Are Leather Shoes Breathable? (9 Things That Determines It)

Are Leather Shoes Breathable

Leather shoes are a popular choice for many people. They are durable, stylish, and comfortable. But are leather shoes breathable? It’s an important question to answer before you invest in them.

The article goes on to discuss whether or not leather shoes breathe by looking at the material they’re made of, how they fit around your feet, and more.

So are leather shoes breathable? The leather material used to make leather shoes have pores that allow air to flow. However, leather shoes can trap heat and moisture if they’re too tight or worn for long periods of time.

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In the remaining parts of this article, I’m going to talk about;

  • Details on what makes leather shoes breathable,
  • The factors that influence the breathability of leather shoes,
  • Some ways to improve the breathability of your leather shoes

What Makes Leather Shoes Breathable?

As hinted before, there are a couple of things that makes leather shoes breathable. So of these include;

The Pores In The Leather Material

As mentioned earlier, leather has tiny pores on its surface that allow it to absorb and expel air.

These pores are usually a result of the fur or hair of an animal. This means the pores on leather were once filled with the fur or hair of the animal and during the leather processes, the hair removed creates the pores.

Just like the human skin which also has tiny holes or pores which allow our skin to breathe, leather has the same function.

It is, however, important to add that the pore structure will be different depending on the animal the leather is taken from.

On certain types of leather, you may see the pores to be a lot more profound (like in the case of ostrich leather) than others where you may not notice them that much (like in the case of kangaroo leather).

Another interesting thing about the pores you will usually find on leather is that the leather will still maintain a substantial amount of breathability even when the leather has been conditioned and treated.

Leather Is A Natural Material

One of the main reasons why leather shoes are breathable is due to the fact that the leather material is a natural material. In most cases, we can all distinguish almost instantly the rich feel and smell of fresh leather.

When it is made into a pair of shoes, all of its qualities such as flexibility, elasticity, and porosity are what come together to make a shoe that can allow your feet to breathe.

This makes leather shoes more comfortable to wear for extended periods of time without feeling sweaty or constricted.

Leather Is A Good Insulator

Another thing that makes leather breathable is the fact that it is a good insulator.

This means when leather gets warm, it will release the heat and allow your feet to cool down again as opposed to other materials such as canvas or nylon which will trap the heat against your skin.

When leather shoes get wet, they will also quickly dry out because of their breathability – something you won’t find with other materials.

A good example is in cold weather, leather shoes will keep your feet warmer than other materials.

So all in all, leather shoes are breathable for a variety of reasons. It’s important to keep these things in mind when looking for new shoes as you’ll want something that will be comfortable to wear for extended periods of time.

Look for shoes made with natural materials like leather and make sure the pores are somewhat visible and have not been sealed with a plastic coating to allow your feet to breathe.

Now let’s move on to some important factors that influence the breathability of your leather shoes.

Factors That Influence The Breathability Of Leather Shoes

Although leather is highly breathable there are some factors that can influence how much air passes through the leather.

Some of these factors can be controlled by you while others are dependent on the construction and quality of the leather shoes.

Let’s take a look at some of these factors now;

1. The Condition Of The Leather Shoe

The condition of your leather shoes will have a big impact on their breathability. If the leather is in bad condition, it may not be able to absorb or expel air as well which could result in your feet feeling sweaty and uncomfortable.

In order to maintain the breathability of your leather shoes, it’s important to condition them on a regular basis.

You can use a commercial leather conditioner or make your own at home from coconut oil or olive oil.

Apply this mixture to the leather using a soft cloth and let it sit for about 15 minutes before buffing off any excess.

You should also condition your shoes after they have been wet as this will help them to dry out faster.

Make sure the leather is not too wet when you condition it as this may cause stains on your shoes.

2. The Texture Of Leather

Not all leather is created equal and the type or texture of leather you choose for your shoes will also have an impact on their breathability.

Some leathers are more porous than others and will allow more air to pass through them.

In general, the softer the leather, the more porous it will be.

This is why kangaroo leather is often used in shoes as it is very soft and allows a lot of air to circulate.

If you are looking for shoes that are highly breathable, it is best to avoid leathers that have been treated with a waterproofing agent.

3. The Construction Of The Leather Shoe

The construction of the shoe can also play a role in the leather shoe’s breathability. For example, if there is excessive stitching or layers of material, it will prevent air from passing through.

Shoes that are made with natural materials like leather are often more breathable than those made with synthetic materials.

Also, shoes that have a perforated or mesh upper allow more air to circulate than those without.

So if you’re looking for a shoe that is highly breathable, it’s best to choose a shoe that has been made with pure natural leather materials and is perforated or meshed.

4. How The Leather Shoe Fits

The fit of your leather shoes is another important factor that can influence their breathability.

If you choose a shoe that fits too tightly, it will not be able to breathe as well which could result in sweaty feet and odor buildup inside the leather shoe.

This means if you’re looking for highly breathable leather shoes, they should have a roomy fit.

Also, make sure to avoid leather shoes that are too loose as this will result in excessive slippage and your feet slipping around inside the shoe which can also cause a lot of discomforts.

It’s best if you choose a leather shoe that is neither too tight nor too loose so it provides just enough support and comfort.

5. How Often You Clean The Leather Shoe

The frequency with which you clean your leather shoes can also have an impact on their breathability.

If you don’t maintain them properly and clean them on a regular basis, the dirt and dust that builds up can prevent air from circulating.

This means you need to clean your leather shoes on a regular basis to maintain their breathability.

Ideally, you should clean and condition your leather shoe every time it gets wet or dirty to avoid the build-up of dirt and contaminants that can reduce its ability to breathe.

If you’re not able to clean them right after they get dirty, at least make sure you let them dry out completely before conditioning them.

