As we continue to descend into the winter months, the temperature is slowly dropping and the days are getting shorter. Some people, like me, love winter, others hate it. One thing we all know about winter though is that it gets wetter. The heavens open on a more regular basis and it’s not uncommon to find yourself soaked from being out in the freezing cold rain.
Many people will specifically buy shoes that are water resistant because they think it’ll guarantee their feet stay dry and warm. Wrong. Only waterproof shoes will guarantee this.
Water resistant footwear is footwear that is able to resist the penetration of water to some degree, not entirely. Waterproof shoes do what they say on the tin, they keep water out and are leak proof, keeping your feet dry in numerous environments.
But how are boots actually made water resistant and waterproof? That’s what I’m here to tell you.
The materials used on a safety boot is what determines whether it is water resistant or not. Many boots are made with full grain leather or the cheaper option, action leather. Footwear made with full grain leather, like our T-light shoes, are water resistant due to the leather having a polished hide. As the leather is a complete full grain and not split, the boots can be shined, buffed and polished to give them a level of water resistance.
Water resistant T-light shoes made with full grain leather and water resistant
Boots made with action leather go through a different process to be classed as water resistant. Action leather is the middle section of leather that has been split into three parts, which is not as high quality as full grain leather.
To give boots made with action leather their water resistance, they are covered in a PU coating. The PU coating will help to keep your feet dry in light rain and weather conditions. Beware though, depending on the quality of the boot usually determines the quality of the PU coating. On cheaper boots, PU coating will probably be quite naff and therefore scratch off much quicker, which makes the PU coating ineffective. Maintaining your boots is essential to keep them as water resistant as possible.
Action Boots made with Action Leather
All in all, these two ways of making boots water resistant will give your feet some degree of protection against the elements. Water resistant boots are ideal for activities that don't involve submerging the foot in water or snow for extended periods, but they won’t give you full water and leak proof protection.
Waterproof boots are classed as waterproof when they are manufactured with a waterproof lining. Almost like a sock, this waterproof membrane is attached to the sole to protect your feet against all sorts of water for long periods of time. Boots are never waterproof because of the leather they are made with, it’s always down to the lining.
Fusion boots created with an orange waterproof lining and all in one tongue to make the boots fully water and leak proof
There are different fabrics that can be used to make a waterproof lining for footwear but it’s how the fabrics are woven together that gives it a waterproof and breathable element to it.
When it comes to safety footwear, you can tell by looking at the specifications whether your boot is water resistant or waterproof and here is how you will know. If the specification is S2-S5 or has WR or WRU that means that it is either water resistant or waterproof.
The test for the water proof and resistance of shoes involves something called Hydrostatic testing. Water is forced through the fabric or other material to see how much water pressure it can tolerate before it starts to leak. Water resistant boots generally resist a minimum of 200m of pressure in testing. Whereas waterproof shoes must reach a minimum of 1,000mm in testing.
Hydrostatic Testing Machine
After the test, the safety footwear can then get it's specification. Specification for water resistant/proofing is has four different levels:
- S2 = in addition to 200 joule toe cap is classed as anti-static footwear. The sole is resistant to fuel oil and has energy absorption in the heel area. It also has a water resistant upper.
- S3 = Same features as S2 with the addition of midsole penetration protection. This can be a stainless steel insert in the sole, aluminium insert in the sole or by a kevlar insole.
- S4 = in addition to 200 joules toecap is classified as antistatic footwear. The sole is also resistant to fuel oil and has energy absorption in the heel area. It is waterproof and leak proof.
- S5 = same features as the S4 with the addition of the midsole penetration protection which can be a stainless steel, aluminium or kevlar insert in the sole.
- WR = Water Resistance
- WRU = Water Penetration and Water Absorption Upper
So, there you have it. Remember though, you should always pick shoes that are fit for your environment. Wearing only water resistant boots in harsh weather conditions or environments that require waterproof protection could result in injuries. Overprotecting and wearing waterproof shoes when they’re not essential won’t do too much damage, apart from maybe to your bank account. Water resistant shoes are a good, cheaper option of boot compared to waterproof shoes if it is not an essential requirement for your footwear to be waterproof.
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