How To Test Your Boots For a Waterproofing Failure

We’ve all been there. You’re slugging your way up a hillside, through puddles, wet grass and rain because for some strange reason, you’ve convinced yourself that this is actually your idea of fun. Who needs to be in bed at 7am on a Sunday anyway, right? Fun as it is, you can’t ignore the feeling that your feet are starting to get a bit damp. Surely it’s not the Gore-tex membrane already? You’ve only had them for a year and you take really good care of them. Well, fear not! There is a very simple to test to do to put your mind at ease. *Side note – it will take a couple of days for your boots to dry after this test, so please make sure you don’t have to use them for a little while afterwards.

  1. Remove the inner sole – I know it sounds obvious, but there is no need to keep these in whilst this test is carried out. That just means there’s another part of the boot that’s got to dry.
  2. Fill your boots with water – So the theory behind this is; if the waterproof membrane is damaged and it is letting water through, then it will be able to let water back out the other way again. I recommend sticking them over the sink or a bucket so you don’t get water all over the kitchen table (I’m not speaking from experience… I promise).
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  3. Wait – Depending on the fault in the membrane it may take a few minutes for any water to make an appearance. If after 10-15 minutes you haven’t seen any sign of leaking then your damp feet are probably not being caused by leaky boots. If this is the case, see section 4. If water is now leaking through then see section 5.
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  4. “My boots are not leaking” – Well I’m very sorry to say that you will now have damp boots for a couple of days – I did warn you! Stick some newspaper in them and put them in a well-ventilated room – DO NOT force dry them.
    But what else could it be? Well, it could be something as simple as water is coming in over the top of the boots and you need to invest in some Gators, or it could be the fact that you haven’t cleaned the INSIDE of the boot for a while. Yes, you need to do that. Most waterproof membranes, to a degree, are breathable (this means that the pores in the waterproof material are large enough to allow water vapour to escape, but far too small to allow a water droplet to pass through – Gore-tex for example, contains over 9 billion microscopic pores per square inch. These pores are 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet, but 700 times larger than a water vapour molecule, making the membrane functionally waterproof, while at the same time allowing perspiration to escape from the inside.) – after a while, however, sweat will build up on the inside of the boot, clogging the membrane from the inside. This means that your feet will start to get damp from sweat because the water vapour has no means of escape. Seeing as your boots are now damp anyway, now is a good time to give your boots a clean! Pop about half an inch of warm water in the bottom of your boot, add a decent dollop of tech wash footwear cleaning gel and give them a gentle scrub with either a sponge or cloth. Then, leave them to dry naturally. Ta-dah!
  5. “My boots are leaking like a sieve” – Well, we have a couple of options. You may well be covered under warranty by the company you bought them from – So take some photos and fire across an email to their customer support team – detail when you bought them and include the photos. They may ask you to return them and may well issue you with a new pair, a refund, or send them off to get repaired. Great! This may also not be the case. I cannot speak for everyone on those grounds.
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    In this instance, there are companies out there who will repair walking boots for a fee. I would highly recommend getting in touch with LSR (www.lancashiresportsrepairs.co.uk) – their work is pretty spectacular.
    If you’ve exhausted all options it may be time to consider investing in another pair of boots – but hopefully, whoever you go and see will help you out with that process.  Go to a retail shop that fits walking boots properly (somewhere like, I don’t know, maybe Trekitt?). Take your old boots with you. They should ask to see your feet in the boots and may try and determine why the membrane broke down in the first place. Sometimes this is because of an ill fit – I quite often see this with folks who’ve bought boots online and haven’t had a chance to get measured and fitted.

I won’t go through the whole fitting process; I’ll save that for another blog post. Hopefully, that’s helped you out though. If you have any further questions then you know where to find me!

See you next week Ferals!

H

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