Breathability In Running Shoes

It seems that so many running shoe reviews and even brand marketing focus a bit too much on how breathable a running shoe is or is not. I read a LOT of running shoe reviews, and I notice that an upper’s breathability gets an awful lot of attention lately.

Some of these shoes have great breathability, others not so much.

Is a shoe being very breathable always a good thing?

Well, that breathability might be significant when the weather is warm. During late Spring, Summer, and early Fall (May to maybe early October up heah), but the rest of the year, is it something that is all that important?

I wonder.

Yes, I know that many runners live in areas where swamp foot is a considerable problem year-round and the shoe’s ability to breathe is damned important. During the summer months, I agree that having shoes that have my feet make squishing sounds inside the shoe and the resulting blisters ain’t all that much fun. The breathability of a running shoe is essential then.

However, I live in Maine, and more than a few runners live in places where it tends to get rather chilly outside during the Fall, Winter, or Spring. The kinds of places if you screw up how you dress, you will suffer the consequences. I have learned the hard way, a large part of dressing correctly in cold weather is having the correct footgear on your feet.

Sometimes I think that runners and reviewers forget that, at least until they get back from a run and their feet are half-frozen when wearing those running shoes that are so breathable and work great at other times of the year or warmer climes.

Hell, I have been guilty of wearing very breathable running shoes when it too cold out, several times myself. No, it isn’t fun to thaw feet out after an hour or so outside running in the cold. Even with wool socks, those so-called breathable uppers result in my feet being cold!

Running in those wonderful shoes with breathable uppers that reviewers and brands tout as being so great — well, they ain’t that great at that point. Then add in the fun of slush, snow, sleet, or freezing rain, along with a 20-30 mph breeze those breathable uppers become damned uncomfortable — at best, dangerous at worst.

Yeah, I know. Get trail shoes for Winter running or a Gore-Tex type upper. It is usually the solution that I end up doing, but not everyone is a running shoe nerd and has multiple pairs of running shoes in their arsenal to take care of their running outside in cold weather.

Many runners read a blog about the shoe, an online review, the brand’s marketing pitch. If enough reviewers say they are excellent shoes, they then take a closer look at getting them. Forgetting or not realizing that great breathability in the Winter usually means cold feet. They then pay the real price when cold weather hits or out for a long run in freezing temps, windy conditions and come home with their feet feeling like blocks of ice.

We need to think about whether breathability, along with good traction, and how the weather will affect the midsole before getting a pair of running shoes when we run in areas where it does get cold, and the weather gets nasty all too often.

Listen I, get it. It is up to the running shoe buyer to know when and where they will be running in their shoes.

However, I will take a little less breathability when it gets colder outside and try to keep the tootsies a bit warmer-thank you. No matter what some might say about how important breathability might be in their world.

Sorry for the mini-rant.

Breathability in a running shoe is not as important as some would have us believe. Well…at least if you live in areas where it does get cold.

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