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While hiking Eastman Mountain in the heavy rain last Sunday, my feet got soaked on the flooded trail during the descent. I mean, SOAKED, I sounded like Squidward from Spongebob when I walked. I was wearing my Lowa Camino GTX that have maybe 45-50 trail miles on them, and figured it was just from my socks wicking water from my wet pants (I wasn’t wearing rain pants) but at the end of the hike I realized my pants weren’t THAT wet.
I dried the boots on my Peet shoe dryer, which took over 12 hours until I couldn’t feel any more dampness inside. Last night I filled my kitchen sink with water and held the boots down (they float) for 15 minutes, and sure enough they were starting to get wet inside. So I used the REI online live help to see about exchanging them since I’m pretty sure I just got a pair made on Monday or Friday, and was told that it can be expected that they’d leak there since the tongue is stitched on there. “But the Gore-Tex membrane should keep my feet dry even if the boots leak at the stitching, right?” The CSR told me I could return or exchange them as long as I had a receipt, which I plan on doing this Sunday.
Now, for the stupid question part: was the CSR right about it being normal? I have to say absolutely not based on my own experience with Gore-Tex, which started about 30 years ago with a pair of Danner “Ft Lewis” boots that young PFC Smith spent a significant portion of his $300ish bi-weekly beer & pizza money on (I think he ate a lot of meals in the mess hall till the next payday) and went on to include quite a few other pairs of Gore-Tex boots, parkas, trousers, gloves, socks (Sealskinz, great with jungle boots & wool socks in the Rheinland-Pfalz winter), and a couple bivy sacks, none of which ever leaked on me no matter how wet they got.