Rain and other wet weather are no reason to skip an outdoor run, and the best waterproof running shoes can make a big difference in keeping your feet dry and warm. From slush and muck to sleet and rain, keeping the feet dry and safe from blisters is critical for anyone who regularly runs in the wet. While sharing some qualities, the best Waterproof shoes come with different levels of cushioning, weight, and warmth to suit any situation.
Deciding on the right waterproof or water-resistant shoe for your needs might feel daunting, so iRunFar put the testers to task, looking at various road and trail shoes and how they held up to wet conditions. The shoes were tested on runs involving creeks and rivers, rainy days, muddy and technical terrain, and some early-season snow.
The testers examined the shoe’s overall performance, general comfort, breathability, waterproofing, and traction. The shoes were compared on different terrains and temperatures, noting how warmer climates impacted breathability and comfort.
Best Waterproof Running Shoes
- Best Overall Waterproof Road Running Shoe: Hoka Clifton 9 GTX
- Best Overall Waterproof Trail Running Shoe: Salomon Sense Ride 5 GTX
- Best Waterproof Trail Running Shoe – Runner-Up: La Sportiva Bushido II GTX
- Best Water-Resistant Road Running Shoe: Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 RunShield
- Best Water-Resistant Trail Running Shoe: Altra Lone Peak All-Wthr Low 2
- Most Protective Waterproof Running Shoe: Brooks Cascadia 17 GTX
Best Overall Waterproof Road Running Shoe: Hoka Clifton 9 GTX ($160)
- Precision toe for speed
- Great traction
- Longer break-in process
The Hoka Clifton 9 GTX is a fitted shoe with enough room in the toebox to get full big toe power. It’s the waterproof version of the brand’s popular Clifton and an excellent option for those who already use the other version of it. The shoe is designed for performance on an icy day with a Durabrason rubber outsole that provides excellent traction on ice, slush, and snow. The Gore-Tex upper is made with partially recycled materials and offers waterproof protection. With neutral stability and moderate cushioning, this shoe is supportive while feeling powerful.
The shoe is stiffer than others in the guide, but the rocker helps to reduce impact on the body throughout the stride. The rocker also felt like it gave the shoe more pop for speed work and running hills. While this shoe may not be the best choice for a wet day 5k personal best, it would hold up for a rainy workout or a longer race, such as a half or full marathon.
This shoe did fit a little long and might be about a half size bigger than expected. However, that did help it fit well with some wool socks on a rainy day, not that they were needed. This shoe was incredibly warm. When we tested it in single-digit weather in wet snow, our feet stayed warm and dry.
Claimed Weight: 8.3 ounces (235 grams) | Claimed Drop: 5 millimeters
Best Overall Waterproof Trail Running Shoe: Salomon Sense Ride 5 GTX ($160)
- Not ideal for long days or steep climbs
When you’re getting ready to hit the trails or dirt roads in wet conditions, the Salomon Sense Ride 5 GTX is a great all-around trail shoe that provides a great balance of comfort and performance. We found that the cushioning was adequate for runs up to twenty miles and in slushy and wet conditions on varied terrain. These shoes offer insulation that can keep toes warm on cold mornings but do not feel overly toasty as the day heats up. The SensiFit upper holds the foot well, and the rockered shape keeps you moving. The outsole provides consistent traction with 3.5-millimeter lugs, but we did wish we had a little more grip on more technical terrain.
With 21.3 millimeters of stack height underfoot, the shoe offers moderate cushioning. This might not be enough for a runner who is used to a more cushy or maximalist shoe, but the reduced cushioning does keep the weight of the shoe relatively low. It’s an excellent option for those who like lower stack heights and for people looking for a shoe that could perform well at a shorter race.
Claimed Weight: 10.8 ounces (308 grams) | Claimed Drop: 8 millimeters
Best Waterproof Trail Running Shoe – Runner-Up: La Sportiva Bushido II GTX ($185)
- Sturdy for the weight
- Minimal cushioning
A fitted shoe with performance in mind, the La Sportiva Bushido II GTX has minimal cushioning, a light weight, and plenty of foot protection. Longer 4.5-millimeter lugs and a rock plate protect the foot from wild terrain, while the Gore-Tex upper and built-in insulation keep the foot warm and breathing.
