FREE SHIPPING, EXCHANGES & EASY RETURNS
October 02, 2023
High-quality waterproof boots protect you from soggy socks, painful blisters, and even frostbite in cold, snowy conditions. And if you’ve ever wondered how exactly waterproof boots work, you’re in the right place! We’re looking at the science and technology behind waterproof boots, including how we approach waterproofing at Royal Canadian.
Waterproof boots repel water even in the wettest and most challenging conditions thanks to a series of membranes that work together. The first line of defense in waterproof boots is their outer surface and its ability to repel water. The outer leather is treated to make it hydrophobic, causing water to bead up and roll off rather than soak into the leather.
These exterior treatments only offer so much protection against water, especially when the boot is fully submerged. Any drops of water that pass through the outer layer are met with a series of membranes, each which has millions of microscopic pores that prevent water droplets from reaching your feet but allow water vapor, specifically from sweat, to escape.
A significant challenge in waterproofing boots is breathability. It’s easy to keep water out, but in many cases, that means also trapping moisture inside, like sweat. Early waterproofing methods offered a trade-off, in which fully waterproof boots were generally stifling and uncomfortable due to poor breathability.
Modern technology has revolutionized waterproof boot design to facilitate both effective waterproofing and greater breathability. Innovations like waterproof membranes, like Gore-Tex, are crucial to this balance. These membranes are microporous, meaning they have tiny holes that are too small for liquid water to pass through but large enough for water vapor to escape. It’s this balance that keeps your feet dry from external moisture while comfortably expelling internal moisture.
Waterproof boots employ various materials and technologies to maintain comfort and breathability while creating a barrier against water.
Among natural materials, full-grain leather is the most effective at repelling water. This is due to its dense and tight grain structure, which prevents rapid penetration by causing water to beads up on its surface. As a result, full-grain leather is a popular choice for waterproof boots. To enhance its waterproofing abilities, leather is often treated with oils, waxes, or other hydrophobic compounds that further repel water and create an even more effective barrier. It is, however, important to note that these treatments and the thickness of the leather can impact breathability.
Gore-Tex is an extremely highly-regarded waterproofing technology that features a microporous membrane. This membrane contains many tiny pores that are too small to be penetrated by liquid water but large enough to allow water vapor, like sweat, to escape. Gore-Tex is often integrated into the inner lining or as a bootie, creating an excellent balance between dryness and breathability.
Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) is a synthetic material known that’s used as a coating or overlay in combination with other materials, like leather or mesh, to enhance a boot's waterproofing by fortifying its exterior.
Durable Water Repellent (DWR) is a surface treatment applied to the outer layer of fabric or leather boots. DWR is not a waterproofing material per se, but enhances a boot's water resistance by causing liquid water to bead up on and roll off of (rather than penetrate) surfaces on which it’s applied.
These materials and technologies in waterproof boots are excellent examples of the role that science plays in creating effective and breathable barriers against moisture, even in extremely wet conditions, while still keeping your feet warm, dry, and comfortable all winter long.
Waterproof boots rely on certain construction techniques for fortification against external moisture. Understanding these methods helps us to more fully understand just how these boots do what they do.
Seams in footwear, particularly at points where different materials meet, are natural weak points for water penetration. To address this vulnerability, manufacturers use seam-sealing techniques in which a specialized tape or sealant is applied to coat the vulnerable areas and waterproof the boot by minimizing the number of external entry points.
A boot’s tongue and adjacent lacing area represents another potential entry point for water. To offset the risk of water seeping into the boot from this area, many waterproof boots feature gusseted tongues, including our Men’s & Women’s Waterproof Boots. This means that the tongue is attached to the side of the boot's upper, creating a continuous waterproof barrier. Gusseted tongues work in concert with other technologies, like waterproof membranes, to create yet another layer of defense between your feet and the cold, wet conditions outside.
Many waterproof boots incorporate waterproof barriers or linings into their structure. These membranes, typically made of materials like Gore-Tex, are placed inside the boot to act as a shield against external moisture while ensuring breathability by allowing vapor (sweat) to escape.
Just like other shoe & boot materials, waterproofing can wear down over time, especially with exposure to harsh conditions and friction. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that these boots are made to handle extreme conditions. In fact, the most common reason that waterproof boots wear down more quickly than they should is because of a lack of proper boot care and/or regularly exposing your boots to excessive heat.
While waterproof boots are designed to withstand the elements, even with proper care, their capabilities will diminish over time. Recognizing when this is beginning to happen and knowing how to reapply waterproof treatments can go a long way in enhancing a pair of boots’ waterproofing abilities.\
The need for reapplying waterproof treatments depends on a few factors, including how frequently you wear your boots and the severity of the wet conditions to which they're exposed. Look for signs that your boots’ original waterproofing is wearing off due to abrasion, moisture, and general wear and tear. These signs include water soaking into the outer material and decreased water beading on the surface.
Reapplying waterproof treatments is a simple way to prolong the lifespan of your waterproof boots. When the time comes to reapply waterproofing treatments to your boots, follow these half-dozen steps to ensure the best results:
Waterproof boots are a vital element to anyone who works or plays outdoors in the wet & cold. The science and technology of waterproof boots has come a long way over the years and continues to improve with every iteration. The advanced materials, construction techniques, and technologies employed today deliver a remarkable and unprecedented combination of dryness, warmth, comfort, and breathability.
Armed with the knowledge gained today about the science and craftsmanship behind waterproof boots, the next time you stride into the great outdoors you’ll do so secure in the knowledge that, whatever the conditions, your boots will have you covered!
October 02, 2023
October 02, 2023
The chill of winter beckons, and as you venture out to brave the elements, the right footwear becomes your trusted ally. From snowy trails to city streets, the choice between waterproof and water resistant boots plays a pivotal role in your journey. But, here lies the crux: while these terms often get interchanged, they serve distinct purposes, each with its own set of advantages. Delve into this guide as we demystify the differences, ensuring your next step is both dry and informed.
ROYAL CANADIAN COLLECTIVE
SINCE 2012 ROYAL CANADIAN IS PROUDLY CANADIAN OWNED AND OPERATED INTEGRATING THE TRUE NORTH SPIRIT INTO EVERY BOOT WE BUILD.