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Waterproof Running Shoes: The Thing That Should Not Be

Editor’s Note: The following essay was originally featured on THE ROCK FIGHT podcast and is available to listen to in the player below.

Today I’m picking a fight with…Waterproof running shoes. Because they’re a fucking joke.

In our gear obsessed outdoor world there are products and trends that cause me to shake my head in disbelief that they still exist. And not with a smile on my face either. Like, it makes me angry.

Waterproof running shoes are one of these things.

This is the bottom line: waterproof running shoes only exist to expand the offering of the brand who makes them in order to generate more revenue. That’s it. Because waterproof liners work both ways. It keeps moisture out, it also keeps it in. So if you step in a puddle and the water gets in your shoe or you’re out in the rain and the water gets in, your foot will not be dry again until you take that shoe off and let it air out.

You can dump the water out, ring out the sock, whatever, you’re staying wet.

But Colin, you might be saying, what if I wear gaiters? Ah well, you got me…except for the part where you don’t got me you know why? FUCKING SWEAT, THAT’S WHY!

Do you know which part of the human body sweats the most? THE FEET. Your tootsies have around 250,000 sweat glands and each foot can produce over a liter of sweat per day, when you’re not running. So guess what happens in your waterproof shoes whether it’s dewy, raining or you step into a stream or not? IT GETS WET FROM SWEAT AND THAT MOISTURE HAS NO PLACE TO GO!

Which brings me back to my point of why these things even exist.

I did a quick look for waterproof trail running shoes on and I found 16 mens styles and 18 women’s styles. So clearly, these sell.

But that is the result of an uneducated consumer, not because they work. Waterproof is a feature that to most consumers looks like a value slam dunk. “Oh, it’s waterproof? Well then it must be good, right?” No! We’ve all been duped to believe that ‘waterproof’, must be a good thing all of the time. The brands are to blame but also, retailers? You’re just as culpable for not calling out the brands on their bullshit allowing this charade to continue.

So to all the footwear brands out there participating in this shady behavior…knock it off! To the retailers, same thing! You’re giving away valuable spots on your shoe wall to a sham of a product. To everyone else, join my side of this particular rock fight and help drive positive change to the assortments of run shops everywhere.

And the next time you need some new running kicks, you can save yourself a few bucks knowing that those more expensive waterproof styles are nothing more than a big pile of bullshit.


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