The lugs are slightly slanted, providing additional traction and braking power on the downhill. They kept us secure when running on slick and steep slopes. The outsole has a dual rubber compound on the sides, making it more tactile for crossing rocks or slippery surfaces.
Despite being a snug fit, these shoes have a wider toebox than expected, keeping the shoe accessible to more foot shapes. This shoe is not meant for all-day runs but would shine on a short, fast race or steep, muddy jaunt.
These shoes tend to run small, and our tester reported needing to go up an entire size for this shoe. We recommend trying a pair on before buying.
Claimed Weight: 10.5 ounces (297 grams) | Claimed Drop: 6 millimeters
Best Water-Resistant Road Running Shoe: Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 RunShield ($170)
- Limited traction
The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 RunShield is a fantastic all-in-one road training or marathon race shoe perfect for those rainy day runs. Fitted and moderately cushioned, it can go from speedwork to a long run and remains a popular option for racing longer distances on the road. The water-resistant RunShield protective layer keeps the shoe’s weight relatively low and hugs the foot for a more responsive feel than some other shoes in this guide. The 8-millimeter heel-to-toe drop is fairly average and should work for many different runner types. With the Speedroll technology, which uses an S-curved winged nylon plate, the geometry of the shoe keeps the runner forward moving and is more flexible than a carbon plate. This new update to the shoe provides a good level of energy return at each step.
The shoe held up in the rain, keeping our feet dry and breathing. It drained extremely well after getting fully submerged. In wearing this shoe for a long run, we found that our feet weren’t as sweaty as in other waterproof shoes. This shoe may not be as warm on a cold winter day but would hold up if paired with warmer wool socks. These shoes have minimal traction, so if worn in slick conditions, additional tractions should be considered.
We like that the shoe comes with a Robert Frost quote on the tongue, providing extra motivation when lacing up and heading out for a run. Plus, it is made out of vegan and recycled materials.
The break-in process for these shoes was minimal, and they ticked the boxes for what we were looking for in a pair of shoes we could pull out in wet weather.
Claimed Weight: 8.1 ounces (229 grams) | Claimed Drop: 8 millimeters
Best Water-Resistant Trail Running Shoe: Altra Lone Peak All-Wthr Low 2 ($160)
- Traction isn’t excellent for a trail shoe
The Altra Lone Peak All-Wthr Low 2 might be one of the heavier shoes on the list, but it wears the weight well and doesn’t feel heavy on the foot. Though the shoe has a rock plate and extra rubber protection around the toe, they did not feel as protective as some other options. Altra shoes tend to have a bit of a softer upper, and we preferred these as an option for less technical terrain.
Unlike shoes with a Gore-Tex layer to provide waterproofing, Altra uses an eVent bootie with water-resistant protection and breathability. The outsole is made of MaxTrac rubber and the lugs are angled, providing more traction. We found they were solid when moving through snowy or slushy conditions on a trail that could be slippery.
Zero-drop isn’t for everyone, but this is a great bad-weather shoe for those who like it. With a 25-millimeter stack height that provides moderate cushioning and an updated Ego midsole, this shoe is for an athlete who wants a more minimal weather-resistant shoe but still desires a little cushioning between their foot and the ground.
Claimed Weight: 13.2 ounces (374 grams) | Claimed Drop: Zero
Most Protective Waterproof Running Shoe: Brooks Cascadia 17 GTX ($170)
- Good traction
- Long break-in process
- Less breathable than other shoes
If you’re running on wet technical terrain, you’ll appreciate the protection the Brooks Cascadia 17 GTX provides. These shoes excel at keeping the feet safe and warm. Lightness and malleability were sacrificed for a sturdy rock plate and a protective Gore-Tex lining. The break-in process for these shoes took a bit longer than others in this guide, and they initially felt rigid on easier, buffed-out trails. That said, they shined once these shoes were put to task in mud or on a technical trail.
