Is leather waterproof? It’s a vital question when you’re considering a leather jacket, whether for use on a motorcycle or for fashion. 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.
This guide covers how water-resistant leather products can be, as well as what you can do to protect your leather jacket or shoes. As makers of premium leather jackets, we have specialist knowledge in increasing the durability of leather products.
Are Leather Jackets Waterproof?
When a leather jacket gets wet with water and dries, it causes the material to stiffen and lose its natural supple texture. 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 back to normal, 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 it in the best condition possible; a leather jacket that gets cared for properly can stand the tests 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!
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?
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, fit for the elements, but your jacket will fair better in a light shower or drizzle. Most importantly, the rainwater won’t damage your jacket as much as it would if left untreated.
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 no artificial shine, which often puts people off waterproofing their jackets in the first place.
Watch out for the glossy sheen that some waterproofing products can transfer on to 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 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) all have their own 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
Suede is the most susceptible type of leather when it comes to water damage. 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 even a light drizzle is forecasted if you plan to keep them in the best condition.
How to Waterproofing Nappa
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
Nubuck leather falls between suede and nappa leather in water-resistance. Although it is more durable than suede when subject to a downpour, we wouldn’t recommend any extended exposure at all. Rain spots can be removed if you rub them away gently with a soft cloth or sponge, and nubuck can be treated with sprays of specialist treatments to further protect it. Be sure to properly maintain your jacket over time though and avoid water where you can.
Discover our wide range of Men’s and Women’s Leather Jackets. Our nappa leather jackets are durable, long-lasting investment pieces that can stand the test of time and elements with maintenance and care.