Waterproof, what does it mean?


In the UK, all boots with ‘Sympatex’ and ‘Gritex’ membranes exceed British standards for footwear waterproofing, as does our ‘Spo-tex’ membrane or any of the boots we mark as ‘waterproof’. This covers over 95% of the Grisport range in the UK.

British waterproofing standard means that boots have been tested using the underwater flex test (see image right) and have remained dry for over 7 hours from completely dry, in many cases Grisport models last longer than this in the test.

It must always be remembered that the only footwear that is 100% guaranteed waterproof for unlimited use, day after day is a wellington. Leather, membraned footwear could never be expected to operate in the same manner and conditions as a wellington.

When a boot fails to last 7 hours from dry, this may be down to one of the following reasons.

1. Tear or Puncture of the membrane.

Sharp spikes, such as those found on brambles or thorns can cut or puncture the upper and occasionally the membrane. Once the membrane is punctured water ingress can occur.

2. Sole Puncture.

If you are unlucky enough to stand on broken glass or maybe a particularly sharp piece of slate or rock, the sole of your boot may become punctured. This puncture can again pierce the membrane and allow water into the boot.

3. Excessive Use

Modern membranes can repel water for many hours, however if you are walking in wet conditions for several days in a row, issues can occur. As mentioned, boots are tested to last 7 hours FROM DRY. If you put on a pair of boots that are wet or saturated from the previous day, you cannot expect them to last another 7 hours as the boots are already compromised and the membrane has already done its job.

4. Water Ingress from ‘Over the Top’

You may have noticed that all boots have a huge hole in them – the one where you put your foot in! If you step into a bog or puddle deeper than you expect, water will get in your boot from above. Boots are only waterproof to the stitched level of the tongue. Water can easily get in above this line; make sure you are choosing the right boot for your purpose. If you want to walk in boggy conditions chose a ‘bellows tongue’ – which is waterproof to the top of the boot.

5. Loss of Breathability

On long walks, or hot days feet will perspire. The feet are the sweatiest part of the body after the armpits and as we all know, some people sweat more than others. If your boot upper is constantly wet, saturated or muddy the breathability of your boot will be compromised and feet will heat up and sweat more. This may make the boot feel wet on the inside, feeling like water ingress. Unfortunately this is simply due to the fact that sweat is unable to escape.

6. Socks

Modern day socks are manufactured to ‘wick away’ moisture and sweat. Unfortunately, if the top of your sock gets wet this process can work in a reverse way to what was intended and wetness can wick down your sock into the boot, causing dampness. In some cases, gators or waterproof trousers can increase sweat levels around the calves and ankles and your socks will inevitably absorb this dampness.

7. Membrane Failure

The waterproof & breathable membrane that keeps your feet dry can either split of tear for the following reasons:

i.                     Force Drying. Boots should never be dried on a radiator, in-front of a fire or with any other form of heat. Force drying will cause the leather upper to dry out and crack, while the membrane could shrink and crack. Once the membrane breaks the boot will no longer be waterproof. Force drying invalidates any warranty.

ii.                   Age. Boots don’t last forever and all components of a boot will deteriorate over time and level of use. All materials used in the production of any brand of footwear will fail eventually.

iii.                  Lack of Maintenance. Boots need to be cared for, cleaned and protected. To find out how to do this ‘click here’. Allowing the uppers to dry out excessively will mean that waterproof waxes will need to be re-applied.

iv.                 Puncture of the Membrane from inside. Sharp toe nails or excessive rubbing in one area on the inside of the boot can break the inner lining material of a boot and may puncture the membrane from the inside.

8. Manufacturing Fault

Contrary to popular belief, membrane failure because of a manufacturing defect is the least likely cause of water ingress. Membranes are meticulously made and every batch of material and boots undergoes specialist testing. If a boot does have a membrane failure, this will be noticeable from the very first time of using them in the wet. If a boot develops a leaking problem over time, that was not apparent in the beginning, it will be invariably down to one of the various factors outlined above. 

What to do if you believe your boot has a manufacturing defect:

If you think that your boot has a problem and it is less than 12 months from the date of purchase, please return them to the retailer from whom you bought them for inspection, with a valid proof of purchase. The retailer will inspect the goods and act as they see appropriate. Please note that your contract is with the retailer and not with GRS/Grisport UK. We cannot inspect products that were not purchased directly from the www.grisport.co.uk website or comment on the procedure of other retailers.