Water-Resistant vs. Waterproof: Find Your Footing Before You Buy!
Just the other day I thought I’d found the deal of the century! I was shopping for a pair of black boots for my 8 year old and right in front of me was a whole shelf filled with black boots. All the same kind in all different sizes. The sign read $19 a pair! Jackpot! I found his size and was about to skip on up to the checkout desk when I happened to glance at the tag on the boot. It read Water-Resistant. Hmm … this gave me pause. Having lived all my life in a northern climate where we have snow on the ground from November until March, I knew enough to know that there’s a difference between water-resistant and waterproof. And it’s a big one! For my son who is going to spend hours upon hours playing in the wet snow this year, water-resistant boots were not for him. Sadly, I put them back on the shelf and slowly headed over to the $80 waterproof boots. Is the extra money worth it? Well, let’s look at the difference in wet-ready footwear.
The goal of water-resistant boots is to keep your socks and feet dry for as long as possible. The outer materials repel water for as long as they can, generally until the material is soaked through. At that point, you’ll start to notice that your socks and feet are getting wet. The water-resistant boots have done their job and they’re clocking out. Now it’s up to you to change into dry socks and hopefully dry boots, as the inner layers of the boots will be wet too. Water-resistant boots are perfect for walking and hiking in areas where you may come across some wet grass or it may rain lightly. They are not meant to be submerged in a puddle or held underwater for any amount of time. Water-resistant boots are typically labeled as such and they’re constructed of neoprene, nylon, or polyurethane.
The goal of waterproof boots is a little loftier. Think of them as the tightly wound, Type A big brother to the water-resistant boots. Their mission is to keep your socks and feet bone dry. Not one drop of water will touch your socks on their watch. Unlike water-resistant boots, waterproof boots don’t have any exposed seams where water can creep in. They are impenetrable. Waterproof boots are generally easy to spot, as they’re made from rubber or vinyl material and usually have a shiny exterior. And they’re almost always clearly labeled as being waterproof. If you plan on crossing a shallow river, hiking through snow drifts, or jumping in mud puddles, waterproof boots are for you.
Which Is Better?
Given the high-tech craftsmanship and materials that go into making waterproof boots, they’re always more expensive than their water-resistant counterparts. If you want to be able to submerse your feet in water for long periods of time but still have warm, dry socks, you’ll have to pay for it. If you’re just running around town in them or are hiking in a dry area, water-resistant is really all you need. But if you’re someone who foresees extreme river-rafting adventures, wrestling an anaconda in a South American swamp, or sledding and making angels in wet snow for hours, then waterproof is the way to go.
Here are a few of our favorite water-resistant and waterproof boots:
Men’s Tambora Mid-Top Water-Resistant Winter Boot – These casual work boots feature a water-resistant leather upper and a slip-resistant rubber lug out-sole.
Vasque Talus WP Hiking Boots for Men – The UltraDry Technology found in these boots features a waterproof membrane between the leather outer and the moisture-wicking lining for premium waterproof-ness.
A2 by Aerosoles Enamel Women’s Water-Resistant Winter Boots – These fleece-lined boots have a memory-foam foot bed for ultra comfort and are water-resistant for dryness and warmth.
Merrell Capra Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot – This attractive women’s Merrell boot has waterproof leather uppers and is made with Merrell Select Dry waterproof, moisture-wicking technology to keep you dry.