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waterproof sprays on shoes

I will be traveling to Ireland in 2 weeks. The second pair of shoes that I am planning to bring is suede. I was thinking of using a waterproof spray on them, since there's always a chance of rain in Ireland. Has anyone used these sprays on suede and if so, how effective is it? I have another pair of shoes I could bring, but they weigh more and I prefer bringing some that are lighter.

Posted by
2102 posts

Can I piggyback on this thread and ask what brand do people use and where do you purchase it?

Posted by
5657 posts

If I need a "waterproof" boot I start with one that has a Goretex membrane built into the boot. Then I add water repellent with a Nikwax product such as: https://www.nikwax.com/en-us/productselector/waterproofing.php

For suede and nubuck:
https://www.nikwax.com/en-us/products/productdetail.php?productid=685&itemid=-1&fabricid=-1

Outdoor stores such as REI carry the Nikwax products:
https://www.rei.com/product/142163/nikwax-nubuck-suede-waterproofing-spray-for-footwear?sku=1421630001

Posted by
21243 posts

Most sprays do not work or have to used nearly everyday. If a shoe is going to leak it will leak through the various seams. A spray will not fix that. A spray may make the surface slightly more water resistant but it will not make it waterproof. And since it is a surface treatment, it is quickly eroded from daily wear. You can try but do not have high expectations.

Posted by
1423 posts

I have been very successful with waterproof spays on leather shoes. I just bought whatever brand that Target carries, and sprayed the shoes twice before each trip. We were in Scotland for The Fringe, and often had to stand in lines for the venues in the pouring rain: my feet stayed dry.
Safe travels!

Posted by
3469 posts

Nothing you can put on your shoes will be water "proof". But some can increase the water resistance helping to keep your feet somewhat dryer.

I use Kiwi Camp Dry when I am looking for something to better protect my feet from water. Also use a wax stick on the seams (don't remember the brand, had them for decades). It does wear off sometimes sooner than you would like. It will ruin anything other than smooth leather or nylon and can change the color of those as well. But this is something to use when you are going be camping in the wilderness, not for sight seeing in modern cities.

It has rained every time I visited Ireland. Not constantly, but enough so that things got damp. I just wore the same shoes I would at home when I needed to go out in the rain and had no issues with getting overly soaked. And they were not water resistant or treated with anything.

Posted by
5657 posts

In the olden days of the last century, we used SnoSeal, a bees wax based product. The wax based SnoSeal penetrates leather for waterproofing without softening the leather. Softening leather was bad when you cinched down on your crampon. Water sealing without softening the leather (back then the better boot upper were leather made SnoSeal the go to waterproofing for winter snow activities.

The problem with SnoSeal is it is too good at waterproofing and seals the leather such that it doesn't "breath". Goretex membranes solve the waterproof but breathable objective. The Nikwax delivers wax to the boot upper while not blocking the leathers "pores".

My boot still take in water during heavy rains, but I suspect that the water is entering from my rain pants seams or zippers then wetting my socks.

Note that boots with mesh uppers and no membrane have breathable but impossible to waterproof.

I guess better not to risk and leave your great suede shoes at home. Suede in general is less resistant to water damage than leather and is for dry weather mostly. Not a good choice for Ireland IMHO

Posted by
5657 posts

I would agree that suede is not the best uppers for waterproof boots and has a lower durability compared to other materials whether they are colored blue or not. Better materials for boot uppers that look "rough" are Nubuck or split-grained leather. REI's "expert advice" explains:
https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/hiking-boots.html

Split-grain leather: Split-grain leather is usually paired with nylon or nylon mesh to create a lightweight boot that offers excellent
breathability. Split-grain leather "splits away" the rougher inner
part of the cowhide from the smooth exterior. The benefit is lower
cost, however, the downside is less resistance to water and abrasion
(though many feature waterproof liners).

Nubuck leather: Nubuck leather is full-grain leather that has been buffed to resemble suede. It is very durable and resists water and
abrasion. It’s also fairly flexible, yet it too requires ample time to
break in before an extended hike.

Posted by
12372 posts

Are the shoes really suede? Or maybe NuBuck?

If true suede, I would not try to waterproof them. But if they are NuBuck, you can use the NikWax product mentioned by Edgar. I use it on my NuBuck sneakers and it doesn’t change the color. And it works reasonably well unless you are wading through puddles.

Posted by
298 posts

You guys are the best. I didn't know that much about leather vs suede vs nubuck. Thanks for all of your input. I looked up my shoes on the manufacturers website and they are actually "Debossed Nubuck". I am re-thinking taking them. My main shoes that I will be wearing are Merrell Goretex "Moab." I have worn this style for years. They are water-proof, comfortable and supportive. The shoes that I'm wondering about are my 2nd pair of shoes. I usually like to change shoes out in the evening to give my feet a break. I still want a comfortable shoe, but I would prefer something a little nicer than a hiking shoe. I think I will go shopping and see what I can find. I'll look locally, but will probably end up on Zappos. Thanks for all your help.