Fact Checked

What are Overshoes?

Matthew F.
Matthew F.

Overshoes are an article of rubber footwear worn over regular shoes. They are used as protection against water, mud, or cold, and are commonly known as galoshes. Overshoes are weatherproof and made of durable and thick rubber. They are used to keep the feet warm, or to protect a nicer pair of shoe from the elements.

Overshoes are often used in heavy rain, in muddy areas, or where snow is frequent. The rubber of the overshoe insulates the foot from the cold of the snow. The thickness of the boot keeps the water or mud from penetrating into the inner shoe.

Overshoes can keep hikers' feet dry during a trek.
Overshoes can keep hikers' feet dry during a trek.

Overshoes are shaped as other footwear, with a hole to fit the foot into, a wide opening for the toes, and a narrow closing for the ankle. The galoshes fit onto the shoe as a shoe or sock would fit onto the foot. They are often black rubber and are simply designed, with little or no marks on them. They are usually not laced, and generally fit onto the shoe loosely and tighten up in the elements.

Overshoes are also known as galoshes, from the French word galoches. These shoes are thought to be descended from the Middle Ages when nobles would wear shoes called gaulish, which were wooden soles covered with a leather shoe up to the ankle.

Rubber overshoes, now the standard throughout the world, first emerged in the United States around 1890. The overshoes were created with vulcanized rubber, which was durable and easy to mold, compared to other forms of rubber which would break and crack in more inclement weather. These vulcanized rubber shoes were first introduced by Charles Goodyear, the first American to vulcanize rubber, earlier in the century.

Overshoes have been essential to many in the bitter cold of Siberian, Russia. They are sold and produced most extensively in that region, and help the inhabitants of the area to keep their feet warm and active while trekking expanses of sub-zero terrain. Because of use in places like this, and with explorers and journeymen on the poles and in the arctic, children around the United States have come to know them as “arctics.”

Another popular type of overshoe, sometimes used synonymously with these and galoshes, is the Wellington boot. These boots are generally just below knee-high, and were first popularized by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, in the 1800s.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


There are so many kinds of overshoes on the market but it can still be hard to find some that are actually attractive. I hate walking in the snow and find that it damages my shoes, so I found a pair of Tingley overshoes that actually doesn't look too bad.

The ladies overshoes I purchased are really simple but mimic the look of black ladies dress shoes. They even have a very slight heel to them. I think that if you are forced to wear certain accessories due to the weather the should at least be stylish.


The area I am in is flooding quite a lot right now so I had to buy some mens overshoes as the field near my home that is usually dry is very muddy and retaining way too much water. I think that having a pair of overshoes should be a must for anybody who lives in the country, or anyone along a riverfront area.

I also find it is a good idea to keep rain overshoes in my car because you never know when you will have to change a tire in bad weather, or get into an area that will wreak havoc on your good shoes.


Overshoes are something you always see when you walk through my mud room. We live on a farm with a lot of chores that need to be done no matter what the weather is outside, and wearing waterproof overshoes can make that job a little more pleasant.

There are many times when I want something to slip over the shoes or boots I have on, and that is when the overshoes come in handy.

If I know I am going to be working outside all day long, I will wear my waterproof boots. But if I just need to take care of something that will only take a few minutes, slipping on a pair of overshoes is my first choice.


@anon30065 - I bought a pair of Neos overshoes and have been pleased with them.

I live where we get a lot of snow and rain, so need some kind of protection for my shoes. Since I have to dress up every day, I always have nice shoes on and want to keep them that way as long as I can.

It is nice to have options when buying women's overshoes that look more fashionable than a pair of galoshes. The most frustrating thing for me when wearing galoshes (other than they weren't very classy looking), was that if it was raining really hard, my shoes would still get wet.

I like wearing an overshoe that completely covers my whole foot and is easy to get on and off at the same time.


Don't bother with heavy rubber overshoes. Get lightweight *Neos* to cover your shoes and keep them safe in the snow, rain or mud.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Overshoes can keep hikers' feet dry during a trek.
      By: HappyAlex
      Overshoes can keep hikers' feet dry during a trek.