Are Gore-Tex boots really the best for waterproof qualities?

11:56 a.m. on August 9, 2009 (EDT)
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I know that Gore-Tex is a great material for waterproofing, but is it the only stuff I should be looking at? I have been looking at a pair of Merrell Outlander Mids, they are waterproof but not Gore-Tex. Should I steer clear of the non Gore-Tex? Some advice would be helpful in my selection.

12:44 p.m. on August 9, 2009 (EDT)
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Welcome to Trailspace

I like Gore-Tex but I have used some other waterproof membrains that work good. I cant remember the name of the other brand but it did hold up just as well as Gore-Tex. Not to mention leather can be pretty waterproof all by itself with the proper care.

1:10 p.m. on August 9, 2009 (EDT)
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I understand eVENT has gotten a good following and is supposedly more breathable and equally "waterproof" compared to Gore-Tex. Think it's sort of interesting that Gore won't allow manufacturers (or brands) using their product to also offer eVENT in their line.

1:24 p.m. on August 9, 2009 (EDT)
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..... Think it's sort of interesting that Gore won't allow manufacturers (or brands) using their product to also offer eVENT in their line.

Most people don't remember gor-tex, e-vent etc they just remember they bought a pair of IE Wolverine boots and they leaked (No Wolverine boots don't leak) But my point is that they don't want to be associated with a company that makes leaky shoes and uses different membrane types. And there big enough to be able to dictate that.

3:36 p.m. on August 9, 2009 (EDT)
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I prefer not to buy Gore-Tex boots. I get good leather boots and use a spray silicone treatment as needed. Gore-Tex is not permanent. Boots get hard use, and that membrane is getting the friction and bumps right along with them. Sooner or later it has got to wear out. I have to admit I haven't tried it, but if you know how Gore-Tex works, this will make sense to you, unless it is a heck of a lot more durable than I give it credit for. Whatever, the silicone spray works for me. I also use it to give some protection to my boonie hat, to spray seams on new gear, etc.

4:19 p.m. on August 9, 2009 (EDT)
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Brerarnold one pair of Gore-Tex boot I bought took 5 years of hard use before they started to leak and I mean hard use. But you are correct that it is going to ware out sooner or later but if you look at it from a different angle nothing lasts forever. A good Gore-Tex shoe, boot what ever comes with a minim of a 1 full year full replacement. The last 2 pair of Gore-Tex boots that I have bought took at least 3 years of hard use to start leaking.

3:09 p.m. on August 24, 2009 (EDT)
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I live in Costa Rica. I can get 3 or 4 years out of a high quality boot.

I was a fish farmer in the states so I have had wet shoes my entire life.

If it isn't GoreTex forget it.


I refer only to boots and shoes. Rain gear is another story.

3:33 p.m. on August 24, 2009 (EDT)
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I love Keen waterproof shoes and boots. My feet feel better after a day of hiking in Keens than they do after wearing any other brand of athletic, trail, or work shoes. I own three pair of Keens and wear them to work several times a week as well as on the trail. I thought Keen used Goretex in the past but I see that they now advertize Keen-dry. My one complaint with my low cut Targhees and all other waterproof shoes/boots is that they feel hot, especially on warm summer days here in Alabama.

11:24 p.m. on August 24, 2009 (EDT)
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I had a pair of Gore Tex lined boots that were water proof and I loved them until I had them resoled and the cobbler stitched right thru the liner!

Let's get terms straight here tho'. Water proof can mean both "not damaged by getting wet" and "does not let water get thru". Water proof leather usually means that the leather will not be damaged by getting wet, but does not mean no water will get thru.

Gore Tex boots do not let any water get thru, but allow water vapor to get out, keeping feet reasonably dry from sweat.

Rain gear is another story. I don't use "breathable" fabrics for clothes because I still get soaked from my own sweat when wearing them and they are not wind proof. I wear only water proof (as in no water or air gets thru) vinyl Sea Gear rainwear.

