Gore-Tex Boots in Saltwater!? Are they Ruined?

What happens if your Gore-Tex boots get soaked in saltwater? Hiking Lady reader Jacqui wrote in with this question…

Hi- I just took my new Vasque St. Elias GTX boots out for their maiden
voyage and managed to get them wet inside with salt water (hiking on
the beach and cliffs). Can you recommend the best way to dry them out
(not soaked but wet boot lining up to the ankle). Will salt water
damage the boots? Seems like they’re made for adventure, hard to
believe a little salt water can do harm?

Vasque St Elias GTX womens
Great question, Jacqui! One of the biggest myths out there is that Gore-Tex boots will be ruined if they get wet with saltwater. In fact, the opposite is true – they’ll be just fine if you follow these steps.

First off – nice choice on those boots. We reviewed the Vasque St. Elias GTX boots a couple of months ago!

  1. Rinse off all the saltwater as soon as possible! Get all that saltwater off your Gore-Tex boots as soon as you get home from your hike. Hose them off really well.
  2. Do no let your boots dry in direct sunlight. Put your boots outside in a a slightly shaded area – direct sun on soaked boots may cause the leather to shrink up, and then your boots might be a size too small when you’re done!
  3. Stuff boots with paper towels or rags. This helps your boots keep their shape as they dry.
  4. Condition boots if necessary. This ia a good opportunity to reassess whether or not you need to apply Nikwax to refresh the Gore-Tex. If they are brand new, they won’t need Nikwak until you put some real miles on the boots.

Happy hiking! And Happy trails!

Do you have a question for the Hiking Lady?


  1. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Patricia, it will work better for Leather boots but you should definitely try this process on your fabric boots that got seawater inside. Good luck!

  2. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Elaine,
    Great question. The Arcteryx Theta pants may be a bit overkill for winter hiking, unless you plan on doing snowshoeing and some mountaineering where you will be in snow or wearing crampons. They really are designed to handle snow conditions.
    If you really want Gore-Tex, I think you should dress in layers and you can wear waterproof rain pants as the outerlayer. Marmot Precip rain pants with a short inseam Hope that helps!

  3. Elaine says:

    I’m looking for a really nice gortex pant for winter mountain hiking. I love the functionality of the Arcteryx Theta SV Bib and that the inseam comes in a short length. My only concern is, will the bottoms of these pants rub together and be noisy for hiking? Most of what I’ve seen for gortex pants is for snowboarding and I think they are too wide for hiking. Would like to know what you think of the Arcteryx bib and if you have other recommendations. My inseam is 29.5″. I’m also looking for nice warm pants for hiking.


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