How to Waterproof Shoes for Wet Weather

There are very few people who want to experience the great outdoors with soggy shoes. Only a few encounters of sloshing around in cold, heavy, soaked shoes are needed before a google search follows.

Knowing how to waterproof shoes is key to enjoying nature to her fullest. Trench foot, named after WWI soldiers who developed the condition following standing in trenches, is caused when feet are exposed to wet shoes or conditions for too long and too often. When the feet are deprived of oxygen for an extended period, they can lose circulation and nerve function.

Yet, this is entirely preventable today by being mindful to waterproof your shoes. This article will investigate a variety of water-resistant shoes and ways to help your shoe’s waterproofing ability.

Water-resistant shoes

A common misconception is “water-resistant” means a shoe can completely resist water. While it is accurate that it can, the second part of the idea is often left off. It can, for a certain period or to a certain extent.

Water-resistant shoes will not keep your foot dry indefinitely. While they keep water at bay, they are still susceptible to water penetration. Without a waterproof membrane, there is still a chance of water seeping in.

Stitching is a natural enemy of water-resistant shoes. Eventually, water seeps around the seam, where small holes made for the thread allow water to pass through. Once the water navigates its way in, it only continues to with every bend of the foot. The way to prevent this is for an insert made of waterproof material to go between the outer and inner layers of the shoe’s construction.

Waterproof shoes are designed to keep your foot completely dry, but their locked-in nature may be too much.  Depending on the waterproof material’s makeup, the wearer’s foot will either stay dry, release perspiration, or hold the sweat in, eventually leading to a hot, soggy foot.

How to waterproof shoes

Taking the time to follow steps on waterproofing shoes ensures your kicks last longer than the season. Let’s explore the steps you need to waterproof your shoes.

1. Clean your shoes

If your shoes are not brand new, you must clean them thoroughly. Any grime left on the shoe limits the full waterproofing ability. This barrier is equivalent to using hand sanitizer – the sanitizer cannot get below caked-on mud – it is only good on clean surfaces.

Depending on the shoe’s fabric, cleaning varies, but start by removing any laces. For walking boots, use a soft bristle brush and then wipe them clean with a rag. For leather not including suede or nubuck, use a saddle brush and water to rub away any scuffs, being mindful to not over-soak leather and to keep it away from a heat source or sun.

2. Apply sealant

After cleaning and prepping your shoe, apply a sealant such as a water-resistant spray, wax, or cream. Each waterproofing method has a specific application process. Some waxes and creams require a waiting period before wiping off. Sprays may need two or more applications with an additional wait time in between each application. Research your brand before using it. Some waxes and sprays may alter colors, and we recommend a spot check before applying to the whole shoe.

3. Reapply as needed

Waterproofing shoes is not a one-and-done approach. When water stops beading on the top of the shoe, or after heavy use or rain, you will need to reapply the product. Remember: always take the time to thoroughly clean before applications. Even if you have not worn your shoes, there may be a lifespan of how long a waterproofing layer will work. 

Water-resistant sprays

One of the fastest ways to give your shoes a fighting chance is to use a waterproof or water-resistant spray before they get covered in dirt and muck. While not bulletproof, it is a layer of protection against ruining your beloved shoes.

Although there are a plentiful amount of choices, here are a few that stand out:

  • For campers and hikers:
    Kiwi Camp Dry Heavy Duty Water Repellent – Kiwi is a trusted brand for water repellency. They have a wide variety of sprays and cleaners for shoes, but campers prefer this particular spray to keep not just their boots dry but also their gear. The company claims their spray allows breathability while sealing out wetness. Because of its downpour-proofing ability, there is a chance it will stiffen the material in the creation of its seal.
  • For suede and nubuck wearers:
    Scotchgard Suede and Nubuck Protector – Scotchgard is another name families trust, so it comes as no surprise their spray makes the list of best waterproofing sprays. Reviewers rave about its ability to stop water from getting past the exterior but note the spray can change the boot’s color. Brushing the boots out first helps restore the shade of some shoes. If you have the ability to color test before spraying, do so. If you have Bearclaw or Ugg boots for the winter, this spray helps prevent the dreaded salt stains.
  • For multi-use needs:
    Bickmore Gard-More Water and Stain Repellent
    – For practical people, buying individual sprays for each use is money wasted. Many opt for this multi-use spray instead: Bickmore Gard-More Water and Stain Repellent. Not only does the company state the spray is used on a variety of materials such as leather, suede, and nubuck, but it further claims it can be applied to almost all your needs outside of just waterproofing shoes. Reviewers mostly say no color change was noticeable except on extremely light fabrics such as white or cream.
  • For high-end shoes or delicate fabrics:
    Saphir’s Medaille d’Or Suede Renovator Spray
    – This particular spray is made in France and is unique in that it does not contain silicone. Per their Amazon website, the product is made with “all-natural, pine-based turpentine, vegetable waxes, and mink oils,” and “its formula has remained unchanged and has not suffered the technical progress of chemistry such as the addition of silicones, resins and other petroleum-based products which are harmful to fine leathers.” The spray protects, waterproofs, and stain-proofs shoes and other accessories. Make sure to spot check and apply as needed.

