When it comes to high-quality shoes, there is more to consider than the material of the soles, whether it’s leather or rubber. Each category has a range of options, with specifications and personal preferences. Here is a comprehensive guide that covers the types of soles found in quality shoes and boots. Different types of soles you should know.

Leather soles remain the choice for quality shoes, although rubber versions are becoming increasingly common. In Goodyear welted shoes, a single leather sole is sewn onto the welt, resulting in two layers of leather when viewed from the side. The same applies to Blake/ shoes, where the top layer of leather serves as a thinner midsole instead of having a separate welt like in a welted shoe. different material of soles you should know link is here.

Different Types of Soles you should know

types of soles
  • Single leather soles

Leather soles come in grades. For better footwear, three main categories are typically used: prime, super prime, and Oak barked. To summarize these options, it’s important to note that generalizations have to be made as there are no requirements like there used to be in the past.

Prime and Super prime soles are crafted using a tanning or combination tanning process that spans several weeks, sometimes even a couple of months. The difference between the two grades primarily lies in the quality of the leather, with Super Prime being classified as finer due to its denser grain.

On the other hand, Oak bark-tanned, or ground-tanned soles are considered of quality and are produced differently. This involves a natural process that takes a significantly longer time and incurs higher costs. During this process, the leather is stacked on top of each other in water-filled pits along with oak bark, allowing it to undergo a period of soaking (commonly known as pit tanning).

At times, this process would take up to two years; however, advancements like using bark extracts of actual bark and implementing a more extensive pre-tanning phase have reduced the duration to six months in some cases. It’s worth noting that while oak bark is commonly used, other types of sailboats, like chestnut, are utilized—JM Weston’s remarkable soles being an example. It’s the gradual progression that places it in this category.

When it comes to the base of the heel, which is attached to the back of the leather sole, typically the top part of the heel is made from the material, as the sole (except for the piece, which is usually rubber nowadays). However, in factory made shoes, the heel lifts between the top parts are rarely made of leather. Cheaper materials like leather board or fiberboard are commonly used instead.

Leather soles are known for being soft and comfortable to walk once they’ve been worn a bit after use. Many people find them less warm than rubber soles. Soles that are prime, super prime, or oak bark tanned can handle surfaces well if allowed to dry. However, if it’s pouring rain outside, it’s often advisable to opt for something other than leather soles. There are also soles and similar types that offer flexibility for more leisurely break in but may impact durability.

  • Double leather soles

As the name suggests, by using one layer of sole leather (like in single rubber soles), two layers are used in double leather soles. This makes them thicker, providing durability and insulation against the cold. However, it also results in an agile and stiffer shoe. This type of sole is commonly found on shoes or boots. Occasionally, you may come across soled shoes. They are rare and require about a year of use to break in, making them less practical properly. To wear footwear, it’s common to use lower-quality leather for the midsoles.

  • HAF soles

A hybrid between a double leather sole is when double soles are used at the front for added durability while keeping a sole at the waist and back. This creates an appearance compared to a double soled shoe. However, the manufacturer must compensate by adding a layer in the heel base to ensure balance—a detail sometimes overlooked. Nowadays, when half rubber outsoles are used ( ones), they are occasionally referred to as HAF soles.

  • Nitrile cork soles

These soles are a combination of synthetic materials, specifically cork and nitrile rubber. They result in a sole that still offers many of the advantages of a rubber sole. This type of sole is commonly found on shoes and boots. The traditional versions of these soles do not have any tread.

  • Rubber topy soles

The practice of adding a rubber sole on top of a leather sole, known as “topying,” is commonly used to enhance durability and traction. This technique was initially popularized by the company Topy, who dominated this field for a time. The process involves:

  • Lightly sanding down the leather sole.
  • Adhering.
  • Trimming the rubber piece to match.

Topying can be done either during manufacturing or later on, by a cobbler.

At times, even bespoke shoemakers have started employing this technique due to customer demand for hand-stitched soles and the traditional craftsmanship associated with custom shoe construction. By incorporating rubber outsoles, they can offer the advantages that come with grip.

  • Crepe soles

This is primarily used for shoe models. The natural rubber sole provides traction in some conditions but may be less reliable in others, making it somewhat unpredictable to wear. Its softness often makes it highly comfortable, but prone to wear and tear.

  • York soles

Now, let’s discuss the types of rubber soles. They are categorized in ways: sometimes based on the manufacturer, sometimes with names given by the manufacturer, and sometimes with more generic terms. One such type is called York, which features a rubber sole with a leather insert at the waist and back. The standard York sole tends to be on the side while maintaining an appearance. The rubber outsole has studs for grip. Although shoemakers commonly use York, similar versions can be found under names as well. These soles perform well in certain conditions. They may not provide optimal traction on snow and ice due to their relatively firm rubber compound.

Another type of sole that has gained popularity in years within the dress shoe industry is rubber soles. What makes them appealing is their ability to resemble leather soles when viewed from the side; it’s difficult to tell them. These thin rubber soles offer advantages over leather ones in conditions as they are waterproof and provide better grip. Depending on the rubber composition, they may also offer some traction on snow and ice.

  • City rubber soles

Even though the thinner shoemakers struggle to achieve the sleekness of their leather-soled counterparts, it’s mainly because they have to use sparser stitching, in general. Additionally, when it comes to factory production, the machines used for embellishing the welt usually need to accommodate rubber soles. There are types of city soles, some with names like Wensum, R1, or Tomir (although the latter is more of rubber inserts in a leather sole). Most of these soles feature a tread design for grip.

One of the choices for rubber soles in shoes and boots is characterized by its distinctive studs. These are often referred to as soles; however, this name belongs explicitly to the manufacturer specializing in this type of sole. The Harboro Rubber Co. is a British company. Many other rubber sole makers offer versions, such as Vibrams Eton sole, Itshides Studded, Dr. Soles Cushion Gentleman, and more.

  • Dainite studded rubber soles

The original Dainite Studded sole is highly durable. Some individuals find it challenging to walk on for periods. Moreover, it becomes relatively rigid and slippery in temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius. In some cases, Vibram or Dr. Soles alternatives perform better as they utilize softer yet still resilient rubber compounds.

Specific inexpensive imitations may deteriorate rapidly. Products from established brands exhibit exceptional durability.

  • Medway soles

Dainite crafted the original one and is not commonly seen. It’s a rubber sole that works well on terrain, but during winter, the snow can accumulate in the tread and make it feel like walking on ice skates.

  • Ridgeway soles

Additionally, this style of sole is known as Dainite. It is widely used by other manufacturers, too. It has a pattern that excels in areas and provides excellent grip on icy surfaces. However, it does have the drawback of snow getting stuck in the practice, making it slippery and challenging to walk with during winter. The Medway and Ridgeway models have an appearance because their designs don’t extend all the way to the edge.

  • Commando soles

There’s another type of sole that causes some confusion. Vibram, a sole manufacturer in the 1930s, originally invented it. They named it Carrarmato. I designed it primarily for mountaineering purposes. However, in England, its potential for use was recognized, leading to the creation of a replica called the Commando in 1940.

As the British dominate the realm of high-quality shoes, the name that stands out is Vibrams Carrarmato sole. It is commonly known as lug soles. Many other manufacturers also produce their own versions of it.

Final Words

Nonetheless, the selection of shoe soles also reflects an individual’s personality. For instance, those inclined towards an aesthetic might choose soles, while individuals with a more traditional taste may prefer subtly designed low-profile soles. When deciding on the sole for your shoes, it is crucial to consider factors like comfort, safety, and personal style. Take into account your requirements and preferences to discover the solution for you.

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