Designing Waterproof Shoe Covers: It's Time for Rubber to Go

Designing Waterproof Shoe Covers: It's Time for Rubber to Go

Waterproof shoe covers for men have come a long way in recent years. In fact, it wasn't too long ago when the only choices men had for protecting their shoes were a few varieties of rubber galoshes. It is our position that rubber's time has passed. It needs to go, at least where designing waterproof shoe covers is concerned.

We had the option to go with less expensive rubber when we designed GC Tech shoe covers. After much deliberation, we decided against it. We think a flexible, waterproof fabric is the better option. Note that our shoe covers still offer rubber soles for maximum traction.

The Only Option

As recently as 10 years ago, rubber was the only option for men's shoe covers. There were other types of boots, like leather hiking boots for example, but shoe covers are not boots. They are a different kind of footwear that has to be convenient to use.

As you may have noticed, our shoe covers come in both slip-on and zip-up models. Both are easy to get on and off with very little effort. They can be slipped into a convenient storage bag for easy carrying. Ten years ago, the only way to make shoe covers with enough flexibility to be convenient was to use rubber.

Do not misunderstand. Rubber is a good material that has a lot to offer. But a decade ago, rubber shoe covers were clunky and uncomfortable, and they were heavy. They certainly didn't allow your feet to breathe. Wearing a pair of rubber galoshes was like wrapping your feet in miniature saunas.

Silicone Isn't That Great

Shoe cover designers eventually turned to thinner silicone in hopes of getting past all the drawbacks of standard rubber. Silicone offered the opportunity to make shoe covers a bit thinner and more flexible. But thin silicone doesn't wear as well. It is more easily ripped or torn on rough sidewalks. It is more easily compromised when putting your shoe covers on or taking them off.

We wanted to avoid all the downsides of standard rubber and silicone when we created our waterproof shoe covers. We eventually settled on a breathable fabric for the main body and rubber for the soles.

Breathable Material That's Waterproof

If you are surprised that a breathable fabric can also be waterproof, you are not alone. It's really difficult to imagine such a fabric without experiencing it first-hand. Take it from us: waterproof fabrics really do work. They are made with a thin layer of porous plastic.

Waterproof fabrics generally start with a rather tight weave that naturally keeps water out. Then the fabric is coated with that thin layer of porous plastic. Though you can't see them, there are tiny little holes in the plastic lining that allow air to escape. But they are so small that water doesn't make it through. Instead, water beads up and runs off.

This is the type of fabric we chose for our shoe covers. It keeps water out but doesn't trap air in. The end result is a comfortable shoe cover that allows your feet to breathe.

We still use rubber for the soles of our shoe covers. After all, you need traction whenever you're walking on wet pavement. A rubber soul with a nice tread offers that. Combining that rubber soul with a fabric body results in a waterproof shoe cover that is comfortable and safe to wear.

Rubber was a fine material for men's shoe covers when it was the only choice. But now that waterproof fabrics exist, it is time for rubber to go.