These shoes have a medium level of cushion paired with a neutral arch, giving the foot enough support to log longer miles on varied terrain or while hiking with a pack.
The toe box is on the narrower side. While this makes them more of a performance shoe and better in technical terrain, it does limit those who have wider feet or want extra room for their toes.
These shoes were warm. They would be fantastic on a colder, snowier day or if you are planning on spending a lot of time in water and mud. That said, they could get uncomfortable on a day when temperatures rise.
Claimed Weight: 11.7 ounces (331 grams) | Claimed Drop: 8 millimeters
Comparing the Best Waterproof Running Shoes
|Hoka Clifton 9 GTX
|Salomon Sense Ride 5 GTX
|La Sportiva Bushido II GTX
|Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 RunShield
|Altra Lone Peak All-Wthr Low 2
|Brooks Cascadia 17 GTX
Glossary for Waterproof Running Shoes
- Upper – The top of the shoe, including the entirety of the shoe above the sole.
- Midsole – A layer of foam that connects a shoe’s upper to the outsole.
- Outsole – This is the bottom layer of a shoe that contacts the ground. It’s generally a rubber or rubber-like compound.
- Rock Plate – A layer of deformation-resistant material between the outsole and the sock liner that protects the bottom of the foot from rocks, roots, and other trail debris. Rock plates vary in length and may cover the entire foot or just the forefoot.
- Lugs – The material protrusions on the bottom of an outsole designed to provide traction in various conditions. While road running shoes often have minimal lugs, trail shoes generally have three- to six-millimeter lugs. Some trail shoes designed specifically for muddy conditions can have lugs as deep as eight to 12 millimeters.
- Toebox – The front of the shoe surrounding the ball of the foot and toes.
- Stack Height – The maximum amount of shoe material between the foot and the ground. A higher stack height is generally associated with more cushion.
- Heel-to-Toe Drop – Also called “offset” or “drop,” it is the height difference (measured in millimeters) between a shoe’s heel and forefoot.
- Arch Profile – Also referred to as arch height, this describes how much of your foot touches the ground when you stand. Knowing your arch profile can help you understand how your foot absorbs impact when you run, including pronation and supination, and what injuries are common to each arch type. You can determine your arch profile — whether it’s low, medium, or high — by dipping your feet in water, standing on a piece of cardboard, and seeing how much of your foot contacts the ground. Note that your arches may not be the same profile and can change over time.
- Pronation – The natural inward collapse of the foot’s arch as it absorbs and distributes impact during running or walking.
- Overpronation – When the arch’s inward collapse exceeds the normal range. This can lead to pain in the arches, ankles, Achilles tendons, shins, outer knee, and/or outer hip.
- Supination – Also called underpronation, it is when the arch barely collapses and is often correlated with high arches. This results in the outside of the foot absorbing the impact during a stride. Supination is often associated with plantar fasciitis and/or pain in the pelvis and lumbar spine.
How to Choose Waterproof Running Shoes
Road Versus Trail Shoes
When it comes to running in wet conditions, deciding on the best waterproof running shoes will depend on the terrain you plan on covering. Because roads, for the most part, are predictable and unvaried, some road shoes can have more stability built in to prevent either overpronation or supination. Additionally, because there are fewer obstacles on the road, shoes designed for the road can be softer and have more flex, allowing more natural foot movement. The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 Runsheild, even with the S-curved winged nylon plate, felt like it had more movement than any of the trail options.
Trail shoes, on the other hand, are designed to be worn on rough terrain and offer more traction and protection. Because trails are far less predictable and each foot strike is slightly different, trail shoes do not provide stability to help correct overpronation or supination. Trail shoes also tend to have stiffer soles, at times with rock plates, that protect the foot from objects in the trail. The La Sportiva Bushido II GTX, even as a more minimal shoe, had a substantial rock plate and toe guard that protected the foot from hard objects while crushing an up or downhill.
