Are Gore-Tex Shoes Waterproof? How To Test if They Leak

Last Updated on 13/04/2022

Are Gore-Tex Shoes Waterproof

Are Gore-Tex shoes waterproof and if so for how long? In this article, you will learn just how waterproof Gore-Tex shoes and boots really are as well as how to test your boots and what to do if they leak. After reading this guide and following the tips, you will always have your feet dry on hikes.

Are Gore-Tex Shoes Waterproof?

Gore-Tex Shoes are totally waterproof and will keep your feet dry so long as the waterproof membrane remains fully sealed. You can walk through wet grass, shallow streams, puddles, and even stand in the ocean for hours at a time. The only time your feet should feel wet is if water gets over the top of your Gore-Tex shoes or your feet are sweating.

There are some reasons why Gore-Tex shoes sometimes start to leak which we explain later but if they are in good condition your feet will stay dry. The Gore-Tex membrane is only thin but very durable and should last for many years all being well. Occasionally you get the odd pair of Gore-Tex shoes that start to leak after not very long but these will be replaced for free under warranty in most cases.

Why Do Gore-Tex Shoes Get Wet Inside?

Here are 6 of the most common reasons why Gore-Tex shoes may get wet inside:

Broken Membrane Seal

This is when you get a pair of new Gore-Tex Boots and wear them for a week or so to find that they start leaking after a short time period. You might have tested them for waterproofing when you got them and then two weeks later they start to leak. This is due to improper construction or too tight of a fit.

What happens when all the stitches and seals are tested in the field for the first time? Any flaws are exposed and start to leak. This might be because the design of your shoe allows too much stretch so that all the Gore-Tex seams are put under maximum pressure. It may also be that the shoes are just a tad too small and your feet have stretched them just a little too much.

Wear and Tear

We’ve all seen it happen before. Your favorite pair of shoes or slippers eventually start to wear through and they need replacing.

Wear and Tear is another common reason why Gore-Tex shoes might start leaking. It may be that you wear through the membrane from the inside over many hundreds of miles. You can also have damage from the outside that can rip the Gore-Tex membrane underneath like scuffing against one too many sharp rocks.

Water Over the Top

This is an obvious one and a reason you will be well aware of as and when it happens. If you stand in some water that is deeper than the top of your shoes then your feet are going to get wet. You can wear gaiters to increase the height of your waterproofing but we will talk about this another time. The lesson here: don’t stand in water that is too deep.

Rain Getting In

Believe it or not, this is more of a problem than most people realize. Unless you have some waterproof pants over the top of your Gore-Tex boots and shoes then rainwater will run down your legs and straight into your footwear. This will create a pool of water inside your shoes and need to be dried out.

Sweaty Feet

Perspiration may well be the number one reason why your feet feel wet when wearing Gore-Tex footwear. Feet sweat when it’s hot or you’re body temperature rises through exertion. If this moisture can’t escape fast enough then your socks will get damp and you may even start to get blisters which isn’t much fun. Blisters can be prevented though.

Sock Material

Choosing the wrong type of sock to wear inside your gore-tex shoes is another reason why your feet might start to feel sweaty and wet. Socks with high wool content are the best as they wick moisture and help keep your feet dry. Cotton socks and Synthetic socks are typically not the right choices for hiking in Gore-Tex shoes because they make your feet feel hot and sweaty as well as cling onto moisture more than wool.

waterproof dunk test for gore-tex shoes

How to Test if Gore-Tex Shoes Are Waterproof

The best and simplest way to test if Gore-Tex shoes are waterproof is to hold them underwater for 30 seconds (AKA the dunk test). They need to be bone dry before the test and you can use a tissue to help look for any moisture inside the shoes.:

  1. Hold the shoe underwater up to about an inch from the top of the shoe so that it doesn’t come over the top
  2. Hold this for one to five minutes
  3. Take the shoe out feel all the way around the sides and underneath the innersole
  4. Use a tissue if you are not sure to look for dampness inside
  5. Repeat the test on the other shoe

Now you should know how to test if Gore-Tex Shoes are waterproof.

What to Do if Gore-Tex Boots Start Leaking?

If your Gore-tex boots or shoes start to leak after performing the dunk test then you need to contact the retailer you bought them from or contact Gore-Tex through their warranty page. If they start to leak after months or years of use then you should still contact the manufacturer and Gore-Tex but you may not be as successful. It is incredibly difficult to repair Gore-Tex shoes yourself.

What is Gore-Tex’s Warranty on Footwear?

On the Gore-Tex website, it states that “If you are not completely satisfied with the waterproofness, windproofness, or breathability of your GORE-TEX product then we will repair it, replace it, or refund your purchase price. No matter which of our trusted customers makes the product, if it has the GORE-TEX brand label on it, we have certified that its durably waterproof, windproof, and breathable performance meets the needs of its intended use. Fairness is one of the core principles of the GORE company. Our promise is one that allows for common-sense solutions with a focus on product performance and building lasting relationships with our consumers”.

They still hold themselves to this and I have heard dozens of stories of people sending in their old scruffy Gore-Tex gear and receiving repaired or replaced back. So if your boots leak, let them know and they will take care of you because they know you will tell your friends how good their service is to even to this day.

Gore-tex shoes that are waterproof

How Waterproof are Gore-Tex Shoes?

You may be wondering just how waterproof Gore-Tex shoes are or whether they are merely just water-resistant. In my experience, a good pair of Gore-Tex shoes or boots are some of the most waterproof types of shoes available. When I used to live on the coast and go sea fishing, I would stand in the water for hours on end with dry feet the whole time.

You can walk through wet grass, shallow streams, and puddles without having to worry about leaking. If your shoes are made from leather then you can improve the waterproofing from the outside with some wax. This is also how you can maintain the current level of waterproofing.

How Long Do Gore-Tex Boots Stay Waterproof?

You can expect Gore-tex boots and shoes to last many many years before they need to be replaced. That being said pretty much all waterproof footwear eventually wears out and starts to let in a tiny bit of water. In our experience, this typically happens around the big toe where the sole meets the midsole and upper.

Are Gore-Tex Boots Really Waterproof?

To summarize this guide you can conclude that Gore-Tex shoes should be 100% waterproof from new and if they aren’t then do something about it as soon as possible. If they are working as designed you should be able to stand in water for as long as you like without getting wet feet in theory. In reality, this has proven to be the case for us and we truly believe that Gore-Tex is worth the extra money.


We hope you are no longer wondering are gore-tex shoes waterproof? Let us know if we left anything out using the contact page.


Gear Assistant
Gear Assistant

This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

  1. […] Gore-Tex boots are totally waterproof because of the thin membrane layer lining the inside. The lining itself would stay waterproof for decades if it was not exposed to such brutal wear and tear. The problem is that when your feet are rubbing against it tens of thousands of times per day (on a hike) like any material it can wear through. […]

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