Is there a difference between waterproof running shoes and water-resistant running shoes? Yes there is, and the difference can be insignificant or substantial depending on your needs.
On the surface the names sound as if they serve the same purpose, and they do to a point. But a closer look at the two will help you to understand the difference. As well as help you make a better buying decision based on your needs.
To get started it is important to know that the ability to label anything as waterproof or water resistant is based on a rating that is measured by how well a fabric or material can prevent the entry of moisture under pressure.
Now that we have that out of the way let me start off with running shoes that are labeled as being waterproof. To be considered truly waterproof the shoes must be able to keep your feet dry under the most extreme conditions. Most waterproof running shoes are made with Gore-Tex, a waterproof/breathable fabric. This fabric is rated at being able to repel about 40 psi (pound per square inch) of water pressure, which is like being caught in a heavy rain storm.
Running shoes that are labeled as being water-resistant or water-repellent are made up of fabric or materials that provide limited protection from such elements as rain or snow. Fabric or materials frequently used for water-resistant running shoes hold can hold off between 3 to 5 psi of water pressure, which is like being light rainfall. Prolong exposure to wet conditions with this type of fabric or material will start to allow the moisture to enter into the shoe.
To summarize both types of running shoes repel water. The difference is based on the length of exposure and amount of water pressure being forced onto the shoe. Hopefully this little article was able to help clear up the difference between waterproof and water-resistant running shoes. There is more technical information regarding this topic, but I wanted to keep it simple. So next time you are shopping for a pair for running shoes you will be more informed and know which type is better suited for your needs.