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Do I Need Waterproof Hiking Boots?

waterproof hiking boots

While waterproofing might initially appear to be a benefit to any hiking shoe or boot, it's actually a feature you should consider carefully when choosing a new pair. While keeping water out seems an easy choice, it's important to weigh the flipside of that equation as well: keeping moisture in.

Here we'll take a look at the scenarios where waterproof footwear is a must-have, and those where it may do more harm than good.


If your typical hiking experience involves significant exposure to damp or cold weather (think: multi-day excursion and/or nighttime wear), snow or mud, you'll likely benefit from a durable, waterproof boot.

What to look for?

A lining like the GORE-TEX® membrane, which is found in many popular brands, provides protection from wet and windy conditions yet allows perspiration to pass through, so your feet will breathe and also stay dry.


Daytime hikes, especially in hot and dry climates, are sure to work up a sweat. If you typically only go out for a few hours at a time and tend to hike more in the summer, there's really no need for a fully waterproof boot. Or, if you're dashing through streams or other small bodies of water, a quick-drying shoe is also preferable over a thick, lined boot.

What to look for?

The last thing you want to do is lock in perspiration and moisture, so while a waterproof boot may claim to be "breathable," a boot or shoe with an upper made of mesh will really promote airflow and keep you moving.


On the other hand, if your kind of adventure involves wading through large bodies of water or mud or general exposure to significantly wet conditions, neither may be sufficient.

What to look for?

A pair of fully waterproof, well-fitting rubber boots is sure to keep you dry, though in terms of travelling long distances, they aren't the easiest to hike in.

The number of choices to consider when looking for a new pair of hiking boots is almost as endless as the trails to discover. Ultimately, the decision comes down to personal preference and the kind of experience you're looking to have, whether we're talking waterproofing or which peak to tackle next.

Where will your boots take you? Bring us with you by tweeting @shoebuy with #MyBootStyle

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