March 27, 2019

Undertanding the 3 “Ws” of Water Protection

Wet feet – no one wants them. And a day spent working with wet or damp feet is not only extremely uncomfortable but potentially hazardous. So, if you or your employees are exposed to water on the job, it’s important to know what properties to look for in safety shoes or work boots. Here’s a breakdown of what WATERPROOF, WATER REPELLANT AND WATER RESISTANT mean. And it’s also important to know that although waterproof may sound like the answer, it really depends on the activities you do that help determine if it’s really the best option.

Water resistant

Water-resistant shoes are designed to let less water in than traditional materials, but they’re not as impermeable as water-repellant or waterproof products. Water-resistant shoes are likely built to protect from minimal exposure – like moisture from temperature changes in a warehouse or minor spills. They may be made of more tightly woven materials or a different composition than traditional footwear, but they wouldn’t prevent penetration during submersion.

While water-resistant safety shoes and work boots don’t keep away water or liquid as well as other options, they do still have a big advantage:  breathability. If you’re 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 can’t match the impermeability of waterproof boots. Water-repellent fabrics are considered to be better than water-resistant fabrics simply because they are tightly woven, also because they can have a chemical coating that causes water drops to form beads when it strikes 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 be a good fit.


The term waterproof in safety footwear generally refers to a product that won’t absorb water regardless of the situation. Seams are typically sealed, and/or the construction includes a waterproof membrane. Waterproof footwear makes sense for anyone who will regularly be exposed to water – especially when working outdoors. They may not be as breathable as other options about you have the assurance of complete moisture protection.

COMFORT TIP: Moisture doesn’t always come from external work conditions! The sweat from your own foot can and will create “water” that you don’t want inside your work footwear. Always wear a good comfort sock that wicks moisture away as well!