Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Martina McKeough
If you are a Vans fan and have spent a considerable amount of money on a pair of their shoes you probably want to know what will happen if you get caught in a downpour wearing your favorite pair of canvas slip-ons. Can Vans get wet or should you be thinking about wearing other types of shoes in the rain?
Whilst Vans shoes are hugely popular they are not known for being waterproof shoes. Over the years I’ve worn various pairs of Vans shoes in all weathers and know exactly how their materials hold up when there is water around.
Here’s what I’ve learned as well as some of my top tips on how to protect your Vans from getting waterlogged and ruined on rainy days.
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Are Vans Waterproof Shoes?
The Vans brand makes a huge range of different types of shoes and boots in all types of materials. Each style and material will react differently to water. As I haven’t worn every conceivable type of Vans (who has) I’m going to specifically talk about whether their canvas shoes are waterproof because they are the most brands most well-known styles and best sellers.
Regular canvas Vans tend to come in two main styles which tend to be slip-on or they are laced and I tend to think of them as primarily fair-weather shoes. This is because Vans shoes are not waterproof.
Can Vans get wet? In theory yes if the water is clean and there isn’t very much of it, think a light rain shower, but don’t expect them to cope well with wet weather because they are not waterproofed only water-resistant.
Canvas materials absorb water really easily so they really aren’t designed for wet conditions. Whilst mine have coped well in short rain showers I wouldn’t dream of wearing them in heavy rain because I know from bitter past experience that they get damaged easily.
Ever walked around in soggy shoes and felt the water seeping into your socks? It’s not a nice feeling and is incredibly uncomfortable.
Plus the aftermath of my shoe soaking wasn’t great either as I had to not only dry out my waterlogged shoes but clean them as well because they were covered in dirt and marks. Remember that rainwater that hits the ground isn’t like clean water that comes out of your taps it’s mixed in with dirt and grime that can splash right onto your clean Vans Shoes.
You can read about how to keep shoes dry in the rain in one of my other articles as it will give you some tips on how to avoid the problem in the future.
Water Resistant Shoes Can Only Cope With So Much Water
Whilst Vans are not waterproof shoes they are water resistant. So what does that mean for you?
Water-resistant shoes have been designed with special materials and treatments that can help prevent water from penetrating and soaking into your shoes. This means if you wear them in the rain they should be able to withstand some splashes from the water.
The coatings they use on the shoe cause any water to sit on the surface of the shoe which means it’s not absorbed into the canvas material. Rubber soles like the ones on Vans shoes also help as they prevent rain or water from seeping into your shoes on wet surfaces.
You can see this in action from my picture where drops of water are sitting on the surface of the shoes and not immediately penetrating into the canvas fabric.
The problems start when you move from light rain to downpours. Walking around in them in heavy rain or wading through standing water or puddles is eventually going to cause a problem. The water-resistant material can only cope with so much before the water starts to penetrate the canvas.
This is when I ended up with wet socks and had to squelch around for part of the day in saturated shoes.
So if you can try and wear your Vans when you know the weather conditions aren’t going to be bad to keep them looking good for longer.
The Consequences of Wearing Vans In The Rain or Snow
If you wear your Vans in the rain and it is very wet soggy feet aren’t the only problem you are going to have to deal with. Heavy rain actually will start to damage your shoe materials and that means they aren’t going to last as long as they could.
Plus the rainwater seeps into the insides of the shoes including the insole and creates a great breeding ground for bacteria. This will cause your Vans shoes to start to smell.
The color of your Vans matters as well especially if you are going to be wearing them in areas where they are going to be more likely to get stains. Imagine a pair of pristine white Vans after they have been worn in the pouring rain and are covered in grime from walking around a city all day. Clearly, they aren’t going to look great.
As for snow don’t even think about it. Think about the snow stains you get on leather shoes from the salts. Now imagine that salt eating into the canvas shoe material and damaging the fabric which is far less robust than leather. Plus your feet will be freezing.
The fact is wearing Vans in the colder wetter months isn’t a great idea and is a great way to ruin your shoes.
Using Vans Waterproofing Spray and Shoe Protector
Can Vans get wet if you use a waterproofing spray or shoe protector on your shoes?
Well, they certainly help but they are never going to make your shoes fully waterproof. They are however a great way to make them more water resistant and to keep them looking good for longer.
Regularly spraying them with a stain shield spray will help them continue to repel water and will reduce the number of stains that you might get on your shoes.
Vans made their own water and stain shield in their shoe care kit which you can use on the canvas upper to help keep your shoes looking good. There are also plenty of other brands that sell kits to waterproof shoes. Just buy one that can help with canvas shoes as well as leather.
Do Suede Vans Get Ruined in The Rain?
I should add that Vans do make suede shoes as well which come in the standard skater sneaker style. Suede shoes are going to be even more vulnerable when there is rain around.
Suede marks even more easily than canvas and the nap of the shoes can be impacted by water. If there is salt in the water as well expect more stains on top.
My view has always been to not wear suede shoes when there is rain because it is a great way of ruining shoes.
How To Dry Wet Vans
If your Vans shoes get really wet because you have misjudged the weather then there are a few things you can do.
Firstly remove the laces from your shoes and the insoles so they can dry separately. Then stuff the insides of your Vans with some paper towels. Do not use newspaper as sometimes the newsprint comes off on your shoes and makes things even worse.
Never put your Vans in front of a heat source to dry them. Instead put them somewhere that is well ventilated where they can dry naturally.
When they are fully dried out replace the inserts and use a product to neutralize any smells if there are any. Baking soda and shoe deodorizing sprays can work as well as sneaker balls which keep them smelling nice.
Cleaning Vans That Are Muddy or Stained
If your Vans shoes haven’t just got wet but are also muddy or stained then you will need to clean them properly so they look ok again.
The easiest way to do this is to brush off any mud or dirt that is on the shoes first before cleaning. Then you can use mild soap and warm water on the canvas vans to clean the stains before they set in the fabric.
Whilst mild soap and water work I much prefer to use Jason Markk’s shoe-cleaning product which works brilliantly on canvas. This isn’t a harsh cleaner but a foamy product that is great at getting out stains on your shoes and sneakers.
Wearing Footwear That is Waterproof
I personally think of my Vans shoes as something that I wear in late spring, summer and early autumn. The rest of the time I tend to wear shoes or boots that can cope with the rain.
There are however some Vans that are better able to cope with bad weather than others.
Vans Water Resistant Shoes – MTE (Mountain Edition) Shoes
Vans MTE shoes are able to deal with bad weather better than the standard versions. These are not however Vans waterproof shoes instead think of them as having better water resistance.
Generally, the coated canvas on these can cope with rain better than regular Vans shoes and some of them have water-resistant linings as well to help keep your feet dry.
The outsoles have better traction as well which is useful as when I’ve worn regular Vans in the rain they have become quite slippery.
Vans currently doesn’t make any shoes that are fully waterproof but the MTE style is a good alternative if you want something that will cope with bad weather. Just don’t expect to go hiking through ponds and puddles in them because they do have limitations.
So can Vans get wet? Well, the regular Vans shoe styles that are made from canvas are really not well designed for any type of significant rain but the MTE versions should be able to cope with worse weather and keep your feet dry. Just remember they are not fully waterproof so you will still get wet feet if you push your luck and wear them somewhere inappropriate.
More About Vans Shoes
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