What Do You Need: Waterproof vs. Non-Waterproof Hiking Shoes

While you are out of your comfort zone, your hiking shoes should keep your feet comfortable. However, you might decide to buy a specific pair just because it has more features than the next shoe. But, do you really need it? These facts should help you decide whether or not you need to purchase those waterproof hiking shoes for your next climb. 

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Waterproof Hiking Shoes

Aside from the obvious fact that waterproof hiking shoes will keep your feet dry from the elements, this extra feature can make your shoes a little pricier than its non-waterproof counterpart. 

Key Features

This waterproof function is the effect of an added waterproof membrane in the lining of the shoe. Most of the time, the technology used is a Gore-Tex layer underneath the outer shell. Your waterproof hiking shoe may also be coated with a DWR or Durable Water Repellent coating. Nonetheless, this coating is still subject to wearing off over time. 

Since manufacturers have to seal moisture out when waterproofing a shoe, this also means that moisture inside the shoe is trapped when you wear it. In short, waterproof shoes are not as breathable as other shoes. Since waterproof shoes have more material, they cost and weigh more too. 

Pros and Cons

It is important to remember that purchasing a pair of shoes will depend on your personal needs. Although waterproof shoes can be a bit more costly than other shoes, they still sport a few pros and cons that should help you consider whether they are worth those extra bucks. 


  • Waterproof
  • Great for hiking on snowy trails or passing through rivers
  • Extra layer keeps fine dust out of the shoe
  • Protects feet from wet, muddy trails
  • Reduction in breathability keeps feet warm in cold weather


  • Cost more
  • A little heavier than most shoes
  • Prone to hotter and sweatier conditions, which can lead to blisters
  • Takes longer to dry

Non-Waterproof Hiking Shoes

These types of shoes still feature the most important parts of a hiking shoe, without having the extra layer on them. Non-waterproof hiking shoes are less expensive compared to their waterproof counterparts.

Key Features

Most non-waterproof shoes cost less since they are built with only the necessary materials. For the same reason, these shoes are also lighter and are more comfortable when hiking, since you do not have to exert as much effort to lift your legs during a long hike. Fewer linings mean they dry faster too.

Aside from that, non-waterproof shoes are oftentimes made with a mesh lining on its upper, which allows for increased ventilation on your feet. This makes sure that you do not sweat as much when hiking, which reduces the growth of odor-causing bacteria. 

Pros and Cons

Your favorite hiking spots will determine if a non-waterproof hiking shoe is fit for you or not. Check out these pros and cons to see if your situation would be greater with or without a non-waterproofed shoe.


  • Cheaper price
  • Increased breathability
  • Lighter than other shoes
  • Allows your feet to feel cool even in hot climates


  • May get wet easily
  • Not suitable for hiking in colder environments

The Winner: Waterproof vs. Non-Waterproof Hiking Shoes

The best hiking shoe will really depend on where and when you want to hike. For hikers who prefer colder environments or places with streams and swamps, then paying a little extra for a waterproof hiking shoe would be a perfect choice. However, for the rest who like hiking in hotter climates and could not sacrifice the breathability of a regular shoe, then stick to the regular non-waterproof hiking shoes, or invest in a non-waterproof one that sports extra support and stability.