When you are posed with a question like, “Which do you prefer, water resistant vs waterproof shoes?” The immediate answer will always be waterproof because supposedly it is better. Is it really the better option? In most cases, yes it is definitely the better option because why spend your money on something that can only resist water when there is something that can withstand water, right?
In the world of working shoes or shoes in general, it is entirely different. Waterproof shoes do not necessarily mean better shoes. Not all shoes are made equal; therefore some shoes were intentionally made to be water resistant while others were made to be waterproof.
In this article, we are going to discuss the differences of water resistant vs waterproof shoes and their respective functions. We are also going to enumerate the instances where you should opt for one against the other. Lastly, we are going to tell you how you can easily determine whether a shoe is water resistant or waterproof based on its appearance and texture.
Water Resistant Shoes
Water resistant means that there is a specific degree as to which there is protection from water. When applied to shoes, this means that the shoe would stay dry if submerged in water for a brief amount of time but the material or fibers of the shoe would be soaked quickly.
This type of shoe is also more soft and comfortable to wear which makes it ideal for everyday wear. They are also very breathable shoes. The materials that are used for water resistant shoes are woven tightly compared to waterproof shoes. At the same time, they are also less porous.
Some examples of these materials are leather and polyester. Specifically for leather, it has different levels of permeability to water. Also, the most common types of water resistant shoes are suede and canvas shoes.
Functions of Water Resistant Shoes
You should opt for water resistant shoes when you are going to do any type of activity that is in a damp or a humid environment. For this case, a breathable shoe is the best choice. You do not want your feet to get soaking wet inside your shoes in a very humid place, right?
Water resistant shoe is also very versatile when it comes to style, so it is very easy to match your shoes with your clothes. This type of shoe is your best bet when you are someone who cares about fashion.
Water resistant working shoes are usually used in commercial kitchens or establishments since they are lightweight, breathable, and can resist a bit of water spillage.
Waterproof means that a thing can be completely submerged in water and it would not soak the materials and the water would not seep in. In terms of shoes, a waterproof shoe can be worn under the rain, and your feet would still stay completely dry. It goes the same when you stand or walk in large puddles of mud or water.
Most materials for waterproof shoes are synthetic or rubber which is combined with chemicals such as polyurethane or neoprene. The chemicals also help the material to be waterproof. What happens is that the water would simply slide off of the shoe.
The problem with waterproof shoes is that they are very effective in keeping the water out, but when water gets into the shoe, it will stay inside which would lead to your foot being moist until you decide to take the shoe off.
Examples of waterproof shoes are wellington boots and hiking shoes.
Functions of Waterproof Shoes
Waterproof shoes are perfect for environments where the exposure to liquid might prove to be hazardous, so definitely waterproof shoes are the best choice when you are working in an industrial setting.
They are also very durable and heavy which makes them perfect to be used for hiking and doing extreme sports. That is why when you need to go through snow, mud, soil, rocks, dirt, puddles, etc., waterproof shoes are the way to go because they protect your feet and support them as well.
At the same time, waterproof shoes are not ideal when you already have water inside the shoe, and you are in a humid environment. You are just setting yourself up for disaster, a smelly feet disaster that is.
How to Determine if a Shoe is Water Resistant or Waterproof
Usually, shoes have a label on them that indicates whether they are water resistant or waterproof, but if they do not have labels, these are what you should look out for:
- The seams
- The material
- The chemical coating
Waterproof shoes are the easiest to pick out because not only do they look heavy duty but they are also made of peculiar materials like rubber or vinyl. They are also usually seamless because if the seams are showing or are not protected, the water might seep into the shoe.
Waterproof shoes also usually have a coating of some kind of chemical like polyurethane. Others have mesh in them or even steel plates.
For water resistant shoes, on the other hand, look for lightweight materials and breathable interiors. The seams are usually visible or fashionably stitched into the shoe. They can have a slight coating of the chemical as well, but they are not immersed in it completely.
How to Determine the Water Protection Level
Water resistant and waterproof shoes are assigned a rating from the IP Scale that indicates their water protection level. The lowest rating that a shoe can have is IPX-0 while the highest level is IPX-8.
The lowest rating means the shoe does not offer any type of water protection while the highest rating means that when a shoe is submerged in water for a long time, it would still be completely dry. Knowing the rating from the IP Scale is also beneficial if you need a specific shoe for a job.
Water Resistant vs Waterproof Shoes: Which is better?
They are actually equaled. Each type of shoe serves a specific purpose. You just have to determine what that purpose is and what your shoe preference is. As we have discussed before, there are certain functions where using a certain type of shoe will prove to be beneficial, so that is a big factor in choosing your shoe.
If you have a lightweight activity that needs your feet to be somehow in a breathable state, go for the water resistant one. If you are going hiking or being exposed to harsh environments, opt for the waterproof shoe. You would now have an easy choice as you already know which is better for a specific activity.