Waterproof or Water Resistant Shoes: What You Should Go For?

There are many different types of water resistant and waterproof shoes, which you can choose online. However, the great choice sometimes leads to confusion. Do you choose a water resistant or waterproof pair of shoes? If does very much depend on the trail, conditions and climate you will be exposing your feet to. To help you decide, the following article provides you with an in-depth overview of the differences between the two.

What is waterproof?

Simply put, waterproof fabrics are treated by the use of different methods to become resistant to penetration by water. In other words, if your shoes were waterproof your feet would not get wet.

One method used for waterproofing shoes is the use of coating materials such as rubber, PVC, silicon and wax. The treatment can be applied as part of the manufacturing process or applied separately. Some people use waterproofing spray to protect their shoes from water.

Waterproof fabrics

Waterproof fabric have complex composition and functionality. For example, their greatest benefit is that they are breathable. They resist water passing through but allow water to evaporate from the inside out.

When you are choosing your waterproof pair of shoes, it is important to assess their breathability rating. Their breathability rating is measured by how quickly water evaporates from the material. abbreviated by the letter ‘g’. Usually, a 5,000 mm of water resistance and 5,000 g of breathability would give you a good level of protection. The higher the rating the better – usually the 20,000 mm and 20,000 g tend to provide the best possible protection.

However, do not get too obsessed by these ratings. It does depend on what you want to use your shoes for; the trail, conditions and climate you will be exposing your feet are all important considerations.

You also need to look at the overall completeness of the product.  Some fabrics offering a 20,000 mm of protection would leak through other places such as zips, seams and buttons.  In addition, how effective the breathability of the material is also depends on how extreme the conditions are such as temperature, humidity and wind.

Another important feature to consider when choosing your waterproof shoes is the actual fabric construction. Some fabrics have an embedded functionality to direct water away from your feet rather than stopping it to enter in your shoes. Some fabrics, which have such characteristics, are Nikwax Analogy and FurTech. They also have default breathability for extra protection.

What is water resistant?

Contrary to a waterproof material, water resistance provides some form of protection but does not entirely block the penetration of water in your shoes. Water resistance is measured in mm of water a fabric can suspend before allowing water to seep through.

This somehow causes confusion among many people who believe that by buying water resistant shoes this guarantees dry feet. However, this is wrong, only waterproof shoes can guarantee this but not always as already explained.

Water resistant shoes are made with different types of materials than the waterproof shoes. For example, a common material is full grain leather or action leather, which is used to resist certain amount of water penetration. Some other fabrics, which are often used for water resistance, are nylon, polyurethane and neoprene.

Water resistant materials are not less efficient than waterproof fabrics. They simply cannot sustain the same level of water pressure over longer period. Water resistant shoes are perfect for protection from the occasional splash but are likely to fail in cases of constant contact with water.

How are they tested?

Hydrostatic testing is used to evaluate the level of water resistance in materials. The testing involves water forced through a fabric to assess how much of water pressure can be tolerated by the fabric before it leaks through.

The minimum resistance of water by a fabric to qualify as a water resistant material is 200 mm and for waterproof materials is 1,000 mm. This is the lowest rating, which you need to consider providing you with the lowest level of protection that would do the job.

Water resistant and waterproof footwear is given an IP Rating to show the level of protection. You can choose your preferred shoes based on the rating and protection you require.

IP Rating

So how do you choose?

As already explained, there is a clear difference between waterproof and water resistant shoes. You might think that you should usually go for a waterproof shoe to be on the safe side. This may be true in many cases but you need to think of what actually you need your shoes for.

Waterproof shoe do guarantee no water leaking through but they may also restrict water coming out of your shoes. This is the reason why, sweat and vapour would be blocked inside your shoe and may result in an excessive level of moist. This can even make your feet slip inside your actual shoe, which is a very unpleasant experience.

If your job requires you to operate in water for a long period then maybe you need to consider a pair of waterproof shoes. However, if you are looking to use shoes for sports in wet conditions then you may need to consider shoes made of water resistant materials.

If you a runner or looking to do some hiking, think about your trail. Are you crossing a river, is it likely to rain and if it is then how heavily? Although we cannot be always certain of these conditions, we can still plan for the most of our trip.

Find out more about waterproof and water resistant shoes on this site. There are plenty of options for many different occasions you can choose from.

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