Ah the age-old question: are Doc Martens waterproof?
Much like a wise sage you may find in the woods, ready to answer all of your questions, I have the answers to your difficult Doc martens questions (I, however, cannot tell you the meaning of life). Unfortunately, like life, there isn’t a straightforward answer, simply because the word “waterproof” tends to trick a lot of people.
Keep that in mind while reading the rest of this article, I’m here to demystify your waterproof journey and help you reach dry doc marten bliss.
Doc Martens are not inherently waterproof, but their water resistance can be improved with the right care, consideration, and products. Products like Doc Martens’ own shoe kit, which includes the ‘Ultra Protector’, can help protect the leather from water damage and prolong the boots’ lifespan.
Alternatives like one of my favorites, Sof Sole Mink Oil and Bickmore Gard-More Water & Stain Repellent can also be used to enhance water resistance. You’ll never be able to swim in your docs but you should get prolonged quality out of the leather.
How to Increase Your Doc Martens’ Water Resistance
Ok, time to break your bubble but the answer to the question, are Doc Martens waterproof? Is no. I hate to break anyone’s heart but there is a silver lining. You can increase the lifespan and water resistance level by giving your docs a little extra TLC.
Luckily, I have a few favorite products that you can use to fortify the leather so that every rainy day is a little bit drier. Mainly you’ll have to decide between a balm or a spray, luckily Doc Martens offers both products if you’re brand loyal.
Applying is as easy as wiping it down, you let it sit, and then voila! Your Doc Martens will be even more protected. Of course, they won’t stop crime but they will keep your feet dry.
If you’re brand loyal this little kit will clean up your docs efficiently and keep them in like-new condition. The kit includes cult favorite ‘Wonder Balsam’ which is great if you’re still trying to break in a pair of doc martens or keep the leather soft and scuff-free. You’ll also find a polishing cloth and a bottle of Ultra Protector. The Ultra protector is the main item you’ll need if you’re looking for top-quality water protection from your boots.
The non-aerosol, fine mist sprayer makes it easy to apply an even layer that repels water, dirt, and stains. The pros of using Dr Martens Ultra Protector include its ease of application, quick-drying nature, and its ability to maintain the original appearance of the leather.
Additionally, if you live somewhere that experiences snow, the repellent can help prevent salt stains and minimizes the formation of scuffs and scratches. Be careful though, I once got overzealous with the spray and noticed that it darkened the appearance of a pair of leather shoes – in this case, a little goes a long way.
Second up in our regimen of waterproof warriors is Sof Sole Mink Oil. Surprisingly, given the name, this product only contains 5 to 15% mink oil, Sof Sole rather employs bleached tallow (fat from beef and sheep) to help condition your leather goods.
For those of you not in the know, mink oil is derived from the fatty layer of mink pelts, and acts as a natural conditioner and water-repellent. Its high-fat content helps restore moisture to dry leather, preventing cracking and extending the lifespan of shoes. While this won’t take your docs to Gore-Tex level water protection it will help keep the leather hydrated so it doesn’t crack or stain from water exposure.
The best part about this product is the application, with a clean cloth rub the mink oil into the leather, leave, and then wipe away any remaining product, it doesn’t get much simpler. The deep conditioning this product gives leather is next to none and your boots will be thanking you for the rest of their existence.
However, with any product, test the oil in a small space first, this kind of oil does tend to darken the appearance of leather so unless you’ve got black leather boots, be aware or find another product (an aerosol product might do the trick).
My final option is a great alternative if you’re looking for a spray option, especially if you’re interested in a water-based one instead of silicone. The water-based formula provides superior waterproofing and creates a robust barrier against water and stains, while still allowing the material to breathe. It’s also proudly made in the USA.
The pros of using Bickmore Gard-More include its long-lasting effectiveness, compatibility with various materials, and its ability to preserve the natural look of leather so that you no longer have to question, are doc martens waterproof. This spray is a great option if you’re worried about altering the color of your docs, a result you might see with other products I’ve recommended (which is fine, it’s all about preference).
However, it’s important to follow the instructions and allow sufficient drying time to avoid any potential residue. I would also recommend spraying your shoes outside or in a well-ventilated area as the smell is very strong and (in my opinion) off-putting. But the length between applications is pretty long so I think it’s worth the initial smell.
Understanding Water Resistance: Repellent, Resistant, and Waterproof
So, let’s see the difference between what is water-repellent, water resistant, and also what waterproof is.
