Waterproof or non waterproof trail running shoes? This is a question asked by many keen trail runners and one that often pops up in the trail running groups online. As with any item of sports attire, there are clearly pros and cons however, in the case of waterproof shoes, the pros are also the cons. Confused? Well, it’s simple really. If the water can’t get in, equally it can’t get out, they keep your feet warm, good when its cold and bad when it’s hot and they stop dirt getting in, and out! Let’s take a look in greater depth at the arguments for and against waterproof trail running shoes as well as some top suggestions for different terrains. 


They Keep Your Feet Drier 

Keep the water out for the most part so feet stay drier for longer. This is most noticeable when running through dewey fields early in the morning when your feet will soon get wet in non waterproof trail running shoes will. Not so great in deep water as you can’t stop the water spilling in over the top. 

They Keep Your Feet Warm

The non breathable upper means that the heat stays in so on a clod day, your feet will stay warm. 

Keeps Grit and Small Stones Out

Have you noticed how, when you are wearing normal trail shoes, that you always seem to end up with bits of grit, mud and small stones in your shoe? Well, the absence of mesh means that you don’t get this in waterproof trail running shoes. If they do find their way in though, they won’t find their way out!


Water Can’t Get Out 

Waterproof shoes won’t stop the water getting in. Over the top when you go through deep puddles and then you will notice the issue. If the water cab’t get in then it can’t get out. Once the water is in, you won’t get the drain that you get from non waterpoof shoes and off this reason, they don’t get our vote. This can lead to blisters, This can be avoided with gators so if you are going to invest in waterproof shoes, you probably want to look t gaiters too. 

Sweaty Feet

As we mentioned above, they do keep your feet warm however if you start out in the cold early morning and it warms up during a longer run, come the ned you are going to have hot sweaty feet which can cause blisters and other uses. 

Grit and Mud Can’t Get Out

If you do run through a deep and muddy puddle, the chances are you could end up with a shoe full of mud and grit which then can’t work it’s way out of the shoe again.

Choosing the Right Waterproof Shoes

If you are considering a pair of waterproof shoes and want to know which ones are the right ones, the following are examples of shoes suitable for different types of terrain. GTX means Goretex and refers to the waterproof element of the shoe 

What is GTX?

GTX – let’s discuss this technical trail running term and what it means. Usually, when appearing after the make and model of a shoe, it indicates that the shoes are waterproof. The GTX is short for Goretex and indicates the material that is used to make the shoe waterproof.

Road to Trail 

Road to trail means that you are generally running on road to get to the trails. In our case, we live a mile from the nearest trail so have to do some road. Invariably, you will often come across sections of road on your run as well. 

Inov-8 Parkclaw 275 GTX

parkclaw 275 goretex

Salomon Supercross Blast GORE-TEX Trail Running Shoes

inspired by the Salomon speed cross

Mixed Trail

If you don’t have to contend with much road and you are going to be covering a mixed terrain route – woodlands, muddy trail, grass trail, rocky trail for example then you may want to look at the following. 

Altra Lone Peak 4 RSM Waterproof

altra lone peak 4


Inov-8 Roclite 315 GTX

roclite 315 gtx


Soft Mud

During the rainy season (which one might argue is all year in the UK), you may want something with more grip. In which case check out this pair of waterproof trail running shoes:

La Sportiva Tempesta

la sportiva tempesta

We have always opted for non waterproof trail running shoes and a decent pair of socks. Most of them drain well and after a few minutes, even in the coldest temperatures, the breathable mesh membrane has allowed all of the water out reducing the weight of the shoe and keeping your feet relatively dry. If you really don’t like wet feet, you could try a pair and see how you get on.

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