3 Best Waterproof Sneakers in 2024

Sheena
Sheena on
3 Best Waterproof Sneakers in 2024
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Hit the city streets in comfort and style with any of these highly-rated waterproof sneakers. The cold weather follows the wet, but with dependable water-resistant footwear, you'll keep moving no matter the weather. From splashing water to puddles to unpredictable downpours, you’re set to stay dry all day. 

When it comes to this category, established names and newly minted brands in the industry have released their offerings of stylish and comfortable sneakers for the wet season. We have selected diverse yet well-deserving models from different brands for you to choose from.

From a deeper roster of the best waterproof sneakers currently available, picking the most ideal pair for your needs and style can be time-consuming. To help you with that, we’ve tested and ranked all the pairs for this guide. We have even got the shoes in our hands into our feet for authentic conclusions. Take a look at the recommendations.

How we test sneakers

To select the best waterproof sneaks in our repertoire, we’ve meticulously vetted each pair inside our RunRepeat shoe lab. We’ve considered every essential parameter of each model and filed all useful data for in-depth reviews. We then go out to the field to test them all out. We do these steps:

  • We research dozens of sneakers from across different brands. We put in the time and our own funds to perform the tests. This ensures 100% objectivity of our reviews.
  • We wear the shoes daily while going about our typical day. We also use these sneakers while walking on damp grass, in small puddles, or on rainy days. We take note of the shoe’s style, comfort, support, traction, and, of course, its waterproof technology, among many others. We also consider the price range, actual fit, and the materials used.
  • We cut the shoes into pieces inside our lab.

Best waterproof sneakers overall

What makes it the best?

The thermal insulation element of Vans Sk8-Hi MTE-2, PrimaLoft zonal, is what mostly convinced us to put this sneaker at the peak of all the waterproof sneakers we tested. We are blown away by how the material effectively kept our feet completely dry and toasty, even amidst the heavy rain and snow. 

Water cannot penetrate Vans Sk8-Hi MTE-2, yes, but what’s even more amazing is that moisture and cold, along with other factors brought along by harsh weather, aren’t able to cause any harm to the sneaker. Hence, we couldn’t think of any better kick than for wintertime and other wet conditions. 

It is even safe to use, even on slippery surfaces, as we discovered that its outsole is very reliable when it comes to being surefooted. Thanks to its outsole’s All-Trac technology, accidents are the least of concerns with Vans Sk8-Hi MTE-2. 

The issue that we believe is important to take note of is its slightly heavy construction. If you are partial to extremely light sneakers, better check out other selections because this sneaker is definitely not it. 

Pros

  • Top-notch weatherproofing
  • Supportive foothold
  • Real suede
  • More flexible than it seems
  • Grippy
  • Super plush insole
  • More than 10 colorways

Cons

  • Heavier than average
  • Not for wide feet
Full review of Vans Sk8-Hi MTE-2

Waterproof sneakers with the best style

What makes it the best?

Through wear tests and careful evaluation, we concluded that the Nike Air Max 90 GTX is the most stylish of all the waterproof sneakers out there. Excluding the fact that its Gore-Tex element is undeniably effective in preventing water and cold weather from reaching our feet, this sneaker has that refined and elegant look that’s perfect for most of our casual or work affairs. 

We discovered that the Nike Air Max 90 GTX is not only exemplary for snowy and rainy weather for its waterproofing ability but also for its superlative quality. We found that this sneaker is resilient against harsh seasons and could last for a long time. Aside from the quality, we are also obsessed with the silhouette of the shoe that afforded us lots of stares and compliments.

We have a little advice before picking up a pair of Nike Air Max 90 GTX, though. Get it at a half to a full-size bigger, or better yet, try it on in a store, as we found out that it runs narrow.

Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Insanely comfortable
  • Attracts repeat buyers
  • Classic and elegant
  • Clean-looking
  • Many great colorways
  • Well-built
  • Great quality
  • Perfect for the cold season

Cons

  • On the narrow side
  • Overly expensive
Full review of Nike Air Max 90 GTX

Best waterproof sneakers for winter

What makes it the best?

We couldn’t recommend any better waterproof sneakers for winter than the Nike Air Max Goadome. This sneaker provided us with exceptional warmth even in sub-zero conditions. And thanks to its high-top profile and incredibly water-hating upper, we are shielded from moisture, may it be from rain or large water pools.

