Water-Repellent vs Water-Resistant vs Weather-Proof Footwear

If you live in or enjoy traveling to places with particularly rainy climates, then a high-quality pair of shoes that can withstand the elements is a worthwhile investment. 

Luckily, there are specialized technologies you can take advantage of to secure the right type of waterproofing footwear for your specific environment and needs. 

But with similar-sounding names like water-repellent vs water-resistant and waterproof vs weather-proof, finding your perfect pair can get a little confusing. Keep reading to learn the differences between these popular types of waterproofing so you can weather your next rainy day with confidence.


Understanding Different Levels of Water Protection in Footwear

Many people make the mistake of thinking that terms like waterproof, water-repellent, and water-resistant all mean the same thing. 

But the truth is that water protection technology for footwear comes in several distinct levels, each with its own unique capabilities and strengths. 


The Truth About Waterproof Shoes

Let’s start by clearing up the term you’ve probably heard the most: waterproof. 

A waterproof shoe shields from 100% of water, in or out. Think of this technology like a waterproof phone case—such a product would be expected to completely shield your delicate device by fully preventing any moisture from permeating the container. 

While this rigorous standard of defense is necessary when you need to protect items as fragile as a cell phone, it can often be overkill when implemented into footwear. 

Most shoes aren’t designed to tolerate complete submersion underwater. Shoes that are manufactured to be 100% waterproof often have to make sacrifices in other areas, such as:

  • Style
  • Comfort
  • Affordability 

Just think about your favorite pair of childhood rain boots or galoshes. They may have been rubbery, yellow, and hard on the eyes, but they certainly allowed you to jump in puddles without a problem. 

As an adult on a nature hike, weekend adventure, or even a rainy commute, you need shoes that resist water and let your feet breathe. For that, you can invest in more stylish shoes that still implement powerful water-resistant or water-repellent technology: it’s the best of both worlds. 

To help you understand the key distinctions between water-resistant and water-repellent, we’ll break down the unique technology behind these various levels of moisture protection. 


Exploring Water Resistance in Shoe Technology

Water-resistant footwear stands up to moisture to a certain degree, but it isn’t able to completely banish every drop you encounter. 

Perfect for wearing during a drizzle, you can be confident that water-resistant footwear won’t be made from absorbent materials. Therefore, these shoes won’t soak up moisture like a sponge the way many regular shoes do. 

On the contrary, this type of footwear is typically constructed with strong materials that prevent water penetration. Here at Vionic, we construct our water-resistant shoes with completely waterproof uppers. This hardy layer of extra protection serves as a formidable line of defense against rainfall. 

As you can see, when compared with normal footwear, water-resistant shoes can effectively keep your feet dryer for longer by holding out against any external water they make contact with. 

But when it comes to levels of water defense, water-repellent technology is a level more sophisticated. Let’s dive deeper to explore what makes this next mode of moisture protection so powerful. 


Understanding Water Repellency in Footwear

The biggest difference between water-resistant and water-repellent shoes comes down to one word: hydrophobia. To be hydrophobic is to show a “fear of water.” The term can describe more than individuals afraid of the deep end, however. 

Think about oil and water. Oil is hydrophobic: it repels water. You can tell a material is hydrophobic, or water-repelling, when water that lands on the item turns into droplets instead of soaking in. 

Here’s how this concept pertains to footwear technology. 

While the general makeup of water-resistant fabrics is manufactured to stand up to water exposure, water-repellent materials defend against moisture with help from an added layer of repellent material on the textile. 

This unique outer coating is what allows water-repellent shoes to provide an additional level of moisture defense. Vionic water-repellent footwear deflects water on contact, greatly lessening the risk of any stubborn raindrops clinging to your shoes and seeping their way inside. 


Water-Repellent Footwear from Vionic

Our Hazal Ankle Boot is a phenomenal choice when you need a water-repellent shoe that can divert moisture without sacrificing any points in the fashion and function departments. The water-repellent suede upper of this lightweight footwear is treated with a protective coating designed to defend against drizzles or downpours.

If you’ve ever sighed in surrender at the sight of a rainy afternoon knowing your outfit wouldn’t be the same without your stylish shoes, the Hazal Ankle Boots are here to save the day. One of our most comfortable boots for women, the Hazal easily complements any chic ensemble as a casual yet chic lug sole wedge boot.

Another bonus: Since this technology does not allow liquid to enter your shoes, it is naturally much more stain-resistant than other shoes. 


