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How to Waterproof Tactical Boots: A User Guide

Tactical boots worn in wet conditions

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Tactical boots are specially designed to help you maneuver comfortably and safely on challenging terrain and in all sorts of wet conditions like rain, mud, or snow. Learning how to waterproof tactical boots will help a great deal because you’ll be able to give your boots the best possible care, and you’ll stay nice and dry as you hike in even the soggiest areas. 

In this user guide, we are going to share some great tips to help you coat and protect your boots so your feet can enjoy the best protection.

The Benefits of Waterproofing Army Boots 

Black tactical boots

Waterproof coatings are mostly used to keep your feet dry, but these treatments also offer many other great benefits like:

  • The coatings will keep the leather soft so you can stay comfortable and maintain maneuverability.
  • They reduce your cleaning and maintenance requirements because the layer acts as a barrier that keeps the material from absorbing dirt, mud, or oils. 
  • The coatings will enhance the vibrancy of the natural leather colors and will make smooth leathers look polished. Your boots will look stylish despite lots of wear. 
  • Waterproofing is essential to protect absorbent leathers like suede from becoming distorted or discolored.
  • Waterproof boots tend to last a lot longer because the coating protects the materials from natural elements.

How Often Should You Waterproof Tactical Boots?

Too many waterproof coatings can affect the aesthetics of your boots, and these products can be expensive. As a rule of thumb, you should apply a waterproof treatment every time you deep clean your boots or every time you do spot treatments on your boots.  

Boot cleaning products have a tendency to strip conditioner, wax, and other waterproofing treatments from your shoe materials. A fresh coat will protect your materials and will maintain the water resistance of your boots. This is typically done once every couple of months. 

You can also test the waterproofing of your boots. Pour a little bit of water on your boot. If water stops beading on the fabric then you should apply a fresh waterproofing treatment. 

How to Waterproof Tactical Boots

It is always best to get to work on freshly cleaned conditioned boots. Waterproof coatings won’t cling well or apply evenly if your outdoor boots are dirty. Before you get to work with any type of waterproof treatment, you should give your boots a thorough clean using a leather cleaner.  

Your boots should be completely dry and you should remove your shoe laces before you get started.

You can also apply the needed material care or conditioning products before you apply a waterproof layer.

Brown tactical boots

Identify Your Upper Materials

Military boots are manufactured from all sorts of textiles, like composite materials, rubber, leather, nylon, and canvas. Users often favor a leather boot upper because these materials are so durable and stylish. Leather is also flexible enough to adapt to your foot shape for a more comfortable fit.

Many different leather types can be used for shoe manufacturing, but the type of top texture the material has can impact the leather’s ability to resist moisture. 

Smoother leather textures are naturally more moisture-resistant compared to rougher, more delicate material like suede or nubuck. The rougher the texture of your boot materials, the more absorbent the fabric.

It is important to identify your boot materials so you can determine what type of waterproofing products and techniques you should use.

Tools You Will Need

To waterproof your boots, you will need the following tools and accessories:

  • A microfiber cloth, rag, or sponge
  • Waterproofing products: This can be a gel, cream, wax, or spray. Waterproofing products may vary for different leather types.
  • A hair dryer
  • A horsehair brush and application bush

How to Apply a Waterproofing Gel to Tactical Boots

Waterproofing gels are only suitable for full-grain leathers. This type of leather is harvested just below the animal hairline and offers a natural smooth appearance. Full-grain leather is un-buffed or unsanded, and offers more fiber strength compared to other leathers.

Waterproofing gel might disrupt the fibers of other leathers like genuine leather or suede leather, but it will form a smooth coating on full-grain leather. You can apply the gel on your tactical boots in just a few simple steps.

Step 1 – Rub the gel all over your tactical boots using a cloth. 

Step 2 – Allow the coating to sit for 2 – 3 minutes so it can dry out. 

How to Apply a Waterproofing Cream to Tactical Boots

Waterproofing cream is a popular shoe treatment because the breathability of leather boots remains. This helps you stay comfortable and reduces bad odors. Creams are not suitable for rough leathers like suede or nubuck because they can ruin that fuzzy look and feel.