6. Type Of Leather Conditioner You Use

Not all leather conditioners are created equal and the type of conditioner you use on your shoes can also impact their breathability.

Some leather conditioners work better than others at keeping moisture out while still allowing air to circulate freely which is why it’s important to choose a good quality conditioning agent.

If you want better breathability or air circulation in your shoes, you should avoid using petroleum jelly or any other type of oil-based conditioners as these will clog the pores in the leather and prevent it from breathing.

Instead, use a conditioner that is made specifically for leather shoes and is designed to keep them breathable.

One of such leather conditioners that does a great job of conditioning your leather shoes is the Leather Honey Leather Conditioner.

7. The Climate You Live In

The climate you live in can also have an impact on the breathability of your leather shoes especially if it’s warm or humid.

If you’re living in a hot, humid environment then chances are that these conditions will affect how well your leather shoe breathes which is why they may need to be cleaned more often.

Ideally, when you’re choosing leather shoes, it’s best to choose ones that are breathable in warm, humid climates which can help keep your feet cool and dry.

One of the best ways to do this is by selecting a pair of perforated or mesh-lined leather shoes instead of one with an all-leather upper as they will provide more ventilation.

8. The Size Of The Pores In The Leather

The size of the pores in the leather can also have an impact on how well it breathes.

Leather with smaller pores will not allow as much air to circulate as those with larger pores which is why it’s important to choose a shoe made from natural, high-quality leather if you want better breathability.

Some leather shoe manufacturers will sometimes go a step further to perforate the leather so that more air can circulate which will also improve breathability.

If you’re looking for a highly breathable leather shoe, make sure to look for one with large pores or perforations in the upper.

9. The Type Of Leather Used For The Leather Shoes

Finally, the type of leather used for the shoes can also play a role in how breathable they are.

Leathers that are made from animal hides such as cowhide, pigskin, and goatskin tend to be more breathable than those made from synthetic materials.

Even among the shoes made from natural animal skins, some leathers are more breathable than others.

For example, goatskin is one of the most breathable natural leathers and some shoe manufacturers even use it as a lining on the inside to help keep your feet cool and dry during hot weather.

On top of that, higher-quality cowhide shoes tend to be much more breathable than those made from cheaper, lower-quality leather.

How Do You Improve The Breathability Of Your Leather Shoes?

Now that we know some of the factors that can affect the breathability of your leather shoes, let’s take a look at some ways to improve them.

Clean Them Regularly

One of the easiest and most effective ways to improve the breathability of your leather shoes is by cleaning them regularly. This will help remove any dirt or contaminants that can reduce their airflow.

If you live in a warm, humid climate, then it’s best to clean your leather shoes more often as they will likely need it more than those living in drier climates.

Use A Good Quality Leather Conditioner

A good quality leather conditioner can also help improve the breathability of your leather shoes.

If you’re using a conditioner that is not specifically designed for leather shoes, then it’s likely that it will clog the pores and reduce breathability.

Instead, use a conditioner that is made specifically for leather shoes and is designed to keep them breathable.

Air Out The Shoes In Between Uses

A very important practice to improve the breathability of your leather shoes is to air them out in between uses.

Leather needs time to breathe and if you’re constantly wearing them, then the airflow will be reduced which can affect their breathability.

Ideally, you should give your leather shoes a chance to air out for a few hours after each use.

Clean Your Leather Shoes Regularly

One of the easiest and most effective ways to improve the breathability of your leather shoes is by cleaning them regularly.

This will help remove any dirt or contaminants that can reduce their airflow. Said this does not mean you should clean your leather shoes every day or every other day.

Simply take a look at how often you wear your leather shoes and how much time you spend wearing them.

If the shoes are meant for casual wear, then cleaning them every month should be enough to keep dirt and other contaminants from building up which can affect breathability.

If your leather shoes are worn more often or if they’re designed for sports activities such as running, tennis, basketball, etc., then cleaning them every week would be ideal.

Wear Socks With Your Leather Shoes

One of the best ways to keep your leather shoes ventilated is by wearing socks.

Socks will help absorb sweat and moisture that accumulates in the shoe which can reduce breathability if left unchecked.

As such, it’s a good idea to wear socks with your leather shoes as this will improve their airflow tremendously while also keeping your feet dry and comfortable.

Final Thoughts

Leather shoes are a great choice for any type of weather as they’re soft, durable, and breathable which can help keep your feet cool or warm depending on the season.

They also look great with just about every attire so you really cannot go wrong wearing leather shoes during all four seasons.

But whether you choose to wear them in the summer months or winter, you should be mindful of how clean your leather shoes are as this will affect their airflow.

If they’re not cleaned regularly and the pores are clogged with dirt and other contaminants, then it can reduce breathability which could lead to sweaty feet or cold toes during hot weather.

Similarly, if there is too much moisture buildup due to sweat, the leather shoes may not be able to breathe which can lead to uncomfortable feet during cold weather.

By following these simple tips, you can help improve the breathability of your leather shoes and keep your feet cool and comfortable all year round.

FAQ’s

Q: Is faux leather breathable?

A: No, faux leather is not breathable because it is usually made of plastic-based materials that are not able to allow airflow.

Q: Can I wear leather shoes without socks?

A: Yes, you can wear leather shoes without socks as long as you’re comfortable with doing so.

However, wearing socks can help absorb sweat and moisture which keeps your feet more comfortable while also improving the breathability of leather shoes.

This is especially true in hotter weather where not wearing socks can lead to sweaty feet or cold toes when it’s colder outside due to a lack of airflow within the shoe itself.

Kwabena

Hi! I’m Kwabena, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leathercraft enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day about leather craft, leather cleaning & care, and everything in-between!

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