When the weather outside is dreary or snowy, it can be hard to motivate yourself to go for a walk. But the best waterproof walking shoes can help you continue your daily habits—without getting wet feet. After all, waterproof sneakers and walking shoes can provide the same level of comfort and support as general walking shoes, all while keeping your feet dry and warm—no matter how many puddles you splash through.
Whether you’re running errands, taking the dog for a walk, or lacing up your waterproof hiking boots to hit the trail, it’s crucial to find a shoe that works for you.
What to Look for in a Waterproof Walking Shoe
Finding the right walking shoe is ultimately a personal decision based on your intended activity, foot type, and the weather where you live, but there are a few key design details to take into consideration, too:
For footwear, waterproofing consists of two components: the membrane and the exterior coating.
Gore-Tex is the most well-known and reputable waterproofing technology, and many brands, like Nike and Brooks, will incorporate Gore-Tex membranes into their shoe models because they are both breathable and waterproof. (Look for shoe models that have GTX or GORE-TEX in the name.) Other brands, like On Running and Sorel, use their own technology to create waterproof interiors. While waterproof membranes can be beneficial in many circumstances, they are also less breathable than non-waterproof shoes and can trap moisture easily. That’s why it’s important to wear moisture-wicking socks so your waterproof walking shoes don’t become a sweaty mess.
Because many walking shoes have breathable mesh uppers, some brands will coat their shoes in a water-resistant finish so water sheds off the surface of the shoe. DWR (durable water repellent) is a common treatment you’ll see on the market. Fabrics that have some degree of water resistance, like leather, may still get treated to enhance their waterproof abilities. If a shoe doesn’t have the interior membrane and only an exterior finish, it will be classified as water-resistant, rather than waterproof. This is fine in many scenarios, like light rain, but you’ll end up with wet feet if you wear water-resistant shoes in a downpour (in that case, you might be better off with a pair of rain boots).
Some waterproof shoes have minimal insulation for wet but mild conditions, while others are insulated for warmth during the winter. Gore-Tex makes three unique membranes, each with different levels of insulation. Consider what season you’ll be walking in and choose a pair of shoes with the proper amount of insulation.
Walking shoes should have durable and comfortable midsoles for all day use. You may encounter two common midsole options: EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) foam is springy and responsive for ultimate comfort. PU (polyurethane) foam, on the other hand, is more firm and durable but may not feel as comfortable at first. Some brands, like New Balance and Nike, have their own proprietary foam midsoles (like Fresh Foam and React, respectively) that blend the two to balance durability and soft cushioning.
The Best Waterproof Walking Shoes
Below, we’ve selected some of the best waterproof shoes from high-quality brands like Hoka One One, New Balance, Nike, and Allbirds. Read on to find the best shoes for your next rainy day stroll.