Best waterproof running shoes for rain

by Solereview editors
Published: Last Updated on

The Brooks Cascadia 16 Gore-Tex submerged in water.

This article has been updated with current models for September 2022. The Nike Pegasus Trail 3 GTX has been replaced with its updated version. The adidas Solarglide 4 GTX, adidas Terrex Agravic TR Gore-Tex, Hoka Challenger Low GTX, and New Balance 880V11 GTX have been removed. The adidas Ultraboost 22 Gore-Tex and New Balance Hierro V7 GTX are new additions.

Running shoes cannot be truly waterproof – even with a Gore-Tex membrane.

Waterproof uppers are usually good at keeping the water out, but the low-cut design of most running shoes cannot completely prevent moisture from entering. Water from the occasional splash gets inside through the heel collar. And the same lining that keeps the water out will also slow the draining process.

7_mesh waterproof Gore-Tex Active jacket

Unless your waterproof jacket comes with a hood, it’s not 100% waterproof.

A running shoe with a Gore-Tex lining is like a waterproof rain jacket without a hood. The jacket will work to a certain extent, but only half as effectively as one with a waterproof shroud.

Socks are also good at absorbing water, so the dampness will eventually find its way in. As a side note, wearing a pair of waterproof socks is one way to keep your feet dry. We even wrote a guide on such a product.

The Saucony Peregrine 12 with a gaiter attachment.

Use an aftermarket gaiter to boost the waterproofing capabilities of your GTX shoe.

Using a waterproof gaiter improves the chances of staying dry. However, waterproof gaiters are more comfortable under cooler temperatures because they don’t breathe well.

The Gore-Tex version of the Brooks Cascadia 16.

So are waterproof running shoes useless? Why pay the Gore-Tex premium if there’s no guarantee of staying dry?

A waterproof membrane is like a water delay timer. When caught in the occasional rain, a Gore-Tex lining keeps the feet dry for longer. It’s the difference between the feet getting soaked within 5 minutes versus staying dry for up to an hour.

The waterproof upper of the Nike Pegasus Trail 4 Gore-Tex.

Unless we’re talking about a half-marathon or longer, a waterproof running shoe repels wetness during the entire run. Of course, we’re not talking about thunderstorm-grade rain here – in which case you should be indoors instead of being wet and miserable.

A waterproof shoe also does a much better job of protecting against splashes when compared to open mesh footwear.

The Brooks Cascadia 16 Gore-Tex on wet roads.

The Nike Pegasus Trail 4 Gore-Tex submerged in water.

The upper is waterproof over the forefoot and half of the midfoot.

Some trail routes involve jumping over narrow water streams, so the occasional misstep doesn’t have to soak your feet.

Waterproofing is also very useful when running on muddy trails. The upper keeps the moisture away from the foot. Many Gore-Tex lined shoes have protective overlays and use mesh materials with a closed structure. This design prevents the mud from sticking to the shoe.

There’s an added benefit of a waterproof running shoe. The wind-blocking upper keeps the insides toasty during the colder months.

(Related read: The best reflective running shoes.)

Now that we’ve built a case for waterproof shoes, what kind should you buy? That depends on where the runs take place. If it’s off-road, then the answer is obvious; buy trail running shoes with a Gore-Tex membrane. Shoes like the Brooks Cascadia 16, New Balance Hierro V7, and Saucony Peregrine 12 even feature gaiter attachment points.

Road running shoes with a Gore-Tex upper are covered in the first part of this guide.

Asics dominates this segment, and for a good reason. The Japanese brand sells numerous Gore-Tex-fitted running shoes, and they don’t charge an obscene premium for them.

Having said that, it’s worth mentioning that not all Gore-Tex membranes are alike. For example, though Brooks charges $30 extra for its Gore-Tex variant, their shoes use the thinner ‘Invisible Fit’ version of GTX.

On the other hand, most waterproof Asics shoes are only $10 more expensive than the base model. As far as we know, Asics GTX models do not use the Invisible Fit laminate.

The Brooks Cascadia 16 Gore-Tex on slushy clay.

Trail running shoes are an entirely different beast. We’re spoiled for choices here, as most companies sell GTX-equipped trail shoes.

Adidas trail footwear used to have a near-monopoly on this guide, but other players like Asics and Saucony have caught up. Nike used to be inconsistent with its Gore-Tex-equipped products, but that’s changing quickly. The Gore-Tex version of the Pegasus 4 Trail is available in men’s and women’s versions.

