Stay Dry, Stylish and Prepared: The Ultimate Waterproof Shoe Guide

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There’s a well-known piece of advice that you should never cheap out on the things that separate you from the ground, specifically your mattress, your tires, and your shoes. Whether you’re trekking through rugged trails, navigating city streets in a downpour, or simply seeking comfort and protection from the elements, the right pair of waterproof shoes or boots can make all the difference. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the world of waterproof footwear, exploring the technologies, materials, styles, and top brands that define this essential category.

Buy Waterproof Hiking Boots at REI

Designed for rugged terrain and extended outdoor excursions, waterproof hiking boots typically feature durable construction, ample ankle support, and aggressive traction for traction on various surfaces.

Pros: Hiking boots offer a waterproof solution for a variety of environments and seasons, more so than their trail runner counterparts.

Cons: In more recent years a large number of hikers (this author included) have moved away from traditional hiking boots to trail-running shoes, which are much lighter and allow you to move quicker and require zero break-in time.

The Salomon Quest 4 GTX hiking boots pictured above combine Gore-Tex waterproofing with a supportive midsole and rugged outsole for all-terrain performance.

Buy Waterproof Trail Running Shoes at REI

Ideal for runners who tackle muddy trails and wet conditions, waterproof trail running shoes offer lightweight agility, waterproof protection, and grippy outsoles for enhanced traction on uneven terrain.

Pros: Options like the Raptor II GTX listed above and the Hoka Speedgoat GTX are comfortable right out of the box and are lighter weight than every other type on this list.

Cons: While waterproofing does a great job of keeping water out, if you end up crossing a stream or snowbank that’s a little higher than you thought and water gets in them over the top, it also will do a good job of keeping the water in, so you may want to opt for a non-waterproof option, which has a better chance of drying out.

The La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II GTX trail running shoes pictured above feature Gore-Tex waterproofing, a sticky rubber outsole, and a supportive midsole for confidence-inspiring performance on the trails.

Buy Waterproof Sneakers at REI

Blending athletic style with weatherproof functionality, waterproof sneakers are perfect for urban adventurers who refuse to let rain dampen their activities. These shoes often feature sleek designs, breathable waterproof membranes, and street-ready aesthetics.

Pros: These lightweight sneakers are comfortable, lightweight and in-style.

Cons: Just like the trail running version, the Gore-Tex does a great job keeping water out, but also keeps water in once it gets in, so you may want to opt for a non-waterproof option, which has a better chance of drying out.

The Hoka Clifton 9 GTX sneakers pictured above offer Gore-Tex waterproofing in a modern, urban-inspired running silhouette, making them versatile enough for both city streets and light trails.

Buy Waterproof Work Boots at Amazon

Essential for outdoor environments or wet conditions, waterproof work boots prioritize durability, safety features, and all-day comfort. These boots often include steel toes, slip-resistant outsoles, and waterproof membranes to keep feet dry in demanding environments.

Pros: These boots are built for a day’s work on your feet and come with a variety of features for safety and comfort.

Cons: The weight. These are heavy.

The Timberland Pro Direct Attach 6″ Soft Toe work boots pictured above feature seam-sealed waterproof construction, electrical hazard protection, and anti-fatigue technology for long-lasting comfort on the job site.

Buy Waterproof Chelsea Boots at REI

Offering a blend of sophistication and weatherproofing, waterproof Chelsea boots are a stylish choice for those who value both form and function. These boots typically feature sleek leather uppers, elastic side panels, and waterproof membranes for protection against the elements.

Pros: The elastic side panels aren’t just for style, they make taking the boots on and off a simple task.

Cons: For some styles, there is a break-in period, so they might not be that comfy right out of the box.

The Blundstone Original Vegan Chelsea Boots pictured above features a waterproof leather upper and a slip-resistant outsole, making them perfect for navigating rainy city streets in style.

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