One interesting thing we found about this rainy day-ready sneaker is it might look intimidating outside, but how it feels on foot couldn’t be more of the contrary. Based on our research, we discovered that its inside is extremely soft in addition to being relentlessly comfortable throughout the day. And the clincher is it is lightweight despite its bulky construction. 

With Goadome, we are definitely fearless to step outside through the rain and other wet-forward settings. We confirmed that it’s practically impenetrable. However, we couldn’t deny the fact that its price point of $170 is slightly expensive. We compared it with the other sneakers we tried on, and it is 44.8% higher. If you do not want to spend over the usual pricing of kicks, look for other waterproof pairs that won’t hurt your budget. 

Pros

  • Super plush
  • Precise fit
  • Cozy
  • Waterproof
  • Highly wear-resistant
  • Grippy
  • Lightweight
  • Noise-free sole

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Too elevated
Full review of Nike Air Max Goadome

Having the right footwear in wet conditions can make all the difference between a good day and a bad day. Whether it’s navigating through unpredictable weather while traveling, walking the city streets shopping, pursuing outdoor activities or simply going about your business in the community or at home. For many of us seeking comfort, performance and style during wet weather conditions, waterproof sneakers have emerged as the go-to choice in wet conditions.

In the search for the best waterproof sneakers on the market, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide where we take a deep dive down the rabbit hole, exploring the latest technologies, innovations and top brands that you should consider. From travel-tested to city-ready, let’s take the jump right in at the start by learning some of the key fundamentals…

How to identify waterproof sneakers

To the naked eye a pair of waterproof sneakers don’t look a whole lot different to regular sneakers. The tell tale signs are often a high collar at the ankle which prevents water from seeping in, and a rubber outsole at the toes and heels gives advanced traction as you power through the weather on road or trail.

Pros and cons of waterproof sneakers

Are waterproof sneakers really worth it? They’re not for everyone, so consider these general rules before making your decision:

Pros of waterproof sneakers

  1. They will keep your feet warm and dry. Afterall, that is their primary purpose.
  2. They lower the chances of getting cold feet or frostbite in wintery conditions.
  3. They make being outdoors in bad weather more enjoyable.

Cons of waterproof sneakers:

  1. They can make your feet get too hot in warm weather.
  2. They’re normally more expensive than non-waterproof models.
  3. They tend to be heavier and less flexible than regular sneakers.

DWR is the technology behind waterproof sneakers

An acronym for ‘durable water repellent’ finish, DWR is a crucial treatment applied to the outside of almost all waterproof sneakers. While a waterproof membrane ensures water doesn't penetrate the interior, DWR is essential to prevent precipitation from saturating the sneaker's exterior. 

DWR: requires routine maintenance

When the DWR deteriorates, the sneaker's exterior can become waterlogged and heavy, leading to a feeling of being wet and uncomfortable. This might mistakenly lead you to believe that the waterproofing membrane itself is failing, when in fact it just needs replenishing.

Environmentally controversial

One crucial aspect of waterproof sneakers that warrants attention is the environmental impact of their DWR treatments. Historically, the most common DWR coating, known as C8 or "long-chain," raised concerns due to its inclusion of PFAS - which are essentially just nasty "forever chemicals" because they last so long in the environment, and have been proven to be harmful to nature and living organisms. This raised significant questions about the sustainability of such treatments.

Eco-conscious innovations

However, the corporate world involved in the manufacturing and treatment of waterproof fabrics has been forced to evolve, and encouragingly, strides have been made towards eco-friendly DWR solutions. Among these advancements are treatments referred to as C0, which steer clear of fluorocarbon chemistry entirely. Embracing these greener alternatives can be a thoughtful choice for eco-conscious consumers seeking to reduce their environmental footprint.

Researchers in Europe have conducted comprehensive studies in this area, utilizing hazard ranking systems to assess the environmental impact of various DWR chemistries. Their findings reveal that hydrocarbon-based DWR is the most environmentally benign option, followed by silicone and side-chain fluorinated polymer-based DWR treatments [1].

As environmentally responsible consumers, considering the impact of DWR treatments when researching our next pair of waterproof sneakers allows us to make more informed choices. If you see an item with C8 DWR, be a responsible human and avoid it - look for a C6 alternative or similar. 

Gold standard Gore-tex

Considered the gold standard in the world of waterproof fabrics, Gore-tex stands out as a true game-changer in the world of waterproof fabrics and especially so for sneakers. Gore-Tex is a licensed fabric technology that is used by footwear brands to make their sneakers waterproof, that’s why you’ll see brands like Nike or Adidas, for example, each using Gore-Tex fabrics.