3:37 p.m. on August 25, 2009 (EDT)
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Welcome!I personally dont care for the gore-tex liners.I feel that for summer use they make a boot way to warm for my tastes and my feet end up sweating and retaining more dampness than ness.For winter hiking and or climbing winter spring and late fall i like the gore-tex but during these seasons heat is a non issue.I recently purchased a low top hiking boot without gore-tex and really like them for day hikes and light 2 to 3 day backpacks.Another point to note is that the gore tex boots i own always take longer to dry out than the non linied boots.

Living in the nw,oregon, i have found that e-vent is much better at doing the job than gore-tex but is not as widely used in products.Also seems to demand a higher price because of this.

Good luck at whatever you choose and just remember to enjoy the journey.ymmv

11:59 p.m. on August 25, 2009 (EDT)
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Gore-tex boots are popular primarily because the gore-tex takes all the skill and work out of making your boots waterproof, both for you and the manufacturer. It also lets the boot maker off the hook in terms of not having to use more costly construction methods and materials.

Many gore-tex boots are made from multiple layers (scraps) of cheap leather with hundreds of stitch holes and stitching, to hold the whole thing together. This makes these boots more affordable. Although this gives them more initial flex with less break in time, their only saving grace in terms of water-proofness is the gore-tex liner. The boots made of suede tend to be more porous, and if not sealed they will absorb water/mud making them heavier, which also leads to the breakdown of the leather.

Just put them on, break them in if needed, and your off without a care in the world...right?

Not exactly, gore-tex tends to be hotter causing your feet to sweat more. This means you will probably have to change your socks more often during warmer months. Gore-tex does not work well if the liner becomes dirty, it looses it breath-ability.

Gore-tex boots take much longer to dry out if water comes over the top of the boot. The multi layered types are not a good choice for areas where they will be abraded by rock or scree, the stitching comes undone and you have to glue the pieces back together. Hot melt glue or shoe goo works well for this.

They are however cheaper and easier to waterproof (mostly done for you with the liner) and generally have a shorter break in time.

After many pairs of boots I now prefer full grain, one piece leather boots with welted (stitched on) soles. I like the welted soles because they give you a wider sole, when necessary they seem to kick into dirt slopes better than rounded over glued soles. You do have to make sure to work the water-proofer into all the stitch holes or use stitch seal, if you do that you're good to go.

This type of boot construction offers thick leather for durability and support, very minimal stitching in the upper, and will take about anything you can throw at them in terms of terrain. Full grain leather boots tend to have a higher level of craftsmanship than cheaper boots. They dry quickly if you should get water over the top, and stay cooler in warmer months. This type of boot should last much longer than cheaper multi layered, over-stitched boots.

The down side to FGL boots is that they are getting harder to find, they are more expensive, and generally have a longer break in time. They do require you to learn how to do your own waterproofing which is a maintenance thing, but that can be enjoyable, like polishing a fine hand built sports car.

This has been a gradual learning process for me, twenty years ago I would never have bought an expensive pair of boots that had to be broke in. Now you couldn't take them from me.

10:33 p.m. on September 6, 2009 (EDT)
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Thank you everyone. I appreciate the help. For now I got a pretty nice pair of Merrells, I am looking at a fair of FGL Asolos or Vasques next time.

10:16 a.m. on September 7, 2009 (EDT)
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Best of luck to you!

The Smokeys are a beautiful place to hike, I hiked there for a few years, and now have been exploring some remote areas along the TN /NC border & the Blue Ridge Escarpment area along the NC / SC border. What a great way of life it is!

2:29 p.m. on September 7, 2009 (EDT)
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Trout I miss being able to take off in the areas where you are talking about. I was nice when I lived down there.

1:53 a.m. on September 10, 2009 (EDT)
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Trout I miss being able to take off in the areas where you are talking about. I was nice when I lived down there.

Ah...where abouts did you live before?

5:23 p.m. on September 10, 2009 (EDT)
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Trouthunter is correct about full grain leather boots. While expensive, they last a lot longer. A lot of mountaineering shops that have some history, will tell you that the newer synthetic, or partial leather boots, cost as much as FGL, but they don't last as long. They do not require as much break-in, which makes them attractive to a lot of people. One thing to keep in mind, and I had to learn this the hard way, is that the lasts for boots, even from the same maker, can vary dramatically. As well, there are peculiarities between German lasts, Italian lasts and French lasts. French boots fit me the best, but I can't find them anymore.

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