It’s no secret that water-resistant sneakers are a must-have for the active person. Whether you’re running in the rain, playing in the park, or hitting the gym, you need a pair of sneakers that can keep up. And with so many different brands and styles to choose from, it’s easy to find a pair of sneakers that will fit your needs and keep your feet dry.
Here are things you need to know before buying water-resistant sneakers:
Water-Resistant Does Not Mean Waterproof
Remember the old adage, “the higher the number, the better.” Unfortunately, that’s just not true with choosing a water-resistant sneaker. Waterproof means an item is completely impermeable to liquids (i.e., it cannot pass through), while water-resistant means an item is able to absorb liquid without damage (i.e., it can resist penetration). Therefore, the higher the number on the water-resistance scale (from 0 up to 7), doesn’t necessarily mean that an article of clothing or footwear will fully protect you from all water exposure for that period of time.
Water-Resistance Is Measured In mm Hg (Millimeters Of Mercury)
This means that the pressure created by the depth (height) of water an item can be exposed to before it allows water inside. For example, 200mmHg means that an item has been tested with high-pressure simulated rain at 20C for two hours, while 1000mmHg means the same test was performed for 10 minutes using a low-pressure system at 50C or about 122F.
A Higher Number Doesn’t Always Mean More Protection
The amount of time an article of clothing or footwear can protect you from exposure to liquid depends on its construction and materials, not just how many millimeters of mercury are indicated on the label. For example, if an article of clothing is only water-resistant on the outside versus all layers, it wouldn’t keep you completely dry in a downpour or puddle jump.
Water-Resistance Isn’t An All-Or-Nothing Quality
When it comes to water resistance, there is no such thing as 100 percent. There will always be some amount of moisture penetration; the most you can hope for is how long an article of clothing or footwear can protect you from liquid before it happens.
Water-Resistance Is Not The Same As Waterproofing
The difference between water resistance and waterproofing is that one can resist penetration while the other cannot allow any penetration at all. This means that water-resistant items are more likely to get damaged when exposed to liquid over extended periods of time whereas not being 100% waterproof means you will get wet faster but items are less likely to be ruined during use.
Water-Resistance Is Tested Under Given Temperature Conditions
The “water resistance” printed on an item’s label indicates its water repellent properties only at that certain temperature. It can actually have water-resistant properties at different temperatures, depending on the materials used in the construction of the garment. Therefore, check the temperature printed on the label to determine whether it’s best to use that item in warm or cold weather.
Water Resistance Can Be Compromised By Dirt
Since water-resistant items are not 100% waterproof, they are more prone to damage when exposed to contaminants like silt or sand which can make their way inside through open seams or eyelets. When this happens, it compromises its water repellent capabilities and you should wash and dry the item before using it again so as not to risk damaging the item further.
Synthetic Fibers Tend To Be More Water-Resistant Than Natural Ones
Fabrics made from synthetic fibers such as polyester and nylon typically have better water repellent properties than those made from natural fibers such as cotton, linen, and wool. This doesn’t mean that natural fibers are not water-resistant though. For example, cotton, linen, and wool items are usually very water-resistant because they can absorb a lot of liquid before feeling wet to the skin.
When Dry, Water-Resistant Sneakers Are Less Likely To Allow Liquid Penetration
The exterior of these sneakers is made from waterproof or highly resistant synthetic materials like polyester, polyurethane (PU), or nylon which means that even if it’s not 100% waterproof, it’s more likely to keep your feet dry when you’re active. However, combining the right materials with proper construction allows for an even greater level of protection against liquid penetration. For example, using a gusseted tongue will prevent water from getting in through the top of the sneaker while seams on both sides help keep moisture out.
Fabric Construction Also Affects The Water Resistance
Fabrics with a tight weave or finish tend to be more resistant to penetration because they have smaller spaces for the liquid to seep through whereas loose-knit fabrics are less likely to keep you dry but are generally much lighter in weight than their tighter counterparts.
The Outside Fabric Of An Item May Be Treated
To raise its level of water resistance, manufacturers often treat the exterior fabric of items with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish which helps hydrophobic (water-repelling) materials shed water faster when exposed to moisture. Some well-known brands that use this technology include Patagonia, North Face, and Columbia.
The Inside Fabric Is Also Important
Not all materials used on the inside of items are created equal. Some lower-quality manufacturers will use polyester mesh for lining to save costs whereas quality manufacturers like Nike and Saucony use air pockets that trap air in place of water in their sneakers to ensure your feet stay dry when you’re out and about.
DWR (Durable Water Repellent) Is Not Permanent
Even though it’s designed to last through many washes, its properties can be compromised over time through exposure to dirt or chemicals which may cause it to wash away or become less effective when exposed to liquid.
Leather, Suede, And Nubuck Are Not Water-Resistant
These materials are porous which makes them highly absorbent and can make your feet wet if exposed to liquid for too long. The water-resistant coating can be applied but this adds on an additional layer that may affect breathability.
