How waterproof are your Gore-Tex/eVent shoes?

12:01 a.m. on November 30, 2009 (EST)
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I hiked at a park in Winston-Salem on Saturday that offered an interesting test of so-called waterproof-breathable liners in hiking boots.

This is a floating boardwalk that sinks about three or four inches into the water in some places -- it didn't come over the ankles of my mid-height hiking boots (Keen Targhee Mid, with eVent liners, about 18 months old) but water did pour over the lower lace area.

My feet got pretty wet, though not nearly as soaked as they might've been if water had come in over the ankles.

So my question from other users of Gore-Tex and its ilk: would you expect your feet to stay dry in a situation like this? Clearly my shoes wet out pretty quickly, but the material is pretty old and perhaps not as waterproof as it used to be. Have any of you experienced these fabrics succeeding in a full-immersion situation like this?

My experience has been that Gore-Tex/eVent have never been better than just OK at keeping feet dry -- four of five steps in a shallow stream produce wet feet no matter what. eVent seems to dry out faster after it wets out.

8:41 a.m. on November 30, 2009 (EST)
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I have a later model (a year old) of that boot with the proprietary "keen dry" liner. I have yet to notice any water- we will see as time goes by. I'm unsure of the condition of your boots, but have heard that Keen is very good with the warranty.

Have you ever treated the leather on your boots with a waterproofing product?

The reason I ask is I had some Gtex boots a while back and when they started to allow water in I used a silicone boot waterproofer to help slow the entry of water. It helped, but alas, the soles wore out and I had to abandon the boots altogether.

I currently wear Asolo 535's when backpacking. I seal them with Sno-seal. They are no good for crossing streams, but keep my feet dry through hours of rain. They dry fast (for a heavy boot) and do not feel as cold as waterproof lined boots. I am considering a pair of the 520's for winter hiking, but have not made up my mind on that. This is my second pair of the 535's and I have been really happy with them - but I would have had to take them off to cross that walkway in the picture.

8:49 a.m. on November 30, 2009 (EST)
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Thanks for the tips ... my boots have had no maintenance whatsoever; they sit in the trunk of the car between hikes and I've never tried to clean the area above the soles.

They were a bit more watertight when brand new, but I have a sinking suspicion they'd have wet out in this situation even then.

9:22 a.m. on November 30, 2009 (EST)
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If your boots are 18 months old and you wear them a lot, you've probably worn through the gore-tex liner. Regardless of the manufactuer, I'd only trust a gore-tex lined boot for about 4-500 miles. That's been my experience, at least.

I also have a pair of the Keen drys and experienced some water leakage while testing them. I think water resistant might be a better description, than water proof. Coating them in seam seal has helped reduce the leakage.

11:02 a.m. on December 1, 2009 (EST)
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I also wear the Asolo 535's. I've had them for about 2 years and they are still watertight even when walking through standing water. As long as the water didn't go over the top of the boot I am good. I do keep them well waxed however and I think this is a bigger factor in keeping them dry then Gore-tex. My theory on Gore-tex is that it IS 100% waterproof, but the waterproof layer is very thin and can tear or puncture very easily. Therefore, unless it is brand new, it will probably have some pinhole leaks. I've played with new gore-tex jackets by pouring a gallon of water in, and forming a large bowl by keeping the outer edges turned up. It will not leak if it is new, but if it isn't the water will find places to come through. If you have a very thin coat where the waterproof portion is visible, you can usually see the places where the waterproof layer has developed small holes. I usually patch these from the inside.

2:35 p.m. on December 1, 2009 (EST)
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I'm with philipwener, the liner won't hold for ever but you can do a lot to take care of it - every few month you can wash the boots from inside and take away all the small pieces of rock, sand and gravel that get into it and with your foot inside the boot rubbing them through the liner...eventually rubbing holes in the liner. Also the DWR of footwear is very poor and the more you take care of it as using things like nikwax etc to waterproof the outer of the boot the better as it'll say it make it easier for the sweat to go out. Some people go with waterproof boot and simply sweat so much they think the boot is leaking and let water out but they are simply wet from their own sweat...applying a waterproof treatment will encourage the breathability of any membrane and will make it much "cooler" to wear.

9:41 a.m. on December 2, 2009 (EST)
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My New Balance 1500GT's, nikwaxed, are do-a-jig-in-a-4"-stream waterproof.

12:00 a.m. on December 3, 2009 (EST)
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LOL @ pillowthread.

10:17 a.m. on December 3, 2009 (EST)
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My Montrail hiking boots and my Timberland hiking shoes both GTX have held up pretty well when it comes to preventing my feet from getting wet.

10:37 a.m. on December 3, 2009 (EST)
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i have a couple pairs of merrells with GTX that have also held up pretty good. im looking into getting a pair of Asolo 535s for christmas too.

