How Long Do Gore-Tex Boots Stay Waterproof?

Last Updated on 13/04/2022

How Long Do Gore-Tex Boots Stay Waterproof

Before you shell out a load of money on some new footwear, you might want to know how long do gore-tex boots stay waterproof? In this guide, we walk through how long you can expect Gore-Tex boots to stay waterproof and the reasons they may not. We then share the ways to improve the waterproofing on leather boots or shoes and what happens when your boots start to leak.

How Long Do Gore-Tex Boots Stay Waterproof?

Most Gore-Tex boots should last a thousand miles or more before the soles wear through or the uppers become too worn. The waterproof Gore-Tex membrane which lines the inside of your boots is designed to last as long as the boots themselves. I have personally not always found this to be accurate but more on that later.

After a couple of years and a few thousand miles of walking, most boots and shoes will be past their prime. There are exceptions of course like the Meindl boots that lasted over 3500 miles and stayed waterproof to the end but they were heavy duty and are not like ‘most boots’.

For some people, 1000 miles might be 5 – 10 years of walking whereas others might do double that in a year if on a thru-hike for example. For this reason, it is easier to measure in miles or kilometers rather than years. If you go on a 2-mile hike 5 days a week then your boots will last around 4 years before you have walked 1040 miles.

Many manufacturers estimate that Gore-Tex boots will last for around 500 miles before they should be replaced but I think they are exaggerating in most cases. There are some lightweight hiking boots and trail running shoes that might wear through that fast but they don’t try to hide that, they focus on being lightweight.

Can Gore-Tex Boots Lose Their Waterproofness?

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.

If your waterproof boots do develop a leak you can contact the Gore-Tex Guarantee department to see if they can help, often they can. Other than that you should try to maintain them as best you can using the tip below.

How to Keep Gore-Tex Boots Waterproof for As Long As Possible

The best way to keep your Gore-Tex boots waterproof is to maintain them from the outside and wear thick socks. Synthetic shoes and boots are harder to maintain and so typically have a shorter lifespan than leather. Leather boots and shoes are much easier to maintain using waxes, sprays, oils, and other treatments to provide an initial water barrier.

Nikwax Fabric and Leather Footwear Clean/Waterproof DUO-Pack, Sponge-On , 8.4 oz. / 250ml

Waterproof sprays like Nikwax Fabric and Leather Proof are the easiest way to protect and maintain the waterproofing on your Gore-Tex boots. This is especially true for synthetic boots which you cannot use wax on.

The idea behind thick socks is one I had when writing this and I think that the added cushion of padded socks will help to prevent serious friction wearing through the Gore-Tex membrane.

How Do I Make Gore-Tex Boots Waterproof Again?

If you want to try and repair some Gore-Tex boots that are leaking yourself then your best bet is to try and seal them from the outside. If you try to repair the membrane itself you are going to struggle unless it is in an easy-access position. We do not recommend adding glues around the inside of the toe box as it may cause blisters.

Kenetrek Waterproofing Boot Wax and Leather Treatment Dressing, 256, 8 oz

The best way to patch the problem is to apply some waterproof treatments as mentioned above. This might be the NikWax spray, or some Kenetrek Waterproofing Boot Wax which will create a water-resistant barrier so that your Gore-Tex doesn’t have to work so hard.

The final way to solve this problem is to contact Gore-Tex to see if their lifetime guarantee will cover you. If the rest of the boot is still in good condition they will either repair or replace your boots for free. This is one of the reasons we love Gore-Tex.

gore-tex boot in water how long will it last

Does Gore-Tex Waterproofing Wear Out Eventually?

The honest truth is that yes, eventually everything will wear out including your Gore-Tex hiking boots waterproofing. It will probably happen gradually before you even notice it until you find that your toes constantly get wet when walking through wet grass or in the rain. You can expect Goretex waterproofing to last around 20 years or more without any serious wear and tear and yearly maintenance.

You can buy vintage Gore-Tex boots that have hardly been worn from thrift stores for pennies on the dollar, and find them to be totally waterproof without any treatment. The reason they will lose their waterproofing is after hundreds if not thousands of miles of walking.

Why Do Gore-Tex Boots Leak?

There are many reasons why Gore-Tex boots may start to leak but the biggest reason is wear and tear. It might be that the membrane becomes damaged or worn from the inside, the seams come apart in the construction, or there is damage on the outside which exposes or damages the Gore-Tex membrane from the outside.

The most commonplace for seam leaks to occur is around the toes where the upper meets the sole. You often notice it around your big toe first but it isn’t long before your socks get soaked. The reason it leaks here is that it is a high-pressure point that is constantly put under stress with every step. If the construction doesn’t provide adequate support for the Gore-Tex lining it can fail over time.


How long do gore-tex boots stay waterproof? The amount of time or miles walked depends but the best answer is as long as the other boot materials hold together. Leather Gore-Tex boots stay more waterproof than synthetic Gore-Tex lined boots in our experience just because you can use more durable waterproof treatments. If you make it to 1000 miles and your boots are still waterproof then you are winning.


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.

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