Waterproof vs. vented hiking shoes: What is the difference? Which is more suitable for your hiking trip? Let’s clear these queries with valuable information!
Top Rated Best Budget Waterproof Hiking Shoes
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Waterproof Vs. Vented Hiking Shoes: Comparison Table
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Waterproof vs. Vented Hiking Shoes: Head-To-Head Comparison
Here is a quick summary of the difference between waterproof and vented hiking shoes
Waterproof Hiking Shoes
These shoes feature a water-repelling membrane that is layered into leather or synthetic materials. These waterproof layers are often made from Gortex or a proprietary waterproofing system (such as BDry by Oboz).
This waterproofing layer will keep water from seeping in through shoes. But if water gets inside these shoes, they will get wet and cannot dry.
Waterproof hiking shoes are usually heavier and less breathable than vented hiking shoes. However, several waterproof models offer breathable features that help wick moisture and sweat from the inside out while keeping water out.
Waterproof hiking shoes are also usually more expensive than vented ones.
Vented Hiking Shoes
Vented hiking shoes do not feature a water-repelling membrane within their material layers. Instead, they typically have some mesh paneling, making them more lightweight, breathable, and flexible than waterproof hiking shoes.
Water can seep through these shoes, but water can also get out of them more easily, allowing them to dry faster.
Waterproof Hiking Shoes
Waterproof boots are ideal for climates that are mostly rainy, wet, cold, and sometimes, all three at once.
They also work well for hiking across shallow streams and puddles without getting your feet or your shoes wet. Just ensure you aren’t going any deeper than the top of these hiking shoes.
Remember that if water gets on top of your shoes, they will stay wet and clogged for a long time because there’s nowhere for the water to go.
These shoes typically aren’t a great fit for where your feet are submerged in water. In these cases, you will want lightweight vented hiking shoes that let the water seep back out, allowing them to dry faster.
Some backpackers and hikers also pick waterproof hiking shoes to keep out debris. Non-waterproof hiking shoes with mesh paneling will dry out quickly, but they can let in tiny rocks, unwanted debris, and dirt, while mesh-free, waterproof hiking boots will not.
Some hikers complain their waterproof hiking shoes have trapped more heat, causing their feet to sweat more, but that’s just the minority.
Maybe your feet will get slightly hotter in waterproof hiking shoes, but it is a price you need to pay to keep debris and water out.
Vented Hiking Shoes
One of the reasons for picking vented hiking shoes is primarily for breathability and temperature regulation. As a result, they are ideal for warm weather.
The mesh on vented hiking shoes will allow for more airflow, keeping you cooler and preventing your feet and socks from getting too sweaty. That way, they can help you reduce blisters.
You will feel highly comfortable in breathable, vented hiking shoes when hiking in deserts with hot climates and dry conditions.
These shoes also work well in hot tropical environments. Even when getting wet by sudden rains, these shoes will please you by drying quickly.
If you plan to go hiking in a warmer climate where you will be wading through deeper streams, submerging your boots, and getting them completely wet, vented hiking shoes will be your best bet as they will enable the water to back out and dry more quickly.
If your feet often get hot and sweaty easily or you know you will hike mainly in dry, warm conditions, you will likely want to go with vented hiking shoes.
Waterproof vs. Vented Hiking Shoes: Final Verdict
Weather, temperature, and location are the significant deciding factors in picking the right hiking boots. It can also come down to your personal preference, your body, and how much you sweat.
If you are hiking in drier, desert climates (such as Arizona), where cold, wind, and rain are rare, we recommend choosing non-waterproof boots.
If you live in the Mountain West and Pacific Northwest or hike/trek there year-round, we believe you will be much more comfortable putting on a pair of waterproof hiking shoes.
If you hike in both hot, dry climates and cold, wet climates, you should invest in two pairs if possible:
- Lightweight, breathable hiking shoes or boots for shorter day hikes and hiking in the warm summer season.
- Sturdy, waterproof hiking shoes for cold, wet times of the year.
What Do Waterproof Hiking Shoes Mean?
The waterproof shoes have a water-repelling membrane that is layered into leather or synthetic materials. These waterproof layers are typically made from Gortex or a proprietary waterproofing system (such as BDry by Oboz).
This waterproofing layer will keep water from seeping in through shoes. But once the water has got inside these shoes, they will get wet and can’t dry.
Are Waterproof Boots Less Breathable?
Waterproof shoes will not breathe as well as non-waterproof or vented hiking shoes. They also seal your feet, causing more sweating. But they are ideal for cold weather and wet terrain.
Is It Worth Getting Waterproof Boots?
Yes. The significant benefits of these shoes include a waterproof barrier in hiking footwear. They will keep your toes dry while walking through puddles and mud and fording rivers.
On a multi-day backpacking trip or a long hike, wet, clammy feet can result in issues that might even be cause for turning back.
Do Waterproof Shoes Make Your Feet Sweat?
Waterproof hiking shoes are usually less breathable than vented hiking shoes. So they will make you sweat easily, especially when you are hiking in hot areas. They also seal your feet, causing more sweating.
Are Waterproof Shoes Good for Rain?
Yes, thanks to their excellent waterproof properties, waterproof hiking shoes are ideal for hiking in rain or wet conditions.
Are Hiking Boots Good for Hot Weather?
You can wear hiking boots for hot weather. We recommend pairing them with extra moisture-wicking socks.
Do Leather Hiking Boots Breathe?
Yes. Leather hiking boots are naturally breathable.
Are Gore-Tex Boots Waterproof?
Yes. Gore-Tex Shoes are entirely waterproof. They can keep your feet dry as long as the waterproof membrane still remains totally sealed.
You can wear it to walk through wet grass, puddles, shallow streams, and even stand in the ocean for several hours.
Do I Really Need Gore-Tex?
Yes, Gore-Tex is worth it if your objective is staying dry and comfortable. But they are slightly more expensive than their rivals.
What Are the Disadvantages of Gore-Tex?
They are not as durable or breathable as membranes.
How Effective Are Waterproof Shoes?
No hiking shoes or boots are 100% waterproof. To deliver total waterproofness, they would have to sacrifice all breathability.
We will certainly keep your feet bone-dry while splashing through puddles. Yet, once you start exerting, the sweat will soon become noticeably uncomfortable.
How to Choose the Most Suitable Hiking Shoes?
Here are a few tips for choosing the best hiking shoes:
- Know your size.
- Try on boots at the end of the day.
- Wear appropriate socks.
- Spend some time in the boots.
- Break your boots in before your first trip.
Should Water Shoes Be Tight or Loose?
We recommend choosing shoes with a snug fit to prevent all uncomfortable experiences. It may also prevent foot chafing or irritation (soreness from friction).
How Long Do Water Shoes Last?
Good quality water shoes could last you from 8 to 12 months. If you do not use them regularly, they can last up to five years.