Water Resistant or Waterproof? — Shoe Mill
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Water Resistant or Waterproof?

Water Resistant or Waterproof?

When we think of waterproof or water resistant footwear, we often think rain boots or hiking shoes. Big and heavy, and not the most flattering styles. Plus, when we consider the differences between waterproof and water resistant (or repellent), it gets confusing. What’s the difference? And, can one treat their shoes to be waterproof?

Let’s get those questions answered! In this blog you’ll learn:

  • the difference between waterproof and water resistant
  • ways to treat any of your shoes to at least keep them water resilient and stain free
  • about weather resistant shoes for all kinds of occasions that actually look and feel good
  • Waterproof Footwear

    The term “waterproof” refers to footwear that is generally impervious to water. Of course we all know rainboots fall into this category, but there are a growing number of boots and shoes that incorporate technology and have a few characteristics that set them apart:

    • Good for all-day outdoor activities during wet conditions
    • Keep your feet dry during continuous rain or when submerged, (up to a reasonable point!)
    • Many are built with a wraparound membrane, often Gore-Tex, that can keep footwear breathable, letting sweat out but no water, in. (See this from Dansko, or this from On Running)
    • The sole is often directly attached to the unit and seam-free. Won’t allow rain or snow to penetrate
  • Water Resistant Footwear

    If your footwear is labeled water resistant, your feet will stay nice and dry in wet conditions, but only for a shorter period of time than waterproof. Water resistant may have some features in common with waterproof, but you probably want to steer clear of any puddle jumping. Here’s a good breakdown when considering the difference:

    • Good for daily use in light rain or even snow
    • Made from materials that are naturally water resistant such as leather, (like this Blundstone boot), or treated for water resistance during manufacturing
    • Generally easier to clean because of their smooth surfaces
    • Can feature the same seam-free technology as waterproof to keep you dry should you encounter a puddle or two
  • “Waterproof” Treatment

    We are often asked if shoes can be treated to be waterproof. If shoes are made from a porous material such as leather, canvas, or suede, a waterproof spray will keep them dry. But perhaps the biggest benefit is keeping them stain free should they encounter any liquid. There are lots of products available but to keep your footwear water resistant and stain free, we’ve always gone with this tried and true spray from KIWI.

Stay Dry and Look Good!

Check out this video featuring Shoe Mill President Josh Habre breaking down four different styles of weather resistant wear for all types of occasions to keep you dry during our long rainy season here in the Pacific Northwest.


  • Waterproof footwear is pretty much impervious to rainy weather and standing water. Play in the puddles all day and your feet will be dry and warm
  • Water resistant footwear on the other hand can certainly handle light rain and snow for a short period of time and is generally easier to clean and maintain

With all these weather-proof shoe options, how will you ever choose? It’s probably best to stop by any of our Shoe Mill locations in Portland & Salem, Oregon to try on a pair and ask one of our knowledgeable associates for assistance! See you soon!

Feel free to browse our weather resistant shoes online!

Shop Waterproof/Weather Resistant

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