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Walking after heavy rain was fun when you were 12 and loved jumping in puddles. After being stuck in the mud a few times and freezing your toes off because your socks got soaking wet, you started thinking twice about going out for walks on rainy days, didn't you?
Fortunately, you can still enjoy a nice long walk by choosing the right kind of wet weather shoes.
4 Tips for Choosing Wet Weather Walking Shoes
- Choose Between Walking Shoes and Boots
- Get the Right Material
- Look at the Shoe Build
- Consider Season Ratings
Find out how to chose the right walking shoe to encourage you to go out for your favorite daytime activity even when it’s been raining.
Choose Between Walking Shoes and Boots
There are many factors that play into how long a shoe will last in rainy weather and how long it will take before water seeps through your walking shoes and essentially ruins your day. These factors range from the brand and model of the shoe to the quality of materials used, and how often you decide to use the shoe.
But, before you even consider how a shoe is made or from what materials, you need to identify whether your specific activities require you to own a pair of walking shoes or boots.
The two are different both in appearance, functionality, and durability.
This article will mostly look at the tips for choosing wet weather shoes but it’s important to make a distinction between boots and shoes as they are used in different instances.
Walking shoes are perfect for seasonal walkers and for hiking on easy terrain. They are smaller in size than walking boots and therefore lighter in weight which makes them generally more flexible and easy to maneuvre.
These shoes are extremely comfortable and feel great during short distance hikes and long walks.
Unfortunately, because walking shoes are generally more affordable, lightweight, and easier to walk in they have some drawbacks.
In general, walking shoes have little to no ankle support which doesn’t make them ideal for rough terrain and uphill hiking slops.
Some high-end models will have fairly reliable waterproof features but mostly limited and often weak protection. They are of course cushioned for a comfortable fit that absorbs impact, keeping your feet protected and comfy.
They are mostly breathable and perfect for warm and dry weather, this doesn't mean you can’t use them in wet weather but go at it at your own risk or at the very least get a pair with a guaranteed long lifespan in wet terrain. Also, consider models with waterproof or at least water resistant uppers to reduce the risk of wet feet.
Walking boots, on the other hand, are much more reliable and versatile for use in challenging areas. They are by far the most preferred choice for rough terrain hikers and walkers.
These boots are generally heavier than walking shoes as they offer stronger durability and are sturdier making them perfect for any landscape.
There is considerable ankle support and almost all models are completely waterproof with great breathability so far as waterproofing allows, allowing for moisture to go out of the shoe but not seep through.
Walking boots are slightly more expensive and are ideal for long hikes and… well, British weather.
Of course, they are heavier and less flexible which makes them difficult to handle for beginners and amateurs walkers or hikers and more suited to walking at a slower pace - by which I mean slower than speed walking not walking at toddler speed.
Get the Right Material
Choosing a walking shoe with the right material is like putting cheese on a burger… it makes all the difference in the world.
Seriously, when it comes to the materials you don’t want to go cheap especially if you live in an area that experiences heavy rainfall and wet weather.
There are different materials to chose from and each offer a different level of protection and comfort.
Leather and Suede
Leather and suede shoes are the most common among shoe buyers and for good reason. Leather is fashionable, relatively comfortable, and absolutely waterproof.
High-quality shoes that use cordovan leather, for instance, are extremely expensive and are naturally suited for wet weather. Unfortunately, these shoes are more appropriate as work or dress shoes and won’t make sense during walking or hiking trips.
If you can afford to walk in $700 shoes, good for you, but still choose a model suited to the task at hand or you might just end up slipping.
A more appropriate walking leather shoe is actually a waterproof leather boot. These shoes have non-slip soles that have slightly elevated heals for added water protection.
Leather walking shoes are breathable and durable but because of their rigid and heavy build they are less comfortable than other materials and will take some time to break in. So wearing these for the first time on a long walk isn’t going to be comfortable.
Fabric and Synthetic Fabric
Not all walking shoes are to some extent waterproof you really have to look at your specific needs and environment.
If you live in an area that gets some rainfall and experiences wet weather to some extent but not enough to justify leather duck hunting boots with full rubber soles and bumpers, then going with a synthetic or regular fabric material could prove worthwhile.
With fabrics like mesh, you get to have a much more stylistic approach for the upper of the shoe. These shoes are very soft and flexible making them more comfortable than leather.
Look at the Shoe Build
There are essentially five main components that make up the shoe. The upper, insole, midsole, outsole, and heal/toe bumpers. The materials and way these sections are build will determine how they react to wet weather.
The upper should be breathable allowing moisture to exit the shoe but at the same time it keeps the water out. This is easily achieved with leather shoes but for non-leather walking shoes there are new materials like Gore-Tex that allow transpiration to occur naturally and the membrane itself diverts water from seeping through.
The insole is the soft backside portion of the shoe made of EVA foam. It should be soft and comfortable which is something you can achieve with good quality walking shoes, not so much with leather shoes that mostly have hard insoles.
The outsole and midsole are the bottom parts of the shoe. The outsole is usually made of a rubber base in an effort to provide good traction and act as a completely waterproof barrier. The midsole is an extra thick layer between your foot and the outsole made of EVA or Phylon to protect your feet from sharp objects.
The heal or toe bumpers are hard portions of your shoe that protect you from rocks and retain the overall form of your shoe.
If you’ve ever noticed the front part of your shoes are always discolored, that’s because they get wet more so that any other part of your shoe.
Many shoes have rubber soles which are a great choice to completely waterproof the front portion of your shoe. There are also shoes with hydrophobic bumpers that keep water on the outside for the most part.
When you choose a good wet weather shoe you have to make sure the upper matches your style and is relatively breathable and waterproof, the insole is soft and durable, and most importantly you have to make sure the bumpers are completely waterproof any holes, transparent fabrics or non-covered areas in the front will soak your toes and leave you freezing.
Consider Season Ratings
One final aspect you can consider when getting the best walking shoe for wet weather is its season rating.
Now, this isn’t something normal shoes will display but you can do some research for specific shoe models.
This rating system establishes a norm for how many (and which) seasons a specific walking shoe can endure.
One season walking shoes are light and prioritize flexibility instead of protection. They are ideal for light walks and daily use in the summer but dangerous in rough terrain and wet weather.
Two season shoes are a bit stronger and durable with more ankle support. They are perfect for the spring and mild weatherly changes based on their synthetic, mesh, and light leather composition but again it’s not for rocky and rugged environments.
Three season shoes… well, now you hit the mother load, a golden average if you will. These walking shoes are the most popular and for good reason. They offer a versatile design that is both flexible and tough with reliable protection against rough terrain and wet weather.
Three season shoes don’t compromise on comfort or support but they should not be worn in icy cliffs or on flat roads and streets as they will feel clunky and heavy.
Four season shoes are essentially mountain boots that are custom designed to withstand extreme conditions. Obviously, these are extremely waterproof but you don’t have to go to extremes measures to have a walking shoe that can survive wet weather.
How do I Keep My Shoes Dry in the Rain?
Apart from getting a nice pair of waterproof or semi-proof shoes, you could also cover your shoes in slip-on galoshes.
These shoe covers so to speak are typically made of rubber and are extremely durable. They don’t leave much room for fashion and appearance but they get the job done.