How Gore-tex works

What sets Gore-Tex apart is its innovative, microporous membrane that works wonders in keeping water out while allowing moisture to escape. This incredible balance of waterproofness and breathability is achieved through billions of tiny pores that are 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet but 700 times larger than a water vapor molecule [2]. The result? Your feet stay dry from external elements like snow, rain and puddles, while sweat and moisture generated inside the shoe can escape, leaving you feeling comfortable and fresh even during intense activities.

The wet-but-warm weather conundrum

And as good as Gore-Tex is, it’s perhaps not the waterproof panacea you might be hoping for. Its membranes are designed to allow moisture to escape, thereby ventilating from the inside out, which you can expect to work reasonably well in cold and mild temperatures, but keep in mind it may run hot when the mercury climbs. In instances of hot but wet weather you’ll need to decide which sacrifice to make: choose waterproof sneakers but sacrifice breathability, or choose breathable sneakers but sacrifice waterproofness.

Gore-tex alternatives

Gore-tex really does have a stronghold on the waterproof fabric niche, so much so that there isn’t much in the way of competition. Some footwear brands may have attempted their own proprietary versions, but none of which have any market significance. That’s not to say it doesn’t exist, and it may even be a very good option… an open mind can play dividends.

Top brands

In the world of waterproof sneakers, the top brands that come up are those that have a significant offering in the footwear industry already, and have simply added to their range by offering some unique waterproof versions of their sneakers. Skate brand Vans are guilty of this, as are European athletic brand Adidas, plus a host of others.

To find a genuine waterproof sneaker brand is very niche, but it is most common for existing sneaker brands to leverage off existing technologies such as DWR and Goretex and add that to their range.

Who wears waterproof sneakers

Travelers will want lightweight

For globetrotters and adventurers, waterproof sneakers are a nice addition to the travel case. By its very nature unpredictable weather can happen at any time at any location and if you’re ticking off life’s bucket list with outdoor attractions and moments to never be forgotten, the last thing you want to be hampered by is a pair of soggy wet feet.

The quality and versatility of the good waterproof sneakers means they don’t look out of place roaming the streets of a classy European city or out for a night on the town enjoying the latino nightlife; bringing a pair of waterproof sneakers should be a consideration for all travels, regardless of your destination. Travelers prefer lightweight sneakers so they’re easy to pack in bags without causing weight issues at airport terminals.

City slickers love a touch of class

In the concrete jungle waterproof sneakers really make for a practical and fashionable choice. Whether you're commuting to work, meeting friends at a café, on and off a worksite or wandering through vibrant city neighborhoods, waterproof sneakers offer a reliable blend of versatility and chic urban flair. Rainy days are no longer your enemy as you can comfortably tackle the sidewalks without compromising on style. Ideal for everyday wear, particularly for those of us in seasonally snowy or wet climates, to navigate through puddle-filled streets. Waterproof sneakers with a touch of class allow you to make a statement with your footwear while keeping your feet cozy and dry.

Rural lovers appreciate heavy duty

If you find a muddy forest much more appealing than a concrete jungle, waterproof sneakers emerge as a trustworthy and reliable choice, and therefore a wise investment for each member of the family. Embracing the great outdoors calls for heavy duty footwear that can conquer rough terrains and unpredictable weather conditions. In rural settings, waterproof sneakers come into their own, providing excellent support, grip and protection during hiking, farming, and various outdoor activities. Whether you're navigating muddy trails or discovering picturesque landscapes, a quality pair of waterproof sneakers guarantee a dry and comfortable day for your feet.

Sports and activity addicts have their own

When it's sports and outdoor activities that fuels your passions, a pair of waterproof shoes specific to that activity might be something worth investing in. But fear not, for we have that covered too. Check out our guides:

Proper maintenance and care tips for your waterproof sneakers

Many people overlook the fact that DWRs can lose effectiveness over time due to various reasons, such as the buildup of dirt and body oils or from abrasion. The good news is that a sneaker's performance can be revived with proper cleaning and reapplication of DWR using wash-in or spray-on products, a simple process that you can do at home.

