Do you have a pair of non-waterproof tactical boots and want to know how to waterproof your tactical boots?
Walking with wet feet can be uncomfortable and increase the chance of your feet developing blisters and frostbite from cold. Waterproofing your boots can help keep water away and keep your feet dry and comfortable.
Modern tactical boots are usually waterproof and come with waterproofing technology right out of the box. These boots may not require additional waterproofing. You can wear them confidently in the rain.
However, there is no harm in double waterproofing these boots to make sure you are on the safe side and more confident. Interestingly, depending on the waterproofing method, the waterproofing effect can last long before you need to waterproof the boots again.
So in this article, I will share with you five simple methods to waterproof your tactical boots. I’ll also share with you the most suitable waterproofing methods for tactical boots made with leather, synthetic materials, or suede.
How to Identify Whether Your Tactical Boots Needs Waterproofing or not
Before you go ahead and waterproof your tactical boots, you should first try to identify whether your boots need waterproofing or not.
Also, you should identify the material your boot is made of to choose the most suitable waterproofing method.
You will know that your boots need waterproofing when you notice that the boots no longer form tiny beads on the surface that clam together and stream down.
Eventually, you may start noticing that the outer layer of the boots is starting to absorb water. Consequently, water will seep into the boot if nothing changes the course of action.
At this point, you will no longer be able to walk with wet boots as it will make your foot uncomfortable.
How to Waterproof Your Tactical Boots
After identifying whether your boots need waterproofing, you can start the process.
There are three main steps for waterproofing tactical boots, which are as follows:
- Prepare your boots for waterproofing
- Choose and apply the most suitable waterproofing technique
- Properly dry your boots
Preparing Your Tactical Boots for Waterproofing
It is best to prepare your tactical boots to suit the technique you wish to apply if you want the waterproofing process to be more effective and to last longer.
First, you must ensure no dust or dirt is present on the boots, as they can compromise the waterproofing process.
Second, the boots need to be damp for most waterproofing techniques to work. If you clean the shoes and do not attain the desired dampness, wrap them with a damp towel and allow them to stand for one to two hours.
Choosing the Most Suitable Waterproofing Technique
Waterproofing is mainly designed for boots made with nubuck, full-grain leather, or suede. So before choosing any waterproofing technique, ensure the product is compatible with the boot’s materials.
While it is possible to waterproof tactical boots made with any material, different products work for different materials.
For example, using a Waterproofing spray designed for nubuck leather on full-grain leather may not cause the same effect and can even cause harm to the boots.
Another vital point to note is that waterproofing is best done a day or two before using the boot to allow the membrane to dry quickly and produce the best result.
Therefore, the choice of waterproofing technique depends on the materials of the boots and the weather condition.
5 Simple Methods for Waterproofing Your Tactical Boots
1) Mink Oil
While mink oil is well known to soften the leather, shine, and restore the moisture of cracked boots, it can also be used for waterproofing due to its wax texture as it is acquired from the fatty layer of the skin of the mink.
Mink oil is unsuitable for suede, but you can use it for boots made with other materials.
When to Use Mink Oil
Mink oil is an excellent option for use in the early spring seasons or where you expect occasional water splashes on your boots.
You can use mink oil between hikes, as the application process is easier than wax if you are on a hiking trail.
While mink oil is suitable for waterproofing, excessive use can lead to moisture build-up in the leather. This is why it is good to space out the application sessions at two-week intervals. Excessive use can also cause the leather to rot or weaken the threads in the seams.
Follow the steps below to apply mink oil to your boots:
- Clean the boots thoroughly to remove dust and dirt
- Put the mink oil on a clean and lint-free cloth or towel
- Apply the mink oil on the cloth to the boots in a circular motion
- Use your fingers to work the mink oil into the leather in a circular motion
- Allow the mink oil to dry on the boots properly
- Finish off with a suitable leather polish to give it a shiny look.
It is crucial to concentrate on the seams because moisture and dirt can break down the threads between the boots’ sessions.
Also, applying mink oil to the leather will make it darker, which should not be a problem.
Note: Oil of any sort is unsuitable for suede, but you can use it on boots made of other materials.
Pros of Waterproofing Your Boots with Mink Oil
- Conditions and softens the leather of the boots
- Easy to apply
- Improves the overall aesthetics of the boots
Cons of Waterproofing Your Boots with Mink Oil
- The drying process can take days
- Can interfere with dyed leather
- You may need more than one coat to achieve desired results.
Works on full-grain leather & faux leather.
Waxing has long been used on leather to prevent water from getting into the boots. It also gives the boots a glossy shine that makes them look new.
When to Use Waxing
Waxing is probably one of the toughest waterproofing techniques. Therefore, you should only use adequately waxed boots for activities with shallow water bodies where some part of the boots is temporarily submerged in water.
Waxing your boots will also protect them from rain but should not be used on a hike due to the long drying.
How to Wax Your Tactical Boots
To wax your tactical boots, you should first get a suitable product and then follow the steps below:
- Use a lint-free soft cloth to take a thin layer of wax from the product and rub the wax all over the boots in a circular motion
- Ensure to allow the tongue and seams of the boots, especially where the upper and the soles meet, to dry appropriately.
- Use another clean cloth or towel to wipe off any excess
- Repeat the process two or more times to make sure that no tiny holes are left behind
You can spread out the repeat sessions over a few days for convenience. However, you don’t have to repeat it frequently if you properly seal the leather.
