Hydrophobic Leather: How to Keep It Waterproof

Wellies or rough and tumble boots used to be the only footwear choices for rainy weather. Thankfully, those times are over: There are now stylish all weather shoes made of water-resistant leather.

Waterproof or hydrophobic leather goods already have water protection built into their materials. This technology has been around for decades, but up until recently, it was only used for sturdy boots. Nowadays, thanks to improved production methods, there is also water-resistant leather available that looks elegant and light.

What is hydrophobic leather?

Hydrophobic leather is treated in such a way that it remains waterproof or water resistant for a long period of time. Therefore, it isn’t necessary to apply waterproofing spray before wearing shoes made of this type leather, unlike other leather shoes.

The leather becomes hydrophobic during the tanning process. There are numerous methods applied which use a combination of water-resistant chemicals, including paraffins, silicones and fluorine compounds. These chemicals bind to the fibres of the leather, thus raising its surface tension, which in turn prevents moisture from soaking in.

However, it’s important to note that not all hydrophobic leather is completely waterproof. Some is only water repellent. The difference between waterproof, water repellent and water resistant lies in the amount of time it takes before water makes its way through the fabric. As a rule, waterproof material stays dry longer than water repellent material.

What are the advantages of hydrophobic leather?

Hydrophobic leather is just as breathable as traditional leather, but it also has a number of additional advantages. Since the material repels water, it dries faster and ensures better thermal regulation. Waterproof leather also has a visual advantage: It doesn’t get water marks or spots.

Those of us who are less enthusiastic about cleaning will be delighted that dirt is less likely to permeate into hydrophobic material – and since the leather doesn’t get as wet, it holds its shape better. Waterproof leather also doesn’t dry out as quickly as traditional leather, which protects it from cracking or aging prematurely.

Do I need to care for waterproof leather?

Though it may sound like hydrophobic leather practically cleans and dries itself, every once and awhile it needs a little backup. The leather surface naturally gets worn after repetitive use and the initial waterproofing agents start breaking down. If this happens to you, it’s time to supplement with some care products and waterproofing spray. Our BAMBOO LOTION cleans the leather, yet helps it maintain its desired water resistance.

You may think you don’t need waterproofing spray for hydrophobic leather, but indeed you do. Over time, the coating on the hydrophobic fibres wears off. CARBON PRO is the ideal product to refresh and support the waterproofness of your shoes. You’ll get the most even results if you spray your shoe from 30cm away.

With regular refreshers, your new favourite footwear will be ready for any type of weather in upcoming seasons. Bring on the water and dirt!