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Waterproof vs Water-Resistant: What's the Difference

Waterproof vs Water-Resistant When talking about boots, we often mention various features and terms that best describe what you’re getting with a certain pair of shoes. But if you’re a novice to the big world of boots or it’s not your area of interest, you might not be 100% sure what people mean when they name certain features.

For many people, one of the essential characteristics of a shoe is that it keeps their feet dry. But does that mean that the shoe should be waterproof or water-resistant? Is there a difference between these two terms?

If you’re unsure about how these two terms are different and what you should actually look for in a boot, we’re about to explain. Keep reading to learn the meaning of waterproof and water-resistant and pick the right boots easier.

What Does Waterproof Mean?

Before you start researching the best waterproof work boots, let's see what waterproof footwear actually entails.

When a shoe is waterproof, it’s impervious to water. In other words, no water can seep through the material and reach your feet.

Waterproof shoes are usually made with rubber or synthetic materials that don’t allow water to pass through them. The term “waterproof” is generally used for shoes intended for activities in which your feet might be submerged in water, such as hiking boots or rain boots.

One thing to note is that even waterproof shoes aren’t entirely indestructible when it comes to water. If you spend a lot of time wading through deep water or if you’re in the water for an extended time, your feet will eventually get wet. But if you’re just walking in the rain or hiking through a light stream, waterproof shoes will keep your feet perfectly dry.

Waterproof vs Water-Resistant How to Tell if Boots Are Waterproof?

There are several ways to tell if a particular pair of boots is waterproof.

  1. The first and most obvious way is to check the product's label or description. If the manufacturer claims that the boot is waterproof, you can be pretty sure that it actually is. But, as we mentioned before, even waterproof shoes have their limits, so don’t expect them to be indestructible.
  2. Another way to tell if a boot is waterproof is to look at the materials it’s made of. If the boot is made of rubber or any other synthetic material, there’s a good chance it’s waterproof.
  3. Lastly, you can always do a little test to see if the boot is waterproof. The best way to do this is to put the boot in a large water container and see if any water seeps through. If no water passes through, then the boot is most likely waterproof. If some water gets through, the boot is probably only water-resistant.

What Does Water-Resistant Mean?

Water-resistant is a term often used interchangeably with waterproof, but there is a big difference between the two.

When a shoe is water-resistant, that means it has a water-repellent coating that prevents water from seeping through the material. Water-resistant shoes are usually made of fabric or leather and have a water-repellent coating applied to the surface.

This coating prevents water from seeping through the material, but it’s not completely impenetrable. After extended exposure to water, the shoe will eventually become saturated, and your feet will get wet.

Water-resistant shoes are a good choice for activities where you might come into contact with water, but they’re not the best choice if you’ll be spending a lot of time in or around water. Some examples of activities that would be well-suited for water-resistant shoes include walking in the rain, light hiking, or casual use.

Get to Know the Different Abbreviations

Now that you know the difference between waterproof and water-resistant, it’s time to learn about the abbreviations often used to describe these terms.

  • WP: Waterproof - the shoe is entirely impervious to water.
  • WRU: Water-resistant upper - only the shoe's upper part is resistant to water.
  • WPA: Waterproofing agent - a substance that’s applied to the surface of a shoe to make it resistant to water.
Recognizing the meaning of these abbreviations allows you to make sure you're buying the correct type of shoe.

How to Know Which Option to Choose

Now that you know the difference between waterproof and water-resistant, you might wonder which is the better choice.

The answer to this question depends on what type of activities you’ll use the shoes for. If you need shoes for an activity where your feet might be submerged in water, such as deep water wading or fishing, waterproof shoes are the way to go.

However, if you need shoes for an activity where you might come into contact with water, but your feet won’t be submerged, such as walking in the rain or light hiking, water-resistant shoes will be just fine.

But let's look at the general pros and cons of waterproof boots and help you decide if they are a better choice than water-resistant boots.

Waterproof vs Water-Resistant Pros and Cons of Waterproof Boots - Are They Better than Water-Resistant Boots?

Waterproof boots have several advantages over their water-resistant counterparts.

  • The most obvious benefit is that they keep your feet completely dry, even if you walk through puddles or stand in water.
  • Another advantage of waterproof boots is that they’re often more durable than water-resistant boots. This is because the materials used to make waterproof boots are usually more robust and more resistant to wear and tear.

However, waterproof boots also have a few disadvantages.

The most notable drawback is that they’re often more expensive than water-resistant boots.

  • Another downside of waterproof boots is that they can be hot and uncomfortable to wear in warm weather. This is because the waterproof material doesn’t allow your feet to breathe, leading to sweat and discomfort.
  • Finally, waterproof boots are often heavier than water-resistant ones, making them less comfortable to wear for extended periods.

Which Shoes Should You Get?

So, which type of boot is the right choice for you? It depends on your needs and preferences. If you need a boot that will keep your feet dry in all conditions, then waterproof boots are the way to go. However, if you need a boot that’s more affordable and comfortable to wear, water-resistant boots might be a better choice. No matter which type of boot you choose, make sure you buy a pair that’s well-made and designed for the conditions you’ll be wearing them in. This will make sure you’re getting the most out of your purchase.

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Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 26th September 2022.

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