Construction describes how a pair of shoes is assembled and greatly impacts water resistance. While there are many ways to build a shoe to keep your feet dry, two of the most popular methods used for creating footwear to keep your feet dry are cement and Goodywear Welt Construction.
Cement construction takes the upper leather of a shoe and adheres it directly to the outsole, using only industrial-strength glue. With no stitching between the upper and the outsole, you have no channels for water to penetrate, which keeps your feet dry so long as the leather on the upper is also waterproof. Many iconic Timberland boots use this method. The downside of this method is that once the outsole wears down, the shoe is very difficult and expensive to resole.
Goodyear Welt Construction is not technically waterproof, but has been considered a “virtually waterproof” way to construct boots for the last two centuries. This is because the boots are constructed with a leather welt connecting the outsole to the leather upper. That leather welt acts as a very strong barrier to water incursion, almost like a dam holding back the elements. While this will eventually fail if you stand in a large puddle long enough, for 99% of normal use, Goodyear Welt Construction will keep your feet completely dry. These boots may be a little heavier than cement-constructed boots, but they have the additional upside of being easily resoleable, which extends the long-term life of the boot.