Wearing trail shoes on the road will cause the tread to wear out more quickly and may cause serious pain in your feet, as a stiff shoe on hard terrain results in a lot of impact on the foot. A road shoe worn on the trail may lack traction, be damaged by rocks and sticks, and leave the foot unprotected.
Finding the right fit for a shoe is essential. Too big and the foot slides around, potentially leading to blisters or hot spots; too small and the toenails might suffer. If your feet are two different sizes, as with eighty percent of the population, it is important to fit the larger foot.
In general, the heel of the foot should line up against the heel of the shoe without sliding up and down. Once the foot is secure in the back, the wearer can see how much room is left between the toe and the end of the shoe. For the average running shoe, the athlete might want a thumb-width of distance, though it might shorten slightly for a performance shoe where more precision is needed. With the heel and upper secure, the shoe should fit snugly, but not tight, around the midfoot. A shoe like the Hoka Clifton 9 GTX or the La Sportiva Bushido II GTX will be more suitable for performance, while the Altra Lone Peak ALL-Wthr Low 2 will be a little looser for long days on the trail.
The big toe has a lot of power, and figuring out which toebox size is best for you will help you utilize its full capacity. In a wide toe box, like with the Altra Lone Peak ALL-Wthr Low 2, the big toe has more room to perform its whole job, including stabilization, power pushing of the ground, and balance while landing. A big toe that is pushed in too tightly will not only be less effective, causing the foot to fatigue sooner, but it can also lead to bunions or Morton’s neuroma.
A more narrow toebox is more responsive and is often found in the best waterproof shoes designed for performance. Hugging the foot’s shape might be preferred when racing, as the La Sportiva Bushido II GTX does. Most of the shoes on the list, such as the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 RunShield, Salomon Sense Ride 5 GTX, and the Hoka Clifton 9 GTX all have a more neutral toe box that will give space without compromising on performance.
The right amount of cushion in a shoe varies for different people. A heavily cushioned shoe might have a few extra ounces of weight and reduced ground feel; however, it will probably provide more support and may allow for better recovery by protecting the joints. Minimally cushioned shoes will be slightly lighter and give the runner a more natural, barefoot feeling. However, if worn for long periods, they can lead to fatigue in the foot and leg and leave the runner vulnerable to injury.
Runners going extremely long distances or who are out for an easy recovery run might prefer a more cushioned shoe, like the Altra Lone Peak All-Wthr Low 2 or the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 RunShield. However, those racing, running on technical terrain, or wanting to build foot strength may lean toward more minimal cushioning, such as in a shoe like the La Sportiva Bushido II GTX.
The powerhouse of bone, ligament, and joint connections in the foot, which work to balance and stabilize the body, is called the medial longitudinal arch (MLA). The MLA engages in the stance (landing) and swing (propelling) phases of a running gait. In landing, the arch absorbs impact and corrects any imbalances. Then, the arch collapses as the foot and ankle pronates slightly to push the runner off the ground again. These two phases work together with the arch, storing mechanical energy in the stance cycle, which increases power in the swing. For this reason, ensuring that there is appropriate support in the shoe arch can prevent injury and improve running economy.
Arches are usually categorized into three ranges: low, medium, and high. A runner with a low arch may be called flat-footed and have an overly mobile arch needing more support. In some cases, an arch with too much mobility and insufficient stability will lead to overpronation where the foot and ankle roll too far inward. This can cause pain or injury in the foot, ankle, or knee. A person with a low arch could benefit from a stability shoe that can prevent the foot from collapsing medially. The Altra Lone Peak ALL-Wthr Low 2 has less arch support, giving it a more natural feeling.
On the opposite end of the scale, a runner with a high arch will have more stability but could also have less flexibility in their foot. This means that the foot will absorb less of the shock from landing, leading to a potential for pain in the foot and shin. A runner with a high arch could benefit from a supportive shoe that cradles the foot and helps absorb impact with some cushioning. The Salomon Sense Ride 5 GTX and the Hoka Clifton 9 GTX have slightly higher arches built in, helping absorb impact.
A foot with a medium arch has a combination of strength and flexibility and would benefit from shoes with a neutral arch. The La Sportiva Bushido II GTX, Brooks Cascadia 17 GTX, and Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 RunShield are all medium-arched shoes that offer a neutral feel for the athlete.