Waterproof shoes for women

Finding waterproof shoes can be a difficult task when left to merely meandering into a shoe store. Taking a few moments to hit the internet can leave you lost in which shoe is which. For your ease, we have compiled various styles for you based upon top reviews.

Waterproof sneakers for women

Out N About Plus Waterproof Sneaker

This sneaker is from Sorel and marketed for light rain. Reviews boast about the waterproofing ability, often replacing their everyday tennis shoes. The grip on the shoe withstands the additional slippage that comes with rain. The company site specifies that zippers and laces on the shoes are not waterproof. This particular shoe has a suede upper but can be washed by spot cleaning the shoe.

Out N About Plus Street Sneak

Sorel offers another option for a waterproof sneaker for those wanting more of an urban style. Instead of suede, this shoe sports a leather upper and a rubber sole for grip. As shown in the picture, there is a 1″ platform and offers an athletic feel to the sneaker. Numerous reviewers mentioned the tight toe box, so if you need a wider toe box, this may not be the waterproof women’s shoe for you.

Blondo Waterproof Knit Sneaker

Waterproof dress shoes for women

Hunter’s Women’s Original Gloss Penny Loafers

These waterproof shoes provide a twist on a classic office shoe. Reviewers warn the construction of natural rubber for the waterproofing can deliver blisters, so use care or band-aids when wearing. The loafers are constructed with a cotton liner for comfort and may run a bit big, so order accordingly.

Taylor Flats

These adorable ballet flats being of a waterproof nature are clutch for those dressy spring days providing the perfect solution to spring showers and unexpected puddles. Featuring a non-slip sole, they include a beaded arch intended to massage the foot. They come in a variety of colors and often are on sale. Reviewers paint a picture of repeat and dedicated customers returning to buy pairs for family members. Some do mention the shoe running narrow. Added bonus: the shoes are machine washable.

Blondo Nora

Like the sneakers, Blondo features a large variety of shoes worn for dressier occasions. Unlike the loafer and the flat, the company focuses more on booties and formal tall boots. This particular bootie is made with nubuck and suede and utilizes their same AquaProtect technology. Since leather is a natural material, there is a good chance it will need resealing, but it’s reassuring to have a straight-out-of-the-box shoe with solid reviews.

Waterproof running shoes for women

With trail running, you do not want to trap the water in, as this would cause your foot to slip in the running shoe. Water-resistant shoes help prevent the water from coming in but allow sweat and moisture to escape. Gaiters may help, but many activity sites warn they are not intended to keep out water, risking disappointment in the end.

Adidas Terrex Agravic Gore-Tex Trail Running Shoe

Adidas is a household name many athletes trust when it comes to their running shoes. These Terrex Agravic shoes utilize Gore-Tex technology to insert a lining in the shoe to protect against the rain. Gore-tex is a fabric with a microporous structure generating its waterproof ability. Like any running shoe, you are vulnerable to water leaking in by the ankles. This particular shoe’s sole is fashioned to help keep traction on uneven surfaces, such as wet roads or trails.

Cloudventure Waterproof

On-running offers its Cloudventure Waterproof running shoe for women looking at potentially wet conditions. The shoes run a little small, but reviewers note that they loosen up after a few weeks of wear. With multiple grip patterns on the sole, this running shoe is designed to grab any surface you encounter. Wearers attest to the shoe’s waterproof nature, many going so far as to claim they will never purchase another brand of running shoe again.

Waterproof hiking boots for women

Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Hiking Boot

With hiking boots and the variety of conditions you could encounter, it is crucial to pay particular attention to the seams’ waterproofing ability. That is what makes the Newton Ridge Plus Hiking Boot stand out. Columbia waterproofs right down to the seams. The rubber soles are suitable for griping uneven terrain. Because of the suede/leather upper, additional waterproofing will be necessary for the life of the boot.

Salomon X Ultra3 Mid Gore-Tex

Salomon’s X Ultra3 Mid Gore-Tex employs the waterproofing Gore-Tex technology. The boot addresses the ergonomics of a woman’s foot explicitly when creating the boot. The shoe has polyurethane leather, providing additional protection, yet focuses on the breathability of the shoe. Reviewers wearing the kicks daily speak to the comfort of the shoe and the capability to grip on various terrains. A common complaint is the laces’ durability, so purchase an extra pair of strings when opting for this women’s waterproof hiking boot.

Waterproof shoes for men

Men’s needs for a good pair of waterproof shoes are as varied as women’s: style, athletic requirements, work attire, hiking, or merely a sound boot. Whatever the shoe’s end purpose, consider you may need to spray your shoes now and again to keep up their resistance to water penetration.

