Depending on where you live, running from November to April might mean slogging through cold, wet, slushy, snowy or muddy conditions. Do you need a pair of waterproof running shoes? Ultimately, the answer comes down to the conditions you regularly run in and your personal preference. Waterproofing technology from Gore-Tex, eVent and Polartec has improved considerably in recent years, allowing waterproof shoes to be more flexible and breathable than those sold five to 10 years ago. Consider, too, that many water-resistant shoes (which offer more breathability but less weather protection than waterproof models) might suffice.
• Feet generally stay warm and dry in wintry conditions and allow for uninhibited running in inclement weather conditions. Plus, there’s less chance of getting cold feet or even frostbite, and, of course, they eliminate some of the excuses for not running in bad weather
• Waterproof running shoes are typically not as flexible and are a bit heavier as compared to traditional models without waterproofing, and they often cost $15–$30 more than non-waterproof models. Feet are still vulnerable to getting wet from moisture that enters at the sock and wearing waterproof shoes in in mild or warm weather can make feet feel hot.
Here are nine great waterproof running shoes for fall/winter running in whatever kind of bad weather you encounter.
Under Armour Fat Tire GTX, $199
This is the shoe for you if ... you want maximum protection from the elements from a shoe that is in its element in wintry conditions (and especially deep snow).
Fit-feel-ride: The Fat Tire lives up to its name and design of a shoe that was meant to mimic a mountain bike tire rolling over terrain. This shoe serves up a super cushy and lively ride thanks to two layers of soft foam that give it a high-off-the-ground feeling. The GTX high-top version of this shoe has a waterproof upper and a new Michelin rubber compound, plus a slightly rockered profile from heel to toe and side to side. (There is also a water-resistant low-top version of the Fat Tire.) Our wear-testers found it amazing on wet, muddy terrain and exceptional on snowy, slushy trails. This shoe is heavier than most trail running shoes—it has a lot of girth—but it feels less so in sloppy, wet terrain or in snow. It’s not an ideal choice for hard-packed trails and dirt roads, where it feels a bit unstable. But we loved it running through marshy swamp trails and deep snow on the roads.
Weights: 18.0 oz. (men's size 9.0) (Note: This shoe is available only in unisex sizing.)
Heel-Toe Offset: 10mm; 27mm (heel), 17mm (forefoot)
Altra Lone Peak NeoShell
The shoe is for you if … you’re an Altra and/or zero-drop devotee, and want to a winter shoe with superior weather protection.
Fit-feel-ride: This shoe is built off Altra’s popular Lone Peak 2.5, a cushy shoe with a zero-drop profile that seems to put a little spring in your step. The Neoshell version has the same roomy toe box fit of the regular 2.5, allowing toes to splay naturally, especially on long descents. This shoe has durable, waterproof exterior that kept testers’ feet dry even when dunking in a shallow creek. It earned the "Best Weather Protection" award in Competitor's October 2015 trail running shoe review. It differs from other weather-protecting shoes in this roundup by putting the waterproofing in the exterior of the shoe, eschewing a heavy, wet upper and abating an overly hot foot. The underfoot traction grips a range of surfaces with aplomb. The bottom line is that this shoe will keep you charging trails in snow and cold. One drawback: If the fit isn’t perfect (they run a tad large on foot), there can be some awkward buckling at the toe crease.
Weights: 11.9 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 10.4 oz. (women’s size 7.0);
Heel-Toe Offset: 0mm drop; 25 mm (heel), 25mm (forefoot)
Montrail Bajada II Outdry, $135
This shoe is for you if … you tackle gnarly trail in foul weather and demand maximum protection for your feet.
Fit-feel-ride: This shoe is a burly workhorse that manages to run lighter than it weighs. Its Gryptonite outsole grabs the trail, wet or dry, but it’s the upper that made us feel like we could charge anything. The screened rubber overlays kept rocks and roots from poking through the sides of the shoes; we felt like our feet were enclosed in a guarded little case. The waterproof Outdry liner of the upper only increases the protection; this shoe blocks rain and snow and helps keep feet warm. Bottom line: It’s a rugged, durable shoe that still flexes and doesn’t weigh you down. The Bajada II Outdry isn’t as nimble- or agile-feeling as some other trail runners, and it runs a little stiff, but for technical trails (especially in foul weather), it’s a huge hit. The only drawback is that this shoe feels a little clunky on smooth, non-technical trails.
Weights: 13.1 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 10.9 oz. (women’s size 7.0);
Heel-Toe Offset: 10mm offset; 20mm (heel), 10mm (forefoot)
The North Face Ultra MT GTX , $150
This shoe is for you if … you don’t want to hold back on mountain runs.
Fit-feel-ride: With its Vibram “Megagrip” outsole, its durable ripstop mesh upper that wraps around the midsole and the semi-firm ride of the cushioning, The North Face Ultra MT is a hard-charging mountain shoe. It actually feels strong and solid on the foot, and holds up to sharp, rocky terrain. The traction of this shoe is what stands out the most. It gripped everything from slick to dry rock, soggy ground, dusty trails and more. Some testers craved more cushioning around the heel collar near the tongue, and others noted how the narrow fit of these won’t work for everyone. The thin yet nicely padded tongue lays comfortably on the foot, and the “FlashDry” lining wicks sweat and moisture in a jiffy. For how durable and burly this shoe is, it’s still fairly lightweight. The non-stretchy laces (which need double knotting) could be felt by some across the top of the foot.
