Sperry Top-Sider, $90
Creative Recreation, $60
Originally developed as an inexpensive replacement for silk during World War II, ripstop nylon was developed (and is still used) for the production of parachutes. It's since been used in sails for yachts, hot air balloons and camping equipment like tents and sleeping bags. The latest use? A lightweight, water-resistant replacement for leather in some of your favorite shoe styles.