You will know that the boot has completely dried when you no longer feel sticky on your fingers when you poke it. You should not rush the drying process by putting the boots under the sun, close to a fire, or direct heat source.
However, if the drying process is not done correctly, the sticky wax will trap dust and dirt, which will alter the boots’ integrity and affect the boots’ final look.
A good waxing session can last you throughout the winter season, depending on your level of activity and the season’s intensity.
Once you discover that the leather has lost its luster, it is time for another waxing session.
Pros of Waxing
- Lasts longer than other waterproofing techniques
- Easy to apply
- Doesn’t cause stains or discolorations
- A better alternative to Mink Oil which can degrade the leather or cause it to rot
- Gives the boots a shiny look
Cons of Waxing
- Not suitable for suede materials
- Longer drying process
- More chances of attracting dust
- Wax residue can impair the adhesiveness of new soles
- Can leave a stain if not applied properly
3) Waterproofing Spray
Works on leather, nubuck, faux leather, synthetic materials, mesh, fabric, and textiles.
Silicone waterproofing spray is another method for waterproofing tactical boots. Unlike waxing, the effect of this technique doesn’t last long and often wears off fast.
It is likely to not last beyond two weeks before you need to reapply for them. However, the good thing about this method is that you can use it on new boots.
When to Use Waterproofing Spray
Waterproofing spray is usually a quick fix for boots soaking up moisture.
It can prevent light rain from getting into the boots and be helpful on days when the weather defies forecast.
How to Apply Waterproofing Spray to Your Boots
Follow these instructions for applying waterproofing spray to your boots:
- Choose the appropriate silicone waterproofing spray that is compatible with the material of your boots
- Take the boots to a well-ventilated area
- Spread the silicone spray evenly on the desired areas
- Allow the spray up to 24 hours to dry properly
- Check for discoloration in your boots after one to two weeks. Repeat the process if the boots look darker than when you first used the spray.
Note: It is important to read the label of your waterproofing spray and follow the manufacturers’ instructions because some sprays may have additional requirements or use a different set of procedures.
It is also important to apply the seam sealants on the seams, which may be hard for the spray to waterproof.
Pros of Using Waterproofing Spray
- Easier to apply than wax
- Dries faster, thereby reducing the risk of attracting dust and dirt
- Effective in keeping water away
Cons of Waterproofing Spray
- The effect wears off fast
- May reduce the breathability of the boots
- Can dissolve the glue on the soles
- Can cause discoloration of the boots
4) Boot Covers
Works on all types of materials.
If you are the kind of person who does not like having chemicals on your boots due to the fear of damage, you can try this mechanical waterproofing technique.
Unlike wax, boot covers are often made of polypropylene and do not directly impact the fabric of your boots. Instead, you wear them over the boots, and they will keep water away.
You can even combine boot covers with waxing to make it even more difficult for water to get into the boots.
When to Use Boot Covers
Boot covers work on all types of boots regardless of the material used to make the boots. They are also suitable for all weather and any terrain.
How to Use Boot Covers to Waterproof Your Tactical Boots
Follow the following steps for using boot covers to waterproof your boots:
- Choose your desired boot cover
- Open the boot cover and insert your boot into it
- Pull up the boot cover up to the ankle
When choosing a boot cover, it is advisable to select a more elastic product so that it can fit into different boot sizes to ensure a perfect fit.
You should also choose an eco-friendly boot cover since you will regularly dispose of it and avoid polluting your encouragement.
Pros of Using Boot Covers
- Easier to use and doesn’t require technical expertise
- Doesn’t affect the integrity of your boots
- Fits multiple sizes
- No drying time required
Cone of Using Boot Covers
- Not suitable for heavy-duty use
- The effect is temporary compared to other waterproofing methods
5) Combining Conditioning Cream with Polish
Works on leather, faux
Conditioning cream can waterproof your boots because it is often made with plant oil and beeswax. Additionally, you can enhance the waterproofing effect by combining it with a layer of polish.
When to Use Conditioning Cream
If you choose this technique, it is important to use minimal conditioning cream to avoid over-moisturizing your boots, making it hard for the coating polish layer to stay.
This method is more effective for light rain or in areas with not much sand that can stick to your boots.
How to Use Conditioning Cream to Waterproof Your Boots
The process for using conditioning cream with polish is easy and involves the following steps:
- Choose your desired conditioning cream
- Clean your boots properly
- Use a clean cloth to apply the conditioning cream on the boots in a circular motion.
- Allow the conditioner to soak into the boots and dry
- Apply polish and allow it to dry
Pros of Waterproofing with Conditioning Cream
- Softens the leather of the boots
- Easy to apply and soaks into the leather with ease
- Most conditioners have a pleasant smell
Cons of Waterproofing with Conditioning Cream
- Not suitable for suede materials
- The effect may not last longer
- Darkens the color of the boot
I hope you find the best waterproofing method that is suitable for you. There are five simple methods that you can use to waterproof your tactical boots:
- Using mink oil
- Using waterproofing spray
- Using boot covers
- Combining conditioning cream with polish
It is important to know your boots’ material before starting the waterproofing process.
Do you know that sharing good stuff like this makes people look amazing? Share this guide with your friends so that they can also learn how to waterproof their boots.
Jesse is the main author of Tactical Angle. He’s also an avid survivalist, backpacker, and fishkeeper. He spends time setting up/maintaining my fish tanks, hiking, hunting, and climbing mountains.