To ensure your waterproof sneakers stay in optimal condition, follow these general instructions that work effectively across various footwear brands:

Step 1: Prepare

  1. Begin by removing the laces for a thorough clean.
  2. Shake out any debris like sand, gravel, or dirt from the inside of the footwear.
  3. If possible, remove the insole or shake out the footbed for a more comprehensive cleaning.

Step 2: Clean

  1. Avoid using bleach or subjecting the sneakers to a washing machine and for leather shoes, always refer to the manufacturer's instructions for suitable cleaning methods.
  2. Prepare a solution of lukewarm water with a small amount of technical fabric wash - look for one that specifically mentions that it will not damage the DWR. Remember to not use household detergents as they may compromise the existing waterproofing treatment.
  3. Use a sponge or brush with the solution to gently brush off loose dirt from the exterior.

Step 3: Dry

  1. Allow the sneakers to dry naturally at moderate temperatures: ideally outside if possible, but if inside is necessary be sure to avoid direct exposure to heat sources.
  2. It's important not to let the footwear stay wet for extended periods.
  3. Consider using convection-style boot dryers, as they are highly effective in facilitating the drying process.

Step 4: Re-apply DWR

  1. Once water no longer beads and runs off the sneakers, it's time to re-apply a durable water repellent (DWR) solution.
  2. Opt for a water-based restorative, often available in a convenient pump-spray form.
  3. Unless specifically advised by the manufacturer, avoid using waxes or greases as they may compromise the breathability of your waterproof sneakers.

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Understanding the different levels of ‘waterproof’

When it comes to choosing the right waterproof sneakers, it's essential to grasp the varying levels of protection they offer. The terms ‘water resistant,’ ‘water repellent,’ and ‘waterproof’ are not interchangeable as they each play a crucial role in determining how effectively your footwear shields you from the elements.

Three standards explained

Starting at the lower end of the spectrum, sneakers advertised as water resistant will provide the least amount of protection, while water repellent sneakers take it a step further, offering improved resistance to external moisture. However, the ultimate label to seek is waterproof, which signifies the highest level of water protection available. Only footwear with this designation can ensure your feet stay completely dry, no matter what challenges you face.

How waterproof sneakers are tested

To guarantee the performance of these claims, the footwear industry subjects products and fabrics to something called hydrostatic testing. This rigorous evaluation assesses how well the sneakers hold up against water pressure, confirming their ability to maintain their waterproof integrity.

Frequently asked questions

Are waterproof sneakers really waterproof?

Manufacturers claiming their products to be ‘waterproof’ can make for tricky business. What is waterproof exactly? Let me explain with an analogy: A torrential downpour hits your area, causing the nearby river to burst its banks and your house gets flooded. So, was your house really ever waterproof? Well, perhaps the ceiling was. And the walls were. And everything else was too, until it wasn’t.

The same issues apply for waterproof sneakers: they’re waterproof, until they aren’t. On that basis manufacturers generally don’t offer guarantees about staying dry. Regardless of how good the brand is or the manufacturer claims are or the reviews might be - Mother Nature will always win.

Are there any alternatives to waterproof sneakers?

Gaiters exist to try to bridge the gap between regular sneakers and waterproof sneakers. They slip over the ankles and stretch over the shoes to try and help stop water trickling down into your sneakers. However, for an active person wearing regular sneakers in heavy rain or snow will mean they will be sloshing about with wet and heavy sneakers irrespective of if they’re wearing gaiters. Perhaps the only exception is a trail runner who will prefer their regular running shoes combined with some gaiters if necessary, because their preferred shoes are so important to their activity. For most others in that situation, waterproof sneakers could be a valuable investment.

References

  1. The Gore-Tex Membrane: What it is, How it Works and Why You Need It, https://www.gore-tex.com/blog/the-gore-tex-membrane-what-it-is-how-it-works-and-why-you-need-it
  2. H. Holmquist, S. Schellenberger, I. van der Veen, G.M. Peters, P.E.G. Leonards, I.T. Cousins, Properties, performance and associated hazards of state-of-the-art durable water repellent (DWR) chemistry for textile finishing, Environment International, Volume 91, 2016, ISSN 0160-4120, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2016.02.035.
Author
Sheena
Sheena
Sheena is a wordsmith turned sneaker addict. Her sneaker fixation intensified as her passion for writing grew. A hands-on mom of two sweet yet spunky kids (plus three dogs and two cats), she finds solitude in leafing through shoe catalogs to find the next "it" sneaker. Scrutinizing hugely popular and underrated kicks is her favorite pastime.