The water resistant finish of the Nike Pegasus 38 Shield.

The Pegasus Shield has a water-repellent upper mesh, but is not waterproof.

And if you’re wondering why the Nike Pegasus 38 Shield does not feature here, that’s because they are merely water-repellent and not waterproof.

Category 1: Waterproof road running shoes

4) Nike Pegasus Trail 4 Gore-Tex

Though this shoe is called the Pegasus ‘Trail’, this is very much a road-trail hybrid. Just like the Pegasus Trail 3 GTX, this waterproof running shoe works equally well on slushy roads as it does on unpaved surfaces.

The Nike Pegasus Trail 4 on a gravel path.

There’s a good reason why this shoe is known as a road-trail hybrid. It’s closer to a road shoe than a serious trail runner. It does best on flat terrain – like this gravel path, for example.

The mild outsole geometry, comfortable React midsole, and absence of a rock plate + gaiter point tell us what kind of shoe the Pegasus Trail is.

At best, this is a shoe for flat trails and non-technical terrain. The Pegasus Trail 4 is even less trail-worthy than the outgoing Pegasus Trail 3, as the full-length rubber outsole is replaced by a milder geometry with multiple lugs.

The outsole of the Nike Pegasus Trail 4.

As long as the trails are flat and non-technical, the shoe performs as advertised.

The articulated outsole lugs do not have deep lugs, so that makes the shoe versatile enough for road use. The React foam core and removable insole give the Pegasus Trail the ride comfort of an everyday trainer.

The water beading upper of the Nike Pegasus Trail 4 Gore-Tex.

The waterproof upper prevents the water from sticking.

The Nike Pegasus Trail 4 Gore-Tex.

Like the last couple of versions, the Pegasus Trail 4 Gore-Tex has an outdoor-ready upper. Rubberized overlays add protection as well as durability to the upper. In the rear, there’s a mini-gaiter to minimize the entry of debris.

As is tradition, the Pegasus Trail 4 is offered in two variants. There’s the standard non-GTX version, as well as a waterproof upper with a Gore-Tex membrane. Our in-depth review of the Nike Pegasus Trail 4 is here.

2) Brooks Ghost 14 GTX

The Ghost’s versatile ride and fit character has made it a commercially successful fixture within Brooks’s running line. The changes on the previous Ghost 13’s midsole made the ride smoother, and the said improvements carry forward to the Ghost 14.

The single-density EVA foam midsole of the G-13 was an improvement over the dual-density midsole of the Ghost 12.

The Ghost 14 benefits from the same performance upsides. There’s ample cushioning and versatility, be it regular training runs or longer workouts that require a higher level of comfort.

This is a Brooks shoe, so the upper is comfortable and secure. The engineered mesh upper and padded heel/tongue have a positive influence on the fit and feel.

The same traits are built into the Gore-Tex version of the Ghost, so it’s an excellent daily trainer that keeps the feet dry during rains.

3) adidas Ultraboost 22 Gore-Tex

The Gore-Tex version of the adidas Ultraboost 22 could be a sign that newer waterproof adidas running shoes may soon be available outside of the trail category. We say this because so far, most adidas GTX models have been trail running shoes.

However, Gore-Tex variants of their staple road shoes (like the Ultraboost 22 in this instance) used to be a rare sight. Not anymore; the waterproof Ultraboost is available across both men’s and women’s versions.

There’s a downside, though. adidas charges a $30 premium over the road model. That makes it the most expensive waterproof shoe on this guide, so buy only if you know what you’re getting in return.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with adidas’s line-up, the Ultraboost is adidas’s popular do-it-all sneaker.

While this shoe is based on a proven form factor that delivers everyday comfort and durability, it’s not a versatile running shoe due to its heavy build. However, there are many things that the Ultraboost 22 gets right, and that’s the reason why it’s so successful.

A full-length Boost foam core produces a soft and responsive ride to make long-distance walks and easy runs less punishing on the feet. A snappy TPU frame under the midsole improves the stability and transition efficiency during the landings and push-offs.

The upper differs vastly from its road version. Of course, the waterproof Gore-Tex membrane is the obvious area of difference, but there’s more. Unlike its Primeknit sibling, the Ultraboost 22 Gore-Tex gets a durable ripstop upper, zipped midfoot shroud, and bungee cord lacing for easy wearing.