The Difference Between Water Repellent and Water Resistant

Understanding what sets water-resistant vs water-repellent shoes apart may seem tricky at first. But in truth, the main distinction comes down to considering the definitions of the keywords at play:

  1. Resistant means “having the capacity to withstand.”
  2. Repellent means “tending to ward off or drive away.”

As another example, think about how you defend against bugs like mosquitos. 

If you’re going on a walk around the neighborhood, you might just wear clothing that is resistant to bugs, such as long sleeves and pants. But if you were planning a trek through the Amazon rainforest, you’re going to want to invest in some bug-repellent spray. 

The same principle applies when you’re in the market for footwear. Do you expect to encounter the occasional light storm? Water-resistant shoes should serve you just fine. Live in an area that’s consistently damp or rainy? Shoes that feature special water-repellent technology might be a better fit. 


Benefits of Weather-Proof Shoes for Every Season

When it comes to Mother Nature, rain is just one part of the story. To prepare for more than water—snow, ice, mud, and the like—you need weather-proof shoes. 

Another fantastic footwear option you may want to choose when seeking shoes that can stand up to the elements is the weather-proof shoe. As the name suggests, this specialized type of footwear is built to withstand inclement weather of all kinds. 

Here at Vionic, we manufacture each of our weather-proof shoes with a waterproof upper and sealed seams. On the bottom, our durable rubber outsoles provide additional traction to help you navigate over wet, slippery surfaces with confidence. At the same time, our weather-proof shoes offer unbeatable breathability so you can wear them for hours without feeling cramped or stuffy. 

Together, these robust features are engineered to provide extra support against various kinds of precipitation.  

With the right weather-proof shoes, you can prevent: 

  • Prolonged foot discomfort
  • Sickness caused by cold body temperature
  • Blisters instigated by moist, softened foot skin

If you’re deciding between water-proof vs water-repellent, water-resistant, or weather-proof shoes, know that the latter three options can offer robust benefits while also taking home the trophy in the categories of fashion and flexibility. 


Maintenance Tips for Water-Repellent, Water-Resistant, and Weather-Proof Shoes

No matter the type or style of shoe, proper maintenance is always key for keeping your footwear in top shape for the long run. 

However, some shoe designs and makes are more forgiving than others. Footwear that falls into the water-repellent, water-resistant, and weather-proof categories requires a little extra TLC to stay stronger for longer. After all, these shoes are constructed with fine attention to detail and sophisticated technology that serves the special function of keeping water out. 

Don’t worry, you don’t need to walk on eggshells when using these shoes to keep them in good shape. Just follow these 3 maintenance rules and you’ll be good to go: 

  1. Clean without moisture when possible – Ever jump straight into the pool after applying a generous layer of sunscreen? When you got out, your SPF coating was probably long gone. The same principle applies here. Footwear built to withstand water and weather is often given a special coating of invisible armor. Submerging this coating in water and scrubbing at it hard can ruin its functionality. Instead, use a dry, cotton cloth to wipe away dirt or dust when needed. 
  2. Be careful with cleansers – If you must perform a deep clean on your shoes, practice extra caution when choosing and using a specialized cleaner. It’s important to test new cleansers on a small area of your footwear and let it dry to see how the shoe reacts before going too crazy with any unfamiliar product. This rule is even more crucial when it comes to footwear that is made with special materials or coatings to defend against water and weather. 
  3. Dry them properly – Many people like to use a heat source like a blow dryer to speed up the drying process of their shoes after a rainy day. But be aware that shoes that are designed to defend against water exposure often feature leather as a prominent material. If exposed to direct heat, leather can dry out. To avoid this, be sure to let leather footwear air-dry, even if it takes a bit longer. 

If you’re weighing the pros and cons of weather-proof vs water-resistant vs water-repellent vs water-proof shoes, know that proper maintenance will be a must no matter which shoe you choose.


Stay Dry in Weather-Ready Styles with Vionic

Want to keep your feet cozy, dry, and comfortable on a rainy day without sacrificing comfort or style? Investing in a high-quality pair of water-resistant, water-repellent, or weather-proof shoes and taking good care of them is the clear road ahead.

If you’re ready to say goodbye to the days of soggy socks, cold feet, and pulling out your most unstylish shoes when you see rain clouds in the forecast, browse our collection of weather-resistant shoes for women to find your new favorite footwear to rock in the rain. 




Biology Dictionary. Hydrophobic. https://biologydictionary.net/hydrophobic/

The Free Dictionary. Resistant. https://www.thefreedictionary.com/resistant

The Free Dictionary. Repellent. https://www.thefreedictionary.com/repellent

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