In San Francisco the hottest time of year is usually the end of September and early October but rain and colder weather is right around the corner. My experience growing up here is that after the heatwaves, we would always have the first rain of Fall right before Halloween. As a kid I remember being worried that Halloween would get rained out, but I don’t think it ever did. I’m interested to see if it’s true again this year.

This brings me to the subject of rain. There have been some questions buzzing around the forums lately about how rain can affect your Aldens. I would love to use this opportunity to share what I’ve learned about this subject.

It is my experience that leather, whether its calf, suede, or cordovan, will not get ruined just by getting wet. However certain dyes and finishes can be negatively affected by water, causing stains to occur. In addition to cosmetic damage, leather can start to rot or decompose if it is saturated and does not dry fully. Also leather gets softer when it’s wet, so soles will wear down a bit faster if they are worn wet. Cordovan is extremely water repellent but can get little water spots, which are usually temporary, or deeper permanent stains depending on how soaked it gets.

I usually wear my Indies or Cordovans in the rain. Both do a pretty good job keeping the water out and have sustained little or no damage from water.

My philosophy is to do a minimal amount of preventative care and a little aftercare, but mostly I just don’t worry about it too much. Good leather shoes and boots are made to perform and I think some scuffs and stains just add to their beauty.

Wax polish for calf or cordovan and silicone spray for suede can help repel water and protect against stains. Rubber slip covers can keep your shoes fairly dry if you know there is a chance of rain.

Different Alden soles behave differently in the rain so I’ll list some of the pros and cons (of the ones I’ve tried) in regards to wet weather.
Double Leather – Decent wet traction. Absorbs quite a bit of water and can wear down faster if wet. Should be allowed to dry fully between wearings.
Commando sole – The rubber tread provides excellent traction in wet weather. The leather mid layers do soak up some water but the rubber outsole grips well and doesn’t wear down as quickly as leather.
Plantation Crepe – Great traction and rain resistance, but the leather tip can get funky and peel back when it gets soaked.
Flex Welt or Water Lock Sole – This sole has been soaked in oil so water will not penetrate as quickly as standard leather. Good water resistance and traction in the rain.
Neoprene and Cork (Indy) – Probably my favorite sole for rain. Almost nothing to worry about. Good traction on wet concrete and excellent wear resistance.

After Care:
For any of your Alden shoes if they have been soaked from exposure to rain – LET THEM DRY.
This is simple. Wipe them off as soon as you can. Take your shoes off when you get home and stuff them with newspaper and let them dry overnight at room temperature. Tip your shoes over onto their sides so air can circulate around the soles. If you put the soles facing down like you normally would, they will not dry properly. Put shoe trees in the shoes the next day.

Temporary water spots on cordovan (not Alden)

Permanent stain - Whiskey Cordovan

Leather tip peeling back from Plantation Crepe sole


About TheAgatineEyelet

Obsessed with Alden
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3 Responses to Rain…

  1. TheWGP says:

    Wow, interesting to see the plantation crepe’s leather toe isn’t all that durable. I’ve always had mixed feelings about it – almost pulled the trigger on some ravello longwings with the crepe sole awhile back but now I’m glad that the sole scared me off a bit.

    Also, are you 100% positive that stain on the whiskey is permanent? I swear I’ve seen some similar stains come out via various methods, though often there’s some overall darkening in the area from all the wet-finger-rubbing-to-dry and heavy brushing needed. Really nice patina on the boots otherwise!

  2. Hova says:

    Awesome write-up. Goes to show that good leather shoes can hold up to most conditions but even still better to wear your beaters in foul weather than good cordovan.

  3. James says:

    Thanks for the great comparison of Alden soles in the rain!

    Could you also please compare the durability/wear of the neoprene cork vs. lug rubber (standard on Kudu Chukkas) vs. “dress rubber sole” (on the Dress Casual Bluchers).

    Thanks you kindly,

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