Your Sneakers Should Match Your Activity Level
The more intense the activity, the tougher your shoes need to be. For example, someone who runs trails in the rain regularly needs a tough pair of sneaks with rubber outsoles whereas someone who jogs occasionally only needs something light with rubber soles for shock absorption instead of outdoor performance.
Water-Resistance Is Measured In Millimeters
This value is typically printed somewhere on the outside of an items’ packaging and indicates how much liquid it can keep out. It’s usually measured by placing the item on a flat surface and then pouring water into its top opening. The amount of time it takes for 1 millimeter of water to seep through is recorded and this value (in seconds) becomes the water resistance rating. For example, if it keeps out 1 millimeter of water in 10 seconds, then its water resistance is 1000mm or 10X.
When Washing Your Shoes, Use A Mild Detergent
Detergents contain chemicals that can eat away at some materials so if they don’t specify that their sneakers are machine washable, take them to a professional instead. Or better yet, buy a separate set of sneakers for gym activities and save your expensive running sneaks for running alone!
And Avoid Tumble Dryers
The heat from dryers can cause materials to shrink or become misshapen so it’s best to air dry your sneakers instead. If this is not an option, then set the machine on low and remove them once they’re damp because high heat can damage materials.
Check The Label
You should look for two things on any product you’re considering buying: its temperature range which indicates when you should use the product as well as its IP code which designates how resistant it is to liquid damage based on International Protection Marking standards set by the International Electrotechnical Commission.
The Thicker The Better
Thicker materials tend to be more resistant to penetration from liquids because they have a smoother surface that prevents tension from building up which can cause water droplets to seep through.
Don’t Forget The Laces
Some quality manufacturers have water-resistant laces which help prevent liquid from seeping through the spaces in your shoe. Brands known for their high-quality shoelaces include Lock Laces, Dry Fit Lace, and Under Armour.
Keep Your Shoes At Home
If you live in an area where it tends to rain often, keep your sneakers at home or another dry location to prevent water damage. This is especially important if they’re specially treated with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) since this type of treatment typically only lasts through a few washes before losing its effectiveness.
Don’t Get Stained
Even though some items are designed specifically to resist stains from liquid, dirt and debris can still accumulate on the surface which may eventually cause staining so be sure to brush them off regularly. Makeup, sunscreen, oil from your skin, grass stains, mud puddles, etc. can all contribute to discoloration especially during outdoor activities.
Make Sure Your Shoes Are Breathable
If your sneakers don’t breathe well, they will trap sweat inside and cause odor. The best water-resistant shoes should have a healthy balance between being waterproof and being breathable to allow moisture from the inside of your shoe to escape as well as battle against odors. If you’re searching for a fun design that’s also comfortable, check out the men’s Saucony Fastwitch Running Sneakers which feature a mesh upper with synthetic overlays and rubberized inserts for an easy on & off. It’s made with silver ions to help prevent bacteria growth which leads to bad odor so they’ll be a breeze to wear no matter how active you are.
Check For Stretch Marks
These are horizontal lines on items that indicate where its fibers have been stretched and may appear after extended use or after it’s been pulled harshly against something while you were wearing it. They make materials less elastic and less capable of returning to their original shape once released, especially if it’s a hot day and the material is already under a lot of stress due to heat exposure.
Avoid Using Bleach When Cleaning Your Sneakers
Because sneaker soles often have special coatings that repel water, accidentally using bleach when cleaning your sneakers can damage this coating which affects its ability to repel liquids.
Look For Products That Are Machine Washable
While many companies offer hand washing instructions on their websites or inside the packaging of their products, you should also look for items that are safe to throw in a washing machine at home by checking the label first.
The More Premium Brands
The more premium brands tend to be better because they invest more in research and development. Because these brands have higher quality control standards, they typically make fewer mistakes when it comes to construction which means less time searching around for replacements or returning them altogether. High-quality brands like Nike and Saucony should come with guarantees if something goes wrong after purchase so take advantage of this benefit.
Benefits of Water Resistant Sneakers
Keeps your feet dry in wet conditions
Prevents sweat accumulation since it’s breathable in hot weather which leads to better foot health and odor reduction.
Helps reduce bacteria growth which leads to fewer bad odors
If sneakers are machine washable, you won’t need to wash them as often by hand which saves money on laundry detergent. Additionally, there’s a lower risk for damage since you won’t need to scrub them by hand like regular sneakers.
Alternative Benefits of Water Resistant Sneakers
Can be more expensive than regular sneakers but sometimes worth the investment depending on how often you’ll use them.
Not all water-resistant shoes are machine washable so pay attention to this detail when buying.
If you’re active, these can create a feeling of independence since you don’t have to worry about your feet getting wet or smelly even if it starts raining without an umbrella which is almost inevitable.
Wrap up: Water-resistant sneakers are a great investment for those who want to be able to wear their shoes in any weather. It is important to remember, however, that water resistance is not the same as waterproof and that water-resistant qualities vary depending on the type of fabric used. Make sure you check the specific mm Hg rating before purchasing and test your shoes under the given temperature conditions to make sure they will hold up in bad weather. Finally, always take good care of your sneakers by using a mild detergent and never forgetting the laces!