There is such a thing as over-engineering, and we can see it on the Ultraboost 22 Gore-Tex. Along with the familiar heel clip from the standard Ultraboost 22, the ripstop upper is layered with synthetic for extra protection and durability.

A different outsole geometry and compound tells us this variant is much more than just its waterproof upper. The outsole uses the Continental Wintergrip outsole and a more aggressive lug design for better traction on wet and slushy roads.

4) Asics GT-2000 10 GTX

Within Asics’s stability shoe universe, the GT-2000 10 sits halfway between the GT-1000 10 and Kayano 29.

If you want to know more, our review of the standard GT-2000 10 is here.

The Litetruss feature of the Asics GT-2000 10

It has a medial post (now called Litetruss) molded into the inner midsole for the old-school ‘anti pronation’ touch, and the functional upper is comfortable and fits well.

If your idea of a waterproof daily trainer is a comfortable mild-support running shoe, then it’s hard to go wrong with the GT-2000 10 GTX.

5) Asics Pulse 13 GTX

Ok, the Pulse 13 G-TX comes with a $10 price increase over the 12. But it’s not for nothing; the $10 bump is accompanied by several upgrades. The Pulse 12 G-TX was a very basic-looking shoe; the Pulse 13 is anything but.

The newest Pulse 13 GTX leaves the stitched overlays behind. The toe-bumper is fused, and so are the midfoot and heel overlays. Even the mesh looks and feels premium; there’s a new ripstop textile replacing the regular upholstery of the Pulse 12.

Under the new set of clothes is a waterproof Gore-Tex membrane that keeps the moisture out.

The midsole receives a major cosmetic facelift along with minor performance gains. The softer ‘Amplifoam’ EVA midsole with the rearfoot visi-Gel is a significant visual improvement over the 12.

Its $110 retail price makes the Pulse 13 GTX excellent value.

6) Asics Cumulus 23 GTX

The standard Cumulus 24 has been out in the wild for several months now, but its waterproof Gore-Tex edition is still waiting to catch up. For now, we’ll have to make do with the Cumulus 23 GTX from the previous year. At $130, this waterproof Cumulus offers excellent value.

A waterproof Gore-Tex upper and sleeve keep the feet warm and dry during winter and rainy days.

The lining also blocks the wind, thus vastly decreasing the wind-chill factor. The Cumulus 23 also has decent levels of reflectivity, so that’s another nice-to-have feature during the darker months.

The interiors are soft and smooth due to the non-sew construction with the padded heel and tongue.

The midsole and outsole are shared with the non-GTX Cumulus 23. The dual-density Flytefoam midsole is excellent for the daily miles of varying mileages, and doesn’t feel slow while doing it.

7) On Cloud 5 Waterproof

This is the waterproof version of the popular On Cloud 5. Since there are less expensive alternatives, buy this shoe only if you’re a fan of their unique cushioning system and upper fit. The foam and rubber pillar midsole has plenty of comfort for runs and urban adventures.

Several aspects of the shoe could be improved. Long-term waterproofing is sketchy, and the part foam, part rubber outsole isn’t the grippiest.

Having said that, the ON Cloud is worth considering as a waterproof athleisure alternative.

Also see: On Cloudventure waterproof.

Category 2: Waterproof trail running shoes

8) New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro 7 GTX

Every year, hundreds of new running shoe models hit the shelves. There are only so many shoes that a brand can direct their marketing energies on, and that means many competent running shoes slip under the radar. The New Balance Hierro V7 Gore-Tex is one of those underrated running shoes.

Though the Nike Pegasus Trail 4 has the road-trail hybrid market cornered, the waterproof version of the Hierro V7 is just as good and better value at $150. Also, the Hierro V7 is slightly more trail-worthy due to its single-piece Vibram outsole and more aggressive lug architecture.

Unlike the Pegasus Trail, the Hierro V7’s upper has a gaiter attachment point. That’s helpful if you need to extend the waterproofing capabilities of the Hierro. When used without a gaiter, the Gore-Tex upper will keep the water out on damp trails and during mild showers.

The secure-fitting upper is comfortable and protective; the padded heel and tongue make the interiors soft, whereas the layered mesh adds durable protection on the trail.

