Leather isn’t typically described as being 100% waterproof, and if you own luxury leather goods, it’s generally best to try and keep your leather dry where possible.
High-quality real leather goods will stand up better in wet conditions than some other materials or faux leathers, but getting leather wet can cause some damage if you don’t know how to properly care for your leather bag.
Is Leather Really Waterproof?
In short, not completely. Leather shouldn’t be considered a 100% waterproof material. It is, however, better than many other materials for its water resistance.
Leather is a flexible material that can be molded and used for many types of luxury products including backpacks, wallets and shoes. The nature of the hide and treated material means it will never be completely waterproof, but it is incredibly durable.
Leather is one of the most durable options for heavy-wear items like briefcases and backpacks. It stands up well during a busy commute or adventurous weekend away, and high quality leathers can offer a good amount of water resistance to protect your everyday essentials.
So, whilst leather itself is never going to stay completely dry, top grain and full grain leathers will offer much better protection than many other materials.
Do Different Leathers Have Different Water Resistance?
Different types of leather can have varying levels of water resistance.
When an animal hide is separated into layers in the early treatment stages of creating leather goods, different types of leather are created. Heavier wearing leathers from the top of the hide (top grain and full grain leathers) will almost always be more durable than softer materials from the other layers of the hide, like the area used for suede. For this reason, top grain and full grain leathers will often be more water resistant.
Suede is particularly sensitive to water and is likely to mark should it get wet or dirty.
How To Waterproof Leather Bags
It’s not possible to completely waterproof leather goods, but there are ways to better protect them so that they can last for many years and maintain their luxurious appearance.
When high quality leather goods are being made, they are often treated to help strengthen and soften the hide. Choosing leather bags that are proven to be of a fantastic quality is the first step to protecting your favorite bag. Top grain and full grain leather bags are designed to last, and will generally hold up well when they get wet.
Secondly, you need to be properly caring for your bag to ensure it stands the test of time. This means properly cleaning and conditioning your bag to reduce the likelihood of cracking and splitting in the material. Cracking will weaken the surface and make it more susceptible to damage.
When you clean your bag, use a slightly damp, soft cloth and avoid over-wetting the material. You shouldn’t use harsh chemicals or rough brushes on high quality leather goods.
After cleaning your bag, use a small amount of leather conditioner. Massage the conditioner into the bag in a circular motion.
Note: Always test products on a small, non-visible area of your bag first.
Leather Waterproofing Wax
These work slightly differently so be sure to check the instructions on the product you choose.
Wax is designed to add an extra protective layer. Leather waterproofing canvas wax can be gently rubbed onto your leather bag in a circular motion and heated with a hairdryer to set.
Leather dressing is more of a conditioning treatment, designed to be absorbed to improve the condition of worn or damaged leather. Similarly to leather conditioners, apply a small amount to a soft cloth and massage into the material in a circular motion. Allow it to dry for an hour then reapply as needed. When all coats are applied, allow the dressing to cure for 24 hours for maximum protection.
How To Dry Leather
Even with extra protection, it’s still likely that your leather goods will on occasion get slightly wet. If your leather gets wet, always let it air dry naturally.
Using unnatural heat sources like radiators or heaters to dry leather can warp and damage the material, stretching your luxury leather goods out of shape.
Our 6 Favorite Heavy-Wear Leather Products
Now you know how to properly care for your leather goods to protect them from water damage, here are our favorite heavy-wear leather bags that offer water resistance and luxury.
This versatile sling bag ensures there's a designated spot for everything you need to carry. Your cell phone, keys, wallet, and even valuable possessions like cash or your passport can be safely stashed in its various compartments, including a discreet hidden pocket on the back.
Crafted from premium top-grain leather, you'll instantly recognize the quality and durability of this adventure-ready accessory.
Discover the perfect combination of sophistication and functionality with The Skyler Leather Briefcase.
Handcrafted from premium top-grain water buffalo leather, this masterpiece is meticulously brought to life by experienced artisans who ensure every detail of this classically styled briefcase is luxurious.
Designed for seamless travel, The Skyler features a convenient strap, allowing you to effortlessly secure it to your luggage, making it easier for busy adventurers to take on the road.
This deceivingly spacious backpack is perfect for any adventure. The Compact is one for those who need security and style both day-to-day and out on the road.
Don’t let the name fool you, this backpack has plenty of space for your laptop and everyday essentials. Its easy access pockets also make it both convenient and stylish – the perfect companion!
The Attorney is a premium real leather bag for those who mean business. You can easily fit a laptop and any essential papers in this luxury briefcase with the confidence that the sturdy leather offers great protection.
The high-quality fixtures give you added security for your commute, so the next time you head to an important meeting, you’ll be prepared for whatever life throws at you.
Experience timeless craftsmanship and exceptional efficiency with The Valerio. Meticulously created by skilled artisans using the finest top layer of cowhide, this bag is more than just an accessory – it's designed to be a lifelong companion.
Effortlessly organize your essentials for convenient and stylish on-the-go access, whether you choose to wear this luxury leather accessory around your waist or over your shoulder.
The style options are endless.
Crafted from the finest top-grain cowhide leather, The Darcy is a testament to the enduring qualities of this remarkable material and its professional appeal.
Renowned for its durability, strength, and texture, this top-grain leather bag has a rich, deep color that only grows more exquisite with age.