11:53 a.m. on December 5, 2009 (EST)
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We had pool of rain water in the parking lot at work Wednesday. I walked through the side of it in water over the ankle and stayed mostly dry. Just a couple of damp spots on my socks. The boots were Ecco and I don't remember how old, but they are coming apart in places. I wear them once a week when I have to operate a cnc machine and they stay wet all day without leaking.

10:10 p.m. on December 5, 2009 (EST)
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I recently purchased a pair of Danner Pronghorn Boots from Cabelas, 400 gr. of Thinsulate, Gortex liner, etc. Wore them around the house to break them in and then tried them outside. Walked through wet grass for about 20 minutes and my feet had a cold, damp feeling that they should not have had given the Gortex and the Thinsulate. I called Cabelas to tell them what I thought of them and sent them back for a refund which I have received. Ordered a pair of their Outfitter Series Pro hunting boots which I received in the past week. Tried them outside in the snow today and they kept my feet dry but not warm. I wasn't disappointed as they have only 400 gr. of Thinsulate too. I switched to my 3 or 4 year old Cabelas Switchback boots, no longer available, but they are similar to Cabelas Canada Hunting Boots by Meindl ( German company) although my Chinese boots cost about $100 less than the German made ones. These are the only 400 gr. boots I have that keep my feet both warm and dry in the snow.

In summer, I depend on my LLBean Cresta Boots to keep my feet dry and they do. I've not had as good luck with the Cabelas Trail Lite boots as the rubber in the front seems to be separating from the leather part. If I clean them and reapply the Gortex waterproofing, they are ok for a while. But, they also cost $100 less than the Creata so guess I should not expect too much.

I have a biased toward Cabelas because of the way they stand behind their products. I once took a 15 year old pair of their boots back to one of their stores as they were no longer waterproof. They gave me a nice credit to shop for a new pair. Also, I have to wear a wide boot due to my orthotics. Most other companies do not carry wide boots or have very limited selections.

1:34 p.m. on December 6, 2009 (EST)
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I have long thought it a marketing gimmick that might be almost correct.

Gore-Tex has always suggested care in keeping outer wear fabric clean of oils and dirt that reduce its breathability. And treatment every so often to maintain its effectiveness. There are few places on my body other than my feet that are always at least damp from sweat.

My foot area is one of those dirt/oil/sweat/unmentionable collectors.

I have recently bought my first Gore-Tex 'proofed' boots. There are no such instructions in the box to keep the liner 'clean'. The rain will be coming this week, and we shall see what happens when new and a year from now when not so new.

Other than from wear and tear, I'm guessing that waterproofing will decrease as it gets used.

10:04 p.m. on December 6, 2009 (EST)
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Even boots need a durable water proof coating like scotchguard. Try it.

Jim S

10:08 p.m. on December 6, 2009 (EST)
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I'm definitely going to look into waterproofing my boots -- I slipped into a creek full of snowmelt Sunday; just enough to get my feet wet. It warmed up with hiking but dry would've been nicer.

11:41 a.m. on December 8, 2009 (EST)
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Make sure you use a product designed for waterproofing GoreTex. These products will waterproof while minimizing the reduction of breathability. My three-year-old Asolos are waterproof even when fully submerged. I Nikwax them about twice a year, and have walked hundreds of miles in them. I would expect them to keep all water out.

8:35 p.m. on December 9, 2009 (EST)
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It's a hard call Tom. I don't care too much about having waterproof boots but Sue, my wife does!

A year or so ago she got a wet foot on a trip while the other one stayed dry. This really annoyed her and as the boots were not too old she returned them to the store here in Australia. The upshot was that the Gore-Tex company here (Australia) was very serious about their waterproof guarantee and got the boots replaced without any hassles.

We posted a bit of a blog entry about the experience - Is the Gore-Tex guarantee real? if anyone is interested.

3:05 p.m. on December 11, 2009 (EST)
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I'm not an expet on this but here is what I get from reading the marketing info for gore-tex and clone products (the orginal gore-tex patent expired sometime ago so others can make clone material today.)

The micro-pore fabrics used in gore-tex and similar products are not really waterproof - but rather rainproof. The micro-pore fabric "breaths" because perspiration doplets are much smaller than rain droplets. Perspiration doplets can get out, but rain droplets can't get in.

However, the micro-pore fabric itself is not going to hold water back. That is why a gore-tex piece of clothing has three layers. The inner-most layers is a non-absorbant fiber like polyster to "wick" perspiration from your body so that it can evaporate through the two outer layers. The middle layer is the micro-pore fabric that allows perspiration droplets to pass through but does not allow rain droplets in. The outer layer is a dwr treated fabric to prevent rain doplets from collecting and forming water pools that could penatrate the micro-pore fabric.

Gore-tex products and the like need to have the outer layer DWR treatement maintaned, whether it the leather on your shoes or the nylon fabric of a coat. otherwise rain droplets can collect on the outelayer and break down into smaller particles that could penatrate the micro-pore fabric.

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