9) Brooks Cascadia 16 GTX

Just like the Brooks Ghost 14 GTX, there’s a $30 premium for the waterproof version of the Cascadia. Our detailed trail-tested review is here.

As a standalone shoe, the Brooks Cascadia 16 is a competent trail running shoe that gets comprehensively reworked for 2022. The top-to-bottom redesign of the Cascadia 16 results in numerous performance-related updates.

The ballistic Rockshield and Trailtack outsole of the Brooks Cascadia 16.

The Brooks Cascadia 16 outsole clogged with mud.

With a few exceptions, the Cascadia’s outsole traction is excellent.

The rock plate of the 16 is now a ‘ballistic rock shield’ – a flexible material that improves the range of movement. The numerous grooves on the outsole help too.

Rather than a large stiff plate, the articulated structure makes the midsole flexible while protecting the foot from the roots and rocks. A stick ‘Trailtack’ rubber outsole has deep yet widely-spaced lugs that deliver grip with minimal clogging.

The heel gaiter loop of the Brooks Cascadia 16 Gore-Tex.

The Cascadia 16 has a gaiter attachment point as well as a rear Velcro strap for the optional traction-assistance accessory.

There are gaiter attachment points on the heel and front; this potentially amplifies the waterproof capabilities of the Cascadia 16 Gore-Tex.

Except for the waterproof lining and the slightly different upper materials, the functional benefits of the GTX variant are identical to the stock Cascadia.

The Gore_Tex Invisible fit on the Brooks Cascadia 16.

Protective overlays cover much of the upper and act as a barrier against moisture. The toe-box has an accommodating and comfortable fit profile. The midfoot lockdown could have been better, though.

The Cascadia 16’s midsole uses a tweaked version of Brooks’s DNA Loft foam. The foam stack delivers a stable and comfortable ride over the off-road terrain.

10) Saucony Peregrine 12 Gore-Tex

Rock plate? Check. Grippy PwrTrack outsole? Check. Midsole comfort? Yes. Waterproof? Yes, of course.

That’s the Saucony Peregrine 12 Gore-Tex for you. Saucony has completely revamped the Peregrine for 2022, all while retaining the core character of this popular trail shoe.

The waterproofing isn’t the only reason why the Peregrine features on our guide. It’s also got a 4 mm heel-to-toe drop, something that not many waterproof trail running shoes have.

The rock shield of the Saucony Peregrine 12.

The Peregrine’s rock plate isn’t a ‘plate’ per se, but a woven layer that’s also flexible and protective.

The Pwrrun+ insole of the Saucony Peregrine 12.

The Pwrrun+ footbed (expanded Polyurethane) is new for this year.

The Saucony Peregrine 12 on the trail.

The firm midsole creates a stable ride over uneven terrain, and a flexible rock-shield protects the foot on uneven terrain. The Peregrine 12 also has a thick insole that’s made entirely of Pwrrun+ – Saucony’s version of adidas Boost foam. Our review took an in-depth look at the regular Peregrine 12.

This thick layer of resilient foam contributes to overall ride comfort without affecting the transition quality.

The gaiter loop wrapping the Saucony Peregrine 12.

The thin rubber loop of the Kahtoola gaiter fits the midsole waist perfectly.

While both the standard and GTX variants share the same midsole and outsole, the Gore-Tex version gets a waterproof upper with a closed mesh. Helpful bits like the gaiter attachment points improve the Peregrine 12 GTX’s waterproofing capabilities when deployed.

11) Saucony Excursion TR15 GTX

Saucony’s Excursion TR15 GTX is a basic trail running shoe that offers a waterproof fit at an affordable price.

As far as Gore-Tex running shoes go, a $100 MSRP isn’t bad at all. That being said, the Excursion TR15 isn’t what one would classify as high-performance. If it were not for the waterproof Gore-Tex upper, the standard Excursion TR15 is a $70 shoe. So this product is built to a price.

There’re no rock-plate or special outsole materials. The midsole is made of ‘Versarun’ – an EVA foam that Saucony uses in its entry-level products. From a performance standpoint, the Excursion TR15 GTX delivers a firm and supportive cushioning over the trail, and the outsole provides decent traction and protection.

The upper is sturdily built, relying on a combination of stitched and welded layers over a closed mesh. The exterior is nearly identical to the standard trail Excursion TR except for the tighter-knit mesh.

If it were not for the tiny Gore-Tex label on the heel, it would be hard to tell the difference.

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