Like most parents, when you are looking to buy rainproof shoes, boots or trainers for yourself or your children you will want to ensure they are going to perform well in wet and rainy conditions so that your feet are not cold and soggy throughout the rest of the day! Of course when you do shop for your shoes you will want to be certain that you are getting the best advice and a good deal. This article provides you with a clear explanation of the technology behind waterproof shoes and gives you some important buying tips so that you can be confident in your purchase.
The Benefits of Waterproof Shoes
The introduction of waterproof and breathable membranes into footwear was a relief for many consumers. The ordeal of coping with soggy feet and socks following a particularly sudden downpour, only to be made worse by your child splashing in puddles, suddenly became a thing of the past.
Another feature welcomed by consumers was the breathable membrane which fits neatly inside the shoe, encasing the foot in a sweat free environment and ensuring ‘smelly’ shoes are a thing of the past. With the foot no longer trapped in a hot and sweaty environment, there was far less chance of bacteria breeding and leading to itchy and unsightly Athletes Foot.
The Technology Behind the Waterproof Breathable Membrane
So how was the membrane that has revolutionised adults and kids feet originally discovered? Well, it all started when scientists at W.L Gore and Associates Inc. in the USA were working on a stretched polymer technology. They managed to develop a new material which had an incredible 9 billion tiny pores per square inch. These microscopic pores were about 20,000 times smaller than a droplet of water but 700 times bigger than moisture vapour (or sweat) molecules. Hence, water or rain droplets could penetrate the membrane, whilst warm moisture generated from a body was drawn away to evaporate. The membrane was called GORE-TEX.
The Waterproof Membrane In Shoes
As with many new technological advances the GORE-TEX membrane was first used in industrial applications. However, once an opportunity in the consumer market had been identified it was soon adopted in performance outer-wear and quickly progressed into walking boots and ski boots.
A Membrane Sandwich In Our Shoes
A great feature of this membrane was discovered when scientists ‘sandwiched’ it between two conventional fabrics. It was found that as long as the two fabrics either side were breathable then the waterproof and breathing properties of the complete ‘sandwich’ remain unaffected. Thus GORE-TEX could be placed next to breathable materials such as leather, suede, some fabrics as well as some PU’s. This breakthrough meant it could be adopted into more mainstream items of footwear.
Could technology Defeat Children’s Sweaty Feet?
It is a little known fact that children’s feet have exactly the same number of sweat glands as an adults but spaced out over a much smaller surface area. Another little known fact is that every foot sweats on average an egg-cup full of moisture a day! Is it any wonder then that we find out feet prone to being sweaty and hot?
Building on their technological success, and identifying this extra need for kids footwear, W.L.Gore Associates GmbH, developed an even more porous / breathable membrane called GORE-TEX Performance. This new and improved membrane ensures kids feet are kept cool and dry by drawing the sweat away from the foot to the outside of the shoe to where it can evaporate. Regardless of the weather, the temperature or what they might be doing, a child’s foot is now in the correct environment for hours at a time.
6 Key Tips For When You Buy Waterproof Shoes
1. Are the shoes sold as ‘Waterproof’ or ‘Water Resistant’? Make sure its the former if you want a shoe that does not leak at all. Water Resistant means that your feet could still get wet!
2. Are the shoes sold with a branded waterproof membrane e.g. GORE-TEX or Sympatex? If yes, then you know that the shoe will perform.
3. Get you child measured beforehand to ensure you buy the correct size. Alternative buy from an on-line retailer with a good measuring guide.
4. If you are buying on-line then read up on the website’s fitting advice for the style you require so that you know how the shoe fits before you buy. Some good websites will allow you to contact them and provide free advice on fitting so that you get the best shoe for the type of foot or fitting you require.
6. Always check the returns policy of any retailer as you want to make sure you get a full refund or can exchange the goods if the fit is not right! Often Waterproof shoes are expensive so you need to make sure they fit!
5. Do not forget to choose a size which allows for sufficient growing room.
6. Make sure you keep the care instructions that come with the shoes. You need to look after them properly!