Men’s waterproof sneakers

Ugg Men’s Brock II WP Sneaker

This sneaker is waterproof meets skate shoe. The upper part of the shoe is suede and leather, so while the shoe is waterproof, we’d be wary of relying solely on the initial waterproofing. Plan to apply more applications to maintain the leather’s waterproof nature. Ugg’s website states the seams of this shoe possess waterproofing ability.

Urbanfit Vepo Waterproof

The Vepo Waterfit is UrbanFit’s current waterproof shoe. Their website claims the shoe holds comfort all year long: warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Reviewers rave about the lightweight constitution of the shoe, as well as the moisture-wicking ability. The softness of the shoe provides all-day wear. Some reviewers state the shoes run a bit tight.

Nike Odyssey React Shield

The Odyssey React Shield goes the extra mile by acknowledging that shoes may need a reflective component on wet surfaces. Nike points out this shoe is water-resistant versus waterproof. People state that this shoe’s comfort is off the charts, lacing system sturdy, and overall approval of the sneaker.

Men’s waterproof dress shoes

Timberland Kendrick Waterproof Chukka Boots

These Timberland shoes fit perfectly under pants without jeopardizing the shoe to water dripping or sloshing inside. The shoe possesses full-grain upper leathers, and while it naturally protects against water, the company added extra protection with its Defender Repellent System. Knowing this is natural leather, we would likely continue the upkeep to ensure the boot stays at its same quality.

Allen Edmonds Strandmok Weatherproof Cap-Toe Oxford with Dainite Rubber Sole

This beautiful shoe comes with a heftier price tag than most. While the upper features 360º Storm Welt weatherproofing plus waterproof membrane linings, the sole is also focused on providing the necessary all-weather protection. The shoes are handcrafted in Wisconsin with German waterproof leather. With an investment like these, make sure you plan to maintain the upkeep of the leather.

Blundstone Men’s Dress Chelsea Boot

Blunderstone’s dress boot is made with full-grain leather, giving the natural water resistance that high-quality leather achieves. Remember, with leather, you will need to invest time and commitment to the upkeep to hold its natural waterproofing. The heel and sole of the boot are designed to give additional traction.

Click Here For How to Waterproof Leather Boots

Men’s waterproof running shoes

Cloudventure Waterproof

On-Running’s Cloudventure Waterproof is the same as the women’s version but for men. The shoe is marketed as their waterproof running shoe, even going so far as to be a trail running waterproof shoe. The Missiongrip technology helps downhill running feel controlled while staying dry. The shoes run a bit tight, so consider ordering up a size.

Adidas Terrex Agravic Gore-Tex Trail Running Shoe

This trail runner utilizes Gore-Tex to maintain the waterproof nature of the shoe. Reviews claim it works, too, stating they are often out in the rain and snow, and their feet stay dry. The Continental™ Rubber outsole helps the runner not slip and slide all over. Users attest to it! The upper is designed to resist the abrasions shoes encounter during trail running.

Salomon Sense Ride 3 GTX Invis. Fit

Salomon’s running shoe is ideal for road running. Using the Gore-Tex technology, the shoe’s upper is waterproof yet maintains a mesh feel. The sole of the shoe is made with Contagrip rubber, allowing for traction on wet roads or areas with loose debris. Users of the shoe rave about the shoe’s comfort but warn colder weather requires a warmer sock.

Men’s waterproof boots

Timberland Men’s White Ledge Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot

This men’s waterproof hiking boot achieves its claim with the premium full-grain leather uppers. As stated with other leather shoes, upkeep is needed to maintain the shoe’s water-repelling nature. Timberland suggests using its Balm Proofer Water and Stain Repellent for maintenance. Users love the solution so much many swear it is the only thing they will use henceforth. This boot focuses on its seams, ensuring they are sealed against water, and the soles are fashioned to resist slippage.

Columbia Men’s Newton Ridge™ Plus II Suede Waterproof Hiking Boot

The Newton Ridge Plus II is constructed with a suede and synthetic material. With any suede shoe, take note of the potential for blemishes and scuffs. Like the Timberland boot mentioned above, this shoe’s seams have been sealed to protect against water leakage. The sole provides traction while incorporating a non-marking feature. Wearers of the boot mention that the boot’s initial feel may be tight, but it tends to stretch out. Some reviewers mentioned stains underscoring the need to protect the boots.

Sorel Men’s Madson Moc Toe Waterproof Leather Boots

If your looking for a boot that you can ware to work and not have to change into another pair these are them. They will work from street to office and they don’t retain the heat so it helps with cooling the feet. Some say they fit a bit wider if you have a narrower foot and the traction could be better however there a great looking boot for in City life.

Go play in the rain

When you have the right boot, you can make the most of any situation. Weather is unpredictable and is no reason to let life pass you by. With the right shoes, you can manage to find a reason to get out and enjoy life instead of worrying about what is on your feet. In the words of Pooh Bear, “when life throws you a rainy day, play in the puddles.” By purchasing waterproof shoes, you can do just that.

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