Waterproof Walking Shoes vs Boots


Walking and hiking in wet conditions requires the right choice of footwear. When deciding between waterproof walking shoes and boots, consider the terrain that you are likely to encounter. Lightweight, lower-profile shoes work well for trails and paths. The extra support and rigidity of boots are ideal for uneven, challenging ground.

Walking boots are designed with stability in mind. Thick, rigid soles improve grip, and higher sections around the ankle increase support and protection. Materials used for the uppers will be more durable. All of these features that make the boots well suited for challenging terrain will add additional weight. 

Walking shoes are designed for less demanding conditions and can remain lightweight. The sole unit will be more flexible, with lightweight uppers and a low cut finish around the ankle.

Walking in the rain or on wet ground poses an extra challenge. If your hiking footwear absorbs water, it will become heavier. Walking with wet feet is uncomfortable and increases the risk of fungal infections. 

Related: What does waterproof really mean?

What is the best waterproof walking boot?

The best waterproof walking boots should fit well and provide stability for your feet and ankles on rough ground. Consider your planned routes to help you decide on the right balance of rigidity, protection and weight. Look for waterproof, breathable fabrics to help your feet stay dry.

When choosing walking boots, think through the following:

  • Fit. More than just looking for the right shoe size, try on prospective boots to check for tight spots. Check the fit around the toes, heel and ankle. When you try boots on, wear the same socks you intend to wear hiking.

  • Sole. Think about the terrain you are likely to encounter. The more rocky and uneven, the more traction you require from the sole. 

  • Height. High-ankle boots rise just above the ankle bone. The lacing system keeps the top of the boot close to the leg for maximum ankle support. Mid-cut boots rise to the ankle and provide more flexibility while still offering some ankle protection.

  • Fabric. Choose breathable, waterproof fabrics to handle wet weather without getting too sweaty. Durable materials will ensure a long life for your boots.

  • Weight. Don’t be afraid of extra weight if you need a fully functional boot for challenging conditions. Aim for the lightest weight that does not compromise the features you need.

The North Face DRYVENT™ technology uses a durable water repellent treatment to form droplets and repel water from the fabric. Utilising multi-layered textiles for protection, performance and comfort, DRYVENT™ technology is in the Women’s Hedgehog Fastpack II Waterproof Mid Boots. These waterproof, breathable boots are designed for versatile hiking, from uneven dry rocks to mud and rain. Their rugged soles can tackle rocky, steep terrain, and the durable, abrasion-resistant uppers ensure no dip in performance over time. 

Related: What to look for in walking boots

What are the best waterproof shoes?

The best waterproof walking shoes will combine grip, support and durability. Look for a waterproof membrane that allows water vapour to escape when you start to perspire. Choose a sole that grips on loose ground without adding significant weight to the shoe. Try the shoe on first to ensure a comfortable fit.

Walking shoes are low cut, leaving the ankle exposed to allow a greater range of motion for the foot. The low profile also reduces weight, keeping you light on your feet. It is important to consider the conditions when choosing a walking shoe due to the wide variety of features and designs. 

Super lightweight trail running shoes have flexible soles and prioritise speed and ease of movement. For steeper paths or loose ground, thicker soles can improve grip and foot stability.

The North Face Men’s Litewave Fastpack II Waterproof Shoes are the ultimate all-rounders, combining traction and durability in a lightweight shoe. With midsoles engineered to support your arches when carrying loads and Ortholite insoles for enhanced comfort. If you’re likely to encounter a range of terrain, from muddy paths to rocky trails, these versatile shoes are essential.

Related: What are the best shoes for walking?

The North Face FUTURELIGHT™ technology uses a unique nano-fibre production method to improve fabric breathability without sacrificing water resistance. Designers can fine-tune the FUTURELIGHT™ membrane to adjust weight, stretch, breathability and durability to match the needs of specific products. 

Every part of our FUTURELIGHT™ products has been tested on tracks, trails and mountains by world-class athletes, ensuring real-world performance. The Men’s Activist Futurelight Mid Boots are constructed from waterproof fabric with sealed seams to prevent any leakage on a rainy day. The use of heel-positioning technology enhances stability on tricky surfaces. The rugged sole is engineered for superior grip so that these boots can handle challenging ground in wet weather.

Related: What’s the difference between water-resistant and waterproof?

Take time to think through your needs and try on a range of footwear so that you can head outdoors with confidence. A well-chosen pair of waterproof walking boots or shoes will allow you to concentrate on enjoyment and performance without worrying about comfort. 

Since 1966, The North Face has supplied explorers and adventurers with high-performance outdoor equipment. From weekend warriors to extreme expeditions, the ethos remains the same - never stop exploring. 

Proud to supply world-class athletes and explorers on the mountain, the piste and the trail, our garments are engineered for performance under pressure. Constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation means that you can rely on our footwear, clothing and equipment on your next adventure.

Check out our dedicated footwear finder to explore the full range of waterproof walking shoes and boots from The North Face. Five questions will narrow down your search to find the perfect footwear for your specific needs.