Waterproofing creams leave a little bit of oil on your boot. This layer of oil protects your boots from water and dirt. Professional creams are very easy to apply. Here is a quick look at the steps.

Step 1 – Apply a smooth coat of cream on your boot using a soft cloth.  

Step 2 – Allow the cream to sit as indicated by the product instructions.

Step 3 – Some cream brands might require more coatings than others. You should apply the recommended number of coatings. Just remember to let your boots sit for a while between coatings so the leather can absorb the cream. 

How to Apply Waterproofing Wax to Tactical Boots

Waterproofing wax like beeswax has been used to make leather products water-resistant since the oldest of times. It is still a very popular treatment because wax is eco-friendly. The coating creates a solid barrier between water and shoe materials.  

Beeswax is not a suitable waterproof treatment for rough leathers like nubuck or suede, but this treatment is excellent for smooth leathers, as well as other boot materials. You can even treat canvas or nylon fabric tactical boots. 

The application is a little bit more challenging compared to spray for combat-style boots, or even creams, because a few more steps are needed.

Step 1 – Melt the beeswax in an old pan on your stove or over a burner.

Step 2 – Use an old towel to apply the wax on your shoe’s surface. You will notice the wax turn white as it cools down. Don’t worry about this.

Step 3 – Use a hairdryer to apply heat to your outdoor boots so the leather can absorb the wax, and form a deep seal. Be careful to keep your hair dryer a good distance away from the materials to keep the leather from overheating.

Step 4 – Use a soft cloth or towel to wipe away excess wax.

Step 5 – You can now use a microfiber cloth to polish the wax for a shiny finish.

How to Apply A Waterproof Spray To Tactical Boots

Waterproofing sprays for boots are very flexible and offer instant water repellency. They can be applied to just about any type of combat boot material. These sprays are even suitable for military jump boots that are made of combination materials like fabric, leather, or suede.  

A spray type waterproofing seal is also the easiest to apply by far. Just take a look at these quick steps.

Step 1 – Work in a well-ventilated area and apply an even coat of spray over your high-performance boots.

Step 2 – Allow your boots to dry naturally before you apply another coat.

Step 3 – Apply as many extra waterproofing layers as instructed on the spray bottle.

How to Waterproof Suede Tactical Boots

You should be very careful when cleaning and waterproofing combat boots that are made of suede, nubuck, or other rough, highly-textured leathers. Most waterproofing materials can completely ruin these shoes.

Waterproofing spray is the best product to use on boots that are made with a rough textured fabric because the spray won’t disrupt the rough fibers and won’t make the fibers stick together. Here is a quick look at the best steps to properly seal and waterproof suede leather tactical boots.

Step 1 – Start off by giving your suede boots a proper clean. Be careful to use the right cleaning techniques, or you could damage your boots. You should also allow plenty of time for your boots to dry.

Step 2 – Since suede boots can take several days to fully dry, it is best to give them a light clean again just before you start. Grab a suede cleaning brush and some suede cleaner and give your boots another quick clean. It is very important to remove all dust from your boots before you get started. The brush will also help soften the fibers so the coating can soak properly.

Step 3 – Use a waterproof spray that is designed for suede or nubuck leather. Apply an even coat over your boots. Allow them to properly dry.

Step 4 – Apply the recommended number of waterproofing spray coats. Let your boots rest between coatings every time so the leather can absorb the spray products.  

Step 5 – Once your suede boots have properly dried, you should grab your suede brush and lightly brush the fabric fibers. Brushing will help you remove clunks of products and make the fibers look smooth and fluffy.


Once you know how to waterproof tactical boots, you will be able to take great care of these important tactical accessories. They will look great no matter what elements you might experience out in the field.  

If you enjoyed this guide, then you should also have a peek at some of the other blogs on our website. Our site is packed with all of the information you need to help you find the best tactical gear for beginners and to learn how to take good care of your equipment.