Waterproof or Water Resistant Boots – What’s the Difference?

Keeping your feet dry can be a chore sometimes. Whether being out in wet conditions is a choice or just part of your job, nobody likes the feeling of soggy boots and swampy feet.
Footwear technology has come a long ways, even in the last few years. The materials that allow us to keep our feet dry are getting more and more advanced, providing more and more options for staying dry even when it’s pouring outside.

The only problem is, a lot of words get thrown around and sometimes their meanings get confused or jumbled together. Today, I want to clarify some terms so that you can make the best buying decision for keeping your feet dry and healthy!

Waterproof Footwear

The term “waterproof” is pretty straightforward. Something that is truly waterproof will not allow the passage of moisture. It is impermeable, meaning that water cannot get through one way or another. Think of a plastic rain poncho or a black garbage bag.

This is obviously a good thing if you are wanting to stay dry. However, it can be less than a good thing if you are performing any kind of activity while trying to stay dry. Because waterproof materials are impermeable, they won’t let water in, but neither will they let your perspiration out. This can result is a nasty sweat sauna inside your boots. Not a pretty picture.

And that’s why they make waterproof, breathable products like Gore-Tex. These kinds of materials are designed with this problem in mind. A breathable membrane inside the fabric allows it to be waterproof while at the same time letting moisture from the inside escape, keeping you dry from the outside and the inside!

Other features that keep air circulating inside your boots and remove sweat are wicking liners, ventilated insoles, and drainage ports.

Water Resistant (aka Water Repellent)

If you don’t need complete safety and security from water, water shedding boots are a good choice. Footwear made to resist water is treated with a DWR (durable water repellent) finishing. If you’ve seen water bead up and roll off a surface, chances are it was treated with a DWR.

Water shedding footwear will not keep you 100% dry in all circumstances. However, as long as your feet are submerged or rained on for long periods of time, water-resistant material will keep you mostly dry while still providing the benefits of breathability.

One thing to remember about water-shedding materials is that the DWR coating will wear off over time. Exposure to dirt, foreign materials (skin oils, etc.), and cleaners will reduce the effectiveness of the water shedding compound and you will need to reapply a DWR in order for your boots to maintain its ability to shed water.

How to Choose Between Waterproof or Water Resistant Footwear

If you’re trying to make the decision between waterproof and water shedding, it really comes down to what you will be doing and how dry you want to stay!

  • Choose fully waterproof boots if you will have low activity levels (such as standing post) and zero tolerance for getting your feet wet.
  • Choose waterproof, breathable boots if you don’t want to get wet but will have higher activity levels (rucking in the rain).
  • Choose water shedding boots like jungle boots if you don’t absolutely have to stay 100% dry and plan on having higher activity levels (training in dewy grass).

Good luck staying dry!

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Brady Smith

Brady Smith is a professional writer, author, and speaker specializing in creative message development for business, politics, non-profit, & more.

An avid archer, political junkie, and aspiring musician, Brady makes his home on the edge of society, just close enough to get good WiFi, but far enough to not be bothered.
Brady Smith

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