A vital question for all leather jacket wearers, is leather actually waterproof? Whether for use on a motorcycle or for fashion, leather jackets are a wardrobe staple for many, but can they be worn all the time? Unfortunately, there is a lot of conflicting information on the topic, with different remedies, treatments and opinions that could end up costing you the price of a new coat if they’re wrong.
As makers of premium leather jackets, we have specialist knowledge in increasing the durability of leather products. This guide covers if any leather products are water-resistant, as well as what you can do to protect your leather jacket or shoes from the rain.
ARE LEATHER JACKETS WATERPROOF?
In the UK our unpredictable weather could mean you are looking for a waterproof jacket, but is leather the right fit?
Leather is a highly durable material and whilst it does have a degree of water resistance, it is not entirely waterproof. When a leather jacket gets wet with water and dries, it causes the material to stiffen and lose its natural supple texture and shape. When exposed to water consistently over time, the leather can begin to crack, which will damage the look, feel and overall health of the item.
If this happens, it will require some leather jacket care to restore it to its previous splendour and could even be irreversible if the damage is too extreme.
It’s important to understand that all leather products need treatment from time to time to keep them in the best condition possible; a leather jacket that gets cared for properly can stand the test of time and will still look as good as the day you bought it (or age gracefully with a natural worn-in effect).
IS THERE ANY WAY TO WATERPROOF LEATHER?
Waterproofing leather boots is relatively common and a necessity for some degree of water resistance, especially in rainy locations!
Waterproof sprays exist to add a degree of protection and weather resistance to the material. They work by filling the pores of the fabrics with substances such as silicone that are water-repellent.
However, waterproofing a leather jacket is not often done. This is because jackets need to remain as supple & flexible as possible to be comfortable to wear. This can be lost during the waterproofing process.
CAN LEATHER JACKETS GET WET?
If you find yourself caught in a downpour your leather jacket can offer some protection, but to maintain the integrity of the fabric this should be avoided as much as possible. Much like the hide of the animal leather comes from, your jacket will be able to resist some level of water without too much issue, but prolonged contact with water or other wet substances could prove to be damaging and it is best to be avoided.
Motorcyclists know that waterproofing leather jackets is vital so they can withstand their use and hobbies. Duckswax is a product that is popular amongst bikers and can also be used on casual jackets to give them extra protection against the weather. Some reviews claim it brings their leather jackets up to a level of Gore-Tex water tightness, but it does require regular application to get the full effect. DucksWax also helps to keep the jacket breathable and claims to add none of the artificial shine that often puts people off waterproofing their jackets in the first place.
One product we’ve found to be effective at waterproofing leather is Nikwax. This product is aimed at shoes and boots, but will also work on jackets and coats if you apply it carefully. Applying this won’t turn your leather jacket into a stormproof raincoat, but your jacket will fare better in a light shower or drizzle. Most importantly, the rainwater won’t damage your jacket as much as it would if left untreated.
Watch out for the glossy sheen that some waterproofing products can transfer onto your leather products too. This can alter the texture and sometimes the colour of the jacket. Patch test the product on a small region of the leather – in a location that isn’t seen often – to make sure you’re 100% happy with the finish before applying it to the whole garment.
Remember that any leather treatment will eventually wear away, so you will have to reapply as per the product’s instructions. Treatments will also need to be reapplied after washing your leather jacket.
The various types of leather available (such as suede, nappa and nubuck) each have water-resistant properties, making some treatments less effective than others. We have covered which treatments are best for different leather types below.
HOW TO WATERPROOF SUEDE JACKETS
Suede is the most susceptible type of leather when it comes to water damage, requiring a certain level of care when treating. The soft nature of the material does not lend well to becoming damp whatsoever. Most leather waterproofing treatments have a limited effect.
If you choose to use one, opt for one specially formulated for suede only. We recommend leaving your suede garments and accessories at home when a light drizzle is forecasted if you plan to keep them in the best condition.
HOW TO WATERPROOF NAPPA LEATHER
Nappa leather (also known as full-grain leather) is the most durable type of leather available, which lends itself to being more water-resistant than others. If your main concern is getting caught in a shower, buying a Nappa leather jacket and treating it with an appropriate waterproofing treatment will yield the best results.
HOW TO WATERPROOF NUBUCK LEATHER
Nubuck leather falls between suede and nappa leather in terms of water resistance. Although it is more durable than suede when subject to a downpour, we wouldn’t recommend any extended exposure. Rain spots can be removed if you rub them away gently with a soft cloth or sponge and the nubuck leather can be treated with sprays and specialist treatments to further protect it. Be sure to properly maintain your jacket over time, avoiding water whenever you can.
Discover Leather Jackets for all Seasons with Hidepark
At Hidepark our wide range of Men’s and Women’s Leather Jackets are available in a wide array of colours and sizes, helping you to find your ideal leather jacket. Our Nappa leather jackets are durable, long-lasting investment pieces that can stand the test of time and elements with maintenance and care.Find out more about leather care over on our useful blog, or get in touch with our team to find out more about our quality leather products.