Stability Versus Neutral Shoes
A neutral shoe will offer more flexibility and encourage a runner’s natural gait. For a runner with a medium arch and no major or impacting issues in their stride, the best waterproof running shoe will be a neutral one.
Some runners overpronate (roll the foot inward too much before propelling off the ground) or supinate (keeping their weight to the outside of their foot through their stride) and could benefit from shoes that help correct this pattern with varied arch support or flex in the shoe. If a runner is worried that their stride might need correction, most running shoe stores will offer gait analysis, or a runner can look at the bottom of their shoe to see if there is any extreme tread wear on one side or the other.
While some trail shoes will provide more arch support, they will not make the claim to correct overpronation or supination as road shoes do. The reason is that it is difficult to predict a landing pattern on a trail with varied terrain and obstacles. The La Sportiva Bushido II GTX, Salomon Sense Ride 5 GTX, and Altra Lone Peak All-Wthr Low 2 are all considered neutral trail shoes.
Heel drop is measured as the difference in stack height between the heel and the toe. Stack height is the amount of space between the foot and the ground inside of the shoe. Drop is generally broken into low, medium, and high, with low being 1 to 4 millimeters, medium being 5 to 7 millimeters, and high being 8 to 12 millimeters. There are also zero-drop shoes where there is no difference between the heel and toe stack height.
Zero or low-drop shoes, like the Altra Lone Peak ALL-Wthr Low 2, will lend themselves to a runner who wants a more natural feel while running or does not encounter much climbing during their run. A no- or low-drop shoe will put more pressure on the Achilles and calves and should be eased into.
Medium drop shoes will provide a runner with some support in the heel but also work to keep the gait natural without encouraging over-striding. Both the Hoka Clifton 9 GTX, with a 5-millimeter drop, and the La Sportiva Bushido II GTX, with a 6-millimeter drop, are considered mid-ranged shoes when it comes to drop, but they have significantly different amounts of cushion.
A high-drop shoe is most useful for athletes who might land more on their heels and need extra padding. Just as low-drop shoes might add more stress to the Achilles and calf, a high-drop shoe could lead to more stress on the knees. The Salomon Sense Ride 5 GTX, Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 RunShield, and the Brooks Cascadia 17 GTX all have an 8-millimeter drop, putting them on the lower end of the high-drop category.
Running volume can dictate whether it’s worth having a waterproof or water-resistant shoe on hand. An athlete putting in significant training miles for big races will go through more shoes yearly and could benefit from having a few options in their closets to rotate between at any one time, and a waterproof one for bad weather days can make a big difference. An athlete who enjoys running on the side or for cross-training may only go through one or two pairs of shoes per year and is probably fine with a single pair of shoes and may not need wet-weather-specific ones.
It is helpful to have a shoe with more cushioning and support, like the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 Runshield or the Brooks Cascadia 17 GTX, for longer runs or recovery jogs. If a runner wants to get in some quick miles or go fast on technical trails, the best waterproof running shoe, like the La Sportiva Bushido II GTX, may be an option, as it’s more minimal.
While running speed is relative, some shoes are better at going fast. Suppose a runner is planning on wearing a shoe primarily for racing short course distances. In that case, they might choose something light, firm, and responsive, such as the La Sportiva Bushido II GTX or the Hoka Clifton 9 GTX. For longer, easier miles, a runner could gravitate more towards more cushioned and supportive shoes, like the Salomon Sense Ride 5 GTX. Some shoes will be able to improve running time with lighter material and a carbon fiber plate that can help improve an athlete’s running economy.
Waterproof Verse Water-Resistant
Shoes are marketed as either waterproof or water-resistant. The best waterproof running shoes will have uppers that are completely impenetrable from the elements but will also leave the foot warmer and unable to vent as well. Also, if water gets in around the ankle, it can pool in the shoe, something to consider if you’re crossing water that is more than ankle-deep. The Salomon Sense Ride 5 GTX, La Sportiva Bushido II GTX, Hoka Clifton 9 GTX, and Brooks Cascadia 17 GTX are all waterproof shoes made with Gore-Tex, which is a polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) material with a breathable and waterproof membrane built between two other layers of material in the shoe.