Weights: 9.7 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 8.2 oz. (women’s size 7.0);
Heel-Toe Offset: 8mm; 23mm (heel), 15mm (forefoot)
Brooks Adrenaline ASR 12 GTX, $150
This shoe is for you if … you need stability in a versatile shoe that’s treated for winter weather.
Fit-feel-ride: This foul-weather-ready shoe has a road-shoe feel. Its midfoot stability, ample cushioning and smooth ride make it a pleasure to run in on smooth dirt and less-than-technical terrain. Updated from the previous version of this popular shoe is a segmented crash pad (all that toothy red and black rubber near the back of the shoe), which allows a more fluid ride than in past iterations of the Adrenaline ASR. The outsole has also been updated to handle sloppy trails better. Testers didn’t find it the most “dynamic” or “agile” shoe on technical trails, likely due to its road-shoe profile and plentiful cushioning. The Gore-Tex weather-proofing adds to the versatility of this winter shoe—wear it on sloppy road runs as well as off-road. This shoe is cut low around the ankle collar, which some testers found enhanced comfort. The stability for pronators will be overkill for some (but a plus to those who need it.)
Weights: 11.8 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 9.9 oz. (women’s size 7.0);
Heel-Toe Offset: 12mm drop; 32mm (heel), 20mm (forefoot)
Saucony Ride 8 GTX, $140
This shoe is for you if … you need weather protection in a smooth-riding cruiser for the open roads.
Fit-feel-ride: The Ride has consistently been upgraded through the years and it remains a durable, cushioned everyday trainer for a wide range of runners. The latest incarnation has a much-improved upper, one that is wrapped with seamless flex film overlays that help create a snugged-down fit while also accommodating for a variety of foot shapes. The winterized version of the Ride 8 has a lightweight interior bootie made from Gore Flex, the latest waterproof technology from Gore-Tex. As a result, it's not as stiff or heavy as some waterproof shoes from the past, but instead it's a flexible and lightweight uptake from the neutral-oriented Ride. It's soft and cushy with just a tad bit of responsive energy to put a spring in your step, making it a good choice to do some of your normal training runs in on sloppy, slushy roads.
Weights: 9.8 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 8.5 oz. (women’s size 7.0);
Heel-Toe Offset: 8mm drop; 27mm (heel), 19mm (forefoot)
Nike Air Zoom Structure 19 Flash, $135
This shoe is for you if ... You're looking for a very supportive road running shoe that offers a good amount of weather protecton.
Fit, Feel, Ride: With a triple-layer upper, the Structure 19 boasts water repellency, thermal conservation and, in a mod, Nike sort of way, iridescent reflectivity. The reflectivity is passive in normal light conditions, but luminous like when caught in a glare. The sock-like inner layer holds nicely while the second reflective film of the second layer shields moisture, and the outer layer is a rugged yet breathable mesh. The midsole is also three layers: a denser foam from heel to medial mid-foot; a dynamic foam support wedge incorporated into the dual-density meat of the midsole unit; and a forefoot Zoom Air unit to appeal to mid- and forefoot strikers. The waffle and segmented crash rail along the outsole serve up durability, traction and easy heel-to-toe transition.
Weights: 10.5 oz. (men’s size 9.0), 9.2 oz. (women’s size 7.0);
Heel-Toe Offset: 10mm; (28mm heel, 18mm forefoot)
ASICS GEL-Cumulus 17 GTX, $140
This is the shoe for you if … you're looking for a comfortable road-shoe fit and sensation while having reliable waterproof protection.
Fit, Feel, Ride: In addition to its new upper (which includes an interior support saddle), the GEL-Cumulus was updated with ASICS’ new midsole and fore- and rear-foot silicon-based GEL units. This buffers a somewhat rigid ride that holds up admirably to cold pavement. The seamless upper and Gore-Tex interior lining is a burly waterproof barrier against frost and slush, making this version of the Cumulus suited for winter running. The midsole package also provides mild motion control , and the upper features a medium volume fit: not too tight, not too loose. All of that cushioning and upper protection comes at the cost of more weight, but naming this shoe after a cloud isn’t a misnomer—it evenly surrounds the foot and, when in motion, doesn’t feel hefty.
Weights: 12.5 oz. (men’s size 9.0), 10.0 oz. (women’s size 7.0);
Heel-Toe Offset: 10mm; (30mm heel, 20mm forefoot)
New Balance 910v2, $135
This is the shoe for you if … you want a trail cruiser designed for moderate to mild trails with weather protection.
Fit, Feel, Ride: This versatile trail runner becomes even more versatile with a waterproof inner bootie fit system. Testers liked the combination of cushion, comfort and flexibility in this shoe. Although it’s a neutral model and more cushioned than many trail shoes, the moderate heel-toe drop offers a hint of agility and stability, while the firm heel cup adds structure and a more secure sensation on all types of trails. Cushioned, easy-riding comfort with underfoot rock protection make this shoe runnable for long trail hauls, but equally possible for road jaunts. Narrow-footed testers felt the wider fit lacked nimbleness on the trail, but those who needed the volume were thrilled about the fit and ride.
Weights: 10.3 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 8.2 oz. (women’s size 9.0);
Heel-Toe Offset: 7mm drop; 26mm (heel), 19mm (forefoot)