Is Leather Waterproof?
Is leather waterproof? It’s a vital question when you’re considering a leather jacket, whether for use on a motorcycle or as a fashion statement. 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. We’re here to give you our expert knowledge on how water-resistant leather products can be, as well as what you can do to protect your new purchase.
Put very simply, water is no friend to leather. When leather gets wet and dries it causes the material to stiffen and lose the natural supple appeal we love it for. Not only this but 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 TLC 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 is a leather jacket that stands the tests of time and will still look as good as the day you bought it.
Is There Any Way to Waterproof Leather?
Taking action to waterproof leather boots is relatively common and something many people look into, due to the necessity for some degree of water resistance (especially in the UK!), but waterproofing a leather jacket is not often done. This is due to the need for a jacket to remain as supple & flexible as possible, something that can be lost during the waterproofing process.
With that said, 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’re adamant about it. While we can’t say that applying this will turn your leather jacket into a stormproof raincoat fit for the elements (because it won’t), we will say that your jacket will fair better in a light shower/drizzle, and the water won’t damage your jacket as much as it would if left untreated.
Bikers are the reason many products out there exist for waterproofing leather, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t use these products to waterproof a casual leather jacket too. Duckswax is one such product that is very popular with bikers and can also be used on casual jackets to give them extra protection against the weather. Many people claim it brings their jackets up to a level of Gore-Tex water tightness, however it does require regular application to get the full effect. One key point that is that DucksWax helps to keep the jacket breathable and claims to add no shine, which is a factor that often puts people off waterproofing their jackets.
This shiny or glossy shine from waterproofing products is something that we want to highlight as something to watch out for. This can alter the texture and sometimes the colour of the jacket too. Make sure that you apply the product to a small region of the leather as a test – preferably in a location that isn’t seen often – to make sure you’re 100% happy with the outcome before applying to the whole jacket.
Remember that with any treatment to leather it will eventually wear away so you will have to top up the treatments from time to time. Treatments will also be needed after washing your leather jacket. To further complicate the issue, the various types of leather available all have their own water-resistant properties, so it pays to think about what kind of leather item you have when considering any treatment.
Unfortunately, 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. Furthermore, even waterproof spray treatments have a limited effect – we highly recommend making sure your suede jacket or shoes stays clear of even a light drizzle if you plan to keep it in the best condition.
Waterproofing Nappa Leather
Nappa leather – sometimes known as full-grain leather – is the most durable type of leather available, which lends itself to being more water-resistant than other types. For the reason, if you’re main concern is getting caught in a shower, buying a nappa leather jacket and treating it with the appropriate waterproof technique will yield the best results.
Waterproofing Nubuck Leather
Nubuck leather falls between suede and nappa leather in water-resistance. Although it is certainly 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 to further protect it. Be sure to properly maintain your jacket over time though and avoid water where you can.