnel understand these treatments and what they can do to expensive gear if not used properly. One strategy commonly used by many hikers during warm weather months is non-waterproof shoes (I have a non-waterproof Oboz trail shoes myself) which can be walked dry faster than the waterproof type.

    Bugets being what they are, if you have a pair of waterproof shoes, its important to understand how Gore-Tex works and why keeping shoes clean is important and keeps the Gore-Tex membrane able to do it's job. This should be enough in minor "nuisance" rain and dewy grasses. However in deluge conditions, due to limitations of the shoe design itself, keeping feet dry will be difficult. If true waterproof is what you need, high top leather boots that can be easily waterproofed may be a solution or mountaineering boots may be worth a look, though the price points of good 4-season alpine mountaineering boots starts around $700 and ranges to $1,000 and beyond.

    Over the years I have found socks tend to be the primary path of water entry into trail shoes. Socks capture water drops from direct rain, splashing through shallow puddles, and water running down legs. I found the use of short gaiters in summer to help mitigate this, especially if they have a sturdy waterproof section on the lower half of the gaiter that covers a good part of the shoe. These tend to deflect water running off the legs and splash water, keeping the two major water entry points covered as best they can in the environment they are in.

    I have seen people change to sandals in summertime rain, but the risk of wet toes striking rock nubs and tree roots in the trail causing a nasty cut or chunk of toe to be involuntarily removed makes me cringe.

  4. #4


    The other problem is as the boots age, the stitching starts to get loose and starts to leak. The waterproofing is generally an inner layer and depending on how it's attached and were it's stitched has a big impact on how long the boot will stay waterproof.

    Waterproofing the outside of the boot simply keeps that material from absorbing water and making the boot heavier, so it's still a good idea.

    I typically find my boots will stay waterproof for the first couple hundred miles of use, then slowly deteriate until they leak like crazy but at that point they need to be replaced anyway, typically after about 500 miles.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  5. #5


    I have gone to untreated trail runners but use a waterproof sock with a REI light wool liner in them.The ones I currently use are Randy Sun from Amazon,much less expensive than Seal Skinz btw and just as good as far as I can tell.

    I did a 19 mile hike in them last month.Wound up jumping in a creek to get water,feet stayed dry.When I did put the shoes on in the middle of the night on my bare feet I noticed they were quite wet,something I was not even aware of during that day so they worked as advertised for me.They breathed adequately such that my feet did not really want to come out of the shoes until dinnertime and I was about an hour away from going to bed then anyway.That's one reason I don't worry about camp shoes.

    One thing to keep in mind is that if you get in water deeper than the top of the sock you have made a grievous error and only a fresh dry pair is going to correct that.

  6. #6


    But you don't want waterproof boots for backpacking the AT (mountain climbing is different). They are going to get soaked regardless, and will take ages to dry. Get the most porous, breathable shoes you can find that have adequate support for what you're doing. For most of us, that's trail runners. You can cross a stream in them, then walk them dry in a mile or two.

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