Water-resistant shoes can only hold up to so much moisture before the water gets in, but they tend to be more breathable. The Altra Lone Peak ALL-Wthr Low 2 uses a water-resistant glove-like liner inside the shoe that covers the foot entirely and allows for breathability. The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 RunShield uses a coating on the outside of the shoe to keep the foot dry while allowing for venting.
Why You Should Trust Us
To create this guide, we researched the best waterproof and water-resistant shoes available and narrowed our list to twelve shoes for testing. They were worn by three athletes who took them out running, hiking, packrafting, and urban walking. Shoes were tried on mud and ice and through snow and bodies of water at varying temperatures to test their waterproofness and breathability. We wore them up mountains in Oregon and Colorado and along Maine’s muddy and rocky coast in temperatures ranging from four degrees Fahrenheit to just above seventy degrees.
The testers looked at not only the performance of the shoes on varied terrain but also how they felt. Cushioning, fit, drop, traction, and durability were all considered when choosing our favorites. Our team of testers is made up of runners who don’t let wet weather slow them down, and they took the shoes out in as many conditions as possible.
Product models are routinely discontinued in the running world, while new ones frequently come to market. At the same time, we here at iRunFar often use our top picks in our daily running … they’re our top picks, after all! Sometimes, that continued use results in uncovering product failures. With all this — product discontinuations, product introductions, and product failures — in mind, we routinely update our buyer’s guides based on past and ongoing testing and research by our authors and editorial team. While these updates can appear to be us pushing the newest product, it’s anything but that. Most products will likely remain the same when we update any buyer’s guide. That matches our goal: to get you in the best gear you’ll use for a long time.
Frequently Asked Questions About Waterproof Running Shoes
How long do running shoes last?
Generally, running shoes last around three to five hundred miles. However, the athlete’s terrain and running style can affect a shoe’s lifespan. If new aches or pains arise seemingly out of nowhere, looking at the wear and tear of the shoes is an excellent place to start. A more minimal shoe like the La Sportiva Bushido II GTX might wear out more quickly than the Salomon Sense Ride 5 GTX, which is meant for more miles.
What are the best shoes to wear in the rain?
The best shoes to wear in the rain will depend on the general climate of where the runner lives and the terrain where they are running. If you’re only running through brief bouts of bad weather and want a pair of shoes that will dry quickly once the rain stops, you might want a water-resistant shoe like the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 Runsheild. Water-resistant shoes tend to be more breathable and are often a better option if you’re walking through water that’s more than ankle-deep. If you live in a rainy climate and want to run in continuous rain regularly, you’ll probably want a fully waterproof shoe, like the Hoka Clifton 9 GTX, in your closet.
Do you need special running shoes for rain?
Personal preference will be the most significant factor in deciding on a rain-specific running shoe. Waterproof shoes will be warmer and slightly heavier than a standard shoe, but waterproof shoes are the way to go if a runner is logging lots of wet miles, especially in cooler weather. If running on wet, sick trails in the rain, the traction of a shoe might matter more than it being waterproof or water-resistant. The Salomon Sense Ride 5 GTX is waterproof and has substantial lugs for deep mud and traction for slick rocks.
How waterproof can shoes be?
No shoe can be perfectly waterproof, as water that gets in over the top. However, a waterproof upper can protect against falling rain or wet ground. Fully submerging the foot will inevitably lead to a water-logged situation, and a fully waterproof shoe could be detrimental if it can’t breathe well. The Brooks Cascadia 17 GTX has a more secure upper, allowing the least moisture to get into a shoe. It is also important to note that the warmer, less breathable shoes will likely lead to a sweaty or damp foot, even if water isn’t getting out from the outside.
Call for Comments
- Do you wear waterproof shoes for running in bad weather?
- Do you have a favorite shoe that isn’t included in our guide?