Get comfortable with waterproof, water resistant and water repellent.

Posted by Gordon Fraser on is a worldwide authority on footwear and fitting with over 30 years experience.

Wet feet – no thanks! Any day spent working in wet or damp footwear is not only extremely uncomfortable but potentially hazardous. So, if you or your colleagues are exposed to wet conditions in the workplace, it’s important to understand the features to look for in safety shoes and work boots. Here’s a breakdown of what our suppliers mean by 


Keep in mind that although waterproof may sound like the answer, it really depends on the type of work that you as this will really help decide if it’s really the best option for you.

Water resistant

Water-resistant footwear is going to allow less water in than traditional materials, but they are not as impermeable as water-repellant or waterproof products. Water-resistant shoes are really built to protect you from minimal exposure – like condensation from temperature changes in a warehouse or minor splashes. They may be made of more tightly woven materials or a different composition than traditional footwear, but they will not prevent penetration during submersion.  

While water-resistant footwear do not keep water or liquid out as well as other options, they do still have a big advantage which is breathability. If you are going to be on your feet on your job site and are active, breathability can make all the difference to your comfort.

Water repellent

Water-repellent boots or shoes land somewhere between waterproof and water-resistant in their protection level. While they can prevent far more water from penetrating the shoes than water-resistant footwear, they still cannot match the impermeability of waterproof boots. Water-repellent fabrics are considered to be better than water-resistant fabrics because they generally have a chemical coating that causes water droplets to form beads when it lands on the surface of the fabric. So, if you are exposed to small amounts of water on a semi-regular basis but still want a light, more breathable option, this feature may work for you.


The term waterproof in our safety footwear generally refers to a product that simply does not absorb water regardless of the situation. Seams are usually welded and sealed and/or the construction includes a waterproof membrane. Waterproof work footwear makes sense for anyone who will regularly be exposed to water – especially when working in the outdoors. This footwear may not be as breathable as other options but you have the assurance of complete protection from outside moisture.

TIP: Moisture does not always come from external work conditions! The sweat from your own foot can and will create moisture that you do not want inside your footwear. Always wear a good quality moisture wicking sock!

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