It’s important to remember that a lot of marketing campaigns play fast and loose with these terms. This can include brand descriptions as well, unless a product features waterproof technology like Gore-Tex, it’s likely you’ll need to do some more research before confidently jumping into some puddles.
Getting back to our regularly scheduled content, my best description of the three different levels:
|Level of Water Protection
|First, this in my mind is considered the lowest level of water protection. Clothing and shoes that tout being water-repellent have typically been treated with a coating that helps water bead off the material instead of soaking in, however after long exposure to water/rain may result in wetness.
|Within months of use
|Regular use in light rain
|It’s safest to consider this a medium level of water protection. Water-resistant items have been designed and constructed to resist water to some degree, but not entirely. Water-resistant should be able to handle more water exposure than water-repellent ones, such as moderate rain or snow, but they’re still not entirely waterproof.
|At some point
|Moderate rain or snow
|This is the highest level of water protection. Waterproof items are designed and constructed to prevent water from getting in, no matter the conditions. This usually involves special materials and construction methods, such as sealed and reinforced seams.
In theory, you could submerge a waterproof item in water or wear it in heavy rain for an extended period, and no water should be able to penetrate. However, even waterproof items may have their limits, you’re most likely to find this level of protection in performance gear instead of everyday outfits.
|May have their limits
|Heavy rain, outdoor activities
Variety in Leather Types
Doc Martens has eight different types of leather, care and waterproofing needs are going to vary from type to type. However, the answer to, are doc martens waterproof, is the same across the board. Considerations that are important could be, for example, if you’ve chosen vegan leather you may not want to waterproof your leather with animal fat. Similarly with lighter-colored docs you need to be aware if any waterproofing materials will darken the appearance of the leather – nothing is wrong if it does, it’s all about your preference.
For ease I’ve compiled a table about the different types of leather that doc martens used and basic care instructions. Remember to always test any product before using it on any leather, and that different manufacturers will use different leather, so they’ll all respond differently.
|Type of Leather
|This is the classic Dr. Martens leather; durable, with a smooth finish. It is known for its stiffness initially which is softened with wear.
|Wipe with a damp cloth, and use a high-quality shoe polish to maintain shine. Use a protector spray for added longevity.
|It’s a fine grain leather that is coated to give a high shine, glossy finish.
|Wipe clean with a damp cloth, use patent-specific products to restore shine and protect against scuffing. Avoid using traditional shoe polish.
|This is a soft, fine-grain leather that has been treated to feel smooth and supple. It’s typically more flexible and comfortable from the first wear.
|Use a dry cloth to remove dirt, apply a leather conditioner to keep the leather supple. Avoid getting wet if possible.
|Nappa leather is a soft, full-grain leather that’s more lightweight than traditional leather. It’s known for its soft texture and durability.
|Use a dry cloth to remove dirt, apply a leather conditioner to keep the leather soft. Avoid excess moisture.
|This is a soft leather, with an oily coating, giving a waxy feel. Its casual appearance improves with wear.
|Wipe with a damp cloth, use a wax-based product to maintain the finish. Avoid using traditional polish.
|Crazy Horse Leather
|This is a type of leather that has been treated to create a distressed, vintage look. It’s known for its durability and unique aging process.
|Wipe with a damp cloth, apply a leather conditioner or oil to maintain the distressed look.
|Polished Smooth Leather
|This is a twist on the classic Dr. Martens leather with a contrast base color to give a two-tone effect. It’s durable, with a high shine finish.
|Wipe with a damp cloth, use a high-quality shoe polish to maintain the two-tone effect and shine.
|Dr. Martens also offers vegan leather options, which are made from synthetic materials that mimic the look and feel of real leather.
|Wipe clean with a damp cloth, use a non-silicone spray to protect the material. Avoid using traditional polish.
Are Doc Martens Waterproof? Video
Final Verdict on Doc Martens
So when it comes to that little question are Doc Martens waterproof, unfortunately, they’re not waterproof. If you’ve gotten this far in my article without learning that, congrats (on getting this far) and condolences on the news.
Most Doc Martens have a high water-resistant tolerance, meaning that you can splash a little bit in the rain, you can walk in the rain, but please do not go out and swim in your Doc Martens, simply because your feet’s gonna get wet and also you’re going to destroy the leather beyond repair. When leather gets wet, the good oils get drawn out cause the hide to get brittle and even crack, guaranteeing that you’ll be back having to buy a new pair of boots in no time.