waterproof hiking boots

Are Waterproof Hiking Boots Worth the Investment?

As far as hiking boots are concerned, the waterproof hiking boots will almost always cost more than its non-waterproof counterparts. It’s also said that they weigh more and are perceived by most hikers to be more capable of addressing the requirements of an outdoor adventure.

Nonetheless, the fact that you would have to dish out more than $150 for a pair means you have to, at least, make sure that it’s worth it. If you’re on a tight budget, don’t be put off, however. There are many high-quality walking boots at discounted prices on sites like REI Outlet, so you don’t need to worry about money. Instead, you can look at the important questions. What kind of waterproof technology will it have? How many points will it score in terms of breathability? Or, as many avid hikers find themselves asking: How long does it stay waterproof?

The answers to these and other important questions regarding waterproof hiking boots are what we’ll discuss today.

What Are Waterproof Hiking Boots?

As the name suggests, waterproof hiking boots are a variety of outdoor footwear known for their water-repellent qualities. They keep your feet dry from both the inside and the outside via the waterproof membrane lining the underside of the boots’ outer shell.

The ideal pair of waterproof hiking boots should be equal parts breathable and waterproof. The combination of these two characteristics allows the footwear to score high on the waterproof scale overall. It seals out the moisture caused by natural elements. It also ventilates the inside of each boot, allowing air to flow and preventing moisture from forming inside.

More often than not, waterproof footwear makes use of Gore-Tex technology. However, other manufacturers apply their proprietary technology for waterproofing. For example, Merrell uses its M-Select Technology. Both the Gore-Tex and M-Select DRY systems work in similar ways.

Aside from the waterproof membrane, there’s also a coating called the durable water repellent (DWR) that enhances this type of footwear’s waterproofing ability. Of course, this, like the membrane itself, is known to wear off over time. There’s a way for you to restore this coating, though, and that is by applying a wash-in or spray-on revival product.

Are Waterproof Hiking Boots Effective?

For the most part, yes, a pair of waterproof hiking boots do keep your feet dry. However, don’t expect them to be “completely waterproof” since that would mean completely neglecting breathability, which is just as important in creating these boots.

While you want to keep moisture from entering your footwear, you also want to make sure air has a way of getting out. Sure, “totally waterproof” hiking boots may be able to keep your feet bone-dry for a while, but once you start exerting effort, sweat will form and start to smell, leaving you in a lot of discomfort.

To keep that from happening, some top manufacturers have made their products as breathable as they are waterproof. Still, as great as this combination is in any pair of waterproof hiking boots, it also has downsides.

How Long Can Waterproof Boots Last?

The disadvantage of balancing breathability and waterproofness is that it will only keep your pair of boots waterproof for a certain time. Eventually, the tiny ventilation channels in the footwear will allow sand, dirt, and other grime to enter. In the same way, these elements will also start to wear out the waterproof membrane under the boots’ outer shell.

All that will compromise your boots’ ability to seal water out and keep moisture from forming on the inside. So, in the end, you will still have wet feet. That is either from your sweat or from the moisture that has made its way inside your shoe.

Gore-Tex products can be waterproof for a long time. Of course, this will depend on how regularly and properly you clean your boots, the types of terrains you take them through, and the trail’s altitude.

As well made as the waterproof liners of the best waterproof hiking boots are, on average, they will only be able to withstand around one or two years of daily use. Plus, you have to consider other possible scenarios that would nullify your boots’ ability to keep water out, such as floods and deep rivers.

In these instances, you’ll want to pick options higher at the ankles, so there are fewer chances for water to penetrate your footwear. Speaking of awesome waterproof boots, check out this review of one of the best models available today.

Hiking Boots’ Lifespan

Waterproof hiking boots have more than just waterproof technology going for them. The reason many hikers prefer this variety is that it’s both breathable and waterproof. Although the boots’ breathability may take away some of their waterproof abilities and longevity, they still create a combination that remains one of the best for taking on outdoor adventures.

A high-quality pair of waterproof hiking boots, on average, can last up to two years of everyday use. In instances where you take it frequently on harsh terrains and high altitudes, it may only last a year at best.


Nikki is an author and writer specializing in green living ideas and tips, adventure travel, upcycling, and all things eco-friendly. She's traveled the globe, swum with sharks and been bitten by a lion (fact). She lives in a tiny town with a fat cat and a very bad dog.

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