Waterproof Running Shoes: Pros and Cons
As it has finally gotten colder in most of the US, many runners are reevaluating their shoe choices for the winter months. One of the questions I frequently get asked is whether waterproof running shoes are a good idea or not. Like most things, the answer is, “It depends.” There are both pros and cons to wearing waterproof shoes. Considering the circumstances you want to use them for will help you determine whether waterproof shoes are a good solution for you or not.
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Pros of Waterproof Running Shoes
Waterproof shoes can be a fantastic solution for rainy or slushy winter runs. They can keep your feet dry when you are splashing through small puddles, or when the surface is covered in snow.
I own a pair of Nike Pegasus Flash that I use to run on the roads during the winter (pictured below). Not only have they kept my feet dry while running on the road, but they also keep my feet warmer than my mesh top shoes. I have worn them on cold days even when it is not wet, and my feet are always warmer than if I ran in the same condition in non-waterproof shoes. They are also reflective, which is always a plus in low light conditions. I happily splashed through puddles on a rainy run a few weeks ago, and my feet were completely dry at the end of the run.
When to use waterproof shoes:
- Anytime you are running outside and there is less than a few inches of precipitation on the ground.
- Whenever it is cold outside and you want a shoe with better insulating properties to keep your feet warm.
Cons of Waterproof Running Shoes
As great as waterproof shoes can be, they also hold a few drawbacks. The biggest con of wearing waterproof shoes is that if water does manage to get inside the shoe, it can’t drain out. This can lead to cold, wet feet, and potentially lead to blisters. Once you have water inside the shoes, the only option is to take them off, and dump the water out before continuing.
Typically water will get inside the shoes if you are running in water deeper than the top of the shoe. Stream crossings and deep puddles are prime examples of circumstances where water may get into your shoes. When I know that I will be running through deeper water I make sure to wear either wool or wicking socks, and shoes that drain well so that my feet can dry faster.
Another drawback to waterproof running shoes is that they tend to not be very breathable. This can cause your feet to sweat excessively if you are running in warm or dry conditions. It can also make your feet stink like crazy from the excessive sweat. My waterproof shoes are by far the stinkiest pair of running shoes I own. Trust me, it takes stinky feet to a whole other level!
When not to wear waterproof shoes:
- Anytime you are running where the water may go over the top of your shoe. I never wear mine to run trails, because I don’t want water to get inside when I go through a stream crossing.
- If you are running indoors, or in warm and dry conditions. Since the shoes don’t breathe well, your feet will sweat. A lot!
Evaluating your running environment is the first step in making the correct shoe choice for your individual circumstances. There are plenty of brands out there, so feel free to experiment and find the one that is best for you!
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