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Q&A

How long is Gore-Tex lining in boots effective?

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I was reading a recent answer and found this statement

for the great majority of users, Gore-Tex boot liners fail anyway, and sooner rather than later if any real mileage is being covered. In fact, most experienced users tend to avoid Gore-Tex boots.

I have a 10+ year old pair of leather red wings boots with Gore-Tex linning. I wore them enough that the tread is pretty much gone, and never noticed a leak. But I am not walking through much water with them anymore. I also put mink oil on the leather occasionally.

How long is Gore-Tex lining in boots effective? Is it distance or age that causes it to fail sooner? Do most experienced users really try to avoid Gore-Tex lining in boots?

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4 answers

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I have to completely agree with your quote. Essentially in all GoreTex shoes I ever owned, from hiking boots to essentially everyday leather sneakers, the membrane degraded over very short time (at most within a year or two).

I don't think it is possible to make any general statements though. The degradation obviously depends on how the shoes are used, so various factors like

  • difficult terrain,
  • heavy load (person and/or pack weight),
  • distance travelled

will all negatively influence how your membrane holds up and thus directly and negatively impact the water-resistance of your shoes.

A further important point for me is also that there is nothing the wearer can do - or anyone, really - if the GoreTex membrane starts to degrade. Especially in shoes where the water-resistance relies mainly/only on the GoreTex layer, such as in lightweight fabric trekking shoes. Once the GoreTex layer is faulty the shoe just leaks, and that is that.

OTOH I have used my last pair of quality full leather boots for 10 years and north of 1500km of hiking, at least half of it in difficult terrain and with a heavy (15kg+ load). The leather degrades 'gracefully' when treated correctly, and the water-resistance of a leather boot is always directly influenced by how you treat it. Even on very old leather boots water-resistance can be regained/improved by correct treatment (e.g. using bees wax).

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This post was sourced from https://outdoors.stackexchange.com/a/16268. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

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There are a lot of variables here so you won't get a hard-and-fast response.

It will depend on the stiffness and construction of the boot, your usage, the amount that you sweat, the terrain and the weather.

Those who dislike Gore-Tex boots find that:

  • Under heavy use the membrane degrades and fails, often within weeks.
  • Breathability is compromised and sweat builds up inside the boot. Your feet can sweat over half a pint (280ml) per day so for many this is a significant issue
  • If the boot gets wet it takes significantly longer to dry.

In threads like this where experienced walkers gather, the general view is negative, though some users do find it works for them.

The downsides seem to apply with particular force to lightweight boots and shoes - I've met many people on the trail who were less than delighted with their lightweight GT footwear. But if you are using conventional leather boots, it's harder to see what Gore-Tex offers compared to traditional waterproof dressings.

My only personal experience was picking up a pair or GT trail shoes in a sale and they seemed to give the worst of all worlds - after the first few hours they let water in but didn't let it drain out. But then I walk off-trail on Dartmoor, which is as bad as it gets underfoot, so your experience may vary.

I would say that in general it's casual users who seem to like GT boots, while walkers who push their equipment are less enthused. In tough environments like Dartmoor and Scotland I've certainly met far more critics than fans.

For any particular boot you may be able to glean something from the reviews. If you can afford to take a punt, try it and see if it works for you. If funds are tight you might be safer buying something more traditional - that way you know what you're getting.

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This post was sourced from https://outdoors.stackexchange.com/a/16251. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

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I have never had a pair of GTX boots or shoes where the lining lasted the length of the boot tread. Sometimes it is shorter and sometimes it is about the time I am thinking of replacing them. Sometimes it is a small leak in one shoe and sometimes it is major problem.

And GTX shoes are much hotter and don't dry well overnight if they get overtopped during a hike.

I decided that what I dislike most is the idea of wet feet rather than the actuality of them. So a with pair of highly breathable shoes and the right socks, I don't have any foot problems with wet feet. Many people seem to like wool socks, but I like 100% synthetic material. Synthetics are cool and dry quickly.

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This post was sourced from https://outdoors.stackexchange.com/a/16312. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

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Boot Fitter Here.

I can tell you that Gore-Tex can and will keep your feet dry and last the lifetime of the boot, if:

  1. the Gore-Tex was intact at point of sale, and
  2. the boot fits properly.

But here is the thing: 99.9% of people wear boots that don't fit them properly, even if they are the right size.

If the boot is in any way not fitting properly, as you walk the boot will crease in places it is not supposed to, thus placing pressure on the membrane and pinching it.

There is a lot that goes into making a boot fit well, and it is rare for anyone to have a pair fit them without much adjustment. The most basic ways to check the fit are:

  1. Make sure you have more or less a thumb width of space in front of your longest toe.

  2. Press down on the bottom lace; you should feel no space between the boot and your foot. Any space here will cause the boot to crease while you walk and very quickly damage not just the Gore-Tex but also the boot, causing both seams and leather to split over time.

Most boots have way too much volume for the average foot, and if you're wearing the wrong thickness socks, the fit will be worse.

To improve the fit, add volume reducers/extra insoles, wear thicker socks, and/or add liner socks.

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This post was sourced from https://outdoors.stackexchange.com/a/21089. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

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